The Complete Guide To Underwater Photography for Beginners

Are you a casual or experienced diver who’s interested to photograph your very own underwater photos, and simply wondering how the pros do it? Wondering which what constitutes as a good camera to capture marine life well, beginner-friendly equipment, and more? Here’s your quick, compact guide for you!

Basic Equipment Needed for Underwater Photography

1. Camera 

If you’re new to underwater photography, you’ll need a waterproof camera or one with underwater housing to start capturing images during your dives. If you’re starting off with dives in shallower places, you can use a smartphone with proper underwater housing. However, if want to take photos or underwater videos of critters in deeper waters, you can opt for a compact camera like the Panasonic LX10 or the Olympus Tough TG-5 instead. 

However, do make sure that you get familiar with your camera before you swim deeper, practicing in pools or shallow areas first for your first few dives. As you gain confidence, you can explore and expand your skills to capture the beauty beneath the waves.

2. Lighting

Water affects light when taking pictures underwater, making underwater strobe lights or continuous lights essential for illuminating your shots. Proper lighting brings out the vibrant colors and details of the underwater environment. Using the white balance setting on your camera can correct color distortion caused by the water. Positioning your lights strategically reduces backscatter, which is caused by particles in the water reflecting light back into the lens, improving photo clarity. 

3. Memory cards

Having high-capacity memory cards will be beneficial as part of your photographic equipment, as it will help you to have enough space to store all your photos and videos without worrying about running out of storage. You’ll also have the freedom to be able to take great underwater photos in the quality that you want, so try to look for the best memory cards that best suits your camera type and designated budget.

4. Buoyancy controls

For beginners in underwater photography, a buoyancy control device (BCD) is essential. A good beginner-friendly BCD should be comfortable, easy to use, and provide enough lift to help you achieve stable floatation. You might want to start to look for one with adjustable straps for a secure fit, integrated weight pockets to streamline your profile, and multiple dump valves for easy adjustments to remain afloat. Some BCDs even have attachment points for your camera gear, which is handy for photographers. The right BCD will help you stay stable in the water, allowing you to focus on capturing stunning underwater images while staying safe and comfortable under the surface.. 

5. Maintenance kit

Maintenance kit containing spare O-rings and O-ring grease is necessary to keep your camera and other related equipment protected when you’re shooting under the waters. The former item helps create watertight seals for camera housings and strobes, and having spares allows for quick replacement if they get damaged. On the other hand, the grease helps maintain these seals by keeping the O-rings flexible and preventing them from drying out and cracking. Regular maintenance ensures your underwater camera equipment stays waterproof, preventing costly damage and allowing beginners to capture stunning underwater images without interruptions.

6. Dive gear

Lastly, don’t forget to equip yourself with your own mask, fins, and wetsuit or dry suit that suits the water temperature in your desired destination. To be able to take the best underwater photos, it’s equally as important to have suitable gear that allows you to move freely. We also recommend you to take diving lessons to get comfortable with your skills before plunging into the deep waters, which can help you to become a safe and confident diver overall.

If you’re unsure where to start your diving journey, we’ll also explore some of the top-rated liveaboard diving vacations and dive resorts, including the most popular options in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Tips for Underwater Photography for Beginners 

1. Choose the right destination 

Although there are many exciting spots to explore across the globe, choosing the right place according to your subject of interest and level of diving skill is quite important. If you’re just a beginner underwater photographer with basic free or scuba diving skills, then places with calm waters like the Lembeh Strait in Indonesia or Similan Islands in Thailand are ideal for you. On the other hand, if you already have more experience under your belt, then Palau or the Red Sea’s strong currents will provide more challenge and thrill for your underwater adventures.  

2. Respect the environment around you

While shooting underwater, it’s important to adhere to the local rules and regulations surrounding their wildlife. Do educate yourself prior to your travels, as most of these information are usually available online for many of the more popular dive sites. However, as a rule of thumb, you should refrain from directly chasing, touching, or disturbing any aquatic creatures you encounter. Additionally, avoid bumping into coral reefs, don’t remove or relocate items, and also avoid protected areas when you want to photograph anything below the waters.

3. Learn from a professional photography guide 

To give yourself a great head start, consider learning from professional photographers who specialize in underwater photography. Many photographers provide both offline and/or online lessons for interested participants, which may include useful information like how to adjust your shutter speed when capturing different types of animals, the best aperture and ISO settings for various underwater conditions, ways to take care of your equipment, and more.

Start Your Journey as an Underwater Photographer Today!

Now that you’ve got your basics covered, it’s time for you to set up your camera and embark on your digital photography journey with us at Solitude Liveaboards and Resorts! In our Lembeh and Acacia Resorts, we have dedicated camera rooms for your equipment, professional underwater photography guides, and expert workshops with hands-on practice on the premises. We are prepared to support you thoroughly in the world of underwater photography, so you do not have to worry when starting your adventures with us.

Book your stay at Solitude Liveaboards and Resorts today!