There is just something missing in pictures from your last dive holiday but you’re not sure what it is?

Find some easy tips below on how to improve your underwater photography.

Are you just starting with underwater photography, check out the tips for new photographers.


1. Go to eye level

We tend to take pictures from above as that is how we normally observe the marine life. Captured on a photo this then seems boring and possibly too busy with the reef as a background.

Try to get to eye level with your subject. The chances are better to get a blue or black background when doing so. This separates the object from the background and it seems as if the animal is interacting with the viewer of the image.

frogfish not close up vs. frogfish close up


2. Get the eye, not the butt

Make sure to take a photo from the front. This is easiest with something that doesn’t move, like a nudibranch. For fish you should stay in place and let the fish turn to you.

Most marine life will swim away when you go after it. They are quicker and we don’t stand a chance to get in front of them by swimming.

bumphead parrotfish


3. Have the eyes or rhinophores in focus

Make sure to focus is on the eyes of the animal. Taking a photo of a nudibranch the focus should be on the rhinophores.



4. Shoot from below

When shooting scenery it can make your photos more interesting if you shoot up towards the surface.

With a wideangle lens the landscape will appear larger and more impressive than from above or straight ahead.

free dive light

You will also have more interesting colors in the background as they will be darker at the bottom and get lighter towards the surface.

schooling fish vs. schooling fish

Maybe you can get the sun in the background of the shot capturing the rays. It depends on the type of camera and lens you use how well this works. When you get a blurry white image try increasing the shutter speed. With the shutter speed high enough you should be able to catch the rays of the sun. Use some kind of light in order to still get enough on the foreground.

underwater photography against sun


5. Go closer

Get as close as your buoyancy control and camera allow (and the subject of course). In general the closer you get the better the picture will look. This works especially well for smaller objects but is also true for scenery shots like below.

It is best is to fill the frame with your object instead of cropping later on. Find out how close your camera will allow you to focus.

Being close to the object is the best way to avoid getting too much backscatter (particles in the water shining bright in the light from the strobe).

reef scenery vs. reef scenery closer


6. And closer

For small creatures that let you get close like nudibranches, frogfish, pipefish and so on you might want to get even closer. By using macro mode or a macro lens your minimum focus distance will decrease and it is possible to get the object in focus from a short distance.

shrimp far away vs. shrimp close

[ctt template=”4″ link=”dGD3e” via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]To improve your underwater photography go closer and to eye level or even lower @morefundiving[/ctt]


7. Let the fish continue to swim

Make sure that there is room in front of the object on the picture. Imagine as if it would continue swimming in the shot. When the picture ends just in front of the animal and there is room behind it the picture seems less lively.

fish not swimming vs. fish swimming


8. Find a foreground

Wide-angle shots of the most beautiful underwater sceneries often look boring on photographs. To change that make sure you have something in the foreground. This can be a piece of coral, a fish or possibly even a diver.

anemone city vs. nemo in anemone city


9. The rule of thirds

The image is divided by two horizontal and two vertical lines. The four points where the lines meet are where important elements of the image should be placed. Lines like a reef or a wall should be lined up with one of these points.

The rule of thirds is based on the golden ratio from mathematics which is an important principle in the arts.

When your camera can show the lines on the display try it. If not just do it by instinct, it doesn’t have to be 100% and you can still crop the image on the computer later on.

[ctt template=”4″ link=”5M2Ff” via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]For underwater photographs make use of the rule of thirds or shoot a symmetrical image @morefundiving[/ctt]


10. Or have symmetrical shots

Alternatively place a symmetrical object in the center of the shot. A front shot of a fish for example.
Keep these rules in the back of your mind when going out diving next time. None of these rules is a must but they do help to get better looking photos.

symmetrical shot

Don’t worry if you can’t get to the right angle for the perfect shot of a special critter. Still take the picture as a memory or to show off what incredible creature you found. You might have heard “no proof – it didn’t happen”!

It is also more important to make sure you do not touch any coral or other animals to get the perfect shot! Make sure not to harm any wildlife or the reef when trying to get the perfect picture.


free dive light


What is your favourite underwater photography tip? What did help you to improve your photos? Please let me know in the comment section below


Improve Your Underwater Photography Pinterest