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Photography Tips for Capturing Underwater Beauty

Diver capturing underwater moments with a camera.

Make your diving trip in Aqaba more adventurous with the captivating magic of underwater photography. It’s an incredible way to explore and document amazing landscapes, discover new depths, and challenge yourself in the process. At Deep Blue Dive Center, we have experts who have been capturing underwater photographs for years. In this detailed guide, they’ve shared some crucial underwater photography tips that can help you.

No matter if you’re a beginner or a seasoned photographer, explore these techniques to capture the vibrant marine life, vivid coral reefs, and beautiful underwater landscapes, and bring their story to life through your images.

Gather the Right Equipment

To capture the underwater beauty, the first thing you need is the right gear. You can either invest in a good-quality waterproof camera or a camera with dedicated underwater housing.

If you’re a beginner or a casual photographer, a compact digital camera with underwater housing will be suitable for you. They are user-friendly, affordable, and capture decent underwater shots. Mirrorless cameras are a popular choice among underwater photographers due to their compact size and excellent image quality. Paired with underwater housings, they provide more advanced features and options. On the other hand, if you’re looking for advanced options, invest in a DSLR camera with dedicated housings to achieve superior control and crisp quality. GoPro is another great option to capture your underwater adventures and they’re user-friendly too.

A mesmerizing image of a jellyfish floating in the deep sea.

Besides a good camera, you also need a suitable lens. Macro lenses are ideal for close-up shots of small marine creatures, while wide-angle lenses are great for capturing expansive underwater scenes. GoPro users can also find wide angle and macro lenses that can attach to the housing.

Understanding Your Camera Settings

Here comes the most important part of utilizing your camera to the fullest— understanding your camera settings for underwater photography. Understand the exposure triangle (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) to adjust settings based on your specific lighting conditions and subjects. This will help you control the exposure, freeze motion, and depth of field of your photographs, all of which play a crucial role in the final result.

Here are some settings that work great for underwater photography:

Shoot in RAW for more flexibility in post-processing.
Keep ISO low (100-200) to minimize noise, unless shooting wrecks.
Set the aperture around f/8 to f/11 for a balanced depth of field and sharpness.
Use a fast shutter speed (1/125th sec or faster) for sharp images, especially with fast-moving subjects. If you are photographing a wreck or very large reef scene from far away, strobes will not work so you might need to set your shutter speed lower than 1/125 to allow for more light to enter.
Activate burst mode for quick series of shots, ideal for fast-moving subjects, but use single shots for all other photo types.
Use auto white balance and then correct the colors in post-processing with a program such as Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom costs about $20 a month, but you can also find some free alternatives that have been rated by Divernet.
It is best to stay on autofocus as a beginner.
Practice, practice, practice.

Master The Exposure Triangle

In the realm of underwater photography, the exposure triangle serves as a fundamental concept that guides photographers in capturing captivating images beneath the ocean’s surface. This trio of interrelated settings – aperture, shutter speed, and ISO – dictates the amount of light that reaches the camera sensor, ultimately determining the brightness and quality of the captured image.

Aperture, represented by the f-number, controls the depth of field, influencing the sharpness of both the foreground and background elements. Shutter speed, measured in fractions of a second, governs the duration of light exposure, affecting the sharpness of moving subjects and the creation of motion blur effects. ISO, a measure of the sensor’s sensitivity to light, amplifies the signal, enabling photography in low-light conditions, but at the expense of introducing noise or graininess.

Mastering the delicate balance of these three settings is crucial for underwater photographers, as they navigate the unique challenges posed by the aquatic environment. The interplay of light absorption and scattering underwater necessitates careful adjustments to ensure proper exposure and produce stunning underwater photographs.

Woman working on retouching photos

Work on Composition

Another important underwater photography tip is to work on composition. It plays a crucial part in creating stunning underwater photographs. You can apply basic composition rules like the rule of thirds, leading lines, and framing to your underwater shots. Here is how.

Rule of Thirds: Position the subject off-center, ensuring it aligns with intersecting lines or points. This helps achieve balanced and appealing compositions.
Leading Lines: Natural lines in the surroundings like schools of fish or coral reefs can help direct the viewer’s gaze through the photograph.
Negative Space: Incorporate negative space in your images to highlight the subject while creating a sense of scale.

While you’re at it, consider experimenting with different angles and perspectives to find the most visually appealing composition.

Patience and Practice

Capturing marine life in all its glory can take you a lot of time, so you must keep practicing and remain patient until you get the perfect shot. If you’re lucky you might get good photographs in your initial attempts; however, underwater photography often requires patience. Spend time observing and waiting for the perfect moment to capture unique behaviors or interactions.

Invest in Underwater Lighting

Proper lighting is key to bringing out the colors and details of the underwater world. As you go deeper into the water, you’ll lose a lot of natural light which can affect the quality of your photographs. Consider investing in appropriate lighting equipment such as strobes and video lights, which can help compensate for this loss and add vibrancy to your shots.

It’s also important to use diffusers on your strobes or lights. These diffusers soften the light while reducing harsh shadows, ultimately yielding more visually pleasing and natural-looking underwater images.

The key to underwater photography is getting the right balance of available natural light and artificial light. Learn to use natural light to your advantage and understand how it interacts with the water, creating stunning effects.


Post-processing is an integral part of underwater photography. Software like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop can help you enhance and fine-tune your images, correcting colors and contrast, and removing unwanted elements.

Master Your Diving Skills

Before you dive into underwater photography, it’s crucial to become a proficient diver. Excellent buoyancy control is essential to minimize disturbing the delicate marine environment and to position yourself for the perfect shot. These skills also help you frame your shots effectively. Understand underwater currents, tides, and dive conditions to plan your photography dives effectively. And most importantly, avoid disturbing the sea floor or coral reefs with your fins, and practice hovering in place.

A person swimming underwater, capturing a photo of a sea turtle.

This is where we can help you. At Deep Blue Dive Center, we offer Certified PADI Courses for all divers, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned connoisseur. Our courses help you develop, and polish skills needed for buoyancy control, problem-solving, and protecting the well-being of marine life. You can also find professional courses that can help you start a career in this field.

That’s not all; we offer snorkeling in Aqaba to help diving enthusiasts explore the stunning underwater world. These packages are designed keeping every individual’s needs and skill level in mind. Reach out to us now to learn more.