Underwater Photography

For my complimentary studies, I worked on the topic of under water photography. The aim of this module was to develo a body of work that exploits the water environment to further develop my personal practice in a specific field using specialist camera equipment, as well as having the oppurtunity to in a swimming pool and an open water environment. The theme of our module was “Surface”, which I decided I wanted to approach from a slightly more surreal approach as I had ideas to work with the distortion of the surface of the water. I felt this theme was pretty flexible to work with, and couldn’t wait to get started, ready to explore and experiment with new kit and a new environment, whilst trying to understand the perks and restrictions of underwater photography.

The first factor I had to think about was light under water.When light enters the water, it reacts with suspended particles, resulting in loss of colour and light. Colour also decreases with depth and horizontal distance, so it is good practice to shoot up instead of down, gaining more light, thus more colour to your image and dramatically improving the quality. The first colour to disappear when descending in water is red – just within half a meter from the surface, the colour begins to look muted – and before long, most colours have been lost, leaving us with just green and blue at 20 metres.


We also have to take into account refraction. Underwater, our camera will appear larger and closer to our subject – and vice versa – than it actually is, deceiving our vision, just like how a pen would refract and “bend” in water. With objects appearing underwater one third larger than they actually are, we have to remember to get at a reasonable distance whilst shooting, getting physically close in order to achieve the shot we want. This works due to reducing the water between the lens and the subject, minimalizing our deception of size, and loss light and colour.


Different lenses can be very beneficial in underwater photography. Distortion using a wide angle lens can go unnoticed, and can be a good advantage in underwater photography due to their ability to increase the appearance of scale. Macro lenses are great for underwater photography, as there are so many unique textures to explore in an almost alien world to us, yet due to the reduction and limitations of light underwater, flash has to be used in order to create your image.



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