Underwater Photography/Videography: Natural Light Pt. 1

SHANE PICKELSIMER   Apr 01, 2021

Light is essential for photography, whether it is above or below the water. Capturing pictures and videos underwater takes just as much planning as on land, if not more. For now, however, I am just going to touch on utilizing natural light instead of strobes, video lights and flashlights.

As we have learned in our SCUBA training, the deeper you dive, the more light is lost until it disappears completely at 3,280 feet. I would love to have pictures at that depth, but I will have to stick with the recreational dive limit of 130 feet for now.

This first picture was taken with a GoPro Hero 7 Black around 8 feet deep in a clear freshwater spring. It was a sunny day, and despite the major flow coming out of the spring, the visibility was very good. There were a few particles in the water catching the sunlight. I did not have to use any filters or artificial light sources.

This next picture was taken in the ocean during a safety stop around 15 to 17 feet. I used a GoPro Hero 4 Black with a red dive filter and no external light sources. It was also a sunny day, but visibility wasn’t as clear. With a little more Photoshop editing to remove the particles in the water and increase the contrast and sharpness, this would still make a good picture.

This photo was taken around 35 feet in the ocean. It was a partly cloudy day, and visibility was good. I was using a GoPro Hero 5 Black with no red filter on at the time and no external light sources. The camera was having a time trying to find the right white balance, but with editing, I managed to bring out quite a bit of color.

This last picture was taken by the American flag on the Spiegel Grove in Florida. It was a sunny day, but visibility wasn’t clear. I was using a GoPro Hero 6 Black with a red dive filter, but no external light source. I don’t remember the exact depth, but I believe it is well below 60 feet. The depth of this wreck ranges between 60 and 130 feet. I had to use Photoshop to brighten this picture and adjust the saturation.

I believe it is entirely possible to capture some great amature photos and video without the use of expensive cameras, housings and lighting setups. I take a lot of my pictures out of the videos I capture. The main key to this is to hold the camera as still as possible to get a good, clear focus on the subject. This is really the main key to any type of camera work…a steady hand. Great bouyancy control is also a must underwater! But, that is an entirely different subject.

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