Underwater photography

From ArticleWorld

Underwater photography is a specialized form of photographing subjects underwater, namely while scuba diving. In more recent years, photographers that are swimming or snorkeling have also been able to capture underwater photographs. Challenging because of the movement of both the subject and the photographer, underwater photography differs in requiring special waterproof casing and other features adapted to use underwater.

Basic Features

Underwater photographers require cameras that are waterproof and for those that are first starting out, a cheap, waterproof, and disposable camera suffices. Similar to cameras popular on land, these waterproof cameras differ in possessing a waterproof exterior that protects the lens and other delicate parts within the frame of the camera from getting wet. Also, underwater cameras have to be able to withstand the pressure of dives. Most disposable cameras can handle a maximum depth of about 30-60 feet.

Amateur and professional photographers invest in more expensive underwater cameras that are entirely waterproof, and come enclosed in special casing that is watertight and also resistant to shocks and sudden movements. These cameras can also withstand pressure changes. Sometimes, it is difficult to access all the features of the camera through the rigid casing. Also some cameras come equipped with an underwater camera mode, a special feature that alters the functions and capabilities of the camera.

Underwater flashes are designed differently to accommodate differences in the behavior of light in water. Water possesses larger particles than air and using a flash in water, creates an effect called backscatter, which results in photographs that have white dots on them. To prevent this, flashes for underwater photography are mounted away from the lens on a swinging arm, which thus offers light without backscatter. A lot of photographers also use underwater flashlights at an angle while photographing their subjects.


Several important events in underwater photography are outlined below. In 1856, the first underwater photographs were taken by affixing a camera to a pole by William Thompson. Almost forty years later in 1893, Louis Baton surprised photographers worldwide by taking beautiful underwater photographs while diving. The first color underwater photographs were taken by W.H.Longley and Charles Martin in 1923. 1957 heralded the arrival of the Calypso camera, a special camera built by Jean de Wouters and famous French explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. The Calypso was renamed the Nikonos by Nikon and became the most popular underwater camera.