Underwater Photography Lighting Guide

Photography is all about light and understanding how to control it. Underwater photography poses a unique challenge due to simple physics - essentially the properties of water and its effect on light. Water absorbs light in ways that air does not. Therefore, if you are looking to improve your underwater photography, lighting becomes that much more important to understand. In nearly all cases, underwater, ambient light alone will not provide the right light to produce the colorful and pleasing images that you were hoping for.


However, don’t be intimidated, the basics are easy to understand. From there, challenge yourself to study and understand how light works underwater and how to control it. Good photographers study light for their entire careers and are constantly learning from experience and experimentation, constantly improving.
Underwater, light is affected by:

The DPG underwater lighting guide is a comprehensive resource for anyone learning about underwater photography, or just trying to hone your skills and tackle specific lighting scenarios. The guide is broken down into several sections. If you are new to underwater photography, you will want to read each section chronologically, otherwise feel free to browse the guide for answers to your specific questions. We will be updating the guide from time to time, so if you are looking for something very specific that is not included currently, please email us and we will definitely add the topic.

Basic Principles Of Light Underwater
Are your images feeling a little blue? Have you been wondering why the amazing colors from your dive never made it into your images? Water absorbs light very quickly due to the fact that water is...
Underwater Strobes and Connections
External strobes are an essential part of an underwater photographers gear kit. Underwater strobes are flash guns that provide the necessary artificial light to compensate for the absorption of...
Underwater Strobe Positioning
In underwater photography, the positioning of your strobes plays a vitally important role in the quality of your underwater lighting...
Light Quality
Creating pleasing underwater lighting is a subjective endeavor. Light quality is essentially a combination of: the size of your light source relative to the subject and the level of diffusion, the...
Underwater Photography In Ambient Light
Shooting underwater photography in ambient light without strobes requires adherence to certain guidelines in order to produce good images...
Preventing Backscatter
Backscatter is the nemisis of underwater photography. Backscatter is the illumination of the particulate matter in the water between you and your subject. Learn how to prevent backscatter in your...
Color Temperature and White Balance
In photography, underwater or otherwise, color temperature relates to the color cast of different light sources. To understand white balance, you must first understand color temperature. Due to the...
TTL Exposure Control
All DSLR cameras have a senor that determines the proper amount of strobe light required to achieve a proper exposure, and squelches the strobe at the appropriate point. This is referred to as...
Advanced Underwater Lighting Techniques
Once you have mastered traditional underwater lighting techniques, you're ready to experiment with more advanced approaches to lighting that can add a creative look to your underwater images...