Photographic Tips & Techniques

Color Correction

Quality digital cameras are usually quite good at producing acceptable colors, however underwater performance can be hit or miss depending upon a few factors.  Regardless of the cause, a fair number of images can be corrected with imaging manipulation software regardless of brand.  Best results are obtained from high-end programs but simple 'one-click' solutions can also produce remarkable results.

Some cameras have an 'Underwater' scene mode that adds orange to the image to offset blue light.  This is akin to placing an orange filter on a film or video camera minus exposure adjustment caused by the filter itself.

These corrections will work with any digital image format but the best results can only be realized by users whose cameras offer RAW image capture.



Computer monitors produce millions of colors by mixing varying levels of red, green, and blue light.  These three are complemented by opposite colors of cyan, magenta, and yellow.    

The strobe's diffuser is used to reduce light intensity by 1-2 stops in case your images are being burnt out.  It also softens the light and provides a smoother effect.  I need to use a diffuser when doing macro with my digital camera.  It varies according to several factors, especially film rating & subject distance.  You should shoot a test roll in a pool with a colorful fish-sized subject at distances of 2,3,4 & 5 feet, one shot with and one without diffuser to find the optimal combination before your trip.  Do the same with the macro kit (at the prescribed focusing distance) if you own one.  As long as you keep using the same ISO/ASA film speed you can use your new settings without fail. 


Remember that your photofinisher can also make-break the appearance of your prints if they are not careful to properly expose underwater prints that have large expanses of blue water in the background.  Automatic printers try to expose navy blue ocean to match sky blue; if you are having this problem have them print it again manually, perhaps take a magazine photo along to show them what the ocean's supposed to look like to a diver.  Check the prints before you leave the counter.  You should not have to pay for a re-do.   Many folks who thought their UW photos were bad just didn't get them printed correctly. 



The most common color issue is caused by cyan/blue ambient light from filtered sunlight.  Adding red and/or yellow (orange) can help things look more true-to-life.  I suggest making several incremental changes rather than a big one.  The best way to recognize how much incremental adjustment is 'enough' is to keep the image highlights from assuming the colors you are 'adding'; i.e. keep the whites white.  By making several small adjustments you should be able to obtain a more pleasing and natural-looking product while adding more orange overall.


Sometimes color correction alone can appear artificial, especially when the image is richly colored or oversaturated.  The intensity of color can often be reduced to restore a more natural look.  Signs of oversaturation are most noticeable in the image's highlights and shadows.  If your software has the option of adjusting saturation by individual color you can simply desaturate that channel.  Another method is to use the Levels or Histogram tool to adjust the unwanted color's highlights and shadows. 



Added red & yellow


Added red & yellow


reduced saturation

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