Top #10 tips for underwater videography

#6 Subject Angle


Which angle we choose to capture our subjects from makes a huge difference in underwater videography. A lot of images produced by either snorkelers or divers will be reactionary images; something happens to be swimming by and you shoot it. While there's nothing wrong with that, it often results in images with a less then ideal angle. For example, shooting a fish from above may not be such a good idea as they are generally vertically flat. Shooting one at eye level, swimming sideways or facing you instantly creates an image that stands out from the crowd.

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A lot of cameras these days come with underwater modes for improved underwater colors. What these modes essentially try to do is to balance the reds, greens and blues. These modes can work quite well especially in the shallows but they will never be as accurate as manually white balancing your camera.
By telling your camera which color is white at the particular depth you are shooting at, it works out the correct balance of RGB. It's still not an exact science as several factors will determine end results, such as ambient light direction and strength. A camera's color science and physical sensor size will also factor in greatly, making cameras with larger sensors generally more accurate. Larger sensor cameras also have the advantage of not relying on red filters to achieve correct colors, something smaller sensor cameras often rely on.

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#7 Manual White Balance


#8 Lighting


There are two ways of going about lighting your subject underwater; relying on ambient light or using artificial light. Ambient light comes from the sun and is the light source we all start shooting with. Keeping the sun's angle in mind will greatly approve the way you approach and light your subjects when possible.

Using artificial lights produced by specially designed torches is a must for certain situations, such as cold/dark water diving and cave/wreck penetration. It is also often used to produce better colors from both coral reefs and macro life. While it does have it's advantages it is often overused for situations where ambient light works plenty, and ends up (especially on tropical wide angle shots) to create a very blend image as only your subject is correctly lit up and colored.

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#3 Boyancy and Dive Skills

#9 Subject Approach


Understanding the nature and behavior of the subjects you encounter can have a great effect on your shots. Some animals are naturally defensive, others scare easy either by your presence or the bubbles from your regulator. Some quickly get used to you if you simply ignore them for a while. While knowing which animals you will encounter on a dive can be hard, using your local dive guide as a source of knowledge can better prepare you for your dive and the situations you may encounter.

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#10 Color Correction


Even if you get perfect white balance every time, your job isn't done yet. Knowing how to correctly color correct your footage can make a huge difference in your final edits. Understanding your cameras codec and it's capacity is important here; you might be able to do small or large changes to your image without loosing quality depending. While it's easy to go overboard please remember, you should be trying to recreate what you observed with your eyes. So go easy on that saturation slider!

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BONUS: Complete the Underwater Filmmaker Course!