How to take beautiful pictures?

Snorkeling offers the opportunity to discover the underwater world and thousands of marine species… This page is here to help you improving your underwater photo skills.

Light and visibility are best near the surface and in the first few meters under water. But you will be dependent on the clarity of the water, which varies according to your destination and the weather conditions. Particles in the water (that we tend to stir up when we touch the seabed, for example) can spoil photos, particularly when taken with a flash. Generally speaking, you should try not to use a flash whenever possible.
Water produces a natural filter that reduces color, sharpness and contrast in your photos. From too great a distance (or by over-using the zoom), your photos will often be blurred, and the color blue will overwhelm all the others. The further you are from your subject, the more this effect will be present. So it is better to get as close to your subject as possible (which can be a real challenge with some timid fish!), and ideally less than one meter away.
This is probably the most sensitive point for successful snorkeling photos. The problem arises above all if you take photos while freediving and not from the surface (which is of little interest). Unlike in scuba diving, it is hard to master your buoyancy when snorkeling. So being at ease under water (being able to dive and then stabilize) is an essential prerequisite for successful photography.
Under water, some subjects are easier to photograph than others. Taking photos of a lively or very timid fish, for example, can be a real challenge. Practice with static subjects (coral, sea anemones, clams, etc.) or fish that are easy to get close to. The results in macro mode are often superb. On mobile subjects, don’t hesitate to take a great many shots, so that you can choose the best one later (make sure you have enough space on your memory card and don’t forget to charge your battery before setting off).
When snorkeling, it is easy to take photos from the surface, but this is hardly ever the best angle for high-quality photos. Ideally, you should be at the same level as your subject. Underwater landscapes, shoals of fish or many other subjects only take on their full dimension from this angle. In certain cases (particularly for rays, turtles or sharks), it is worthwhile positioning yourself under the subject, to have the surface of the water in the background.
Snorkeling camera

The seabed is an exciting and inexhaustible subject for photography. Over the past few years, the cameras designed for underwater photography have improved and become more accessible, and everyone can now take home souvenirs from their underwater explorations.

There are three types of camera on the market, with varying capacities for immersion: waterproof compacts, which are small in size and quite resistant, with a satisfactory optic quality (10 to 15m); watertight housing cases, which are adapted to compacts or DSLR cameras, and produce great results, but are bulky (about 40m), and, finally, action cameras (or “action cams”, of the GoPro type), with which you can make wide-angle videos in very high definition (they can generally be immersed down to 60 meters).

The immersion capacity is not a crucial factor for the snorkeler who freedives in a reasonable way. Watertightness down to 10 meters (the average generally found on entry-level watertight compacts) is easily enough. A model that is watertight down to 3 meters is sufficient for snorkelers who stay near the surface.

Waterproof compact cameras, which have considerably developed over the last few years, are generally shock-resistant (they will resist a fall of 1.5 to 2 meters according to the model), crushproof (up to 100kg) and resistant to cold (up to -10°C on average). Entry-level cameras are now waterproof down to 10 meters, while more sophisticated models can be used down to -25 meters. Their optic zoom is usually limited (4x or 5x), but this is enough for underwater shots. Many models also have a built-in GPS, permitting instant geolocation of your photos (which is often useful in snorkeling). This feature is a drain on the battery, however.
If you already have a compact camera, or if you want to use a reflex camera under water, watertight housing cases are worth considering. Most cases are designed in transparent plastic (polycarbonate). A number of features (waterproof push-buttons, small levers) are incorporated to access the camera’s release mechanism or settings. Watertight cases can be bulky, however, and hard to handle when snorkeling. They also require regular maintenance (putting waterproof oil on the seals). Cases can be expensive too, and are sometimes the same price as a watertight compact camera, but produce photos of much better quality.
The market for miniature waterproof action cameras has boomed in recent years. They are small, light, highly resistant, and make it easy to film sports activities on land or under water. With an ultra-wide angle (170° on average), a very high resolution and a rapid rate (up to 60 pictures a second in 4K, producing superb slow-motion films), they will help you make original and high-quality videos. In snorkeling, you can use them to film your explorations or to film yourself under water, with the help of accessories such as a head strap (leaving your hands free) or an extension pole. They have limited capacity in terms of photography, however.
Water, salt, sand – the marine environment is particularly tough on electronic equipment.
Before taking to the water, you should inspect the state of waterproof seals (for cracks and wear), and remove any harmful element that might be found on them (grains of sand, dust, hair, drops of water, etc.). These elements can reduce the case’s or the camera’s watertightness. Close the camera body and the safety catches carefully.
After your exploration, rinse your equipment in fresh water. If you don’t, the salt water will soon damage the most fragile parts of the camera (seals, screws, glass, etc.). It is recommended to leave your equipment in water for about 20 minutes after each exploration, in a bowl of fresh water, for example.