Improving Dive photos

If you have come home from a dive holiday with awful shots taken with a cheap throwaway camera, you may well feel asamed to show anyone your photos.

However, a little messing around can enhance yur shots. They might never end up as masterpieces, but they can become at least bareable.

Ok, here is a bad photo with far too much background and not enough surgeonfish.

A crop sorts that little problem out. I kept the same orientation and placed the fish approximately in the bottom third of the new picture. Follow the 'rule of thirds', which basically means you imagine dividing a picture into 9 even squares and framing the image so that the 'points of interest' in the shot lay along the lines and at the four points where the lines bisect each other.

rule of thirds

As you can see I framed this shot so that the fishes eye lies on a line but the key element, the interplay between the two fishes is right where the top right intersecting lines cross each other.

Now going back to our first shot there are some more things we can do to improve the picture.

Next I increased the contrast (a bit too much to be honest) because it was a dull exposure.

finally I attempted to do something with the background. It was already slightly out of focus, so I decided to turn that error into a strength by masking out the surgeonfish and blurring the background even more. This makes the fish stand out more. I used a 2 pixel gaussian blur setting but I think 2.5 would be better. I used Paint Shop Pro to achieve all these effects.

Another issue we can resolve is the washed out colours you get in some underwater photographs

This happpens because short wavelength (red) light is reduced in water, leaving only longer wavelengths (blue) to reach the camera.

A quick trick to reverse the effect is to add a bit of red to the photgraph

original 10% more red

As you can see from the two photos above, the contrast between the fishes and the water can be improved by simply increasing the ammount of Red by as little as 10%.

Here is a moray eel photo,

moray eel

Here is the same photo re-cropped, contrast and lightness increased by 10% and the red increased by 10% while blue was decreased by -10% and green by -5%

moray eel - better

Using these techniques you can do a lot to improve your dodgy old dive photos.