• nl_NL
  • de_DE_formal
  • en_GB
oefenen onderwaterfotografie bovenwater

Practising underwater photography on land

I don't know about you, but unfortunately I can't go diving every day. Let alone weekly; sometimes my last dive was even a month ago. Fortunately, that doesn't happen too often, but sometimes it really takes too long and I want to get going with my underwater camera so badly! I just want to practice underwater photography!

Especially when I want to try out new underwater photography materials or further develop my techniques.

I can imagine that when you are just starting out in underwater photography, that need to practice with your camera is even greater!

Fortunately, you can also practice with your camera during periods on dry land. This will help you have even better control of your underwater camera and photography techniques on the next dive.

Even if you can't dive, you can improve your underwater photography by practising above water.


There are quite a few differences between land photography and underwater photography.

Just because it is physically much harder. Controlling your buoyancy and trim while continuing to breathe calmly. You might have to swim slightly backwards to get the right position for your photo subject.

And then you have to combine that with other diving skills such as keeping an eye on your depth, bottom time, navigation and your buddy.

Add to that the photographic challenges, such as keeping your subject in focus, aiming your lights in the right place and determining your composition. And all while floating in the water.

Photographing underwater is really more challenging than photographing above water. There really is more to practice with underwater photography.

Unfortunately, you cannot practise everything above water to take perfect photos underwater. You will also need to spend hours underwater to develop the perfect buoyancy. And to learn how your camera behaves underwater, because your camera also has a certain buoyancy.

But if you can't dive for whatever reason, you can improve your photography skills by practising the following things above water.


Your biggest gain lies in getting to know your camera. How do you set your aperture, shutter speed and ISO?

Which way do you brighten your photo and which setting do you use to make your photo darker? When does noise occur? Do you know why your photos are out of focus?

It all has to do with aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Making those three work together is not easy for everyone.

If you have mastered these three camera techniques, you will know exactly what to do underwater to brighten a too-dark photo. Or to bring a moving subject into focus.

So practising with your camera's general settings gives a big payoff on your underwater photography.



  1. Take several shots of the same subject with different apertures to see the difference between depth of field.

    The photos below were shot with apertures 3.2, 7.1 and 22. You can clearly see from the grain of the wood that more and more sharpness is visible from front to back. If you click on the photo, you can view it with more detail.




Various lighting conditions

  1. Take a photo of your subject in full light, for example on the windowsill or in the garden. Then take the same photo again in a place where it is much darker. (For example, in the room with the curtains closed or in the evening when it is dark)
practice underwater photography

Photographing the duckling inside, with a higher ISO, slower shutter and lower aperture compared to the duckling outside.

practising photography above water
histogram for underwater photography

And in more light, the duckling is at a lower ISO, a faster shutter and a higher aperture compared to the duckling inside.


  1. Take pictures of something that is constantly moving, for example bikes or cars passing by, running water or your buddy sitting opposite you at the table while waving at you.
    The movement should last this long and stay the same to give you time to try different shutter speeds. Take a picture at 1/10 sec, 1/125 sec and 1/500 sec and see the differences.

Additional light

  1. To keep your underwater flashes from overheating, practise with a torch. Shine the torch on your subject and set your camera so that the background is darker than your subject.

Settings photo:
ISO 400, aperture 9, 1/40 sec
Photographed using the phone's light.

Settings photo:
ISO 400, aperture 9, 1/40 sec
Photographed with the backscatter mini flash and snoot.

How did these exercises go for you? Easy? Or challenging?
I'm curious about your results, feel free to write a message with question or comment in the comments or send me a message via email or my facebookpage.
I always reply to your question or comment!