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Underwater Images – 2 Post-Processing Tricks

Posted by on August 20, 2014

underwater photo post processingDivers know that Scuba diving is addictive and somehow we want to capture those perfect moments in photographs. Since market today provides an assortment of underwater cameras, more and more of us have begun to take photos of fascinating world under the surface. But, if you are a novice, your pictures don’t really come out the way you remember seeing it, do they? There are many reasons for this and we have already written about lightning techniques. Right now we will focus on two simple post-processing techniques that will surely improve the quality of your underwater images.

1. Color Correction – With the underwater photographs, the biggest challenge you actually come across is the loss of the key colors in images. This is because water absorbs different wavelengths of light so, for example, red starts to be absorbed even at shallow depths. Orange and yellow are absorbed right after red. The absence of these beautiful, warm and lively colors actually makes underwater images look uninviting and flat. Of course, you can use strobes to prevent colors from fading, but if you have a simple casing, you must rely on ambient light, therefore you have to lose some of the photo’s color. Luckily, in the post-processing lost colors can be brought back and white balance can be corrected.

Shoot in RAW and you’ll be able to adjust your white balance in the post-processing phase. Use the temperature slider in Lightroom to correct for the white balance. The best blues will probably be shown when you bring white balance down to 4500K. Afterwards, use HSL/Color/B & W panel in Lightroom, under the development module or the Selective Color tool in PhotoShop to focus on key colors of your image. These tools will allow you to precisely adjust each color. Of course, here I cannot give you one-fits-all solution for doing this, because each underwater photo varies. The best advice is to get familiar with these powerful tools and see what will work best in certain situation for bringing the lost colors back to the image.

2. Contrast Correction – Similar to the colors, water also can take the contrast out of underwater images. It tends to lighten darker tones. This makes the contrast correction very important part of post-processing. The contrast slider in Lightroom is an easy way to add contrast to any images, but a quick levels adjustment within Photoshop will do the trick, too.