Course overview

‘I’VE BEEN A PHOTOGRAPHER since I was 11 and a professional photographer both on land and under water since 1994. I have seen quite a few underwater photography courses for compact camera users, and while I would hate this review to end up sounding like an ad, I believe this is the most professional, intelligent and well thought-out I have come across so far’

Professional underwater photo–journalist, Gavin Parsons describing the INON UK Level One underwater photography course in Diver Magazine .

At INON UK we believe, through our own experience as underwater photographers, there is a certain level of understanding you need to have to take underwater photographs successfully. We like to give our students the ‘why’s’ behind the methods we teach. Much like an entry level scuba course, you’ll use what you learned on your INON UK Level One course as a foundation that will serve you well however far you take your underwater photography in the future.

Six theory sessions provide you with the essential information to help you understand the problems of taking photographs through water, what different camera features actually do, how to take colourful pictures without flash, features of underwater strobes, selecting lenses and creative composition skills. After each of the first five modules there’s a short multi choice quiz. This lets your instructor confirm they are getting their points across and prompts them to discuss anything that isn’t clear.

1 - Light – All photography is based on light. Understanding the differences between how light behaves in air and underwater will help you better understand the solutions to the problems underwater photographers face. Your INON UK instructor will also explain how human vision works and how the brain interprets what we see compared to how our underwater camera records an image. Knowing how humans adapt our view of the underwater world compared to how our cameras do will explain away many of the poor pictures we’re all familiar with.

2 – Camera basics – Automatic settings and ‘underwater modes’ rarely provide good underwater photographs. But many divers are confused by the multitude of functions their digital underwater camera offers and aren’t sure what they do or how to use them. This presentation helps put you in charge of your camera and shows you how to control the look of your images. It’s during this presentation you’ll learn to avoid common problems like motion blur and how to bring creativity to your own underwater pictures by making silhouettes or freezing shafts of light.

3 – Restoring colour (natural light) - It’s becoming ever easier to take good colour pictures without using an underwater strobe. There are lots of reasons to take pictures using natural light. It can be less complicated, there’s less equipment to create drag, you’ll get natural looking colours over long distances and you may be able to shoot more quickly. In this session you’ll find out all about colour absorption and the different methods we use to accurately restore true colours the camera does not usually record when set to auto or underwater mode.

4 – Restoring colour (artificial light) – For most underwater photographers strobes are an essential tool. Not only are they necessary to light images at night and inside wrecks and caverns, they are also used to restore true colours. Strobes also play an important part in creative lighting allowing you to modify background colours, enhance textures and spot light parts of your subject, all of which is covered in the soon to be launched INON UK Level Two Underwater Lighting Course. This Level One module discusses features of strobes such as power, coverage and exposure control – all must know information for successful underwater strobe photography.

5 – Lenses – The wealth of subjects we encounter as divers with cameras leaves us spoilt for choice. But no one lens and no single photographic technique can possibly work for all subjects and water conditions. In this session you’ll learn how different lenses suit different applications. Your INON UK instructor will explain the jargon surrounding underwater lenses, helping cut through the confusion of terms such as close up, macro and super macro and the difference between a simple dome port and a more effective genuine wide angle lens. From photographing the tiniest critter to an ocean liner, knowing how to select and use the right lens is the key to a successful image.

6 – Techniques - The INON UK Level One underwater photography course concentrates on helping you to master your underwater camera system and learn simple to use techniques that will make it much easier to take great underwater pictures on your next dive trip. Rounding off your classroom sessions is this presentation on how to create pleasing compositions that will really make your underwater photographs stand out. Your INON UK instructor will talk you through a selection of their own images and discuss how using just a few easily remembered tips can make all the difference between taking a dull snapshot or creating a stunning underwater photograph.

Practical Skills

The practical skills set you’ll learn and master on your INON UK Level One course are designed to dovetail with the background theory you have learned. As a minimum you will complete exercises that will show you what causes and how to avoid motion blur, how to take crisp images instead of soft one’s and how to prevent unsightly burn out from sunlight in the top of your pictures. You’ll practice shooting silhouettes and freezing shafts of light for creative effect. You’ll also take comparative pictures using different camera settings to learn about restoring colour using natural light. Learning how to position a single underwater strobe for lighting that is both even and backscatter free is another important part of your INON UK Level One underwater photography course tuition. You will learn the applications and limitations of built in and kit lenses as well as how to use wide angle lenses for larger subjects and creative close focus, wide angle photography. Close up and macro photography are other skills sets you will master with your INON UK instructor during your course.

INON UK underwater photography instructors are trusted to run their courses to best meet the needs of you, their student. At their discretion they may teach the course in a pool or in open water. They may also choose to extend the course by including more training dives. Because INON UK only works with top underwater photography experts, we encourage them to add to and enhance the INON UK Level One course for your benefit. You may wish to discuss your Level One training with several instructors to see which offers the best course for your needs.

Only INON UK instructors listed on the INON UK official website are authorised to offer INON UK courses and only they can provide INON UK certification. If you have any doubt about whether any individual or company is misrepresenting themselves as an INON UK instructor or INON UK Academy, please get in touch at

INON UK Course Materials

INON UK underwater photography instructors are free to recommend and supply the underwater photography manual they believe is right for you, their student, and best fits their INON UK underwater photography course structure. If you find letters or numbers difficult, discuss with your INON UK instructor how they can tailor the course for you.

Your INON UK instructor will register you with INON UK and you’ll receive your INON UK Level One underwater photographer certification card shortly after.

Welcome to the program.