snorkelling advice
Underwater Photography for Snorkellers

Lots of people enjoy casual snorkelling and have no interest in scuba diving. Snorkelling is low cost and needs little if any training and is suitable for most ages. Snorkelling opens up the underwater world of kelp forests and coral reefs and fascinating wildlife encounters. In fact, professional filmmakers and photojournalists often prefer to snorkel with big animals like whales and basking sharks because bubbles from scuba can disturb them. So snorkelling is very much an underwater activity in its own right and provides many opportunities for exploration and taking wonderful photographs.

Underwater photography is usually easier for snorkellers than deeper diving scuba divers. In the shallows that many snorkellers prefer, the light is usually brighter. So you don’t normally need an underwater flashgun. Colours are also vibrant. Deeper down the light becomes dull and colours quickly fade.

Snorkellers can choose from a wide range of cameras that are suitable for taking underwater pictures. Many camera manufacturers produce waterproof compact cameras that don’t require an additional underwater housing. These are usually very small, lightweight and handy and designed to be an all around travel camera. Normally these cameras will have a modest depth limit and also a time limit dictating how long they can be submerged for. Some of these cameras can be fitted with underwater strobes and extra lenses. Strobes let you shoot at night or in shadow, such as underneath a coral overhang. Some waterproof digital compacts can also be used with an underwater housing if you want to dive deeper or for longer than the camera normally allows. This can be useful if you take up scuba diving or like to spend a long time in the water or make deeper breathold dives. Deep snorkelling is often called freediving and the photography equipment and techniques used can be a little different to those used at or near the surface.

Many people will already own a normal land camera or may want different features to those offered by underwater digital cameras. To meet their needs underwater housings are made to enable many land cameras to be taken snorkelling. Some are offered by the camera manufacturer, others come from companies that specialise in making just underwater photography equipment. Digital cameras are regularly updated by camera manufacturers, and housings may be discontinued at the same time. Often housings are hard to find for older cameras, so buying camera and housing together can be a good idea.

Almost all housings can be fitted with underwater flashguns or strobes, but attaching lenses may be much more difficult. Wide angle lenses are a very useful accessory for photographing other people, scenic’s and big animals like mantas. Wide angle lenses let you get much closer to your subject, which improves both the sharpness of your picture and the colours. This is because water carries particles suspended in it, which makes the image look softer the further away you are from it and also filters colours, so people’s faces can look blue! You can see these disappointing effects even in a shallow sunlit swimming pool.

There is a lot of confusion about what wide angles lenses really are and which cameras and housings they can be used with. Because so much misinformation surrounds choosing and using even snorkelling cameras, let alone accessories, it is important to seek professional advice from a seasoned underwater photographer. Your INON UK dealer is an underwater photography equipment specialist and can provide you with expert and up to date advice. They can also explain the best camera settings to use to ensure you return from your snorkelling adventures with great underwater images.

Many INON UK dealers can provide snorkelling lessons and also sell safe and comfortable snorkelling equipment for all ages, including masks corrected for any eyesight problems.

snorkelling basking
Basking sharks are the worlds second largest fish at up to 12 metres in length. They are regularly found off UK beaches and easy for a snorkeller to photograph. Photo Steve Warren. Fuji F30 with INON UFL165AD fisheye lens.

snorkelling child
Snorkelling is something youngsters can enjoy in pools as well as in open water. Marine biologist and INON UK expert and instructor Jamie Watts' son Alex poses for Steve Warren's camera.Fuji F30, INON D- 2000 strobe.

dougie and whaleshark
Sometimes subjects are better suited to photographing whilst snorkelling, such as whalesharks, who spend most of their time feeding just under the surface. This image was taken with Lisa Collins at night in the Maldives, whilst the whaleshark gulp fed a huge bait ball of krill attracted to the dive boat by it's lights.

sp 2
Practising your underwater photography whilst snorkelling, by taking 'selfie's' can be very beneficial. Balancing the bright sunlight with the composition, focus and light of your face can be challenging, but rewarding.

mark snorkel
Snorkelling by Mark Koekemoer
Tanzania 2008

Snorkelling all by myself on a late sunny afternoon, with not a soul in site - the surface was a mirror. With plenty of harmless jellyfish about it seemed like a good opportunity for a selfie. When photographing near the surface always try to consider the position of the sunlight, capture reflections and use flash to fill in any shadows as I have done on my face.

Photographed with Canon Powershot A570 Compact, Canon DC12 Housing - INON UFL165 Fish Eye Lens, INON Z-240 Strobe. f5.6, 1/250th ISO 100