Underwater Photography Tips for Waterproof Cameras

These underwater photography tips are written for you - the new and experienced digital photographer who has never used or rarely used a waterproof camera in the water.

No matter your experience level with photography, you will be amazed by the magic and beauty of your underwater photographs.

While snorkeling, I used the Canon Powershot D10 to take this photo of a Shovelnose Guitarfish at La Jolla Shores Beach.

Let's get started. Be sure your camera is waterproof. If it is waterproof, the manufacturer user guide will tell you how deep you can go with your camera.

Are you kind of freaked out about putting your waterproof camera underwater, even if the manufacturer tells you it's "waterproof"? Are warning sirens in your head jangling?, "Stop, don't do it. The camera will get destroyed."

Relax. Take a deep breath. If you follow the instructions, read the camera manual and follow the tips, you will enjoy using your waterproof camera in the water.

12 Tips for Waterproof Cameras

1. Safety first. Whether it is a swimming pool or the ocean, know your physical limits in the water. Do not push yourself beyond your abilities in the water.

2. Know the ocean conditions and weather conditions. Check the local conditions before entering the water.Remain alert while in the water,too. Ocean and weather conditions can change quickly.

3. Swim and do water sports at beaches with lifeguard patrol. Ask the lifeguard questions about the conditions.

4. Join a water sports class or hire a guide. When I was on my honeymoon we hired a stand up paddle guide, we learned to do a fun new sport,and we took some great photos.

5. Take photographs when the sunlight is strongest and there is plenty of sunshine to penetrate the waters. I took this photo of a Garibaldi fish with a Canon Powershot D10 at La Jolla Cove on a sunny day.

6. Take photos at the water's surface with a picturesque background. In this photo of the snorkeler floating under the La Jolla Sea Arch, the sunlight, the arch and the cliffs make a dramatic shot.


7. Read the User Manual that comes with your waterproof camera. Even if you are on vacation and forget your user Manualyou can usually find it on the manufacturer's website.

With my first waterproof camera, I didn't read the entire manual.And I took my waterproof camera in some hot mineral springs. Soon after the hot springs trip, my camera started to malfunction. The LCD viewfinder sometimes went dark without a reason.Later, I read the entire user guide, every page, front to back. And I found the warning: Do not use in hot mineral springs or baths.I learned my lesson and now I read every page of the user guide.

8. Practice using your camera on land before taking it in the water. When you are doing water sports, you want to focus on the sport, the fun, and safety in the water, not on the technical specifications of your waterproof camera.

Here's a technique I use when I learn how to use a new camera. I call it Go-See-Photograph.After I learn the basics of the waterproof camera, I sit on a sofa and relax and close my eyes. Then I imagine that I go Go to the place and that I'm in the water and I See a fish, such as a Garabaldi. While my eyes are still closed, I turn on my camera, switch to the photography mode. Then I open my eyes and take a Photograph. While I am sitting in my living room, I train myself to be able to take a photograph quickly, without lookingat the dials and buttons on my camera. This practice at home or in your hotel room will help you use the camera automatically so you can focus on your family events, favorite sports and safety.

9. Visit a camera shop and ask them questions about your camera. Nelson Photo sells waterproof cameras. I have found their customer service reps to be very knowledgeable about their products, from cameras to memory cards to printing. Nelson Photo is located at 1909 India Street, San Diego, CA 92101 in Little Italy.

10. Buy a memory card with enough memory for your photos and video during your entire outing. You cannot change the memory card while the camera is wet and you are in the middle of snorkeling or stand up paddle. I have used an 8MB SD memory card in my Canon PowerShot D10 camera and I've gotten great results. Now, for my new Panasonic Lumix with HD video, I just purchased a new memory card with more storage space: Secure Digital SD Delkin Pro Class C 10 with Read 24 MB and Write 17 MB at Nelson Photo.

11. Take care of your waterproof camera after using it at the beach. For example, in the User Guide for the Canon PowerShot D10, it is recommended to soak the camera in fresh water after using it at the beach. Again, check your User Guide for length of time for fresh water rinsing and/or soaking your waterproof camera.

12. At the end of the day, get in the habit of downloading your images on your computer or an external hard drive. Memory cards sometimes malfunction and you want your images saved on a laptop or travel drive as soon as possible.

If you are new to underwater photography, you can start here.

To learn more about different waterproof cameras, check out my camera reviews here.

Ocean conditions change regularly. Always check local weather and conditions before entering the water and enter at your own risk.

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