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How to Edit Underwater Photography - A Comprehensive Guide - Plunge Waterwear

Updated: Jan 21


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The allure of underwater photography lies in its ability to unveil a world of mystery and beauty hidden beneath the waves. As enthusiasts explore this aquatic realm armed with waterproof cameras, the art of capturing these ethereal moments becomes even more intriguing.


However, the transition from the ocean depths to the final edited photograph demands a thorough understanding of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom tools (or similar editing software). In part 2 of our photography blog, we'll dive even deeper into the nuances of how to edit underwater photography, providing additional insights to elevate your skills and unleash the full potential of your aquatic captures. If you haven't already, make sure to check out part I of this post here: https://www.plungegear.com/post/capturing-the-beauty-beneath-the-surface-how-to-take-underwater-photos


Understanding the Challenges:

Before embarking on the editing journey, it is paramount to grasp the distinct challenges faced in underwater photography. The dynamic interplay of light and water introduces color shifts, contrasts, and distortions that demand specialized post-processing techniques. Let's explore further into the intricacies and advanced features offered by Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.



how to edit underwater photography plunge waterwear diveskins dive skin wetsuit rashguard UV swimwear full body swimsuit freediving scuba surf suit

Adobe Lightroom: Elevating the Basics

1. Custom Profiles:

Beyond the standard adjustments, explore the use of custom profiles in Adobe Lightroom. These profiles provide a broader range of color options and can be instrumental in achieving a more nuanced and tailored look for your underwater images.

2. Auto Mask Feature:

Leverage the Auto Mask feature in the Adjustment Brush tool to make precise adjustments to specific areas of your image without affecting the surrounding regions. This is particularly useful when fine-tuning colors in intricate coral formations or the delicate details of marine life.

3. Lens Corrections:

Underwater photography often involves the use of wide-angle lenses, which can introduce distortion. Utilize Lightroom's lens correction tools to rectify barrel distortion or vignetting, ensuring a more accurate representation of the underwater scene.

4. Noise Reduction:

Counter the inherent noise introduced by high ISO settings in low-light underwater conditions by using Lightroom's noise reduction tools. Strike a balance between noise reduction and maintaining the fine details of your subject.

5. Creative Presets:

Explore and create your own creative presets to establish a consistent and unique style for your underwater photography. Presets can be a time-saving asset, allowing you to apply a predefined set of adjustments with a single click.


Adobe Photoshop: Advanced Techniques Unveiled

1. Frequency Separation:

Dive into advanced skin retouching and color correction by employing frequency separation. This technique separates image details from color information, offering precise control over texture and tone adjustments without affecting the overall color balance.

2. Color Lookup Tables (LUTs):

Experiment with Color Lookup Tables in Photoshop to apply cinematic color grading to your underwater images. LUTs enable you to achieve distinctive looks inspired by your favorite films, adding a touch of cinematic magic to your underwater scenes.

3. Focus Stacking:

In scenarios where capturing the entire underwater scene in sharp focus proves challenging, consider employing focus stacking. This technique involves blending multiple images taken at different focal points to achieve a comprehensive and sharp representation of the underwater environment.

4. Custom Brushes for Detail Enhancement:

Create custom brushes in Photoshop to selectively enhance details in specific areas. This is particularly effective when emphasizing the intricate patterns on marine life or highlighting the texture of coral reefs.

5. Advanced Blending Modes:

Delve into Photoshop's extensive array of blending modes to experiment with different layer effects. Overlay, Soft Light, and Color blend modes can add depth and richness to your underwater photographs, creating a visually captivating impact.


Exploring Alternative Editing Platforms:

While Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom stand as industry giants, there are other popular programs that photographers turn to for their editing needs. Capture One, known for its powerful tethering capabilities and robust color grading tools, has gained a strong following among professionals. DxO PhotoLab excels in automatic corrections and lens-specific optimizations, making it a top choice for photographers seeking efficiency without compromising quality. Additionally, Affinity Photo offers a cost-effective alternative with a wide range of features, including advanced layer editing and retouching tools. Exploring these alternatives allows photographers to find the software that best aligns with their workflow and editing preferences.


Embarking on the journey of underwater photography editing with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom is a continual exploration of creativity and technical finesse. By incorporating these advanced techniques into your workflow, you'll be equipped to navigate the complexities of underwater environments and unveil the full spectrum of beauty concealed beneath the waves. As you refine your skills, each edited photograph becomes a testament to your mastery of the digital darkroom, allowing you to share the breathtaking wonders of the underwater world with the world above. Dive in, experiment fearlessly, and let your artistic vision illuminate the depths.

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