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Underwater Silhouette Photography Tips

Diving in The Shadows!

Underwater Silhouette Photography

Have You Ever Tried Silhouette Photography?

Most of the time when when are taking underwater photographs, we are attempting to introduce a light source underwater to add colour or expose hidden features to due shadow,  a good example of this is when we are using a flash and taking shots into the sun, the flash gives our subject sufficient light to add features.

At times making your subject featureless apart from their outline against a bright background can be effective, this is silhouette photography! Creating a mood and a mystique vibe to your shots using silhouette photography is easy!  Very often on deeper dives you have many chances for shooting upwards, in fact, I've found myself creating silhouette photography  sometimes without trying which lead me to explore my silhouette photography I have enjoyed this little exploring process maybe on your next dive trip you might like to give this a try for fun.

Its hard enough in photography to be known for a picture, but even harder to be known for a silhouette.

Silhouette Photography Tips

Set Your Camera

Set up in underwater mode or auto W/B setting. Having your white balance manually set (which is often the case with underwater depth shots) may result in pink hues around any rear light source as the camera catches the increased light levels from another angle. Obviously if you shoot in RAW also this isn't so much an issue since post processing can easily clean this up.

Choose a Strong Subject

Almost any object can be made into a silhouette, however some are better than others. Choose something with a strong and recognizable shape (like a diver) that will be interesting enough in its two dimensional form to hold the interest of those viewing your image. Silhouettes can’t draw on the colors, textures and tones of subjects to make them appealing – so the shape needs to be distinct.

Turn off your Flash

If you have your camera in automatic mode your camera will probably want to use its flash which will ruin the silhouette. Basically you want as little light on the front of your subject as possible – so the flash has to go (basic – but I’ve seen a few attempted silhouette shots with the flash firing).

Get Down Low and Shoot Up

Get down low and shoot up at your subjects, remember composition basics but with this in mind also try to imagine and choose objects with interesting shapes, since these will form the basis of your subjects


Try to Decrease Exposure

Darkening the shot on camera, and position my subject as close to a rear light source as possible, this allows me to visualize easily and create shadow and silhouette shots on camera.

Get Your Light Right

When it comes to lighting your subject you’ll need to throw out a lot of what you’ve learnt about normal photography and think a little backwards. Instead of lighting the front of your subject, in silhouettes you need to ensure that there is more light shining from the background than the foreground of your shot – or to put it another way – you want to light the back of your subject rather than the front. The perfect light for this is placing your subject in front of a sun shining down through the water.

Remember low light conditions can be tricky for focus and shot quality, with this in mind, I always shoot on a Low ISO, 80' for example, although not the general rule for low light shooting I find this useful since I am not trying to achieve and lighter shot, so the low ISO helps produce the darker image as well as not creating digital grain in the darker areas of the shot.

Enjoy your silhouette photography, now why not read about Getting into Macro Photography

Have You Tried Underwater Silhouette Photography?
Got any Tips Of Your Own To Share? Comment Below

Andrew Jennings
Andrew Jennings
You host and creator of underwater clicks.