There are certain factors that determine the level of image clarity and color saturation in underwater photography. They include depth, water clarity and more importantly, light. Obviously, two of these factors are beyond your control; depth and clarity. But you do have a say on the amount of light.
In addition to natural light, you can use underwater photography lights to enhance the clarity, sharpness and color saturation of your photos. Generally, these lights are categorized into two major types; continuous lights and strobe lights. Let’s take a closer look at them.
These refers to lights that can be turned on and remain on until they are turned off. Their outputs are measured in lumens which range from 300 – 18,000 lumens. Focus lighting and video lighting fall into this category. Focus lights are continuous lights with lower lumens. They can help you take clear shots of subjects in dim lighting conditions. They are helpful in night diving, when it is difficult to hold a dive light and take photos at the same time. Some come with built-in red lights, which is essential in shooting shy creatures (such octopus or crustaceans) that cannot see the red color. Video lights are another type of continuous lighting, offering a stronger light, between 800 to 1200 lumens, with a wider beam angle.
These lights produce short bursts of intense, powerful light, providing color saturation, crispness and sharpness to your photos. Generally, they are connected to the camera housing using a sync cord, which enables the camera to prompt the strobe to light. Their outputs are measured in terms of underwater guide numbers, ranging from 12-32. Strobes are often used for still underwater photography. While conventional cameras have built-in flash, that flash is intended for shooting above water. Underwater, strobe lights create a similar effect to the built-in flash on your camera.