How to take a killer underwater photo with iPhone

How to take a killer underwater photo with iPhone

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A dive into the deep, blue sea is one of the most fascinating feelings. You must immortalize it with a photo. So, how do you capture a killer underwater photo with iPhone?

sea turtle underwater - underwater photo with iPhone
A sea turtle just minding his own business.

In this post, we’ll give you some tips on how to capture a breathtaking underwater pic. 

How to take a killer underwater photo with iPhone

We know the feeling. You wouldn’t pass up on an opportunity to snap a good vacation photo at the beach and let the haters know! And it would be more awesome if that photo is taken underwater. 

So, how do you do it? Here’s what you should know: taking an underwater photo takes practice, effort, research, and a little bit of money. 

Before you splash and dive, take a look at these tips, first. 

1. Invest in a waterproof case for your iPhone. 

diver taking photo of coral reefs
Buy a robust waterproof iPhone case for deep diving.

Here’s the catch about taking an underwater photo with iPhone: you can’t really submerge it and take beautiful pictures of corals automatically… unless you invest in a good waterproof case. The iPhone models after iPhone 7 Plus are water-resistant but not entirely waterproof. 

Water-resistant means the gadget is good for splashing around, taking pics in the snow, and submerging into a depth of no more than one meter. On the other hand, waterproof means you can go beyond those previously mentioned.

So, you want to take pictures of small fish and rainbow coral reefs. What now? That would only be possible if you buy a robust waterproof case. Choose a product that’s designed for deep-diving but also stylish and simple. You wouldn’t want a clunky case because that would add to the weight of your phone. 

Read: How to Take Amazing Beach Pictures with an iPhone

2. Get waterproof iPhone camera lenses.

big shark underwater with school of fish - underwater photo with iPhone
A wide-angle photo of a shark taken using a fisheye lens.

It just makes more sense to take an underwater photo with iPhone. It’s lighter than a DSLR camera and the quality isn’t too bad. Plus transferring the photos or videos for uploading is unnecessary. 

Now, if you want a killer underwater photo with iPhone, you will need extra photography accessories like a wide-angle lens or a fisheye lens. These will help you create more interesting shots without the added effort.  

Wide-angle lens for iPhone

A wide-angle lens is a rectilinear lens. You can use it to capture beautiful underwater landscapes without any curved lines. Want to capture elusive marine creatures like turtles or sharks and well-lit coral reefs? A wide-angle lens can also be handy for those. 

Should you buy a separate wide-angle lens for your iPhone? Well, you can always buy waterproof cases for iPhones that come with one to two lenses, which are a wide-angle lens and a regular lens. Others also give you the option to attach another lens for the front camera. If you own an iPhone with an Ultra-Wide lens, then it’s not necessary to buy one.

Fisheye lens for iPhone

A fisheye lens is definitely a must-have if you want to capture a killer underwater photo with iPhone. It will provide you with a wide coverage without moving far away from your subject. More importantly, it will give you that cool “barrel distortion” effect that works especially well on subjects like a diver, reefs, and a school of fish. It also works beautifully when a sea creature swims over you or gets close to your camera. The output will be a shot of a marine creature that looks so alive.

Should you get a fisheye lens for your iPhone? While some iOS camera apps emulate the fisheye effect, we suggest you get a real fisheye lens. They are smaller than the wide-angle lens and so it won’t add unnecessary weight to your gear. Also, if you have the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max, which have Ultra-Wide lenses, you just have to buy the fish-eye lens for lighter gear.

Read: iPhone or GoPro photo: Which has the best quality?

3. Plan your angles!

model reaching her hand out to surface of water - underwater photo with iPhone

Now that you’re set with your gear and tools, it’s time to plan your angles. A photographer may need innovation and creativity; but planning is important as well, especially if it’s an underwater shoot. You don’t get to swim every day and reshoot everything when you make a mistake or you’re not satisfied. Plus it makes everything go faster! So, it helps to prepare your angles. 

How do you plan your angles? If you’re taking an underwater photo with an iPhone in the ocean, you should study the area. Are there any wreckage, aggressive sea creatures, slippery reefs, etc.? Moreover, by investigating, you’ll know the areas where the sunlight falls the most, giving you the opportunity to take underwater photos with more clarity. 

elegant model in light blue dress underwater
elegant model in red dress posing underwater - underwater photo with iPhone

It’s still necessary to plan even if you’re just shooting with a model in a pool. This will make it easier for the model to execute your instructions. In fact, to plan better, you can make a storyboard of their poses and angles. By doing that, you will also take practice shots before the day of the shoot. No makeup or costume will be wasted.

Read: How to take underwater pictures with iPhone X and iPhone 8

4. Edit to make it more awesome.

colorful coral reef and fish underwater - underwater photo with iPhone
A colorful coral reef taken in Egypt

Don’t be afraid to post-process your shots, especially if they’re taken underwater, where generous lighting is scarce. After all, the aim is to capture and publish a mind-blowing underwater photo with iPhone. If you want a quick edit with the photos you captured with your iPhone, check out iOS apps like Photoshop Express or Lightroom Mobile. As for editing on desktop, we highly recommend Adobe Lightroom CC

Editing tips for taking an underwater photo with iPhone

Regardless of the editing software, remember these tips when you edit your underwater photos: 

  • Use a camera app that lets you shoot in RAW. This way, when you edit your photos, you can tweak more elements such as the ISO. Some examples are Halide, ProCam 4, and VSCO.
  • If your photo has plenty of blue tints, dilute the effect by increasing the temperature. This will make the colors warmer. For instance, if you took a photo of a sea turtle, its shell would become brown or auburn instead of grey. 
  • If you are using Lightroom, you can edit the Hue, Saturation, Luminance (HSL) of a photo that has an overwhelming blue tint. On the Color tab, you can decrease the blue and green hues to make the warmer colors like red, brown, and orange stand out. 
  • Now, make that filter stronger by adding more saturation. Just don’t overdo it. Adjust it until the creatures and reefs look livelier.  
  • For photos with close-up angles, like fisheye shots, make it look more fascinating by adding more sharpness. This way, you can appreciate the details—the scales and patterns of the marine creature. 
  • Give the subjects more shape and definition by increasing the contrast. Amp up the shadows to add depth and dimension. 
  • If there’s a strong glare, decrease the highlights. If you want the highlighted areas of coral reefs or the model’s face to appear brighter, you can increase the highlights.

Conclusion 

Capturing a killer underwater photo with iPhone takes more than just the gear. You will also need knowledge, preparation, patience, and editing savvy. 

Related questions

Can you take underwater photos with iPhone without a waterproof case?

Yes, you can. However, you can’t go deeper than 1 meter. Take note: iPhone models after iPhone 7 Plus are water-resistant and not waterproof.  

What is the best underwater iPhone case?

You can check out HAWEEL Max and ProShot if you’re taking an underwater photo with iPhone. You can dive 40 meters deep with HAWEEL, while with ProShot you can use it with a GoPro camera. 

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