Post-Processing

Post-processing articles, tutorials and tips for underwater photography and video, including Lightroom, Photoshop and GoPro Studio.
Step-by-step tutorial on using Adobe Photoshop to add interesting elements to your underwater photos during post-processing
By Brent Durand

Enhancing your Images with Photoshop

Brent Durand
Step-by-step tutorial on using Adobe Photoshop to add interesting elements to your underwater photos during post-processing

I'm very old-school in my approach to photography, striving to get every photo just right in-camera. Each year as I study the work of hundreds of photographers around the world, I'm seeing that heavy post-processing is playing a more and more critical role in turning RAW files into the final images that are published in magazines, on websites and winning photo contests. The bar is being set higher, to the delight of all of us who publish images and work hard to share the best photos possible from the underwater world.

So with that in mind, I decided to introduce Adobe Photoshop into my Lightroom-only photo workflow. And maybe it's because I log more hours at the desk in a day than diving in the last 9 months, or maybe just have a crazy imagination lusting over opportunities to create new underwater images, but my photos seem to have taken on a surrealness that borders on fantasy... or simply the combination of two different images!

Here's a quick tutorial on creating split-shot composite images.

 

 

Making Photo Composite Images

The trick to making a good composite image is to find two photos that work together - often two photos that were too boring and un-interesting to share on their own, but given a new life through Photoshop.

I spent 21 minutes last Sunday combining the two photos below into one scene. The split-shot is pretty standard but has no interest below the surface. The color/lighting below the surface is pretty even, which makes adding the second image much easier. I have tons of whale shark photos just sitting in Lightroom, so I picked one that complemented the wave in the water of the split-shot, gives the image a chance to live outside of Lightroom.

 

 

Step 1

Export both of your images at the same pixel width from Adobe Lightroom.  I chose 2500 pixels wide.  Next, open both images in Adobe Photoshop.  Select the split-shot as your main image, and simply extend the canvas to provide room below it for the whale shark photo.  Do this by clicking IMAGE -> CANVAS SIZE and then setting the canvas to 3000 pixels in length.

 

Step 2

Obviously, this white canvas layer color will not suit our very organic-looking split-shot, so we add a new solid color layer and then sample the dark water color to replace the white.  Do this by clicking the Create New Layer icon (half-shaded circle) in the bottom of the layers panel and choosing SOLID COLOR. Next, double-click the white square in the new Color Fill layer and the eyedropper tool will open.  Just click the water under the split-shot and the white will be replaced by that color, as you see below.

 

Step 3

You'll notice that we have some shadows from the reef under the split-shot that are a dead giveaway of the composite. You can remove them easily by making sure you have clicked on the topmost layer (the split-shot photo layer) and then selecting the eraser tool. Simply pass the eraser tool over these areas to erase them, leaving the solid water color from the layer we sampled in step 2. Be sure to experiment with the opacity, flow and hardness of the tool in order to blend the erase marks and create a smooth transition between layers.

 

Step 4

This is where we insert the whale shark. Like anything with Photoshop, there are many, many ways to remove this whale shark from the background and place it into our split-shot. Because the whale shark doesn't have a clear border around it, I chose to lasso it and then paste it onto the split-shot with a rough blue border. To remove that border, we go back to the trusty eraser tool and slowly erase all of the whale shark background so that you can only see the whale shark's body. I also used a lighter opacity to take away some of the detail around the tail, as it was just too obviously fake if I didn't do that. (It still looks very fake, but hey, this is a fun experiment).

 

Step 5

Now that our whale shark looks like it (somewhat) belongs, we can make some final changes to finish the composite. First, I thought the whale shark was a bit too bright. I chose the burn tool with a light exposure and slightly darkened the whale shark's head to blend in with the dark sunset water.

Second, I moved the entire whale shark to the right, giving it more swim space into the frame (a fundamental composition technique I discuss in photo seminars). Now you just have to click FILE -> SAVE AS and save the file as a .jpg to share on Facebook.

 

Final Thoughts

Creating underwater composite photos with Photoshop can be a lot of fun. There's really no limit to your creativity, so next time you're on a very long surface interval and dreaming of creating new underwater images, send a couple to Photoshop and start experimenting!

Do you have any comments / thoughts on using photoshop to artificially manipulate your images?  Feel free to email me at brent@uwphotographyguide.com or send me a message via Facebook - I'd love to hear your feedback.

 

Sign Up for a Photo Class!

You can sign up to learn more about post-processing through Bluewater Photo. Based in Los Angeles, California, Bluewater also offers classes through Skype.

Bluewater Photo Class Schedule and Private Lessons

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image-maker from California.
BrentDimagery.com   |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Brent is the editor of the Underwater Photography Guide. He is leading several dive trips in 2016, linked below.  Email Brent at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Cenotes & Sailfish (Feb '16)  |  Bali & Lembeh (Sept '16)  |  Bimini Spotted Dolphins (Jun '16)  |  La Paz (Oct '16)  |  Kimbe Bay, PNG (Nov '16)

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


We explore the pros and cons of using colored filters underwater vs. post-processing
By Brent Durand

Color Filters vs. Post-Processing

Brent Durand
We explore the pros and cons of using colored filters underwater vs. post-processing

Color filters and post-processing are the subject of many conversations with underwater photographers. Which is better? Does it matter if you use a GoPro or even a DSLR? Can you use a filter and then post-process? Is your photo ruined if you make the wrong choice?

Whoa, that's a lot, man! In this article we will explore the pros and cons of both underwater color correction methods and the situations when they are best used.

 

Why do we Need White-Balance Correction?

Water absorbs light as we descend deeper, starting with the red spectrum. This is why everything looks dull green or blue with little contast when diving at deeper depths, and why savvy divers carry a flashlight (torch) to shine on the reef, bringing out the true, vibrant colors. The same principal applies to photographers, who often use a light source to this same thing (via strobes or video lights).

So what about divers who don't bring artificial light underwater? There are two methods for bringing this color back into the underwater scene and giving your photos some "pop." The first is to use colored filters over the camera lens. The second is shooting as-is and then adjusting white balance properties while post-processing.

 

 

When to Use Color Filters Underwater

Color filters are most commonly used on GoPro cameras, but can also be used with any compact, mirrorless or DSLR setup. The nice thing with filters is that you can pop one on and then magically get great color and contrast. How does it work?  The filter (red, magenta, etc) allows the camera's white balance system to see the reds and chose a much better WB for the photo or video scene.

While underwater filters are great for those who want a quick solution, they are not ideal for all divers. Filters work best when the sun is at your back and when shooting in one direction. Filters also perform best in very specific conditions - certain depths or how blue/green the water is. Because of all these variables, filters doesn't always make the camera choose the best white balance.

Color Filter Pros

  • No post-processing needed for good color

  • Easy to pop on and off as needed. Some filter sets even come with several filters for different conditions.

Color Filter Cons

  • Because of varying depths, water color and direction to the sun, filters don't alway make the camera to choose the best white balance for the scene.

Shooting Tip!

Don't change direction or depth quickly when shooting video with filters, otherwise you will see a dramatic change in white balance as your camera recalculates.

 

Scuba Divers with GoPro filters

 

When to Use Color Correction During Post-Processing

Color correction during post-processing can be used anytime your photo looks a bit blue/green or anytime you're shooting ambient light only (below about 6 feet / 2 meters).  All photographers from beginner to pro can make use of this area of post-processing. The beauty is that you don't need to worry about buying and when to apply different filters underwater - you just go shoot.

Post-processing is viewed as very time intensive, taking as much time as you're willing to put in to each photo, but the results speak for themselves. The ability to customize the precise color temperature, tint and contrast properties allows you to get the precise color you envision for the photo (note that this works best if shooting in RAW format).

Easy and Quick:  This doesn't have to be time-consuming and difficult. Vivid-Pix makes very easy-to-use underwater photo editing software that literally corrects your photo in one click. You can edit a batch of photos in one click, or dig a bit deeper with customizeable adjustments. Check out our full Vivid-Pix editing tutorial.

Post-Processing Pros

  • Customize the precise white balance and color of your images.

  • One-click editing software available (Vivid-Pix)

Post-Processing Cons

  • One more step between shooing photos and sharing with with your friends, entering into contests like Ocean Art, etc.

Pro Shooting Tip

If you are using a more advanced camera, try setting the white balance manually. Just remember that your custom setting will change as soon as you move direction to the sun or depth. SeaLife cameras have several underwater white balance modes built in.

 

 

Which is Better - Filters or Post?

There's no right and wrong. And just to throw a wrench into the information above, you could use filters AND make some adjustments during post-processing. There are a lot of options out there, so find the method that works best for you.

 

ADDITIONAL READING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image-maker from California.
BrentDimagery.com   |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Brent is the editor of the Underwater Photography Guide. He is leading several dive trips in 2016, linked below.  Email Brent at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Cenotes & Sailfish (Feb '16)  |  Bali & Lembeh (Sept '16)  |  Bimini Spotted Dolphins (Jun '16)  |  La Paz (Oct '16)  |  Kimbe Bay, PNG (Nov '16)

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


We test the editing capabilities of Vivid-Pix with .jpg images from La Paz
By Brent Durand

One-Click Editing with Vivid-Pix

Brent Durand
We test the editing capabilities of Vivid-Pix with .jpg images from La Paz

Photo editing can take all the time you’re willing to put into it. Or it can be as simple as one click. One thing is certain however, and that's the fact that post-processing has become a necessary step for underwater photographers who share photos online.

In our open water scuba class we learned that we lose color as we descend deeper in the water column, beginning with red. Anyone shooting pictures underwater will also soon learn that we lose contrast as we get deeper and that the photos take on a bland green/blue color temperature. This doesn't create very exciting photos.

The good news is that editing helps us bring the photos back to life, increasing that original color and contrast in the image. But with hundreds of photos from a trip, no one wants to spend 10 minutes editing each photo.  Enter Vivid-Pix.

(All photos shot with the SeaLife Micro HD+)

 

About Vivid-Pix Editing Software

Vivid-Pix is affordable software that allows you to edit photos in literally one-click per photo, with tools for further editing if you so choose. How does it work? The Vivid-Pix team has developed a custom formula for adjusting the color, contrast, sharpness and brightness of underwater .jpg images.

Simply import your photos, select the version of the edited image you like best, adjust a few sliders if you want to further customize the editing, and then click save.

The best part is that your edited photo saves as a new .jpg, meaning you still have your original photo saved… just in case you want it for any reason.

 

Putting Vivid-Pix Software to the Test

Step 1:

Import one or multiple photos.  Just click “Select Image” in the upper left of the Vivid-Pix screen.

 

Step 2:

Select the edited version of the photo that presents what you feel is the best lightness and contrast.  If you imported multiple photos, you will complete steps 3 and 4 for each photo, returning to this stage for each photo after that.

 

Step 3:

Here you are presented with a comparison of your original image to the edited image, where you can either click Save Vivid-Pix to save the image with the default edit or make some custom edits.

 

Step 4 (optional):

For those that wish to make further edits, there are 6 sliders to adjust. Each slider will increase or decrease the correction parameter as labled. If you play a bit too much and want to start over, you can hit the Reset Corrections button. Once you’re happy with the new image, click Save Vivid-Pix.

 

And that’s it – you’re done!  This is where you will edit the next photo if you imported more than one.

 

Extra Tools in Vivid-Pix

Crop Image:  Want to crop?  Just click and drag a box around the section of the image you would like to keep. Upon release of the mouse button, the crop will be applied.

Create a User Defined Setting:  If you create an edit you like and have many photos that need the exact same correction, simply save your current edit settings as a User Defined Setting. Then, when importing the remaining photos, just click the button for “Image correction with user defined settings” instead of the “User choice from 9-Images Preview”. Your custom settings will automatically be applied to the new photos.

 

The Vivid-Pix Results

We can see in the sample photos below that the software does a great job editing my .jpg images. The images were recorded with the SeaLife Micro HD+ in a flat color setting – used so that I could have as much editing leeway as possible.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image-maker from California.
BrentDimagery.com   |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Brent is the editor of the Underwater Photography Guide. He is leading several dive trips in 2016, linked below.  Email Brent at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Cenotes & Sailfish (Feb '16)  |  Bali & Lembeh (Sept '16)  |  Bimini Spotted Dolphins (Jun '16)  |  La Paz (Oct '16)  |  Kimbe Bay, PNG (Nov '16)

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


Timesaving tips to process your images, including import settings, presets and findability
By Brent Durand

Optimizing Your Lightroom Workflow

Brent Durand
Timesaving tips to process your images, including import settings, presets and findability

Adobe Lightroom has become the standard for editing and organizing underwater photos, at least for those who consider themselves serious photographers. Adobe has worked hard to earn this position, building more robust tools and features into each new release. Lightroom is designed to streamline photo workflows for working pros shooting thousands of images while remaining simple and intuitive for photographers of all levels. No matter what our level of u/w photography, we can always benefit from more optimized workflows.

If you're new to Lightroom, be sure to read our intro tutorial 5 Easy Steps to Process your Underwater Photos.

This tutorial will build upon the intro tutorial by discussing a few timesaving tips for editing photos and cataloguing them for future use ("findability").

 

 

1.  Delete the Undesirables

There will always be different points of view on deleting images and how to do it, but I believe in 1) never deleting images on camera, and 2) deleting the undesirables instead of keeping every single photo. Lightroom is designed to help you trash the junk and select your keepers, so take advantage of that.

The best way to get rid of the junk is in the Import dialog box, before your photos are imported into Lightroom. You can uncheck the photos that are obviously garbage, or uncheck everything and just check the photos you anticipate keeping. Which method you choose will depend on your shooting style, how unique the shots are and how well you know exactly what you want to keep.

While this is my preferred method, my dive trips are not about photos and I often don’t have time to look at any shots until I’m back home. So for dive trips I do my deletion round weeks later (obviously post-import) scrolling through the photos and quickly rejecting the bad ones by pressing the X key. This flags all the photos in that folder as rejects, which can then be deleted in a batch by pressing Command + Delete (MacOS) or Ctrl + Backspace (Windows).

One important note is that if you're unsure of whether to delete an image or not - keep it.

 

Lightroom Tutorial

Depending on whether you keep or delete more images pre-import, you can check all and just uncheck the undesirables, or uncheck all and just check the desirables.

 

Lightroom Tutorial

The import dialog box allows you to view photos in grid or single image format.

 

 

2.  Apply Import Settings

The Import dialog box also is where you can quickly apply titles, develop presets, metadata and other actions to many photos at once. By quickly adding all of this broad information at once, all you’ll need to do is work on the individual details of the images later, saving time.

 

File Renaming

This section is where you title your images, being sure that there will never be any title overlap. For example, I use my name to ensure anyone I send the photo to knows it is mine, the date since the date will never repeat and helps me match photos to dive sites and locations in my dive log, and a photo number to differentiate that photo from any others shot on the same date.

Titling your images here is helpful, as you should never need to change image title again (LR virtual copies being the exception). If you do change image titles after the fact (using LR), you may run into problems matching your Lightroom previews to the actual RAW files, especially when moving your library to newer hard drives over the years.

 

Lightroom Tutorial

This is the preset I use for naming files.

 

Apply During Import

The next section in the Import dialog box says ‘Apply During Import’. This is where we apply general info to our photos.

Develop Settings allows you to select a user preset for developing your image. For example, I have a preset for wide-angle underwater that adds my default formula of clarity, sharpening, saturation, vibrance and contrast to RAW files as a starting point for further editing (which often isn’t needed). If you produce consistent images, this is a huge time saver - literally one-click editing.

I don’t use any metadata presents since the terms are almost always different, however I do input Keywords for the group of photos soon to be imported. Keywords are metadata that can be used to search for photos within Lightroom at a later date. Let’s say I want to find all the wave photos I’ve shot in Malibu over the last few years. Instead of digging through several folders looking for wave pics, I can search “wave, malibu” and see every image in my catalog containing those keywords. In the Keywords box I will add the general terms like “Malibu, Wave, GoPro HERO4 Silver”, since they apply to all the photos in this import. Later I will add the individual words, marine life names, etc.

 

Lightroom Tutorial

Applying a develop preset setting and adding keywords in the import dialog box.

 

 

3.  Improving Findability

We are all striving to shoot great images, and if they truly are great, we’re going to want to find them later. Cataloging your photos to make them easy to find later is one of the main functions of Adobe Lightroom.

Ranking your images and adding metadata is not fun and it takes time. But when you have many thousands of images spanning many years, it would be nearly impossible to find a specific photo buried in a catalog folder…. unless you have added all the criteria to conduct a detailed search. Here are the two most useful criteria.

 

Keywords

These are the key to your searches. You’ve already added the general keywords during the import, so all you need to do is add the specific keywords (marine life, specific behavior, etc).

 

Stars

Everyone uses the star rankings differently. For example, 5 stars could be a portfolio image, 4 stars a great image, 3 stars an image you might still show or print, and so on. When you combine keywords with star rankings you can search for not only your “Malibu Wave” images, but the different quality tiers of those shots.

 

Lightroom Tutorial

 

In Conclusion

Adobe Lightroom is powerful enough to be your sole post-processing tool. This tutorial barely scratched the surface of Lightroom’s functionality and usefulness, however there are only so many words to include in one article. Stay tuned for our next Lightroom tutorial in the coming weeks.

 

 

Want to Learn Lightroom?

UWPG Publisher Scott Gietler teaches Lightroom tutorials via Bluewater Photo. Check out Scott’s article Lightroom for the Rest of Us and book your lesson!

Bluewater Photo : +1 (310) 633-5052 – sales@bluewaterphotostore.com

 

 

Further Reading

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image-maker from California.
BrentDimagery.com   |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Brent is the editor of the Underwater Photography Guide. He is leading several dive trips in 2016, linked below.  Email Brent at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Cenotes & Sailfish (Feb '16)  |  Bali & Lembeh (Sept '16)  |  Bimini Spotted Dolphins (Jun '16)  |  La Paz (Oct '16)  |  Kimbe Bay, PNG (Nov '16)

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


Lightroom's new dehaze feature could mean big things for underwater photography - let's check it out
By Brent Durand

Using Dehaze in new Adobe Lightroom CC

Brent Durand
Lightroom's new dehaze feature could mean big things for underwater photography - let's check it out

 

Using Dehaze in new Adobe Lightroom CC


Lightroom's new dehaze feature could mean big things for underwater photography - let's check it out

Text and Photos By Brent Durand

 

 

 
SHARE THIS STORY

Adobe has just released Creative Cloud 2015, with some performance and feature updates. If you're using Photoshop Creative Suite or a standard version of Lightroom, then these features are off-limits for the time being... and may be incentive to switch over to the Creative Cloud subscription.

Creative Cloud allows access to Adobe's full suite of products, and while there are some very cool updates across the board, we as underwater photographers will be primarily interested in Lightroom's new feature: Dehaze.

The new Dehaze feature does exactly what the name implies. It will increase or decrease the feeling of haze in your photos, whether from mist or particles in the water. For underwater photography, we are primarily interested in removing the reeling of haze in order to increase sharpness / clarity lost underwater.

Dehaze is comprised of a single slider, which is located in the "Effects" box at the bottom right colum of the Develop module. This is not the best placement for a feature meant to be used all the time, which may be better off in the Basic box, however when thought of as a combination of image property adjustments (as discussed below) it makes sense that it is categorized as an effect... similar to the photo filters available on your cell phone.

 

Dehaze is located in bottom of the Effects box in the Develop Module.

 

 

Using the Dehaze Feature

The most simple way to see the changes Dehaze makes to your image is to play with the slider. Move it all the way left (-100) to increase the haze effect and all the way to the right (100) to decrease the haze effect. In doing so, we notice that Dehaze applies a formula to change several of the image's properties. 

I'm not too savvy with Lightroom algorithms, however it appears that Dehaze adjusts the image saturation, sharpness, contrast and possibly noise reduction / smoothing.

Here are a few examples of Dehaze on photos from Bluewater Photo's La Paz trip in 2013. I didn't push the sliders too far to try and keep it realistic.

 

Before using the haze effect

 

Removing haze at amount of +19

 

Applying haze at amount of -19

 

Sea Lion with no haze effect applied

 

Sea Lion with haze at amount of +19

 

Sea Lion with no haze effect applied

 

Sea Lion with haze at amount of +19

 

Sea Lion crop with no haze effect applied

 

Sea Lion crop with haze at amount of +19

 

 

All photos shot with Canon 5D Mark III and Tokina 10-17mm in Aquatica A5D Mk III housing, in October 2013.

 

 

Conclusions

The new Dehaze feature in Adobe Lightroom is pretty cool. It will take some more experimenting to find preferences between increasing Dehaze versus adjustments of contrast, blacks, clarity, sharpening and saturation, however I do see this as something that will fit into my general editing presets.

 

 

Further Reading

 

About the Author

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image-maker from California. Brent is editor of UWPG. Follow UWPG on Facebook for daily photos, tips & everything underwater photography. View more of Brent's work or follow his imagery through www.BrentDimagery.com.

 

 

Support the Underwater Photography Guide:


The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


 

 
 
SHARE THIS STORY

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


Scott's Easy Steps for Getting Photos Edited and Out There
By Scott Gietler

Lightroom for the Rest of Us

Scott Gietler
Scott's Easy Steps for Getting Photos Edited and Out There

 

Lightroom for the Rest of Us


Scott's Easy Steps for Getting Photos Edited and Out There

By Scott Gietler

 

 

 
SHARE THIS STORY

I like to get my photos out there as quickly as possible. In fact, I try to be done with processing my photos within a day of returning from a trip.

Not everyone wants to sort through thousands of photos after a trip and spend hours editing them, so I've developed a system that everyone can use to make the process as easy as possible. I am using Adobe Lightroom 5, but these tips can be used with any of the recent versions.

My process is summed up with 4 simple words:

IMPORT -> EDIT -> EXPORE -> SHARE

 

Click Image to Enlarge

 

#1 - Shoot in RAW + Jpeg

This way you can save a RAW file to edit, but immediately post the jpg online. Many new cameras have wifi so that you can post to Facebook as soon as you surface.

 

#2 - Quickly scan the jpegs on your laptop, jot down the 10 - 30 best photos

I like to quickly view a slideshow of my JPEG files, and then make a list of my favorite photos on a piece of paper or a notepad to keep track of the best ones. Although many photographers import all of their RAW files into lightroom, comparing them and deleting them, I find it faster to just import your best ones.

 

#3 - Copy those RAW files to a new directory

Put these best photos in their own directory so that they're very easy to find and import once you open Lightroom.

 

#4 - Open lightroom, import those 20 RAW files

Once Lightroom is open, simply click File and then Import and select the directory where you saved the 20 (or more, or less) of your best photos.

 

 

#5 - Edit each one in the develop tool

Click on the Develop module to begin editing your photos. I spend a minute or two editing each photo.

 

 

5A - Crop as needed

Cropping is quick and easy in Lightroom's Develop module. Each photo should be cropped if needed to achieve the optimal composition.

 

 

 

5B - Increase contrast, clarity, blacks, highlights, shadows

Underwater photos often can use a contrast boost, which can be achieved by adjusting the sliders for contrast, clarity, blacks, highlights and shadows.

 

 

5C - Use healing tool and adjustment brush as needed

If you have backscatter or other elements in your photo by accident, you can remove them with the healing tool. The healing tool can also remove distracting elements from the photo.

The adjustment brush can also be used to paint an area to make changes. In the screenshot below I've reduced the exposure by 4 stops and drawn different shapes to show how you have full freedom to paint in areas needing to be adjusted.

 

 

5D - Set star rating for each photo after editing

Lightroom allows you to rate your images to help find your favorites later on.

 

#6 - Export photos

Once done editing, it's time to export our photos as .jpg files. I like to save them in the same directory the RAW files are. 

 

 

6A - Set dimensions (e.g. - 1024 x 1024)

Make sure to set your photo dimensions for the size you will want to share. I usually export them at 2000 pixels wide for slideshows, or 1024 for facebook uploads or web sharing.

 

6B - Create watermark, use ALT 0169 for the copyright symbol; create left and right versions

If you're putting photos online, you may want to include a watermark. You can add the copyright symbol by holding down the alt key and typing 0169.

 

#7 - Upload to smugmug/flickr/facebook, etc...

Once your photos are exported with watermarks it's time to share! Time to let your friends know what you saw underwater. Facebook, smugmug.com, instagram and flickr are popular places for people to share their photos with others.

 

Want to learn lightroom?

Contact Scott Gietler by emailing scott@bluewaterphotostore.com for info on taking a lightroom class, either remotely, on a dive trip, or at Bluewater Photo in sunny Los Angeles, California.

 

About the Author

Scott Gietler is the owner of Bluewater Photo, Bluewater Travel and the Underwater Photography Guide. He enjoys helping others learn underwater photography online, in the store and during international photo trips he attends with customers.

 

Further Reading

 


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Understanding Performance vs. Cost and What it Means to You
By Brent Durand

How to Choose a Memory Card

Brent Durand
Understanding Performance vs. Cost and What it Means to You

Digital memory card shopping is one of the last tasks in putting together a new camera and underwater housing rig. Most photographers do not put a huge amount of thought into the process, however there is much to be gained by doing a little research before placing the order. What is SDHC? Why are there two speed classifications? Do I really need the fastest card on the market? How many gigs do I need?

This reference guide summarizes (and simplifies) the most important specs to consider when shopping for your next memory card.

 

Having the right memory card is very important, especially when shooting behavior. Finespotted Jawfish, La Paz, Mexico.

 

Types of Memory Cards

SD Cards

Secure Digital cards are used with all compact, mirrorless and most crop (DX) sensor DSLR cameras. They are smaller and thinner than CF cards. Most photographers currently look towards SDHC, which is a newer generation with higher storage capacities and faster processing speeds. SDXC cards are new in the market and cost-prohibitive for most, but look for these to become popular in coming years.

 

CF Cards

Compact Flash cards are significantly larger and stronger than SD cards and generally used with full frame (FX) sensor DSLRs and HD video cameras. These cards are tough, provide more data recovery options and perform well in less-than-ideal shooting conditions. They also cost significantly more than SD cards.

 

Micro SD Cards

These tiny memory cards have great capacity for their size and are used in GoPro cameras and often in cell phones.

 

Card Speeds Revealed

Aside from the storage capacity, speed (or transfer rate) is the most important factor in choosing a memory card.

 

Write Speed

Write speed is the speed at which memory card can write data from the camera buffer. For beginner still photographers it’s not much of a worry, however it becomes important for photographers who shoot many continuous frames per second or record HD video. If the card is too slow, the camera’s buffer memory will fill and stop recording. If the card is as fast or faster than the camera’s internal buffer, then the only limitation is the camera.

 

Read Speed

Read speed is the speed at which you can transfer images from the memory card to the computer. And unless you are shooting many images with critical deadlines, this is less important in selecting a card than the write speed.

 

 

Speed Ratings

This is where things get confusing and make it difficult to compare various memory cards. Speed classifications are constantly changing and transfer rates are getting faster, but it’s important to understand the differences in order to save money while maintaining the performance you need.

 

"X" rating

The “x” rating (i.e. 400x Speed) compares processing times to original recordable CDs (1x = 150 KB/s). This means that a card labeled 40x has a maximum speed of 6 MB/s and a card labeled 400x has a maximum speed of 60 MB/s. Lexar SD cards use the “x” system, SanDisk uses the MB/s system and Delkin uses both. Transcend, on the other hand, only includes the card’s Class rating on their labels (note: Lexar, SanDisk & Delkin also include Class).

 

Class

The Class system was developed to help simplify card speed ratings. The memory card must meet a minimum processing speed in order to qualify for a particular class. Most new cards on the market are Class 10, which is designated as a 10 with a C around it. That said, a high-quality Class 6 card can also record HD video.

 

UDMA

UDMA is another maximum speed classification labeled on many CF cards. UDMA 6 cards feature transfer rates up to 133 MB/s, while UDMA 7 cards feature transfer rates up to 167 MB/s.

 

UHS

UHS speed class can also be found on many SD cards. UHS 1 denotes a 10 MB/s minimum write speed while UHS 3 denotes a 30 MB/s minimum write speed. These are indicated by either a 1 or 3 inside a U.

 

To summarize, Class and UHS indicate minimum speeds whereas the “x” and UDMA ratings are maximum write speeds.

 

 

What Card is Right for Me?

 

Choosing a memory card does not need to be difficult. Here’s the best way to figure it out:

  • Look in your camera user manual and see what transfer rates are recommended for maximum speed and performance.

  • Determine what file size you need. Underwater photographers will benefit from larger capacities so that you do not need to open your housing to swap cards. It’s better to wait for a lens or battery change to do this. Different cameras record different amounts of data per photo, so it’s worthwhile to call the folks at Bluewater Photo to see what memory card size is best for you.

  • Once you know the minimum speed and capacity you’re looking for you can begin shopping based on price. Keep in mind that if you plan to upgrade cameras in the next year or two, you may want to plan ahead and get faster cards.

 

 

Schoolmaster Snapper tucked away from the current in Cozumel, Mexico.

 

Memory Card Tips

 

  • As you use your card it becomes fragmented, which reduces speed and capacity. Make sure to reformat your card frequently in order to keep performance optimal.

  • Never fill your card to maximum capacity. Always leave a little room in order to minimize risk of corruption.

  • Get a Fast Card Reader. There is no point to fast read speeds on a card if your card reader can’t keep up.

  • Buy from name brand and reputable dealer. These cards perform the fastest, have the least chance of corruption and more options for recovering data if the card does corrupt.

 

   Further Reading

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image-maker from California.
BrentDimagery.com   |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Brent is the editor of the Underwater Photography Guide. He is leading several dive trips in 2016, linked below.  Email Brent at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Cenotes & Sailfish (Feb '16)  |  Bali & Lembeh (Sept '16)  |  Bimini Spotted Dolphins (Jun '16)  |  La Paz (Oct '16)  |  Kimbe Bay, PNG (Nov '16)

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


Create a Video in 5 Minutes – Seriously…
By Brent Durand

Creating Videos with GoPro Studio 2.0

Brent Durand
Create a Video in 5 Minutes – Seriously…

As underwater photographers, we build extensive archives of photos and videos. The trip ends and the daunting task of editing begins, often lasting for weeks after a long photo trip.  For photographers, creating an edited video can seem intimidating. Not only do you need to tell a compelling visual story, but there titles, transitions and music or narrative to add to the video. I’m a photographer (and savvy with computers, Lightroom, Photoshop, etc) but feel I’m not alone in saying that the intimidating part of creating a video is learning to use the editing software, especially if it's been a while since last opening it.

This completely changed once I tried the free GoPro Studio Edit Software. I was blown away after learning to use the software and putting together a video in 45 minutes. Next I put together a short timelapse to share on Instagram, which took about 5 minutes. This article is presented with the hope that more "closet video shooters" will be encouraged to start creating and sharing their own underwater videos.

 

GoPro Studio is designed to create a streamlined workflow.

 

About GoPro Studio Edit Software

GoPro Studio is designed to let non-pro video makers create stunning high-quality videos. The software is very intuitive, easy to use and creates a streamlined workflow. There are two ways to approach a new video.

  • Have a lot of big action and want to create a video that looks like a GoPro promo? No problem. Edit templates allow you to choose a favorite video template with preselected music, edit points, slow motion effects, titling and more. If a theme matches the video you have in mind then you’ll be sharing your video in just minutes.  Tip: make sure to shoot the highest framerate possible for slowmo.

  • Starting from scratch gives you full control of the editing process. Just click, drag and follow the suggested workflow. Got a timelapse to add to your video? All you need to do is import the photos and they’ll be instantly turned into a video. You select the playback speed (ie time spend on each frame) and it’s ready to go. Adding titles, music and transitions to the video is just as easy.

 

Choosing editing templates is easy.

 

Just one click to export your finished video.

 

Key Features

In addition to editing videos, GoPro Studio has three other standout features.

 

1.  Export video still frames at full resolution

  • Video is a much better tool that a still photo in many situations. Think about fast behavioral action, or a very fleeting moment with a subject. Being able to pull a full resolution photo from the video is really useful in this situation, and gives the photographer the best of both worlds (video & photo).

 

Export any frame as a still photo with a choice of quality levels.

 

2.  Advanced editing tools are built in

  • While working in the Edit module of GoPro Studio, users not only have the ability to make video edits like playback speed and transitions, but also adjust the picture appearance as well. This includes white balance, tonal adjustments like saturation and contrast, and framing/cropping of the picture.

Fine-tune white balance, picture tones and framing via slider adjustments.

 

3.  The software supports GoPro, Canon, Nikon and other constant frame rate H.264 mp4 and .mov formats

  • This means that you can edit your DSLR, mirrorless or compact camera video along with your GoPro video. This is really important if you’re working on filming one video with multiple cameras.

 

Conclusion

I'm writing this review because there are a lot of divers shooting underwater video, but not nearly enough of video being shared. I'm certainly one of those divers, but after recently "discovering" the Studio software I've made it a priority to start going through the folders of video clips to start making some movies. Hopefully you do too!

 

 

 

 

Featured GoPro Reviews

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image-maker from California.
BrentDimagery.com   |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Brent is the editor of the Underwater Photography Guide. He is leading several dive trips in 2016, linked below.  Email Brent at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Cenotes & Sailfish (Feb '16)  |  Bali & Lembeh (Sept '16)  |  Bimini Spotted Dolphins (Jun '16)  |  La Paz (Oct '16)  |  Kimbe Bay, PNG (Nov '16)

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


Enhance your "keepers" and be able to find them later!
By Michael Zeigler

5 Easy Steps To Process Your Underwater Photos

Michael Zeigler
Enhance your "keepers" and be able to find them later!

You've just returned home after an amazing trip abroad (or from your favorite local beach dive), and you've captured some "keepers." Awesome! For many of us underwater photographers, we can't wait to share, publish, or print our creations. Here I will walk you through the five basic steps I take after uploading my photos to my image editing software of choice, Lightroom. Many of these steps also apply to programs like Aperture, but for the purposes of this article I will focus on Lightroom 4. 

 

Step 1: Weeding Out the "Undesirables"

Yes, digital storage space is cheap these days, but what's the sense in keeping photos of "fish butts" or photos that are out of focus? There are times when I will keep a less-than-desirable photo for the purposes of instruction (e.g. what I could have done better), but for the vast majority of the time, those photos get purged. 

I review each photo, one by one, and flag all of the photos that are test shots, out of focus, have really poor lighting, etc. Then I'll select all of those photos, and delete them from my hard drive.

 

After importing my images, I flag all the "throw-away" images, select them all, and "Delete From Disk."

 

Step 2: Keywording

In my opinion, this is one of the most, if not the most, important step in processing your images. This is one of the most efficient ways of locating your images in your library. For example, if I'm looking for an image of a sponge and a diver, I simply type that into the search field, and voila, any images that have those two keywords, appear in a split second. No need to searching through folder after folder to find images. Sweet! 

In addition, should you ever submit your images to an agency or publication, they often require that all images are keyworded. Save yourself the future hassle and do it when you import.

 

An example of a key-worded image. I have a Keyword Set for "Diving," which helps speed up the process of commonly photographed subjects. Based on your image, Lightroom 4 will also display suggestions, which is nice. Thanks, Adobe!

 

Here are the items I always include in my keywording process:

  • Location: Specifically, the dive site. I have this set up as a hierarchy within LR4, so that the dive sites are included under the country of origin (e.g. United States > California > Catalina Island > Farnsworth Bank).

  • Critters: The main subject(s) in the photo.

  • Background subjects: For example, kelp, coral, diver, etc. Basically, I include any other identifiable item in the image.

I will typically highlight all similar photos in order to keyword them all at the same time since they have similar subjects. This really helps to speed up the process.

You can go as in-depth as you desire with this step. Obviously, the more all-inclusive you are, the easier it will be to find your images in the future. I recently went back through my catalog to include the scientific name for each entry. Yes, it was a bit daunting, but a glass of wine (or two) made the task a bit more manageable. 

 

 

Step 3: Identifying the Winners

Ok, so you've successfully deleted your fish butt shots and have keyworded all of your remaining underwater photos. Now it's time to focus on the photos you want to highlight and share. In this step, I review each photo again, and "flag" the photos I think are the best in the bunch. For example, if I have five shots of a mutton snapper, I will choose the one I think is the absolute best, and flag that one. 

Continue in this fashion for the remaining photos, then move on to Step 4.

 

Here are some of my "keepers" from my recent trip to Grand Cayman. I can easily find these again by clicking on the "white flag" filter in LR4.

 

Step 4: Cropping

Select one of your winning shots, click on the Development module, and start with cropping (if necessary). In the Development module of LR4, the cropping tool is the very first tool at the top. Adobe has organized the tools in the Development module in a way in which they think is the most practical approach to developing your images (and I happen to agree).

The way in which one crops an image can, in my opinion, make or break the composition. To learn more about this aspect of development, please read this article on composition.

As a general rule, I will maintain the original aspect ratio of the image. In my experience, things can go a bit "sideways" when you crop using custom aspect ratios. I encourage you to experiment, and see what works best for you. Also, be sure to reach out to your peers for feedback and constructive criticism.

 

By keeping the original aspect ratio, I can crop slightly in order to achieve the optimal (in my opinion) composition.

 

Step 5: Developing in the Digital Darkroom

Now comes the fun part. Since a vast majority of underwater photographers I know shoot RAW, I'm going to focus on developing that file type. For those of you that shoot JPG, the camera makes all of the following decisions for you, which, in some cases, is great.

As a standard process in Lightroom 4, I generally increase the following aspects for all of my underwater photos.

  • Contrast: One of the most important things you can do with your underwater photo is improve the contrast. Shooting through water tends to suck the contrast out of a photo. Simply move the contrast slider to the right until the photo looks good to your eye.

  • Clarity: Bumping up the clarity a bit helps enhance the detail in the image.

  • Vibrance: Helps the colors "pop" a bit.

  • Saturation: Self-explanatory. However, underwater photos tend to need a little help in this department, due to the water absorbing colors, especially if you weren't close enough to the subject.

  • Sharpening: When shooting JPG, the camera automatically adds sharpening to the photo. This is not the case when shooting RAW. But, be careful not to over-do it, or your photos will begin to look over-processed.

 

This is a the basic development panel for the image of the green sea turtle above.

 

*Bonus* Step 6: Exporting

So you've combed through all of your shots, added keywords, cropped (hopefully minimally) for the best composition, and developed your winning photos. Now it's time to export and share/print/publish! Based on what you're goal is, export the file size appropriate for the job. 

 

This is the export window in Lightroom 4. This figure shows my preset when exporting images to be shared on the web. Be sure to always include your copyright information!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Zeigler is a contributor, instructor, and trip leader for the Underwater Photography Guideand Bluewater Photo, as well as an AAUS Scientific Diver. Michael's underwater photography and blog can be seen at SeaInFocus.com.

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


Great tips on how to improve your final underwater images
By Todd Winner

Removing Backscatter in Photoshop

Todd Winner
Great tips on how to improve your final underwater images

We all try our best to get clean images that are free of backscatter using strobe positioning and proper buoyancy techniques. But, let's face it, all of us are plagued with unwanted objects in our images from time to time. Sometimes it is just a few specks of particles floating in the water column, but often it is much worse than that. Thankfully, Photoshop gives us a number of tools to solve these problems.

 

The original image was fairly clean, but had quite a bit of scatter in the top right area and on the kelp. See 100% crop for more detail.

 

This is the final image. I used the spot healing and healing brush to remove the large blemishes. I used content-aware and the patch tool to remove the strands of kelp from the top left area of the image and applied the dust and scratches filter with a mask to remove the small particles of backscatter.

 

New Layer

Sart by duplicating your background layer. An easy way to achieve this is to simply drag the background layer onto the new layer icon located at the bottom of your layer panel. It is a good idea to start a new layer any time you are making big adjustments. It's a simple way to see your before and after and it gives you many other options like blending modes, masking and opacity adjustments. 

 

Layers panel showing layers, masks icon and new layer icon.

 

Clone Stamp

The clone stamp is probably the most commonly used tool for removing unwanted objects, but it's the one I go to the least. It does exactly what the name implies; you copy, or “clone,” one small section of the image and stamp it, or “paste,” it into another portion of the image. The problem with this is that it is often very recognizable that you have cloned portions of your image. However it is still a useful tool, especially when retaining small details is important.

 

Spot Healing, Healing Brush and Patch Tool

These are my go-to tools for most of my backscatter removal. The spot healing brush is the fastest and most useful for removing small quantities of backscatter especially from backgrounds. You simply need to stamp or brush over the unwanted object and the tool will blend from surrounding pixels to keep the same luminance and texture. Because it blends with adjacent pixels, it is not the best tool for working around edges especially high contrast edges. For those kind of problems, the healing brush tool is a better option.  

The healing brush requires you to sample a portion of the image much like the clone stamp by Option / Alt + Clicking on the sample area and then clicking on the area that you want to conceal. Unlike the clone stamp, the healing brush keeps some of the luminance values from the new concealed area.  

The patch tool is not one of my personal favorites, but it can be useful for removing large blemishes. Simply draw around the unwanted section and click + drag it to another portion of the image that you want to conceal it with.  

All of these tools have adjustable options on the main menu bar, but the default options work well for most images.  

 

Content-Aware Fill (CS5 and higher)

If you have very large object that you want to remove, like your buddy's fin, the content-aware fill is a good option. Select the lasso tool and draw around the unwanted object. Once selected, push Control + Shift + Delete and the Fill box opens with Content-Aware and click OK. Content-Aware does a good job of sampling other portions of your image and creating detail patterns, but it often picks areas that aren't what you desire. Unfortunately, there is no way to control this. Maybe in CS-6 they will add more control.  For the time being, resampling the area multiple times and combining content-aware with some of the other tools can give you excellent results.  

 

Dust and Scratch Filter

If you have a background with a lot of backscatter, the dust and scratch filter is a powerful remedy. It does not work well on large blemishes, but it is perfect for lots of tiny particles.  There are a number of ways to use this tool, but I like to apply the filter to a entire layer and paint the blemishes away. Start by making a copy of the background layer, then apply the Dust & Scratches filter located under noise in the Filter pulldown. There are two sliders in the filter. Start by moving them to their smallest positions. Increase the radius slider until the small particles are concealed. This will soften your entire image, but you can recover much of the detail by increasing the threshold. Use the smallest increments that conceal the blemishes and don't get too concerned with the detail as we are going to paint in the effect. Next, add a mask to the layer by option + click on the add vector mask icon at the bottom of your layers panel. This will give you a mask filled with black over the entire layer. Now select your brush tool and white as your painting color and simply paint away the unwanted backscatter with an appropriate sized brush.  

 

100% crop of the top right area of the original image.

 

100% crop of the top right area of the final image after applying the cleanup techniques.

 

Remember that all of these tools have lots of parameters that you can change to help you to achieve your desired effect. For more information, contact Bluewater Photo for one of our Lightroom / Photoshop classes:  www.bluewaterphotostore.com or see www.toddwinner.com

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

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Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


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