Diagonal Underwater Composition

This guide offers tips, tricks and instruction on how to take underwater photos with diagonal composition
By Scott Gietler

Diagonal Underwater Composition

Part II in a series on composition: tips and tricks on how to take the perfect diagonal shot

by Scott Gietler



Shooting a photo diagonally allows it to be seen from an interesting, sometimes unexpected perspective, which can add a unique element to your shot. This second part in our series on underwater composition will provide tips and tricks on how to get the perfect diagonal shot!

The trick with this kind of composition is twisting your camera just right so that your subject extends from one corner to the other. It is best to choose subjects that are long and thin.


This photo is a good example of diagonal composition for a few reasons. First, it features a very nice subject in the foreground, a classic close focus wide angle shot. Second, the position of the kelp in the bottom left corner looks great. However, it would be better if the top of the kelp had reached more precisely into the upper right corner, surrounded by water.

NIkon D300, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye, F13, 1/320th, ISO 250


Here we have an excellent example. With this particular photo, it is better that the pier piling does not fully reach to the top left corner. The top is surrounded by water, making a great composition. The bottom part of the pier piling sits perfectly in the bottom left corner of the shot.   

NIkon D300, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye, F8, 1/250th, ISO 400


Here is an example that is almost right but not quite! It would be better if the camera was shifted so that the upper part of the wire coral sat more precisely in the corners. 

NIkon D300, Nikon 105mm VR lens, F20, 1/200th, ISO 320


This shot works because of the numerous leading lines (lines that lead to the subject). Here we are breaking the rule of having the subject reach exactly from corner to corner. The diagonal composition makes the photo much more interesting than if it had been shot horizontally.  

NIkon D300, Nikon 60mm lens, F13, 1/320th, ISO 250


This is a classic example of perfect diagonal composition! The subject is reaching from corner to corner and is surrounded by water. 

NIkon D300, Nikon 60mm lens, F14, 1/250th, ISO 200


Here is an example of a shot that many people would take horizontally or vertically. By placing the subjects' heads as close to the corner as possible, we are giving this photo a nice twist (literally!). 

NIkon D300, Nikon 60mm lens, F20, 1/320th, ISO 400


Further Reading


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