How to Take Great Snorkeling Pictures

Snorkeling is a fun and exciting way to get up-close and personal with the diversity of marine life beneath the waves. Going to school in Florida provides excellent opportunities to snorkel in unique habitats that can be found in only a few places around the world. Our freshwater crystal clear springs in central Florida often allow for an up-close and personal excursion with endangered manatees. The Florida Keys Reef Tract has numerous habitats that provide opportunities to see coral reefs, ancient wrecks, mangrove forests and seagrass beds. Finally, Brevard County is home to the nation’s most diverse estuary, The Indian River Lagoon, which is home to sea turtles, rays and many invertebrates.

Words often can’t accurately describe the unique organisms and beautiful clear water you will see on a typical snorkel. Advancements in digital technology have made it possible to capture your snorkeling adventure using your smart phone or a small waterproof camera. Below I share a few “how to” tips on ways to capture the best images when snorkeling.

Be aware of the light source.

In clear water, natural light like the sun will be your best friend. Be cognizant of what direction the light source is coming from. You can be strategic when using the sun’s light to both highlight the organism you want to capture, or to give your photo some background. Before taking a photo be sure you are positioned level with your subject. Since snorkeling is in shallow water you most likely will not need a flash or strobe light (better for use at depth). Below is a shot I took of an “urchin condo” in Hawaii using my GoPro.  I used the sun in this photo to highlight the field of view.


Know your camera’s field of view and resolution.

There is nothing worse than finding an amazing organism that you have never seen before and snapping a picture, only to be disappointed when you get home to see that the photo is blurry. Steady your camera and be sure you are at the right focal length. If you do not have a view finder, this will require some practice.  Below is an image that I took when I was too close to my subject. Notice how the coral colonies in the foreground are blurry. Do not forget you are using a digital camera with unlimited photos. Take multiple shots from different angles and distances to better ensure you are capturing your image.


Keep it simple.

Do not try to be artsy with how you are shooting your subject. The best shots are usually from a level plane. So anchor yourself (weight belt or against a rock), steady your camera, and shoot! Keep the rule of thirds in mind ( for more info). Notice in the image below how I kept the trigger fish off center. I also used a rock to steady my camera.


Finally, don’t hesitate to touch up your photos (brighten or crop out your snorkeling buddy’s fins) using digital imaging software.



(Featured Photo Credit:

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