Processing underwater images

Joined
Jun 29, 2019
Messages
10
My name is Debbie and I’m new to this group. I recently took some underwater photos while snorkeling on vacation and need help with post processing underwater photos. I usually don’t have much trouble, but the images are dark due to depth of the wreck and lack of sunlight that day. The white balance was set on “auto” as I have underwater point-and-shoot and didn’t think to change underwater water settings. Thanks for any help.
 
Joined
Dec 16, 2006
Messages
20,828
Location
South Florida
Welcome to the Forum Debbie

A little more information would help. What format are they in? JPG, RAW (NEF or similar)? What software do you use? (e.g. Lightroom, Photoshop, other)?

Being shot in RAW format makes it easy to change the White Balance (WB).

Underexposed images can usually be brought back with some curves work. Even if you do not use any of the major processing software, there are free alternatives you can download to help you do this.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2018
Messages
216
Location
West slope of the Sierra Nevada
Hi Debbie,

First off, always shoot in RAW if your camera supports it... it offers many times the information for correcting color and exposure.

In addition to adjusting exposure, colors in natural light are rather drastically filtered by the water. Reds are the first to go, followed by yellow. So you will most likely want to lift those colors in the tool you're using for post.

White balance is tough as there really are very few examples of white at any significant depth as reds and (possibly) yellows have been filtered out by the water. I would simply experiment with exposure/curves/contrast/hilights/shadows along with increasing the reds and yellows (greens if you only have access to RGB channels in your editor).

Hope this helps,

-SiP
 
Joined
Jun 29, 2019
Messages
10
Thank you all for responding! My images are in jpeg format. My Olympus Tough has underwater settings and I used those. I wish I could have shot in Raw. Photos are definitely underexposed but I’m getting lots of noise with my usual editing (Lightroom and Photoshop Elements) I didn’t think to do more with curves, thank you! I was getting purple cast when I was working on one of them. I thought I’d practice with just one. I’ve uploaded
a before and after.
a
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Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
Joined
Jun 29, 2019
Messages
10
Welcome to the Forum Debbie

A little more information would help. What format are they in? JPG, RAW (NEF or similar)? What software do you use? (e.g. Lightroom, Photoshop, other)?

Being shot in RAW format makes it easy to change the White Balance (WB).

Underexposed images can usually be brought back with some curves work. Even if you do not use any of the major processing software, there are free alternatives you can download to help you do this.
Thank you!
 
Joined
Jun 29, 2019
Messages
10
Hi Debbie,

First off, always shoot in RAW if your camera supports it... it offers many times the information for correcting color and exposure.

In addition to adjusting exposure, colors in natural light are rather drastically filtered by the water. Reds are the first to go, followed by yellow. So you will most likely want to lift those colors in the tool you're using for post.

White balance is tough as there really are very few examples of white at any significant depth as reds and (possibly) yellows have been filtered out by the water. I would simply experiment with exposure/curves/contrast/hilights/shadows along with increasing the reds and yellows (greens if you only have access to RGB channels in your editor).

Hope this helps,

-SiP
Thanks!
Welcome to the Forum Debbie

A little more information would help. What format are they in? JPG, RAW (NEF or similar)? What software do you use? (e.g. Lightroom, Photoshop, other)?

Being shot in RAW format makes it easy to change the White Balance (WB).

Underexposed images can usually be brought back with some curves work. Even if you do not use any of the major processing software, there are free alternatives you can download to help you do this.
Thanks so much!
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2018
Messages
216
Location
West slope of the Sierra Nevada
If you look at the histogram, it is not really underexposed... it is just that the right side of it is totally blue, and there is virtually no red captured.

Moving the blues down so that they are closer to the greens, and then boosting total exposure to restore the blues to the right edge results in the following:

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


However it is tough to do much of anything positive in the image you posted as it is so small.
 
Joined
May 27, 2005
Messages
8,622
Location
Clearwater, Florida
I don't think the white balance is too bad, but I think you are just asking too much of a small underwater camera. Between the poor light and the depth of the wreck, your efforts on the second photo posted are about the best you could expect.
 
Joined
Jun 29, 2019
Messages
10
If you look at the histogram, it is not really underexposed... it is just that the right side of it is totally blue, and there is virtually no red captured.

Moving the blues down so that they are closer to the greens, and then boosting total exposure to restore the blues to the right edge results in the following:

View attachment 1644703

However it is tough to do much of anything positive in the image you posted as it is so small.
Thanks for your suggestions.
 
Joined
Jun 29, 2019
Messages
10
I don't think the white balance is too bad, but I think you are just asking too much of a small underwater camera. Between the poor light and the depth of the wreck, your efforts on the second photo posted are about the best you could expect.
Thank you, I’m sure you are right. It’s the first time I was ever in water of that depth, snorkeling over a wreck. A storm was coming, so it was even darker than usual for our tour. I’m happy I got the images I got for memories!
 
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