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20 Underwater Photos to Inspire Your Next Beach Vacation

sitting in the waterI had my first encounter with underwater photography on a cruise back in July. I found a waterproof case for my phone and ended up getting a few good shots, but the cover was clunky and hard to use (I missed about half of the shots because my phone wouldn’t register my touch through the case underwater). So when I had the chance to use a real underwater camera on a few different trips over the last couple of months, I realized how much fun it was to have a dedicated camera that could take really good shots underwater.

If you’re on the fence about the purchase of an actual waterproof camera, here’s a few of the shots I got from snorkeling in the Caribbean, the beach, and a pool in the Outer Banks, NC. It gives you a whole range of new options when it comes to vacation photos — after all, when you’re vacationing on the beach, most of the fun is in the water anyway.

When shooting underwater photos, there are a few things to remember —  first, it’s darker under there. Unless you’ve got white sand below you and a bright sun above, your pictures may come out darker than what you’d like. You can solve this by either turning up the ISO or simply lightening them in post-processing. If the camera has a dedicated underwater setting, use it, because it takes into account the differences in shooting underwater automatically.

The second thing to remember is that underwater things are in a different place when viewed from above the water, if you’re simply snapping photos underwater without your eyeballs underwater looking through your viewfinder, there’s a chance you’ll end up getting a toe, a fish tail or maybe nothing at all. (*insert a bunch of scientific stuff about water and refractive index here.*) Take this little nugget into account when shopping for an underwater camera: is the viewfinder bright enough to see underwater and through goggles?

Finally, one of the best ways to make sure you get a shot you’re happy with (especially when shooting waves or splashing water) is to put the camera in continuous shutter mode, meaning when you press down the shutter button, the camera will continue to take shots until the shutter is released. (This is especially fun if you’re shooting people jumping into water.) Taking all of these things into account, here’s 20 underwater photos I was able to capture — get inspired!

  • Underwater Gardens 1 of 20
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    It's a little creepy to step on this stuff with your bare feet, but how beautiful is it when viewed underwater?

  • Fish! 2 of 20
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    Of course fish are the first thing that many people think of when they think of underwater photos, and it's fun to see just how close you can get to them.

  • Snorkeling Face 3 of 20
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    In my head I look super sporty and amazing while snorkeling, in reality? We all know the truth, we all look like dorks.

  • Just Under the Surface 4 of 20
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    Normally a little floating piece of something makes people freak out, but look at it just below the surface and it's simply lovely.

  • Shipwrecks 5 of 20
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    I had no idea this was out in the water I was swimming in, and part of me almost wishes I had never known. Shipwrecks freak me right out and this one was no exception. Now I can share the terror with all of you!

  • Starfish 6 of 20
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    How much more lovely is a starfish in the filtered underwater sunlight? I also felt a lot less guilty taking his picture underwater rather than pulling him (or her?) out of the water.

  • A Different View 7 of 20
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    Cody loves to play in the water; capturing his happiness splashing in the water is far more accurate than taking a photo of him from the beach.

  • More Fish! 8 of 20
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    A good shot of a cool fish makes you feel like you succeeded at underwater photos.

  • Beach Foam 9 of 20
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    Have you ever been close enough to crashing waves to capture the beach foam in mid-air? Probably not, as no one wants to get their fancy camera that close to sand and water.

  • Abstract Fish 10 of 20
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    I missed this little guy, but I still love how the colors and sunlight come through on the side of this polka dot fish.

  • Swimming Pool 11 of 20
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    Who says the ocean is the only place to get underwater photos? We had so much fun taking pictures of each other against the pool light at night.

  • View From the Flippers 12 of 20
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    A fun way to document my snorkeling trip was to flip around and get a shot of my flippers with the beach in the background.

  • Getting Down with the Pebbles 13 of 20
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    Sure, you can get this shot with a regular camera — but what if a wave comes? Game over. A waterproof camera lets you feel confident in your riskier shots.

  • Underwater 14 of 20
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    This? This is one of the most soothing sights in the entire world. I may blow this up and hang it in my bedroom, it's just that soothing.

  • Sandy 15 of 20
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    Another soothing underwater shot. I've looked, and you can buy these kinds of shots for a lot of money from photographers who think their fancy underwater camera is the only one that can capture something like this.

  • Back Towards the Beach 16 of 20
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    It's great to be able to get a shot back towards the beach, the best way to do that? A camera you can swim with!

  • Barracuda 17 of 20
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    Oh hey there barracuda, how you doin'? (I took off in the other direction as soon as I got this shot, not that this fish could have eaten me — but they're scary looking suckers.)

  • Swimming 18 of 20
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    More shots against the pool light at night. ALL THE BUBBLES!

  • Waves Crashing 19 of 20
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    These were some major waves, and it was so fun sitting in them to see what I could get. They look so much bigger when you're close to the ground!

  • Knocked Right Over 20 of 20
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    Of course when you're sitting in the waves, one of them is eventually going to get you — but never fear! The camera was safe! (And there were plenty of photographers on land willing to capture my misfortune.)

    My mantra on the beach became, "When you have a waterproof camera, you must remember that you are waterproof as well." Clothes will dry, cool photos will last forever.

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The camera used for all of the above photos is a Nikon AW1, on loan from Nikon.

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Find more of Casey’s writing on her blog moosh in indy or her Babble Voices site Shutterlovely. She’s also available on twitter, facebook, flickr and Instagram. If you can’t find her any of those places? Check the couch, she’s probably taking a nap.

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