Black and White Underwater Photography

Black and White Underwater Photos  

A creative approach to your underwater photography

By Scott Gietler



Black and white photos have always been a favorite form of expression for artists. Without color to distract the viewer, form, lines, and shades can be emphasized. Shooting black and white will place more emphasis on the creative side of your photography, and less emphasis on the technical. Wide angle lenses make the best B&W photos, especially rectilinear lenses that can emphasis lines. Use your own ideas for B&W photos, but here are some ideas for your black and white photography:


  • Keep details in the shadow areas. Frame a composition without any blown highlights.
  • Keep the photo tack sharp and in focus
  • Emphasis details - fill the frame with sharp details and texture
  • Emphasis shape - choose a fish or shark with a well recognized shape
  • Emphasis lines - wrecks are perfect for leading lines
  • Go for the old, grainy look with a high ISO. Wrecks can work well with this concept.
  • Try to think in black and white before shooting. Imagine what the photo will look like in B&W, find subjects that will best show off the motif you are striving towards.

Converting Color to B&W

  • Use the B&W command in photoshop, under image, adjustments, black and white
  • Alternatively, shoot in Raw and using the convert to grayscale command in Adobe Camera Raw / Lightroom


Black and White underwater photography examples

 black and white underwater photography

Squid and other pelagic invertebrates make excellent black and white subjects. F8, 1/200th, ISO 320, 60mm+1.4x teleconverter, Anilao, Phillipines.


balck and white underwater photo

Good black and white photos have lots of detail and contrast. F10, 1/160th, ISO 400. nikon d300, Tokina 10-17mm at 10mm.



Black and white Kelp scene from Australia. Photo by Cal Mero. Oly SP350, F11, 1/90th, ISO 200. The high degree of contrast helps make this a nice black and white photo.  


Further Reading



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