underwater photography in british columbia

Introduction to Underwater Photography in British Columbia

The waters in British Columbia may never get was warm as the Caribbean; however, there are lots of people diving in and around British Columbia.

British Columbia is a paradise for underwater photographers, with a diverse array of marine life and stunning underwater landscapes to explore. From the colorful anemones and sea stars of the Pacific Northwest to the giant Pacific octopus and wolf eels of the Queen Charlotte Islands, the opportunities for capturing unique and beautiful images are endless. 

In this article, we will provide an introduction to underwater photography in British Columbia, including the best locations to visit, tips and techniques for capturing great photos, and information on the gear and equipment needed.

Best Locations for Underwater Photography in British Columbia

British Columbia offers a variety of locations for underwater photography, each with its own unique features and attractions. Some popular spots include:

Vancouver Island: Known for its diverse marine life and clear waters, Vancouver Island offers a wide range of diving opportunities for photographers. The island’s west coast is home to a number of popular dive sites, such as Race Rocks and Browning Pass, which are known for their rich marine life, including sea lions, seals, and sea otters. The east coast of the island, around Campbell River, is also a great spot for diving, with a number of shipwrecks and artificial reefs to explore.

The Queen Charlotte Islands: These remote islands off the coast of British Columbia are a diver’s paradise, with clear waters, abundant marine life, and breathtaking underwater landscapes. The islands are home to a variety of species, including giant Pacific octopus, wolf eels, and colorful rockfish. The islands also offer a number of wrecks and artificial reefs to explore, such as the HMCS Cape Breton and the HMCS Columbia.

Tips and Techniques for Capturing Great Underwater Photos

Underwater photography can be challenging, as the water can affect the color and quality of the light, and the movement of the subject can be difficult to capture. Here are some tips and techniques to help you capture great underwater photos:

  • Use natural light: One of the best ways to capture natural-looking colors in your photos is to use natural light. Position yourself so that the sun is shining on your subject, and avoid using strobes or flash.
  • Adjust your camera settings: Underwater photography requires different camera settings than above water photography. You will need to adjust your aperture and shutter speed to accommodate for the lower light levels and the movement of your subject. A good rule of thumb is to use a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion of your subject, and a wide aperture to let in as much light as possible.
  • Get close to your subject: To capture the most detail in your photos, try to get as close to your subject as possible. This will also help you to fill the frame with your subject, making for a more impactful image.

Gear and Equipment Needed for Underwater Photography

To get started with underwater photography, you will need a few key pieces of gear:

  • Waterproof Camera: A waterproof camera is a must for underwater photography. There are many different types of waterproof cameras available, from point-and-shoot models to mirrorless and DSLR cameras. Some cameras are designed specifically for underwater use, while others can be used with a waterproof housing.
  • Dive Light: A dive light is necessary to illuminate your subject and bring out the colors in your photos. Look for a light with a high lumen output and a wide beam angle for the best results.
  • Strobe: A strobe is a type of flash that is used for underwater photography. It helps to bring out the colors in your photos and can be used to freeze the motion of your subject.

Dive Regulations and Safety Precautions

Diving and taking photos underwater can be dangerous if proper precautions are not taken. It’s important to follow local dive regulations and safety guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Get certified: To dive in British Columbia, you will need to be certified as a diver. There are a variety of certification agencies, such as PADI and NAUI, that offer courses and training.
  • Check the weather: The weather can change quickly in British Columbia, so it’s important to check the forecast before heading out on a dive. Avoid diving in rough seas or poor visibility.
  • Dive with a buddy: Never dive alone. Always dive with a buddy and establish clear communication and safety protocols before entering the water.
  • Know your limits: Dive within your limits and don’t push yourself too hard. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe at any point during a dive, surface immediately.

Post-processing Your Underwater Photos

After a successful dive and photo shoot, it’s time to edit and post-process your photos. Here are a few tips for post-processing your underwater photos:

  • Adjust color balance: The water can affect the colors in your photos, so it’s essential to adjust the color balance to get the colors look natural.
  • Correct backscatter: Backscatter is a common problem in underwater photography, caused by particles in the water reflecting the light from your flash. Use editing software to remove or reduce the appearance of backscatter in your photos.
  • Enhance contrast and saturation: Underwater photos can often appear flat and dull, so it’s a good idea to enhance the contrast and saturation to bring out the colors and make your photos pop.


Underwater photography in British Columbia offers a wealth of opportunities to capture unique and beautiful images of marine life and underwater landscapes.

With a variety of locations to explore, tips and techniques for capturing great photos, and the right gear and equipment, anyone can get started with underwater photography. Remember to follow dive regulations and safety precautions, and post-process your photos to get the most out of your images. Happy diving and happy shooting!

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