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How to Shoot Stunning Split Shots Underwater

Underwater photography provides a unique opportunity to capture the beauty of the underwater world. One popular technique used by photographers is the split shot, which captures both the underwater and above-water scenes in a single frame. This article will guide you through the process of shooting stunning split shots underwater, from equipment selection to composition and lighting techniques.

Equipment Selection

To capture stunning split shots underwater, it’s important to have the right equipment. Here are some key items to consider:

1. Underwater Housing: A good quality underwater housing is essential to protect your camera from water damage. Make sure it is compatible with your camera model.

2. Wide-angle Lens: A wide-angle lens is ideal for capturing both the underwater and above-water scenes in a single frame. Look for a lens with a focal length between 16mm and 35mm.

3. Dome Port: A dome port helps to correct the distortion caused by shooting underwater. It also allows for a wider field of view, making it easier to capture both scenes in focus.


Composition plays a crucial role in creating stunning split shots. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Rule of Thirds: Divide your frame into a 3×3 grid and place the horizon line or subject along the grid lines or at the intersections. This creates a visually pleasing balance between the underwater and above-water scenes.

2. Leading Lines: Use natural elements like corals, rocks, or even the water surface as leading lines to guide the viewer’s eye through the frame.

3. Framing: Look for natural frames underwater, such as an archway or a school of fish, to add depth and interest to your split shot.

Lighting Techniques

Proper lighting is essential for capturing stunning split shots underwater. Here are some techniques to consider:

1. Natural Light: Utilize the available natural light to your advantage. Shoot during the golden hours (early morning or late afternoon) when the light is soft and warm. This will add a magical touch to your split shots.

2. Strobes: If shooting in darker or deeper waters, use external strobes to add artificial light and highlight the underwater scene. Position the strobes to avoid harsh shadows and create a balanced exposure.

3. Silhouettes: Experiment with shooting towards the light source to create dramatic silhouettes of underwater subjects against a vibrant sky or sunset.

Tips and Tricks

Here are some additional tips and tricks to help you capture stunning split shots underwater:

1. Use a Polarizing Filter: A polarizing filter can help reduce glare and increase color saturation, resulting in more vibrant split shots.

2. Stay Buoyant: Maintain neutral buoyancy while shooting, as this will help you stay steady and avoid disturbing the underwater environment.

3. Experiment with Angles: Don’t be afraid to try different angles and perspectives to add depth and interest to your split shots. Shoot from below, above, or even sideways to create unique compositions.

In conclusion, shooting stunning split shots underwater requires careful equipment selection, composition skills, and the right lighting techniques. By following the tips and tricks outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way to capturing breathtaking split shots that showcase the beauty of both the underwater and above-water worlds. So grab your gear, dive in, and start shooting!