Thinking about the Background

Frequently the difference between a great photo and a so-so photo is the background.

A great background can really make the photo stand out. The subject and background should work together with the other elements in the photo to really grab your attention or draw you into the work.

A lot of professional photographers spend as much time looking for a great background as they do looking for a great subject. It’s just that important in the photo. Figure 1 has a nice subject (Rock Beauty), but the background is poor. The background of this photo doesn’t help at all, in fact, it detracts from the photo.

Figure 1: Rocky Beauty
Figure 1: Rocky Beauty

A neutral or plain background can help draw attention to the subject even if the viewer doesn’t even realize that there is a background in the photo. Like figure 2, a Gray Reef Shark out in the Blue.

Figure 2: Gray Reef Shark

Patterns, such as the patterns in coral, sea fans, sponges, or schools of fish can create interesting backgrounds. Patterns can even be the whole photo. See figure 3 Juvenile Damselfish on Brain Coral.

Figure 3: Juvenile Damselfish or Brain Coral

Colorful backgrounds or subjects can help draw the viewer’s attention to the image. In figure 4 (Flamingo Tongue Snails on Sea Fan), the color of the Purple Sea Fan helps make the snails stand out.

Figure 4: Flamingo Tongue Snails on Sea Fan

So, the next time you get in the water with your camera, take a look at the backgrounds. See if that fish that you’d like to take a picture of, swims over or in front of a nice background. Does that Damselfish hang out over the coral or just hang out in the rubble? Look for backgrounds, patterns and color. You’ll be surprised at the difference it will make in the pictures you bring home.

Underwater Video Frequently Asked Questions

What does an underwater video system cost?
Like anything else, the start up cost of getting into underwater video spans a range depending on the results and features you require. Basic underwater digital video systems w/o lights start around $900 new. At the far high end, a full featured prosumer-level HD system including HIDlights and an external monitor can run over $16,000.
Keep Reading

UW Photo/Video Articles…Contribute Your Own!

Photo: Brian Dombrowski

Click Here to Submit Your Own Photo or Video Article!

Articles in this section are geared toward the underwater photography and use of videos while diving, but can provide useful information to every diver. Articles about training, how to, reef dives, etc. are just a few of the many topics that can be found in this section.

As a member of, you can write and contribute your own article and get it published for everyone to enjoy and learn from. You can also submit your own pictures with your article, which can greatly enhance the article’s content. Be apart of the diving community and help to build this site for everyone to enjoy and learn from.

Please note that site administrators review every article before it’s posted, so it won’t be displayed the moment you submit it. Don’t worry though, we’ll get it reviewed and posted within 24 hours.

Thank you for your contribution…we hope to see you back here often!

Frequently Asked Questions

Cave Diving  Training Questions  

Where do I go for cave or cavern training?

A number of training organizations offer different types and levels of cave and cavern training. Training organizations such as NSSCDS, NACD, IANTD, and GUE all offer cave and cavern training. Finding a dive shop in your area with cave diving instructors may be difficult. Typically, only dive shops that categorize themselves as “technical” shops offer this type of training. You may have to travel out of your area to find a dive shop or instructor.


How long does my cave or cavern certification last?

Once you receive your cave and cavern training, your certification never expires. There are no requirements for continued education or retraining every year. It should be noted that if you received your certification a long time ago and have not done a cave or cavern dive since then, you may want to retake the class to make sure you are up to date with current procedures, etc.


How long is a cave and cavern course?

Cavern courses are generally taught over a two-day period, which includes classroom lectures, field exercises, line drills, and a minimum of four cavern dives.


Cave courses range from two to five days. There are different levels of cave courses such as intro to cave, apprentice cave, and full cave each that require several days to complete.


Do I have to be certified to dive in a cave?

Yes. Cave and cavern diving require very specialized training. Diving in an overhead environment can be extremely dangerous without the proper training. Never try to dive in a cavern or cave without seeking proper training first.


What level of certification do I need to get cavern or cave certified?

Generally, advanced open water is required to participate in a cavern course. To begin your cave training, you must have completed a cavern course. Other prerequisites may be required, so it’s important to check with your instructor or training agency to find out everything you need to begin your training.


How much does it cost to get cavern and cave certified?

Each training agency prices their courses differently, but cavern classes average around $200.00 or more. Cave required courses average around $400 or more for each level. Check with your instructor or contact a training agency for exact amounts.

Underwater Video Overview

Shooting video of the Eagle Wreck, Islamorada, FL - Photo: Steve Straatsma

For the recreational diver, shooting underwater video is one of the best ways to re-live a dive. Video captures images with the added elements of motion, time, and sound. The marine environment is loaded with unique animated creatures. Their behavior, and even character, is best represented on full motion video.

Recent advancements in consumer level technology have made it more practical for recreational divers to participate in underwater video. Systems have become smaller, more feature packed, simpler to use, and of course, less expensive. The quality of the images they record are better than ever thanks to advancements in CCD sensor technology and DV (digital video) recording formats. Thus, it makes sense for a diver with interest in underwater imagery to consider video as an option.

In our Underwater Photo/Video section, we take a look at the equipment required for shooting underwater video and what to look for when selecting your components. We also look at basic techniques for shooting video and touch on editing and DVD authoring.