Underwater photo adventures begin

Underwater photographer photographing green sea turtle

Photo by J.T. Lewis- An underwater photographer takes a photo of a resting green sea turtle in Roatan, Honduras.

My newest passion is underwater photography. I really enjoy it and am anxious to do more of it.

I’ve had one photography adventure in Roatan, Honduras, and am looking forward to many more.

What do you need to do to learn underwater photography? The first step is becoming a certified diver, and there are several agencies out there, PADI being one of the most recognized, that can help. Locally, there are two dive shops in St. Catharines that provide Open Water Scuba Diver training.

Once you’re open-water certified, you may look into other training needed to become a competent diver. Along the way, all certifying agencies will offer an underwater photographer course, which will be available through your dive shop.


Equipment needed for underwater photography depends on what you want to accomplish below the surface.

Some manufacturers make underwater cameras that are totally sealed, so you don’t have to worry about cleaning O rings. There are compact cameras in underwater housings and they have various levels of programs you can shoot in from fully-automatic to manual exposure and varying degrees of auto focus. Popular examples are SeaLife and GoPro. There are also ones made by Olympus and Pentax, as well.

When looking at these cameras, make sure that you understand depth rating. Some are made to go only a shallow depth, some are made for deeper waters. You want one that is rated for recreational limits, up to 40 meteres (130 ft.) deep.

There are housing manufacturers that make waterproof cases for your camera. These housings are manufactured for all kinds of different cameras from DSLRs to compact cameras. Essentially, you take your land camera underwater in a waterproof case.

If you have a DSLR, you can get different ports to work with different lenses.

Some popular examples of companies that make underwater housings include Sea and Sea, Ikelite and Aquatica. There are other companies as well. These are the more popular ones among divers.

When it comes to depth ratings, manufacturers will generally have them rated to perform beyond recreational limits. You’ll want housings that will work at least at 40 meteres (130 ft.) deep.


All cameras and housings need some sort of lighting underwater at one point. There are two types of lighting out there, strobes and continuous lighting. Strobes are associated with doing photography, continuous lighting with doing video.

There are strobe units out there that have continuous lights built in to them as well. With these, the built-in lighting works as a dive light/focus light. In some situations it is necessary for a focus light to be shining on a subject to help the camera’s auto focus.

The manufacturer of your housing/camera system will have a bunch of different options available for you.

What do I use?

What equipment do I have? Well, I use a Nikon D3200 in an Ikelite housing with an eight-inch dome that allows me to use many different lenses. For my first trip to Roatan, I was using a 12-24mm Nikkor lens and am currently using the 18-55mm lens that I got with the camera. It’s actually a beautiful underwater lens. I also have a port to use with my 105mm macro and two Ikelite DS51 strobes, I was using flexible arms but, have now invested in locking wide angle arms and am looking forward to experimenting with them. Hopefully soon, I’ll be picking up a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens which I plan on using in the set up regularly.


The question you may be asking yourself, is it all worth it? I find it is an extension of photography that is very rewarding. As I said when I started, I am anxious to get out and do more. What I find interesting is that I really don’t need to go too far to find some interesting stuff. We have some really fascinating diving right here in south Niagara. I’m looking forward for the ice to thaw so I can get out there soon and start exploring again with my camera.

Below are some photos from my first major underwater photography adventure in Roatan. More adventures to come and as I make some discoveries along the way, I will be sharing them here with you.

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