Taking photos in or on the water

Water photography is a snap with a waterproof camera.  I take my waterproof camera with me when I swim or boat, and have captured a bunch of fun images and memories.

Using a Waterproof Camera

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This selfie was captured with my Olympus waterproof shock proof camera. The camera even has a selfie mode!  I love doing water photography with this camera.

The Olympus waterproof shock proof camera is my most fun camera.  Why?  Because I can take it with me everywhere I go!  The extra tight seals on the camera allow me to take it into the water or on a boat for water photography.  I’ve owned my Olympus waterproof shock proof camera for 6 or 7 years now and the model I own has been replaced by the Olympus TG-870 Waterproof Digital Camera, which is the camera shown above and linked to in this post.  The TG-870 has the same great features I love about my camera plus a few more bells and whistles.

Most camera are NOT water tight.  Please do not get your camera wet, unless it’s a waterproof camera or it is in a waterproof housing designed for the camera.

Tips and Techniques Using a Waterproof CameraHandmade collage on a scrapbook layout.

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A few things to think about when using a waterproof camera.

  1. The camera is water proof, but NOT sink proof.  So if I drop it, down to the bottom of the lake it goes.  There are two solutions to this problem.  One is to buy a life jacket for the camera.  No joke, Olympus makes flotation devices to help you not loose your camera.  Or the one I use is to tie it to me.  I have a long lanyard that I have looped through the camera strap.  I then loop the camera through the lanyard around the strap of my bathing suit or other article of clothing.  I don’t trust knots, so with this double looping method I won’t be parted from my favorite camera.  When not in use, I tuck the camera in my swimsuit or life jacket to keep it from dangling.
  2. Be sure the seals are clean and dry when you close the doors to the camera.  If not, you won’t get a watertight seal meaning there is a risk of water damage to your camera.  Water inside a camera is bad news!
  3. Be sure the camera doors are closed and latched property before you take your camera into the water.  My Olympus waterproof shock proof camera has a one click closure which makes it easy.  In all the years I’ve owned my waterproof camera it’s never leaked.  Some cameras have a double latch system.  Be sure both latches are in the right position.
  4. VERY IMPORTANT – the first thing you need to do when you purchase a waterproof camera is be sure all the doors are properly closed and dunk the camera in water.  Look for any bubbles coming from the camera.  Dry off the camera and open all the doors looking for any signs of water.  Even one drop inside your camera is a problem.  The reason I tell you to do this, is I recently purchased a new (more expensive) waterproof camera and the first time I used the camera for water photography it leaked so bad that I could see water in the lens.  Yikes!  I didn’t do the test I mentioned here.  It had a bad seal on one of the doors.
  5. Wipe your camera dry as soon as you get out of the water and before you open any of the doors.

Tips and Techniques for Photographing in the Water

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Here are a couple of tips for water selfies and water photography in general.

  1. The Olympus waterproof camera has lots of different shooting modes for both land and water photography.  One of the modes is for selfies and that’s the one I used for the pictures you see here.  It also has some modes to help with glare from the water/beach/snow, and even some underwater modes if you want to get a shot of aquatic life.  The landscape photo above was taken with the landscape mode.
  2. If you’re in the shade or mid-day sun, turn the flash on.  You can set the flash to fire even if the camera thinks you don’t need it.  In these conditions you do.  That extra light on your face will help reduce harsh shadows.
  3. If possible, face the sun.  The best light outside is always natural light.
  4. If the sun is behind you you can get a highlights on your hair, however your face will be dark.  Turning on the flash will help light up your face.
  5. Use a long lanyard.  For a selfie you’ll need to hold the camera away from your body.  Be sure your lanyard is long enough to allow you to frame your photo.
  6. Like with any “blind” selfie you have to take a shot, look at it and maybe redo.  It’s okay to take a bunch of shots to get one keeper.  The newer version of my camera has a flip up screen which makes selfies much easier.
  7. As with all photography the middle of the day isn’t the ideal time to take a photo.  Bright overhead sunshine casts big shadows on our face.  However the best time to take a picture is always when things occur that you want to remember.  Turn the flash on to help reduce the shadows on your face if you are in bright sun.
  8. If you want a shot like the ones you see here, practice treading water with your feet while standing straight up.  I find keeping one arm out straight in the water helps keep be balanced as I raise the other arm up to take the photo.  If that is a bit too challenging for you try floating on your back.  Or find a place in the water where you can stand.
  9. If droplets of water accumulate on the outside of the lens they will show up in your photo.  I blow the drops off the lens when I’m in the water.


Caring for a Waterproof Camera

With just a bit of TLC your waterproof camera will last for many years.

  1. If you should get water inside your camera.  Wipe the outside of your camera dry.  Remove the battery and memory card immediately.  Open all the doors of the camera and pour out any water you can.  Leave all the camera doors open in a clean, dust free, dry place out of the sun (heat is also bad for your camera) for a few days to let it dry out.  This might restore the camera back to working order.  If not, you can send it into the manufacturer for service and they may be able to get it working properly.
  2. I haven’t used my camera in salt or chemically treated water, so I don’t go through the cleaning process Olympus recommends each time I use my camera.  If you do, you should clean your camera after each use.  Here is a link to the Olympus website with their tips for maintaining a waterproof camera.
  3. Olympus recommends replacing the seals annually.  I have not done that with my camera, and it’s old enough now that I won’t invest money into it.  If it fails, time for the new version.  But I also don’t take my camera into harsh environments like salt water or a chemically treated pool, so my seals are less likely to get damaged.  If you use your camera often in a harsh environment, best to get new seals each year.  You can find information about seal replacement for Olympus waterproof cameras here.

Favorite Photograph Tools and Resources

You can find a list of my favorite photography tools and resources here.

If you like water photography, give the Olympus waterproof shock proof camera a try.  Happy Scrapping!