Easy Color Balancing of Underwater Pictures

In previous tips for underwater photography, we covered the importance of using flash to supply the color absorbed at depth. Sometimes you can't use it, though. For example, in scenery type photos where there is nothing to get close to and use a flash. These pictures are going to be very blue, and its up to your camera mode to adjust the color balance, or you have to do it manually afterwards.

Manually color-balancing photos is a lengthy topic, and one we'll get to someday. But today, I have a super-quick way for you to restore color that may work for a large number of pictures. Unfortunately, I only know how to do it in Adobe Photoshop, but other programs probably have comparable features.

Here's the example photo we'll be adjusting. The strong blues are easy to notice.
[Before color balancing][]

Open the photo in Photoshop (make a copy first). Then select Image -> Adjustments -> Auto Color.
[Photoshop menu][]

Voila! Using some simple algorithmic trickery, Photoshop can see that the image is predominantly blue and correct for this.
[After color correction][]

Could the photo use some manual adjustments? Probably, but for the quick jobs not appearing in Scuba Diving Magazine, this will often do the trick.

If you know how to get the same effect in other programs, please post in the comments and I'll update the article.

[Before color balancing]: http://thedivingblog.com/uploads/2010/02/color_before.jpg [Photoshop menu]: http://thedivingblog.com/uploads/2010/02/auto_color_screen.jpg [After color correction]: http://thedivingblog.com/uploads/2010/02/color_after.jpg