Adobe Photoshop for Underwater Photographers, by Jack and Sue Drafahl / Review

Review. There’s much more to underwater photography than keeping your camera dry. This book outlines Photoshop post-production strategies for underwater photos.

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Title: Adobe Photoshop for Underwater Photographers
Author: Jack and Sue Drafahl
Publisher: Amherst Media
Publication Date: 2006
Total Pages: 219 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1584281894
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There’s much more to underwater photography than keeping your camera dry. In general, you have much less control than you do on land. Your subjects are harder to get to. You have a limited amount of time you can spend down there. Your models probably won’t sit still for long. Water is rarely perfectly clear in the wild, so you’ll probably have backscatter to deal with. And, especially for the purposes of this particular book, light works differently underwater.

The authors are a husband and wife team of professional undersea journalists, lecturers, and multimedia producers.

This book is all about fixing it in post. The version of Photoshop used in the book is CS2, but the principles also apply comfortably to more recent versions.

If you’re looking to do any kind of serious underwater photography, Martin Edge’s fourth edition of The Underwater Photographer is a must-have.

Many of the chapters deal with topics relevant to digital photography generally; things like setting up a digital workflow, backing up images, using adjustment layers, color and exposure corrections, image sharpening, and working with raw files.

But there are some chapters that are specifically relevant to underwater photography. Chapter 10 provides different strategies for removing backscatter (spots of light created by reflections off particles in the water). Other chapters cover topics like shooting adjustments to illuminate the faces of divers, and fixing blooming effects (highlight blowouts from the sun shining down through the water). Some of the later chapter deal with more drastic edits, including changing backgrounds and creating composite images. A chapter titled “Underwater Plug-In Applications” sounds more promising than it is–the plugins might be useful to underwater photographers, but they’re actually more general Photoshop filters rather than filters designed specifically for underwater photography.

The book is filled with useful illustrations of the techniques discussed and they’re presented in an easy-to-follow way.

Overall, this book is a good supplemental book on using Photoshop if you already have something like Martin Edge’s more comprehensive guide to underwater photography, with some useful tips specific to shooting images underwater.

About the Authors

Official bio: Jack Drafahl and Sue Drafahl are the authors of “Advanced Digital Camera Techniques,” “Digital Imaging for the Underwater Photographer,” “Master Guide for Underwater Digital Photography, Photo Salvage with Adobe Photoshop,” and “Plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop.” They are also popular lecturers and contribute regularly to magazines such as “Petersen Photographic,” “Rangefinder, “and” Sportdiver.” They both live in Tillamook, Oregon.

Where to Find It

Available in Paperback and E-Book.

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David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a professional freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here. More »

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