Editing & Post-processing

Proper Export of Underwater Images in Postproduction

Lionfish, the image to be used for this tutorial
Lionfish, the image to be used for this tutorial

In this series of articles on postproduction of underwater images, we have worked a lot on white balance settings, basic and advanced exposure corrections, contrast and curves, advanced techniques of removing colour casts, basic and advanced retouching, final colour boost, cropping and sharpening. Finally, our image is ready! And now, we arrive at the question: What do I do with it?

Wacom Intuos Pro digital graphical tablet

The Intuos Pro connects to your computer (PC or MAC) via USB or Bluetooth and is, after driver installation, ready to use and compatible with Adobe
Photoshop, Lightroom, and various other image editing software. It has customizable ExpressKeys that can be assigned to specific functions or shortcuts in Photoshop, for example, and comes with the Wacom Pro Pen 2, which has 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, thus making advanced retouching and editing of underwater images a new and better experience.

Retouching Underwater Images

Image 2. Problem zones can be identified (red circles) by zooming into an area of the tutorial image.

It should not happen but sometimes it does anyway: those annoying little white dots in our underwater images, which detract from the overall impression of the photograph. Known as backscatter, these dots appear when small particles in the water reflect the light from a strobe. The more directly the strobe light hits a subject, the higher the risk of backscatter. That is why a strobe should not be pointed straight at a subject.

Eizo ColorEdge CG319X Monitor

It features a Cinema 4K resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels, 10-bit support for 1.07 billion colors, a static contrast ratio of 1500:1, 350 cd/m2 brightness, 149 pixels per inch, and a 9 ms (GtG) response time.

For optimal color workflow, the Eizo has a built-in sensor that can be set to automatically calibrate the monitor at designated times.
For assisting the calibration, Eizo offers the free software program ColorNavigator 6 for download. The wide color gamut also ensures correct reproduction of almost all ISO and WEB CMYK color spaces used in professional printing.

WhiBal G7 Grey-Card

For a manual white balance prior or during photography sessions, or as an incorruptible reference during postproduction, the grey-card from WhiBal simply does the job. The G7 is designed for low reflectivity, except that the sticker is intentionally highly reflective so that maximum TrueBlack Blackpoint level may be achieved by observing for maximum glare point. It is spectrally neutral, water- and scratch-proofed, and fits in a BCD pocket.

Exposure, Contrast & Curves

Photo of octopus after postproduction adjustments for exposure, contrast and curves. Photo by Rico Besserdich.

As always, the best thing to do is to get the proper exposure of your underwater images while shooting them. But sometimes this is easier said than done, and there are shots with insufficient exposure, which we, for whatever reasons, simply want to keep and “rescue.”