When I watch coral reef nature documentaries, the lighting on the coral reef looks incredible. enter image description here

When I actually swim in Coral Reefs (eg Far North Queensland), what is see is generally green or dark looking.

I was at an aquarium today and saw this sign: enter image description here

I observed a distinct difference between what I see in the documentary video and what I see during snorkelling in the coral reef. But looking at an illuminated tank at an aquarium looks more similar to the documentary than to actual reef swimming.

My question is: Do wildlife photographers use UV illumination when filming coral reef swims?


Short answer: No, they use underwater lamps with normal light (maybe more intense light than a normal underwater lighting device) and coloured filters for the lens.

Note that I said "coloured filters" without saying what colour the filter should be. This is because the colour of the filter one would use for underwater photography depends on the depth you are at the moment you take the picture (and of course the direction you are keeping the lens. If shooting upwards you will have other lighting conditions compared to shooting straight ahead or downwards).

The deeper you go under water, the more the light would be filtered by the water. It's a gradual process. Quoting from Underwater Photography Guide:

At what depth underwater does color disappear?

Red - 15ft

orange - 25ft

Yellow - 35-45ft

Green - 70-75ft

I would recommend reading some guides on Underwater photography or even taking a class. PADI, at least, has special classes for underwater photo and video.

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