This underwater image is DULL!
The unedited photograph
It does not really inspire a second look: the shrimp does not attract attention and the background is distracting.
On the plus side: the subject is sharp and in a nice position. Moreover, it is a RAW file and still needs to be edited, meaning my camera did not add contrast or saturation to it as it would do for a jpeg file.
The edited version
The second underwater photograph is my edited version.
General edits like a boost of contrast and level-adjustments already go a long way. But the real trick is in the local changes! For instance: I saturated the orange and red of the shrimp but did the opposite to the sponge it is sitting on. This way the attention of the viewer goes to the shrimp and not to the sponge.
For the same reason I desaturated the green of the anemone in the background: it is distracting and takes the attention away from the subject.
I also added a bit of clarity to the claw in front but not to the rest of the image because too much clarity can easily result in noise and other artefacts. I prefer to sharpen the image after everything else has been done using high pass and unsharp mask.
All of the adjustments have been made in order to attract attention to the shrimp and to boost the potential the image has.
To be able to make local improvements makes such a difference: you can be so much more creative with your underwater photo material.
Even though I adjusted the image myself and did not choose for the camera to do it, this image was not altered in a significant way: it in still a true picture. And it has scientific value: at first I thought the shrimp is carrying eggs, but closer inspection shows that what she in carrying are not, or not only, eggs. Is she infested with a parasite?
Quick improvements are easily made these days. Many apps and devices offer an array of possibilities and your images look improved with just a few clicks. BUT do they really stand out this way? Is it really the best image it can be?
The KEY to good underwater photo editing is the ability to make LOCAL changes.
To illustrate my point I edited this image a second time.
This time I used only general and automatic improvements offered by my editing program: Affinity Photo. I opted for the same adjustments that I did locally but now applied these edits globally: saturation, boost in contrast, I lightened the image and used clarity to make it sharper. I also applied a vignette to place the shrimp more in the spotlight.
These adjustments or similar ones are all readily available in photo editing apps.
As you can see, the result is far from refined.
Admittedly, the process of quality underwater photo editing is time-consuming. It also requires experience to do it well. That is why we offer this underwater photo editing service!
At Beyond Scuba there is a human behind the editing service! Not just an app or artificial intelligence but someone real to discuss with you what you want to get out of your images, someone who listens and has years of experience to give you the final result that you have in mind.