What happens to colors underwater ?

Which color is the first to disappear underwater?

Water absorbs different light wavelengths differently. 
The longest, lowest energy wavelengths are absorbed first, starting with red, then orange and yellow. 
The colors disappear in the same order as they appear in the color spectrum. 
Even at a depth of 2 meters, a noticeable loss of red can be seen. 

On this chart you can see more or less which color wavelength disappear at what depth depending on the conditions.

It's important to consider the horizontal distance when converting feet to meters. 
If you are 3 meters deep and view an object 3 meters away, the light has traveled 6 meters and all red colors are filtered out. 

When using a strobe light 1.5 meters away, the light travels 1.5 meters to the object and 1.5 meters back to your lens, resulting in a total of 3 meters and a significant loss of red tones. 

To ensure optimal color in your underwater photos, it's best to always get as close as possible to your subject, that's why a fish eye lens is often the best choice for wide angle subjects underwater.

You can reduce the loss of color underwater by using a red filter. This filter helps to restore the red tones that are lost as you go deeper into the water. By adding a red filter to your camera lens, you can counteract the natural absorption of light that occurs in water and bring back the reds that would otherwise disappear. Red filters are especially useful when shooting in green or blue waters, where the natural color of the water can add a blue or green cast to your photos. 

By using a red filter, you can help to neutralize this cast and restore the natural colors of your subjects at the cost of loosing natural light, which means you'll have to crank the ISO or widen the aperture or lower the speed to make up for the loss.

The intensity of light that penetrates the surface of the water is affected by various factors such as surface conditions, weather, and time of day. 
Rougher waters reflect more light compared to still waters, and light from the horizon is more reflected than light from directly overhead. 
The clearest underwater conditions occur on sunny days, with a still surface between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. 
Light that penetrates the surface in the early morning or late evening has a soft and gentle quality and can create beautiful lighting for both underwater and topside photography.

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