Creating a black background underwater

Lot’s of people ask me and my models (sneaky right?!) how I achieve this black background effect underwater, most assume I’ve either faked it as an underwater photoshoot or I’ve photoshopped it somehow but alas it is actually a lot simpler than any of that.


How did you do that?

Creating a black background underwater? Honestly my most asked question when it comes to my underwater photography!


Drumroll please

It’s two flat black bed sheets sewn together *gasp, shock, horror*

YUP! Really it’s that simple. I picked them up from Argos about 5 years ago and have used them ever since. I weigh them down occasionally with some cheap divers weights but don’t have to all the time. And voila.

It’s funny when you spend your life trying to convince people it really is that simple, it’s not trickery, it’s not anything expensive, it certainly isn’t fancy in any way. It’s bed sheets!

Using a black background underwater is a great way to create atmosphere and drama, it absorbs light really well too meaning you don’t get a lot of the usual blue hues that naturally come with underwater photography. I don’t use it all the time, I like the obviousness of water sometimes so it’s used here and there. It does take some time to get used too, I wish there was an easier way as in if I had my own swimming pool or tank for example but right now I don’t and this does the job!

Editing can be tricky too as the light does play around with the black underwater so there’s sometimes a lot of painting and filling in. But to me it’s 100% worth it.

Red looks great against black too, really adds a powerful punch to the photographs. Though it also does on blue but not as dramatically. The middle image you can see how sometimes if there’s enough light the black won’t stay true ‘black’ underwater, it leaks through but in this case it was completely to my advantage so I made it even more obvious in post production.

Have any of you ever wondered about black backgrounds underwater? Ever tried it yourself? I’d love to know and hear from you!