Post Processing Snorkeling Pictures

by Dan Zimmerman
(Beaver, PA USA)

As the picture came out of the camera

As the picture came out of the camera

As the picture came out of the camera After GIMP/colors/levels - auto

While in Kauai a local snorkeler tipped me off about post processing snorkeling pictures with GIMP 2.8. It's a free downloaded Photoshop-like software at

To get all the cloudiness out and brighten up your pictures you just have to open your image in GIMP. Go to the "colors" tab and go to "levels" then click "auto" and watch the magic.

I've processed pics that I only kept to prove I saw it and they are now good to great pics. I don't know what the program does but it works.

You can tweak it more by moving the points below the histogram once you are in the "levels" option of the "colors" tab. Also in the "colors" tab you can change the brightness and contrast of your picture in "brightness - contrast".

I have found some pics become worse so just don't save the changes.

Finally you'll have to export them in jpeg format, under the "file" tab then "export as", or you'll only be able to see them in the GIMP program.

I've seen several photos posted that are great but have that underwater cloudiness and would "pop" after processing with GIMP.

I included above an image before and after processing with GIMP software colors/levels-auto.


Off to Maui for 3 weeks starting April 15!

Comments for Post Processing Snorkeling Pictures

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Apr 06, 2015
Good Tip
by: Galen & Nicole

I downloaded Gimp and tried it out. For a free Photoshop-type program it does have some nice features and the method you described does work with some images.

Photoshop itself has some auto functions that work even better. You can read some of our snorkeling photography editing tips here. But Photoshop costs a lot. Many other photo editing softwares also have a similar auto function for adjusting color and tone.

Photoshop also has a free online photo editor that has an "Auto Correct" function that can do wonders for some underwater pictures, as well as some other useful features.

Jun 12, 2015
Another product to try for post processing pictures
by: Wayne

We just got back from Bonaire and had a great time snorkeling. I rented a camera similar to your suggested compact camera with separate housing. In the past I have used a cheap underwater disposable camera. What a difference! Thanks for the photo tips Galen and Nicole.

The photo shop I rented the camera from suggested I try out Vivid-Pix software for post processing the pictures. It is free to try out, you just cannot save the processed pictures. There are 3 short videos on the site to show you how to use the software. The cost for Windows or Mac is $49.99. I found it very easy with good results. I have no vested interest in the company just thought others might like to try it out.

Thanks for the great web site Galen and Nicole.

Jun 18, 2015
Vivid-Pix Software
by: Galen & Nicole

Wayne, I downloaded and tried out Vivid-Pix. I was actually able to save pictures in the trial version of the software.

I think it is a great option for many people. It is very simple to use and does a good job improving underwater snorkeling pictures.

I wrote a full review of the software on this page.

Apr 07, 2016
VividPix Land & Sea Works for Me
by: Nica Bryan

I've been using VividPix's Land & Sea software for several months now, and am very pleased with my purchase. Why?
* It works, and works very well, especially for snorkeling photos.
* It's affordable.
* And it's dead simple to use.

I can also point to excellent customer service and an informative e-newsletter. My interest in this product was to improve my underwater photos, and it could be argued that I needed more help than most: I'm shooting with an aging FujiFilm XP-20 and while not new to photography, I haven't that much experience with digital cameras - and I've started from scratch in underwater photography. In addition, I am neither computer nor software savvy and my budget is very constrained.

So as a cheapskate, I initially tried whatever free software I could find. Some worked okay, others were very difficult to use and all seemed horribly slow. Part of the blame for the slowness may be attributed to the fact I was working on my Chromebook. Some of these fixes, however, weren't much better running on Windows. I needed a third way and seriously considered the original VividPix software, developed "by divers, for divers," as they say. The problem, of course, is that I'm a snorkeler and like so many times when we turn to the dive world for solutions, we end up with overkill. And that invariably means spending more - thus, I balked at the original software.

I chose Land & Sea for Windows instead when it came out and I strongly recommend that anyone interested in VividPix Land & Sea go to their website and check out the software for themselves, beginning with the intro video and then the excellent 6-minute tutorial. I still use the tutorial video as my owner's manual and still learn from it. If your interest is piqued, there are several options: a free trial for Windows or buying it outright for $24.99. The Website also promises Mac versions coming soon.

So I purchased Land & Sea and am glad I did. If you read Galen's review of the original software, you'll have a good idea of how it works--and some of its quirks. When you select a photo to fix, the software returns with 9 options and you pick one to proceed - it does seem an embarrassment of riches and a bit of overkill. That said, once you've picked the option you like, your work may be done. The improvements are immediate and sometimes dramatic and you simply hit save. Your original image is never altered and your improved image appears in the same folder as the original, renamed. Galen wished for improvements in this department (and it would be nice if it were moved into a new folder), but I can live with the way it works for the price I paid.

You can do much more than the 1-click fix, however, and Land & Sea shines in my eyes for its simplicity and results in these "advanced" settings. Don't be intimidated - they are all quite easy to use. I was delighted with the ease and accuracy of the cropping tool, for example, something that was often quite inferior in free software. Adjusting contrast or brightness is a snap, as are color enhancements, image rotation and tilt control. One of the very best features is the underwater depth slider, which can improve the color, contrast and brightness of underwater photos in one fell swoop. Do note, please, that this feature is only available when the software is set to "Sea" Mode. The default setting is "Land," but switching between the two is child's play.

Speaking of the Land setting, the software is very nearly as handy above water as it is below. I do not mean that as a criticism - the underwater performance is far and away worth more than the purchase price, in my opinion, so the advantages to be gained above the water are a very nice bonus in my book.

If there's an area where the software seems to slip, it's shots where one might be hard-pressed to say whether it's Land or Sea - for example, when shooting from a boat where the scene includes a great deal of water and sky. It's not that it didn't work, I just found it more difficult to make corrections and that could well be operator error.

Let me close by saying that I doubt I will ever invest the time and expense needed to master Photoshop, regardless of where my underwater photography leads me - and yes, I am planning on a new camera and carefully considering Galen's recommendations. Finally, regardless of the camera you use, VividPix Land & Sea can't resurrect the dead (nothing else can either, as far as I'm aware). Blurry, out-of-focus and otherwise unusable images can't be improved. But give the software a fighting chance, and it may amaze you at times and will deliver dependably solid results overall, all at a very affordable price.

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