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I know what you're thinking - "this guy didn't search the forums before posting"…. I actually have been researching extensively for several weeks now, including several similar posts in this forum, and I've concluded that either my situation is unique or I'm just more dense than your average user (these may not be mutually exclusive lol).

So, as the title suggests, I am searching for guidance on color correction on underwater photos.  I'll preface by stating I am NOT a photographer, so my knowledge of post-processing technique is frustratingly minimal.  It is for that reason that I had previously just written off my failures, just accepting really dismal diving photos.

That changed when I was recently introduced to an iOS app called "Dive+".  On a whim, I decided to run its color correction function on several shots I had on my phone, and I was blown away by the results!  In more than one case, I actually "discovered" fish and corals in my photos that were previously invisible!  The ease with which the shots were transformed has inspired me to re-visit touching up many of my underwater shots, but as you can imagine - iOS is certainly not the best or most efficient environment to do it.  Re-visiting all the tutorials and articles on the topic, however, has brought me right back to where I began - slightly less crappy photos and a lot of swearing.

It seems the majority of the methods described in tutorials (even those for photoshop or other editors) just don't produce similar results for me as they do in the examples shown.  For instance, the vast majority of underwater correction guides suggest beginning at adjusting white balance.  In the examples, adjustments produce immediate color and contrast improvements, while my photos simply turn from "all blue" to "all green".  Additionally, suggested techniques using levels invariably begin with minimizing black levels and maximizing white….  In all my photos, these positions are already selected (and moving them in opposite directions only worsens the output).

While I'm certainly willing to tackle a mild-to-moderate learning curve, I have no aspirations of professional photography.  What's nagging me is the ease with which this free phone app is able to drastically improve my photos, as well as my inability to determine exactly HOW it corrects the images so I can replicate the process.

Below is a random photo from my collection that I hope will better clarify what I'm attempting (and failing) to achieve:


This is my original photograph:



This image shows the output from the Dive+ iOS app:



Applying "Auto" White Balance to the image in AP makes no discernable difference.  When manually selecting a neutral area (white dot indicates the area I selected) using the white balance "picker" as most tutorials suggest, a green overlay appears as shown below: 

Screenshot at Jan 15 10-32-18


This final image shows my sliders for the Levels adjustment layer.  Note that the sliders for black/white levels are already at opposite extremes, negating the ability to adjust in the way most tutorials have suggested.  The sliders for master/red/blue/alpha all have identical positions.

Screenshot at Jan 15 10-33-17


I've attached the original photo in case anyone is feeling gracious enough to play around with it.  The edits described above are certainly not the only ones I've tried - I've been playing with pretty much every setting I can find in photo, develop, and tone mapping personas.  While I am able to make some minor improvements to my underwater shots, they still don't compare to the difference I get with one tap on the iOS app.  Furthermore, the results are very inconsistent compared to the app.  For instance, I have freshwater dive photos that have a green saturation in place of the blue shown in this example.  Results from the app on those photos are equally impressive, yet the only similarity in my manual edits is the lackluster result.

I'd love to know what type of algorithm this app is using so that I can create some type of similar macro or workflow for editing in AP.  Heck, I'd even gladly pay to add Dive+ to my workflow if it were available on the desktop, but it is iOS/Android only.

If anyone can offer guidance on what I'm doing wrong, or direct me to any tutorial resources that are Affinity-specific, I would greatly appreciate it!  Sincere thanks in advance for any advice you have!




***NOTE: I have no affiliation with the Dive+ app, nor any software mentioned.  It is not my intention to present Dive+ as an alternative or competitor to Affinity Photo; my impression is that the latter is a much more capable product in the hands of a knowledgeable user (which I am obviously not!).


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Using the White Balance, Exposure, Brightness/contrast, Shadow/highlights and Vibrance adjustments I was able to create the following with your original image

Ajustments to underwater photo.png

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29 minutes ago, DWright said:

Using the White Balance, Exposure, Brightness/contrast, Shadow/highlights and Vibrance adjustments I was able to create the following with your original image



@DWright , thanks so much for the reply!  I've played with each of the adjustments you mentioned (admittedly without any real tact or expertise) and was able to achieve similar results...  while the image is definitely improved, it still seems to be saturated with that blue-green-ish saturation.  I've overlayed the app output on your example for comparison - what I'd love to be able to achieve is the color contrast that appears in the overlay.  The yellow fish tails, red rust and blue water contrast against the white sand are what I'm not having any luck with producing in Affinity.

Thank you for the example and taking the time to edit - I sincerely appreciate the help!!!



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21 minutes ago, MEB said:

Hi sonofzell,
Not sure how the colours were or what you are looking for exactly. Maybe something closer to this:



That's the base effect I am trying to achieve - each color displaying accurately without the single-color (blue or green) saturation.  I might be inclined to play with some additional tweaks but your example is what I have been trying to achieve for weeks without any success!

I'm so grateful for you taking the time to make these edits...  I suppose you know I'm going to ask you for the specifics of each layer in your "Adjust" group... 9_9

If I can reproduce the result you've shown here, I'd love to assemble a macro that could be applied to the hundreds of my underwater photos in need!  

Sincere thanks,


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Try LUT.


Your original file + adjust LUT (Infer LUT = your original file + Dive output file).


Is possible save as Preset. 


To create Dive preset I recommend trimming/deleting additional "Dive+" text/logo from Dive output file, which then affect correct color conversion.

Edit: And, ideally, the best quality files (lossless).

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Sonofzell:  I agree with your Yes! to MEB's modification to your photo but he doesn't respond further in this thread.  Did you ever get anything more on how he did it?

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