[One of the Bourdan's cameras]

The first underwater picture?

This article begins with controversy, because first of all we should decide whether to consider an underwater pictures, if it should be made being immersed or not. This is the case of the French biologist Louis Boutan, who in 1893 took for the first time some pictures during his immersions at a depth of between 3 and 11 meters.

These dives were aimed the study of mollusks, and the photographs were meant to support to his investigations.

Una delle prime fotografie di Boutan

[One of the first photos by Boutan.]

In 1890 he published La Photographie sous-marine et les progrès de la photographie,, in which he explains the techniques used and presents photos of his research in Banyuls-sur-Mer. You can consult and download a PDF version of the book here.

Di Louis Boutan - Spiridon Manoliu's pictures, Pubblico dominio, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7291742

[The biologist Emil Racoviţă in Banyuls-sur-Mer in 1899, photo taken by Boutan]

Together with his engineer brother develop an underwater camera as support for research in the field of biology. The initial exposure times were very long, up to 10 minutes, due to the absorption of light in water, so their priority was to develop a magnesium flash connected through a wire, reducing the exposure time to 5 seconds.

Immagini di Boutan al lavoro

[Photo of Boutan working]

Nevertheless, some time before, in 1856 the British William Thompson realized the first shots with an underwater camera mounted on a stick (it seems that the "selfie stick" is not as modern as we thought).

The controversy is served, according to you: the story of underwater photography, beginning with the first underwater images or do you you think it is essential that they are taken during a dive?