Backscatter Action
Skip Navigation LinksUnderwater-Photoshop :: Advanced :: Backscatter :: Backscatter Action

Backscatter Action

Underwater Photoshop

In this lesson we will learn how to load and run the Photoshop action that removes backscatter from your u/w images.

click to launch underwater Photoshop video tutorial

A Photoshop Action is a set of commands that have been recorded and can be played back later. Photoshop editing always involves multiple steps so actions provide a very convenient way to recreate those steps without having to remember them or manually select them.

  • First, you need to download the underwater action file from our downloads area at - if you have not already done that press stop and do it now.

  • You should copy this file to the default folder where Photoshop stores action files. On a windows machine this is C:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop\Presets\Photoshop Actions\

  • Next, if the actions palette isn't visible use the Window menu to open it.

  • Then, we load the action file into the palette. Adobe didn't make it easy to load, or use, actions. There's a little button that opens the appropriate menu - which is not very obvious!

  • So, select load actions and click on the backscatter.atn file. You will then see the underwater action in the palette.

  • Now load the image you want to run the action on.

  • I'm using a shot of a nudibranch and you can see the characteristic backscatter particles all over the image

  • Let's try correcting it. Open the action out - it won't run till you do. You'll see a big long list of commands, ignore them for now, but select the top one where it says 'click here, then Play to run action'. Open out the actions menu and select Play.

  • I'm just going to accept the default commands when dialogs pop-up. Obviously your image will be different to this so you will need to fine tune size of pixel on the median dialog and the threshold settings. Play around with it and you'll get it right.

  • I'll go to the history tab and show you before/after. Remember that the history palette allows you to go back in time and undo your actions.

  • Let's try another image that's a bit more challenging. I know that the backscatter action does not work well on this shot of a blue spotted ray. It thinks the blue spots are backscatter so it removes them! Not what we want

  • So, what we'll do is quickly trace around the ray with the lasso tool. This is one of PhotoShop's selection tools. I want to run the action on the part of the image outside this selection so I open the Select menu and choose inverse. This reverses the selection to include everything outside the ray.

    After the Action has been run...

To reiterate: The best way to cure backscatter is to keep your strobe away from the camera when shooting. But, if you already have images that suffer from backscatter then this solution is for you!

Just load the file and run the action.

enrol now!
Next >> Median Filter

Psssst! Have you seen our U/W Photo course yet? It's the best course to learn underwater photography the easy way online.