Jump to content


Alex_Mustard

Member Since 16 Jan 2003
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 07:48 AM
-----

Posts I've Made

In Topic: Alex Mustard Workshops

09 April 2018 - 03:21 AM

I see my name!

 

I run plenty of underwater photography workshops during the year. More than my wife likes. 

 

I announce all my workshops via a newsletter, which you can sign up for here:

http://www.amustard.com

The newsletter basically lets you know that a new trip is open for bookings and the full details are live on my website. 

 

I do not advertise my workshops in adverts or on Facebook. They are only promoted through my website. This really helps in bringing a group of like-minded photographers together, which is essential for an enjoyable and productive shoot. My trips are mostly populated with photographers who have been before or by shooters who have been encouraged to join by a friend, who has been before.  

 

Because my workshops are popular, they regularly fill soon after I have sent out this announcement email. Once a trip is fully booked, it is marked so on my website (which is why they all look full). I don’t open trips for bookings as soon as I have planned them and reserved boats - because it means that my guests end up having deposits out for ages in advance. I usually open them 18-9 months before they happen. 

 

If you really like the sound of a particular trip, even if it is full, then it is always worth contacting the agent to be on the wait list, because cancellations almost always happen.

 

Photo workshops, and indeed my workshops, aren’t for everyone and I have tried to share as much honest information about what they are like on my website. Read this before booking. My best advice is to ask opinions of people who have been on my workshops and find out if they are right for you.

 

I would also add that many photographers run workshops and many are excellent, and some are not! So it is always worth asking around for opinions from photographers who have been on workshops and work out who are the good teachers and who are not.

 

Finally, plenty of people have written articles about my workshops, this is the most recent one I have seen:

https://www.henleysp...ustard-workshop

 

Alex


In Topic: (60mm) macro behind mini dome port

28 March 2018 - 12:22 AM

Downside of a dome: you can't use an accessory diopter with a flat port, you can easily scratch your expensive dome, you get less magnification, the lens does not focus quite so close.

 

On the plus side you get a 33% greater angle of coverage (I often use this combo when shooting larger macro subjects - e.g. octopuses on muck dives).

 

You also get corners free from Chromatic Aberrations - which are very noticeable in fine detail when using the Nikon 60mm AF-S G behind a flat port. Most people don't worry about this - because the important subject matter isn't in the corners - but if you look at your images you will see it.

 

This is an example of a very standard image shot with 60mm and curved port (unprocessed direct from camera):

Attached File  Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 09.11.15.png   533.97KB   11 downloads

 

Here is the corner detail - screen grab from lightroom. See how all the detail is well defined right to the corner. This is the advantage of a curved port.

Attached File  Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 09.11.52.png   541.66KB   10 downloads

 

This is a typical corner frame crop from a flat port shot with a 60mm, which shows all the detail is smeared by CA. 

Attached File  Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 09.20.45.png   437.37KB   10 downloads

 

Of course - most of the time this does not matter as the main subject is rarely in the corner of the frame!

 

I use both. The flat port most of the time. A curved port (a small section of a larger dome - not a mini dome) when I value greater angle of coverage and/or specifically want those perfect corners.

 

Alex

 

 


In Topic: RETRA Strobe Thread

16 March 2018 - 08:09 PM

I normally avoid discussions about specific strobes, because I think light is the most crucial thing in photography (I know how valuable having exactly the light I want has been to my career). And the right quality of light is far more valuable than the quantity. However there are no measurable specs for quality - so photographers argue about the measurable specs. However, I know what light I want and need and that informs my strobe choices.

 

------------

 

I shot a pair of Inon Z330 strobes on a trip to Cayman in January. That trip persuaded me to get the Retras (although I haven't got them yet). But I would add that both strobes are a significant step on from the previous generation strobes like the Z240 and D2.

 

On that trip I used the Z330s most of the time (as I had used the Retras before and had a good knowledge of their performance) - which is how I assessed them, but did one dive with one of each strobe to compare them in a single shot to share. This shot is not what I based my own conclusions on - but it is consistent with them. This is the comparison shot of the two strobes (that I posted on Facebook at the time) - screen grab from Lightroom:

 

Attached File  Screen-Shot-2018-01-23-at-19.48.15.jpg   889.6KB   31 downloads

 

Quotes from that post"Comparison of coverage and quality of light between single Inon Z330 strobe (left) and single Retra flash (right). This is not a comparison of strobe power - I did other tests for that. The Inon was slightly ahead on strobe power, but that may be because the diffuser is does not spread that light as wide. Both strobes are considerably stronger and have more coverage than an old Z240. Do consider that both strobes have done very well in lighting a large wide angle scene, shot into the sun, with just one strobe, which is very impressive. These were both shot on about 50% power. Taken with Nikon D5 and 8-15mm fisheye @ 15mm, f/11 @ 1/320th, ISO 400."

 

"The difference between the strobes was immediately obvious testing them together. With diffusers attached, the Inon is about 1/3 stop more powerful than the Retra. I did the tests with diffusers on because you'd always use them that way for wide angle. This difference is almost entirely down to the difference in the diffusers. The Z330 currently feels a bit unfinished and rushed to market. It needs a better diffuser - one that spreads the beam a little better and warms the light (it is currently way too cool - and you can't add gels because of the domed front)."

 

and 

 

"Strobe manufacturers like to quote Guide Numbers - which is the most useless information there is. This is because the guide number is inversely proportional to how wide the strobe beam is set to be. If you want a high guide number, simply make a narrower beam. Easy.

 

Unfortunatlely the best light for lighting wide angle scenes in clear water is wide and soft - so that it illuminates the subject naturalistically, without eyecatching burned-out hotspots and harsh shadows.

Some manufacturers do quote angle of coverage - which is good. But again it is not the best statistic. What is more important than how wide the beam is - is how much of a fall off of light is there from the centre to the edge. Two strobes might both have a quoted 120˚ coverage, but in one, after 90˚ there is only 20% of the light remaining. In the other there is 70% remaining. The second example will be easier and more flattering to use."

Quotes from that post"Comparison of coverage and quality of light between single Inon Z330 strobe (left) and single Retra flash (right). This is not a comparison of strobe power - I did other tests for that. The Inon was slightly ahead on strobe power, but that may be because the diffuser is does not spread that light as wide. Both strobes are considerably stronger and have more coverage than an old Z240. Do consider that both strobes have done very well in lighting a large wide angle scene, shot into the sun, with just one strobe, which is very impressive. These were both shot on about 50% power. Taken with Nikon D5 and 8-15mm fisheye @ 15mm, f/11 @ 1/320th, ISO 400."

 

"The difference between the strobes was immediately obvious testing them together. With diffusers attached, the Inon is about 1/3 stop more powerful than the Retra. I did the tests with diffusers on because you'd always use them that way for wide angle. This difference is almost entirely down to the difference in the diffusers. The Z330 currently feels a bit unfinished and rushed to market. It needs a better diffuser - one that spreads the beam a little better and warms the light (it is currently way too cool - and you can't add gels because of the domed front)."

 

and 

 

"Strobe manufacturers like to quote Guide Numbers - which is the most useless information there is. This is because the guide number is inversely proportional to how wide the strobe beam is set to be. If you want a high guide number, simply make a narrower beam. Easy.

 

Unfortunatlely the best light for lighting wide angle scenes in clear water is wide and soft - so that it illuminates the subject naturalistically, without eyecatching burned-out hotspots and harsh shadows.

Some manufacturers do quote angle of coverage - which is good. But again it is not the best statistic. What is more important than how wide the beam is - is how much of a fall off of light is there from the centre to the edge. Two strobes might both have a quoted 120˚ coverage, but in one, after 90˚ there is only 20% of the light remaining. In the other there is 70% remaining. The second example will be easier and more flattering to use."

 

 

​That said, the deal breaker for me with the Z330 is that I could not use it for inward lighting (p122-123 and p152-153 of my book) - because it does not have a sharp edge to the beam to exploit. So the decision was actually reasonably easy.

 

Alex


In Topic: Introducing Nauticamís WACP - The Wide Angle Corrector Port: Discuss Here

10 March 2018 - 07:36 PM

Hi Alex,

 

I've been checking the images you linked, which are very nice as always, and I've seen than in most of them you are using high F/stops. The  image quality is very good even in the corners but I am wondering what happens when you use open f/stops.

I've been checking some images by Todd Winner (at Nauticam's website), and even at low res you can see that at F5,6 the corners are not good. If this is the case I think is a very expensive investment if you must use a very old lens behind, which has slow autofocus and you are bound to use closed f/stops. So the only real avantage would be a bigger zoom range than with any other lens... Am I right?

 

 

 

Hi Jordi, 

 

The main reason for the higher apertures in many of my shots is photographic.

I guess it comes down to the fact I am using the lens now, not testing it, so I am selecting apertures based on what is appropriate, rather than what would test the ability of the lens.  Most of the images I have shot recently are in bright, shallow conditions and I am close to the subjects (so I have lots of flash). The small size of the WACP is advantageous in such situations compared with a big dome. Also when I am close focusing on a subject (such as the turtles) I needed to use a small aperture (not for corner sharpness, but for adequate depth of field). This is something that you need to consider with both the WACP and the RS-13mm.

 

Also, after last summer I returned the WACP to Nauticam and I am waiting for my own one to be ready (I just heard that it is). Since I still had an pre-production prototype of the WACP at home (much smaller and not as good as the final WACP, but still better than a dome port) I used that lens in Mexico, Florida and have it with me on my current trip. If the official WACP is 2-3 stops ahead of a dome, the prototype is about 1.5 stops (both have the same field of view). So I would use my more recent images as a guide to the types of shots that the WACP, rather than a measure of quality - as the production WACP is better.

 

Finally, although the 28-70mm f/3.5-f/4.5 is an old lens - it is a sharp one. Also it is actually has a faster aperture than the 16-35mm, which is f/4 (although it isn't AF-S). For wide angle subjects I don't find the AF a limitation.

 

Alex


In Topic: Introducing Nauticamís WACP - The Wide Angle Corrector Port: Discuss Here

08 March 2018 - 04:35 AM

There are more example shots from WACP on my website now - to show how it can be used. I have over 100 up there now, they are sorted chronologically, so newest are first: 

 

http://www.amustard..../search/"28.0"/

 

If the link does not work - search for: 28.0 

which brings up pictures taken with 28mm lenses (or 28-70mm) which is covers my use of the WACP.

 

Currently away shooting in the Indian Ocean - and expected to use the lens a lot (although it will be a while before I process, keyword and caption the best shots from this trip to add to my website). 

 

Alex