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Member Since 23 Jul 2010
Offline Last Active Today, 01:43 PM

#392460 How do you shoot a black hole?

Posted by troporobo on 18 February 2018 - 12:14 AM

I found a very small black hairy frogfish recently but, despite working on it for a while, struggled to get a decent image.  How the heck do you shoot something that absorbs all light while it is sitting on a bright reflective sandy bottom?!


As shown, I eventually settled on using one strobe high and to the left to try to get a little relief from the lighting, but it was only partly successful.  Standard macro front lighting produced an unrecognizable blob as it just washed out all the texture. I wanted to also try backlighting, but was in less than 2 m of water, fighting the surge with nothing to brace against, and just couldn't get a good stable position. 


I'd love some tips for the next time I get this opportunity.




#390396 Professional on dry land - Strobe insights

Posted by troporobo on 18 December 2017 - 11:35 PM

I use Inon strobes with an Olympus camera and fiber optic cables. I use TTL almost exclusively when shooting macro and it rarely fails to do exactly as expected.  When shooting wide angle results with TTL are less consistent and I'll switch to manual. The difference for me is due to the fact that macro images are 100% illuminated by the strobe whereas with wide angle I'm working to balance ambient light. 

#387420 SATURATION - Colorful Marine Creatures from Indonesia & The Philippines

Posted by troporobo on 08 September 2017 - 11:34 PM

Hey Nick - Next time you're in Anilao (optimistically) think about giving me a shout. I'm starved for inspiration lately and would love to dive with someone who's so accomplished. Cold drinks and BBQ on me! Robert

#387396 SATURATION - Colorful Marine Creatures from Indonesia & The Philippines

Posted by troporobo on 07 September 2017 - 12:46 PM

Wow, beautiful work!  Great colours and dynamic range and impressively steady.  This is one of the best examples of super macro videography I have seen.  Lots of familiar subjects here for me.  This is what I will show people when they ask what I see when I go out looking for macro subjects.

#386804 Mirrorless suggestions - I welcome your advice

Posted by troporobo on 17 August 2017 - 08:49 PM

I'll add three more thoughts.  First, I don't have the experience with the EVF turning off, mine stays on full time unless I switch it.  Second, when I am shooting with the 60mm macro lens, I switch the focus limiter to the shortest range and this eliminates most of the hunting problem, even without the focus light.  I agree with the other guys that this lens does hunt a lot if you set the focus limiter to full range, though a focus light helps a lot of course. Third, having had first an Olympus housing then a Nauticam housing, I would not even consider going back, they are in completely different leagues!  

#386447 Is anyone using Red filters on DSLR with lights (Macro)

Posted by troporobo on 03 August 2017 - 04:31 AM

Lights allow you to photograph with the full spectrum.  Using a filter with lights would then create a color cast.  It's one or the other, not both.

#386443 On American and European documentary storytelling and our poor sharks

Posted by troporobo on 02 August 2017 - 11:03 PM

I'm with you, Davide.  American shows like those on Shark Week exasperate me.  


On a lighter note, I prefer this sort of mockumentary:



#384536 Tubbataha - Will i regret not bringing macro?

Posted by troporobo on 30 May 2017 - 03:26 PM

Very nice video, exactly as I remember my visit there, thanks for sharing!

#383074 Macro Alien footage

Posted by troporobo on 12 April 2017 - 02:56 PM

Now that I have been able to watch full screen with the sound turned up, I am even more impressed.  It wouldn't be right to pick favorites but three sequences really stand out for me. The opening shot of the squid and ink cloud sets the "alien" tone so well due to the dramatic lighting. The mantis aerating her eggs is just such a great behavior sequence.  And the cricket noises coming from the little triplefin (?) on the whip coral made me laugh.  I also like the new title sequence, though the style in part 1 is also effective.


You might want to check how this is embedded.  Maybe its my browser but I don't get any controls (full screen or volume) so had to go direct to Vimeo to play this right. 

#383050 Macro Alien footage

Posted by troporobo on 11 April 2017 - 11:07 PM

Dustin - Brilliant work as usual, really fantastic macro cinematography.  I only watched it once quickly (at work, but couldn't resist) but I am again impressed with how you manage to get such steady detailed shots of skittish critters at macro range.  The sound editing really is entertaining too, at least, for those who know this is not how things really sound under water.   Were these sequences shot primarily at one location or a compilation from multiple trips?  You've edited it all together seamlessly.  I cannot imagine the time that goes into producing these but I am glad that you do it.  Thanks once again for sharing!  Robert

#382876 A nasty Honduran surprise

Posted by troporobo on 05 April 2017 - 01:59 PM

Violation of privacy?  No.  You're applying to enter another sovereign territory as a foreigner.  Their country, their rules.  And those rules are also quite common among countries that require applications for visas in advance by the way.

#382481 Olympus 60mm macro focus issues

Posted by troporobo on 21 March 2017 - 06:52 AM

I shoot macro with this lens 90% of the time, and always use the extra-small center point.  IMO the grid is useless for macro as the frame may be filled with potential focus targets at similar distance but the depth of field is so shallow and you need to be able to lock focus on an eye or rhinopore or similar item of interest, then recompose. 


I tend to set aperture at f16 and leave it there, unless I have a good composition opportunity and want blue rather than black negative space, then f8 to f11.  Some argue that diffraction is noticeable above f8 but in the real UW world I don't see it. For super macro with a diopter I will go all the way to f22 as achieving and holding focus in that case is even more tricky (for me at least).  I occasionally experiment with f2.8 to f4 for extremely shallow DOF but have never really been very happy with the results as the background is not pleasing with so much ambient light. 

#381659 My first shots - Macro and CFWA help and advice needed

Posted by troporobo on 21 February 2017 - 10:24 PM

Not bad for an early outing!  Lots to be happy about.


You don't say how you are controlling your strobes - manual or TTL?  That will make a big difference in the advice people offer. 


Your macro shots are pretty good.  They do have a sort of "floodlit" look to them though, I'd suggest trying to use the edges of your strobe lights or even turn one off (or way down) some of the time to add more shadow textures and dimensionality. 


For the WA shots, first you need to expose for ambient light, then use the strobes to highlight part of the scene.  Your first example is a good one, but  (assuming the original was shot as a vertical) it looks like the bottom strobe was much closer to the reef than was the top strobe.  It's very easy to make this mistake when shooting upward toward the surface.  The strobes should be in a plane parallel to the subject you are lighting - in this case pull the bottom one back and push the top one forward. Unless the strobes are evenly distanced from the subject, this is what happens.  I have many such examples myself! 


The other two WA shots look like you were just too far away. There is some illumination at the bottom but little to none at the top.  Light falls off very quickly underwater.  Also, if you're using TTL, it is very hard to get right for these kind of shots, and you're better off going manual. 


I'd recommend Alex Mustard's recent book, as its the most user-friendly explanation I have found for strobe placement.  Martin Edge's book is also very good.  Here are a few other web resources:







#381004 Pigmy Pipehorses of Bare Island

Posted by troporobo on 27 January 2017 - 04:24 PM

Fantastic - thanks for sharing!

#380907 Shooting Macro for the first time

Posted by troporobo on 24 January 2017 - 02:15 PM

On the subject of lighting, video is similar to stills, so you'll find lots of help here: