Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

A preference for natural light


  • Please log in to reply
25 replies to this topic

#1 Alex_Mustard

Alex_Mustard

    The Doctor

  • Super Mod
  • 8376 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Peterborough

Posted 10 October 2006 - 03:09 AM

After a bit of investigation (on the web and in the last two issues of BBC Wildlife Magazine and the preview for next month's) I think I have now seen 8 (possibly all?) of the winning UW images from the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year - arguably the most important competition for UW photos. And I should mention that the winners very excitingly include some Wetpixel Members.

Anyway many of the wide angle shots are taken in available light only, in other words without strobes. And if you look back at previous winners you will see an abundance of available light shots.

This competition is usually judged by land photographers and I wonder whether their selection suggests that non-underwater photographers prefer the look of underwater images taken in available light only?
Or whether it is merely a reflection that the sorts of subjects that tend to do well in wildlife photo competitions (marine mammals, turtles and sharks) are often photographed in ambient light?

I think that this has wider implications for our images beyond this comp. For a terrestrial interest audience should we do more to suggest an underwater feeling in our images? People seem to like the different light we get UW? When you see an UW scene (e.g. actor fighting etc) in a movie it always has a strong colour cast suggesting very strongly that it is UW - rather than having perfectly corrected colours?

Anyway, food for thought, or more accurately discussion!

Alex

(p.s. Those of you who know my love of filters might feel I am making a case for their use. But I am not. I am not aware that filters have been used for any of these shots.)

Alexander Mustard - www.amustard.com - www.magic-filters.com
Nikon D4 (Subal housing). Nikon D7100 (Subal housing). Olympus EPL-5 (Nauticam housing).


#2 motionsync

motionsync

    Tiger Shark

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 631 posts
  • Location:Greece & Sweden Lambis Stratoudakis
  • Interests:UW photography with available light<br />Freediving

Posted 10 October 2006 - 03:32 AM

Me to Alex have discover that land photographers and customers love my availabel light photos more that the Strobe ones.

Is not about correct colors but more the feeling, like you say, that they get. For editorial & adverting work
Strobes are a big help. The same for human skin and fill light effect but i try as good as i can to dont use strobes.

With Magic filter, new cameras with low noice in high isos and much experimental work we could take photos that give the UW feeling better that before..

One think that everybody hates strobes or not, Fashion or Landscape photografers is the color MAGENTA!!!

I have discover that they dont care if my skin color is lite Greay or yellow but if a corner off the photo have lite magenta NOW THAT IS A BIG PROBLEM

Natural Light, to come back to to thema, is the way we see thinks under water and maybe those photos have a more TRUE LOOK
Lambis Stratoudakis - http://www.lambisstratoudakis.com

#3 loftus

loftus

    Blue Whale

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4571 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Winter Park, Fl

Posted 10 October 2006 - 04:18 AM

Just in my own circle of freinds ,family etc I would tend to agree - interestingly it is often available light black and white.
Nikon D800, Nikon D7000, Nauticam, Inons, Subtronic Novas. Lens collection - 10-17, 15, 16, 16-35, 14-24, 24-70, 85, 18-200, 28-300, 70-200, 60 and 105, TC's. Macs with Aperture and Photoshop.

#4 DeanB

DeanB

    Humpback Whale

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3073 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:U.K

Posted 10 October 2006 - 06:39 AM

As a filmaker I am very much in favour of natural light... Living in the U.K this can be quite a bit of a disadvantage, but in the right settings I think its a more realistic picture of what we are trying to portray. I've shot some lovely scene's in macro and wide, using just natural light and it can be a difficult but rewarding learning curve...

That, or I'm to tight to by some lights <_<

Dive safe

DeanB
Facebook me ;)
NOW ON SKYPE !!! ... deanb69
www.waterwolf-productions.co.uk

#5 John Bantin

John Bantin

    Sperm Whale

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1857 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Teddington/Twickenham UK
  • Interests:former Technical Editor of
    Diver Magazine (UK) and www.divernet.com
    occasional contributor
    SportDiver (Aus)
    Undercurrent
    Author of Amazing Diving Stories (Wiley Nautical)

Posted 10 October 2006 - 07:47 AM

Is it because underwater photographers are more interested in vibrant colours than making it look natural?
Is this picture takern by natural light or by flash? Does it matter?

Attached Images

  • _DSC0039.jpg

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#6 mrbubbles

mrbubbles

    Eagle Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 368 posts
  • Location:los angeles ca
  • Interests:medical doctor and wanabe photographer

Posted 10 October 2006 - 09:43 AM

my experience is in general wide angle is favored over macro. We LOVE our macro. I find most non photographers, give me a "lovely colors, but what the hell is that thing". I think that is part of the factor.

#7 Paul Kay

Paul Kay

    Giant Squid

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1724 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:North Wales, UK

Posted 10 October 2006 - 11:04 AM

New Scientist once did a piece about how to become classed as an endangered species - apart from being appropriately endangered that is! Amongst the suggestions they had were 'not to be vertebrally challenged (ie to have a backbone)', to have two eyes (pereferably large and brown I would imagine), and so on. The gist of which is, I suspect, the same as the criterea which will help to win nature photo competitions - it helps for the subject to be recognisable! A little cynical perhaps.

Not that this is entirely true of the BBC Wildlife/Shell competition, but my point is that the larger, higher profile underwater subjects tend to fit into an 'easily recognisable' category and generally are the subjects which need to be shot by available light or at least, predominantly by available light. I'm not sure that this is entirely the reason available light shots tending to do well but it must be a substantial part of it. How many sea squirts, bryazoans or sponges do well in non-underwater competitions I wonder - very few probably. I'm not sure that the fact that they are shot mostly by flash has much to do with it. Other subjects have featured in this competition (I had a jewell anemones shot attain highly commended some years ago - entirely flash lit of course) in the past, and I seem to remember some fish shots partially and fully flash lit doing ok!!!
Paul Kay, Canon EOS5D/5DII, SEACAM/S45, 15, 24L, 60/2.8 (+Ext12II) & 100/2.8 Macros - UK/Ireland Seacam Sales underseacameras & marinewildlife & paulkayphotography & welshmarinefish

#8 Rattus

Rattus

    Sting Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 293 posts
  • Location:Cambridge UK

Posted 10 October 2006 - 03:36 PM

I think there are several factors at play here. Here are some I would include:

Wide angle is in general more directly engaging to an audience than restricted angles, because it allows us to immerse ourselves in the scene.

Natural light has familiar properties that humans use for visual reference. Firstly the light source is at infinity so there is no fall off due to distance from the light source. Secondly, the sky provides either a diffuse light source when it is overcast or hazy, or at least adds a soft fill.

These visual cues from daylight make artificial light easy to spot most of the time. A viewer may not even realise that they are noticing a difference, but it can still affect their perception of an image.



I think its interesting that so many underwater photographers favour macro, when coming to underwater photography from land photography myself, I find wide angle more interesting. I never owned a macro lens before I got a housing.

Martyn

Edited by Rattus, 10 October 2006 - 03:37 PM.

Canon 5D
S&S DX-5D housing, TTL, YS-110s, ULCS, etc.

#9 Photobeat

Photobeat

    Eagle Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 373 posts
  • Location:Largo Florida - Not Key Largo (I wish)
  • Interests:Top Side photography also, Compete in Triathlons, former professional drummer

Posted 10 October 2006 - 06:30 PM

Let's face it, on a technical level Natural light photography is easier. Shooting macro has also been technically easier also. Your going to get more quality shots and a better chance at a perfect composition with wide angle natural light in shallow conditions of course. This comming year will be interesting as ttl will soon be a more commonly used tool where most of us have been shooting manual. When I used a nikonos V, shooting macro was f22, ttl Velvia 50 asa. Pefect exposure everytme, just had to line the subject up and get the composition. Wide angle is so much more rewarding to me. Look at the ton of macro stuff people are so proud of, hardly anyone (non diver) knows what they are looking at. This site is one of the only places to show off some rare creature and have people appreciate it, but it is a grain of sand on the beach of the world. I agree that WA is so universal and carries more impact (generally of course, not in all situations). If you have a nice shallow reef or a great subject in shallow water you don't have to wory about composition and timming avoiding lighting power, position, checking the screen, making adjustments. UW you don't always get that many chances and can't communicate to recreate a missed pic because of a technical mistake.
My 2cents

Edited by Photobeat, 12 October 2006 - 10:02 AM.

Aquatica Housing - D100 - 10.5dx - 17-55DX - Nikonos 105 strobes - TLC arms

#10 John Bantin

John Bantin

    Sperm Whale

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1857 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Teddington/Twickenham UK
  • Interests:former Technical Editor of
    Diver Magazine (UK) and www.divernet.com
    occasional contributor
    SportDiver (Aus)
    Undercurrent
    Author of Amazing Diving Stories (Wiley Nautical)

Posted 11 October 2006 - 03:28 AM

I have been a serious photographer since 1963. I have taken pictures in a war zone, for a well-known glamour magazine, for advertising agencies and for editorial content of magazines. I have also been a writer since say 1992. The first question to be asked of any commission is: Who is the intended audience? If you are taking pictures for yourself that is easy to answer.

It is my experience that the one item of content that everyone relates to and consequently wants to see is the human form. That is why I originally bought two Nikonos and two 15mm lenses. I only ever bought dome ports and wide angle lenses for housed cameras. Since then I never felt the need to buy a macro lens (until I went to Lembeh - but that is a special case!) The world is awash with good macro pictures - so I don't normally bother.
I have just supplied more than 400 pictures for a book that is about diving but aimed at the general public. There are very few that do not have people in them. Much as I am pleased with the shot of the turtle (posted previously in this thread) I know only a few people will appreciate it. The pictures that will get used by publishers will be the one with the diver swimming alongside it.
Even if I write an article about underwater photography, I am bound to be asked for pictures of divers with cameras rather than the results that they might expect to get. Taking pictures for other people can be disappointing in what they want too.

So maybe the preference for pictures that look like they were shot in natural light is simply because the audience feels more comfortable with it. Meeting people's expectations is often preferred to them being surprised with new information. I'm sure frogfish would have something to say on that subject.

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#11 james

james

    The Engineer

  • Super Mod
  • 9969 posts
  • Location:Houston TX

Posted 11 October 2006 - 05:24 AM

I have been a serious photographer since 1963. I have taken pictures in a war zone, for a well-known glamour magazine, for advertising agencies and for editorial content of magazines. I have also been a writer since say 1992.


Dang John, you must be ancient! ;-) Which war was that, the Trojan war?

No, but seriously, I agree that natural light photos are winners - but it's not because of the subjects I believe. Scientists and policy makers know that "Charismatic Megafauna" gets all the attention.

Cheers
James
Canon 1DsMkIII - Seacam Housing
Dual Ikelite Strobes
Photo site - www.reefpix.org

#12 John Bantin

John Bantin

    Sperm Whale

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1857 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Teddington/Twickenham UK
  • Interests:former Technical Editor of
    Diver Magazine (UK) and www.divernet.com
    occasional contributor
    SportDiver (Aus)
    Undercurrent
    Author of Amazing Diving Stories (Wiley Nautical)

Posted 11 October 2006 - 06:57 AM

Dang John, you must be ancient! ;-) Which war was that, the Trojan war?

It was a war we Brits quietly got on and won while you guys were spectacularly losing another nearby! In ten ten years I will be allowed to talk about it! Then my contract with the Official Secrets Act will have run its course.

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#13 james

james

    The Engineer

  • Super Mod
  • 9969 posts
  • Location:Houston TX

Posted 11 October 2006 - 06:59 AM

You've definitely piqued my curiosity John. Let's see - what's nearby - Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, China, P.I... How bout just a clue which one it is?!? :-) I can't wait 10 years.

James
Canon 1DsMkIII - Seacam Housing
Dual Ikelite Strobes
Photo site - www.reefpix.org

#14 pmooney

pmooney

    Orca

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1229 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Cairns Australia
  • Interests:Growing Grapes

Posted 11 October 2006 - 07:26 AM

I have a Nik 111 in mint condition that saw active service in SE Asia for a number of years ( actually in few differnet spots ) - It sits in pride of place in my office - I look at it every day and think how lucky I am to be here in the underwater imaging business.

#15 tdpriest

tdpriest

    Sperm Whale

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2123 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Solihull, UK
  • Interests:Diving medicine, warm water, scenery...

Posted 12 October 2006 - 01:06 AM

War? I thought that this was about natural light...

Leave now if you don't like pychophysiology, because I'm going to bang in about it again. I'm not at home, so I can't post an example, but I have posted some relevant images in another thread on image manipulation.

Non-divers, it seems, like an image that satisfies their expectations of the underwater environment: low luminance, scary big marine creatures and a blue-green cast. This is fostered by TV documentaries that are shot with these properties and a number of (variously dire) movies where the desert island is contrasted to the risky reef (see the brief underwater sequences in "Three", for instance).

BUT: it doesn't look like that to divers, because we extract and impose colour onto our visual perception, so we see more colour than the camera. If we strive to reproduce the experience we have had, then we need to put colour back, formerly with strobes but increasingly with filters and (heretically?) digital manipulation. I was struck in the "Blue Planet" series by the bland coral reef images, so much less vibrant than my mental picture of tropical reefs.

In deep water we lose colour vision, and rely on contrast to produce an image. In this situation a monochrome image reflects our experience better than a colour image. I've experimented with half-tone digital effects on wreck images, and sometimes that's even better, to me at least.

The expectations of divers and landlubbers are different. My favourite images are of the way that light changes underwater, referenced to my memories of diving. The public's favourite images are the ones that satisfy their own expectations. That there is a difference between their expectations and the diver's reality is obvious every time you see a wide-eyed novice diver return from the reef!

The best shark images that I have seen have a subtle colour, and I suspect a strobe is behind that. You need a hint of red, because sharks are bloody, right?

My point is that we need to be aware of what our audience wants, and that is characterised by a fine line between satsfying their preconceptions and giving them something new. I rather hope that the pros are better at this than the amateurs. I hope that it's the reason why I'm a competition failure, because no-one likes to feel technically incompetent... I make images for me, though a bit of praise now and then doesn't go amiss.

Tim

B)

#16 Paul Kay

Paul Kay

    Giant Squid

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1724 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:North Wales, UK

Posted 12 October 2006 - 02:15 AM

Tim "The public's favourite images are the ones that satisfy their own expectations" may be all too true! I really don't think that there is much more to it than the familiar, (what would now be irritatingly called) 'sexy' creatures attract most interest. This is probably true to a certain extent of none-diving competition judges too. Trying to make sense of a weird, unfamiliar subject is not as easy as looking at a large easily understood ('magnificent') creature complete with a reference (its surroundings - available light).

In my experience the local shark family (dogfishes) are far more boring behaviourally than many less well known smaller fish, and I dare say theat the same is true of many sharks. It is their size, apparent power and our preconceptions which give them so much focus (no pun intended). To me there are far more interesting subjects but ......... probably on the whole these are far less likely to do well in competitions than shark images?
Paul Kay, Canon EOS5D/5DII, SEACAM/S45, 15, 24L, 60/2.8 (+Ext12II) & 100/2.8 Macros - UK/Ireland Seacam Sales underseacameras & marinewildlife & paulkayphotography & welshmarinefish

#17 Alex_Mustard

Alex_Mustard

    The Doctor

  • Super Mod
  • 8376 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Peterborough

Posted 12 October 2006 - 02:37 AM

Really interesting discussion. Thanks to all for your contributions. Keep 'em coming.

Alex

Alexander Mustard - www.amustard.com - www.magic-filters.com
Nikon D4 (Subal housing). Nikon D7100 (Subal housing). Olympus EPL-5 (Nauticam housing).


#18 pmooney

pmooney

    Orca

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1229 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Cairns Australia
  • Interests:Growing Grapes

Posted 12 October 2006 - 04:14 AM

War? I thought that this was about natural light...


Sorry if I took you to a terrible place !
John's musings on his very accomplished past made me revisit my first experiences shooting underwater.
Like many of us I have collection of older film camera's , in particular a few mint condition Nik 111's that were only ever used for available light topside images.

#19 John Bantin

John Bantin

    Sperm Whale

  • Industry
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1857 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Teddington/Twickenham UK
  • Interests:former Technical Editor of
    Diver Magazine (UK) and www.divernet.com
    occasional contributor
    SportDiver (Aus)
    Undercurrent
    Author of Amazing Diving Stories (Wiley Nautical)

Posted 12 October 2006 - 05:41 AM

The sub-editor from the Publishing company that commissioned me to write a book on how to scuba has made two observations: 1) Surely no-one would want to dive in shark-infested waters? 2) Who in their right mind would want to dive on a wreck that had been sunk by a nuclear bomb? Frogfish has already given me some councilling on that. She also wanted to translate (for you Americans) ppO2 1.4 bar into psi. I was also asked in view of the fact that we use litres in Europe and the Ameriacns use tanks measured in cu.ft, what do Australians use? How many kangas to a roo?
Managing expectations - an important skill we all need to use!

I once did an advertising picture for Plessey. It was of a submarine. We had a wonderful model of the submarine made and I went down to 50m to photograph the view looking up at 45 degrees. The combined final shot, with the model submarine hovering in front of a six foot trannie of the underwater scene, looked terrific but the client said it didn't look like that underwater so we had to make a set out of papier mache and paint and reshoot it!

I buy my own photographic kit. Diving equipment manufacturers and diving services suppliers get even-handed treatment from me whether they choose to advertise in the publications I write for or not. All the equipment I get on loan is returned as soon as it is finished with. Did you know you can now get Diver Mag as an iPad/Android app?

 

#20 tdpriest

tdpriest

    Sperm Whale

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2123 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Solihull, UK
  • Interests:Diving medicine, warm water, scenery...

Posted 14 October 2006 - 04:45 AM

Now that I'm back home, here are the examples that I would have added to my post, above.

A CHALLENGE: only ONE image was taken using a strobe (well, two strobes, in fact). Which one?

2005_38_Red_sea.jpg 2006_Ras_Mohammed_85.jpg 2006_Bikini_Anderson_1505_1_29_mono.jpg [attachment=4091
:attachment]

Tim

B)

Attached Images

  • 2006_Giannis_D_04.jpg