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Non-strobe lighting


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#1 Ron Kruger

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 01:42 PM

Anyone have experience with steady lighting for underwater shots?
I'm thinking of watersealing and mounting strong flashlights on a rig I'm building, sort of like a portable underwater studio.

#2 Balrog

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 01:51 PM

You might find this thread interesting

http://wetpixel.com/...topic=38975&hl=

#3 Ron Kruger

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 02:34 PM

You might find this thread interesting

http://wetpixel.com/...topic=38975&hl=


Thanks for the link, Balrog. It did address one of my concerns. I'll be using it in freshwater rivers, and although they are clear, often have considerable floatsom. My concern is the lights will emphasize and illuminate the closer particles.
I won't be shooting at night, but using the lights for extra illumination, especially up under large rocks and on overcast days.
Whether these fish will be attracted or repelled by the light remains to be seen.
Sounds like people have had the best results with close and macro, which fits right in, because I want to use this rig for close, tight, WA shots.
I figured I would mount two strong lights on each side of the camera to cut shadows and increase illumination, but I also figured I would diffuse the light to prevent hot spots. I might also consider using a polorizing filter, but I'm new to all this and don't really know if any of this will work, so I'd like to have some experienced input before building my contrapton.

#4 Steve Williams

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 02:52 PM

How deep are you thinking of shooting in the rivers Ron? What is your issue with just using strobes?

Steve

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#5 Ron Kruger

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 07:20 PM

How deep are you thinking of shooting in the rivers Ron? What is your issue with just using strobes?

Steve

No deeper than four or five feet, Steve. Let me explain:
I'm approaching this differently than normal. Instead of just swimming around looking for shots, similar to walking around with a camera in the park, I'm going where the fish want to go and setting up to wait motionless for them much the way I have photographed wildlife for a living. (I've been a professional for almost four decades.) Last summer I bought a cheap underwater P&S (the first P&S I've ever owned) just to play around and investigate underwater photography, but I was impressed with the quality and sent some pics out to magazines. Before the charge bill came due, I sold two inside shots and two covers. I spend quite some time sitting on submerged rocks, with my head just above water, holding the camera low and waiting. The water is shallow and the fish are skittish. You can't swim up to them like in the ocean. That's the first thing I tried. Anyway, I can't use conventional strobes, because my camera won't power them, so I'm improvising.
The problem is, with the camera held below, I can't see the LCD. Composing is a difficult guessing game. So I'm devising a frame to hold the camera, with a mirror at the bottom to reflect the LCD image up to me through a pariscope and a cable to trigger the shutter. The frame I have devised could also be used to hold a couple of lights, which would serve as fill and also allow me to probe around under large rocks were big fish often hide.
I never expected to use this P&S professionally, and figured I would upgrade to the kind of equipment most of you use if it worked at all in fresh water, but the quality is surprisingly adaquate. It is, in fact, the most profitable $150 I've ever spent. I can carry it in a pocket while wade-fishing, snorkeling or swimming.

#6 Steve Williams

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 09:58 PM

Sounds like your having fun. Does the camera you're using shoot RAW? If so a little white balance adjustment might be all you need in some cases. Do you have a small flash on the camera? You might think about an optical trigger for a strobe/s if it does. Not trying to change your mind, just thinking out loud really.

Steve

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#7 tdpriest

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 02:35 AM

Ambient light and raised ISO would be an option with a high-end camera, but surface lighting might yield some interesting effects, though the light will probably disappear within 5' of the surface. A magenta filter or a custom green-water filter might improve the colour balance of ambient light images.

Tim

:)

#8 Ron Kruger

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 08:02 AM

Thanks Steve. I bought it for fun--and it is--plus it is proving profitable from a business perspective. Since the IQ (12 MP) is acceptable, I've chosen to work around its liabilities. One is that it doesn't shoot RAW, but the WB isn't a problem, probably because it isn't designed to go very deep, so the standard auto WB in Underwater Mode is fine. It has an auto flash, but it's not very good, so I'm considering additional lighting, not so much for WB, or even color, but to insure I can always shoot at the lowest ISO, which also has no manual overides.
Even with my regular camera, I don't find the on-board flash acceptable and have a powerful external strobe, but even with it, I find a steady additional light source more effective (especially for metering) than flash, so I'm wanting to set up something similar for this. Last night I found the new Sea and Sea LED lighting system, and this is similar to what I'm trying to devise, but it is over $300. I can built one (probably a better one for my purposes) for less than $50. Photography is still fun for me, but it is a business, and it doesn't pay nearly as well as most suppose. Beside, part of the fun for me is overcoming limitations and in devising DIY contraptions.
Sorry for the long posts, but I'm thinking way outside the box here, so some explination is needed.
And thanks to Orka too. Because most of my shooting is within five feet deep, one of the first things I experiment with was lighting from the surface, but it was a lot of trouble (almost demanding an assistant) and didn't work very well, mostly because of refraction: lots of little shimmers and and dancing stray rays. Some of this was artful, but I'm shooting illustrations. The auto WB and color with this "toy" is fine, so colored filters are not needed, but I am considering experimenting with a polorizing filter--if I can get enough light on the subjects to maintain a low ISO. (Regardless the effective ISO range, everything--not just noise-- is better a lower ISOs, so that is what I aim for whether above or below water.)
I've been shooting for a long time, so I know it's all about the light, and the reason I got into this with a cheap toy in the first place was to investigate underwater light, without a large initial investment, because I knew to begin with that it's a whole other world down there. The surprise was that I can actually get the job done well enough for cover quality with this toy.

#9 Steve Williams

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 09:28 AM

Just to be clear I wasn't suggesting you use the onboard little flash to light your images. All kinds of issues with backscatter can pop up, very limited power, etc. But you could use it to trigger another flash using inexpensive optical fiber. Pretty common now with the folks using P&S cameras.

Do you have a link where we could see what you were able to do with your setup?

Cheers,
Steve

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#10 Ron Kruger

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 10:23 AM

I have only very rough prototypes at this point. Right now I'm trying to anticipate potential problems with a couple of designs and get as much input as possible. I have no ports to attach external flash, but I assume you are talking about triggering an external flash similar to using a slave. The problem with this, is I can't control when the flash activates on my P&S. I'm wanting to increase ambiant light with additional fill, even under bright conditions, similar to what I ususally do with fill-flash on bright days with my DSLR. Steady light seems the best way to accomplish that. My idea is to use a pair of strong LCD flashlights, mounted on each side of the camera rig. To waterproof them, and diffuse the light at the same time, my idea is to enclose them in shrink rap (I have one made for shrink-rapping meat). I figure two LCD flashlights will give me very strong illumination at the close ranges I expect to shoot. The shrink rap alone may not offer enough diffusion, but I can always rewrap them with altered diffusion pannels simply trimmed to shape and held in place by the shrink-rapping.
Once I come up with a contraption that actually works, I'll take a picture of it and share it here, though I doubt many members will be interested. I'm not a diver (sinus problems), just a photographer, and I'm approaching this from the perspective of a wildlife photographer, not from the perspective of a diver who also swims with a camera for added fun. It's not a hobby with me.
If what you are asking is a link to images I've sold, you can Google Ron Kruger and click on any link to Photoshelter. Then click on the link to the Smallmouth Stream Fishing gallery. Any underwater shot you see there was taken last summer simply hand-holding my W80 underwater and guessing at composition. (More can be found in my Panfish Fishing gallery.) The two I have sold for covers so far are #0636 and #0922. Those that I've sold for inside use, so far, are of a tadpole and frog eggs, plus #1071.

#11 Steve Williams

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 12:42 PM

The link to Ron's stuff is here. Interesting fresh water perspective. Makes be wish I was back in southen Missouri for a while.

Cheers,
Steve

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#12 Ron Kruger

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 01:33 PM

Thanks Steve. The Black River, possibly the clearest river in the Ozarks, is close to me, and the Current River is less than an hour away. I don't think there are better waters anywhere for what I'm doing.
It is the unusual perspective, or POV, that is selling. I'm sure others have tried, but I found out right away that you can't approach them as you might other species in other environments. You have to hunt them, set up and wait (patiently and quietly) for them to come back and act naturally. I'm used to that kind of thing. The longest lens I use for wildlife is 200mm.
I also have plans, by the way, to attach live bait to the bottom of this rig to attract fish for very close portraits.

#13 bowlofpetunias

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 07:41 PM

Wow astounding shots... I could almost smell the autumn in the air!