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New DSLR/strobe test; settings for pool portraits?


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#1 GeorgeH

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 08:09 PM

I want to test a new camera housing with dual strobes out in a pool next week and while I am an experienced photographer, I will literally be taking the equipment out of their boxes for the first time. The only gear I have any familiarity with is the D3S and lenses.

As a new diver I am not ready to take my camera in open water yet but should have no trouble kneeling on the bottom of a pool next week to help shoot underwater Santa pictures. I'll definitely try some shots while attempting to stay horizontal a few feet off the bottom.

If I can figure out the housing controls, trying different settings and strobe positions shouldn't be a problem but I would like some settings to start with.

For a D3S in an Aquatica housing my thought was to use a 14 -24 with a 9 " glass dome. Corner sharpness is not a concern and in fact soft corners could be a benefit. I also have a macro port, 60 and 105 macro lenses, a 15mm FE sigma and a 24 70.

I have two Ikelite DS-161 strobes connected with 2 x 2 ea. 8" ultralight strobe arms. We have the pool at night and lighting is poor so I don't think ambient light will work very well but I will test a few shots. Using high ISO with the D3S is not a concern. I need to study up on the strobe settings but I assume I can set the main light at around half power and the fill light a stop or two lower? I might learn water diffuses the light so fast that different power settings won't give me the subtle shading I look for when shooting portraits.

I would like to start about F8 if the pool wall isn't too ugly. I might even look around for a background I can drape over the side of the pool. With strobe 1/60 ss should be fine. I am equally comfortable with iTTL or manual. I was thinking about putting one strobe off to one side for the main light and position the fill light high over the opposite side of the camera.

Thanks.

George




Edited by GeorgeH, 22 November 2011 - 08:11 PM.


#2 GeorgeH

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 10:56 AM

Searches are bringing up a lot of good information but most are a little more elaborate than I want to attempt for this shoot. The LDS is holding a discover scuba at the same time so no way I would put my studio strobes on stands around the pool. I'm also assuming there will be so much activity in the pool, off camera UW remote strobes wouldn't be practical either.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rls=com.microsoft:en-us&q=+site:wetpixel.com+underwater+strobes+for+pool

After checking my calendar I found there is a Thursday night American football game I hope to shoot so all the planning could be moot anyway.



#3 bcliffe

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 12:50 PM

George,

Since this is getting to know your equipment kinda thing as it's new to you then yes, keeping it simple would be advised.
Your choice of 14-24 with the dome port is probably the correct lens choice for the shot you are trying to accomplish.

As a starter simply adding a backdrop to the shoot will go miles to making it a better image. This can be as simple as a king size bed sheet weighed down with some chain (thanks James for that tip)

Working with a model underwater is in itself a challange. Again simpler is better. I would avoid using scuba equipment and simply freehold your breath. Let's you come up and down a lot easier to communicate with your model.

What I might suggest you would want to do to get to know your equipment is perhaps this.


First go manual 1/200 at f8 with strobes on TTL ... to see how your rig performs.

Next keep your exposure settings the same, take your strobes off TTL and adjust the power manually to gain control over the lighting you want to achieve.



Cheers
Ben

#4 GeorgeH

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 09:28 PM

Thanks Ben. I got push back when I suggested the backdrop idea but after looking at their Santa pictures from past years I think I'll see if I can persuade them. My wife, who I never imagined attempting scuba, offered to try the discover scuba and that floored me. Now I have a dilemma; blow off shooting the Eagles Seahawks game or play in a pool?



George,

Since this is getting to know your equipment kinda thing as it's new to you then yes, keeping it simple would be advised.
Your choice of 14-24 with the dome port is probably the correct lens choice for the shot you are trying to accomplish.

As a starter simply adding a backdrop to the shoot will go miles to making it a better image. This can be as simple as a king size bed sheet weighed down with some chain (thanks James for that tip)

Working with a model underwater is in itself a challange. Again simpler is better. I would avoid using scuba equipment and simply freehold your breath. Let's you come up and down a lot easier to communicate with your model.

What I might suggest you would want to do to get to know your equipment is perhaps this.


First go manual 1/200 at f8 with strobes on TTL ... to see how your rig performs.

Next keep your exposure settings the same, take your strobes off TTL and adjust the power manually to gain control over the lighting you want to achieve.



Cheers
Ben



#5 tdpriest

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 09:31 AM

I don't want to be a party-pooper, but you are overwhelmingly likely to be very disappointed. People are really difficult to shoot unless they are experienced divers and models, lighting flesh tones underwater is a subtle art that usually needs a lot of experience and the best pool shots use a mix of a black backdrop, a surface flood and strobes, with make-up and, perhaps, strobes with a lower colour temperature. The photographer has a fleeting instant to capture the subject: often they have a funny look even if the image is technically good...

... and technically good can take a while to achieve. Terrestrial photographers, as I assume you are, can find adapting to the odd properties of light underwater both challenging and frustrating.

Good luck, and keep at it!

Tim

:)