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Black Water diving - lighting advice

Snoots strobe position power setting

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#1 Longimanaus

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 08:04 PM

Stopping off in Hawaii on our way back to AUS and want to do the tethered black water dive. Expecting to shoot jellies, cuttles, and other current drifters (Silkies!).

Any advice on power and strobe positioning for my Z240s?

Should I get some snoots?

I assume a 105mm lens is the go?

What about the 105mm with the macro mate flip down?

Use a red focus light?
Nikon D700, Hugyfot, Inon Z240s, Nikkor 16-35mm, shaved Tokina 10-17mm, 105mm D series, 60mm, Zen 230mm dome

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#2 tdpriest

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 03:52 AM

I suspect that a 105mm will be difficult to use as the field of view is small. A 60mm might be easier.

Lighting is tricky as jellies like side-light but cuttles etc a more traditional angled light. Moving your strobe arms around at night can be tricky, too. I would shoot at a small aperture with half power or less, but try sTTL, too. A good focus light is essential, as well as a torch (I mount one on my right BCD strap) angled diagonally across the chest to illuminate strobe and camera controls.

I would guess that snoots are irrelevant against a black background, and just make it even more difficult to aim your strobes.

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#3 Longimanaus

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 01:59 PM

Thanks. Great shot.

Might be the excuse I have been looking for to get the 60. Did you use a red focus light? How skiddish were the mid water creatures compared to a normal night/muck dive?
Nikon D700, Hugyfot, Inon Z240s, Nikkor 16-35mm, shaved Tokina 10-17mm, 105mm D series, 60mm, Zen 230mm dome

http://www.matthewramaley.com

#4 diver dave1

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 09:50 AM

Here is a good link on this topic.
A search on this site using 'blackwater' has many entries worth reading.

http://wetpixel.com/...ter#entry276972

A 60mm is as large as you will likely want for focal length. Some passing by critters were larger than the 60 could handle well but most were smaller. Nothing stops moving so it would be hard to get a 105 to work consistently on your first outing of this type. Its all floating by in the current and not there for long until out of your tether's reach. Speed of work will be important, unlike settling down to get to know a nudi moving across a reef.

A 600 Sola capacity focus light would be the min. light output recommended. I used a SOLA 600 and both spotting lights on the Z240's and consider this to be the minimum. I never use the Z240 spotting lights but they were quite helpful. Manual control for flash works better to keep the water closer to black. The critters basically ignore you and your lights. Repeat customers on my outing looked like a freight train, using 4 spotting lights of 600 capacity or more. One guy had four 1200's and looked like the sun on location.
No need for snoots or red filters. We did not see any cuttles nor sharks.

If using Jack's, they are more like diving with people interested in their own needs. Its not like having a guide. They make money on their pictures and videos and are using your payments to fund this business. Nice and friendly people but also willing to get in the way and 'hog' something interesting that floats by. They are not on tethers and it can be frustrating at times.

I recommend keeping your tether on. With the critters floating up, others down, its easy to lose track of your depth.

Here is a link from my last HI trip that included the black water dive and the Manta night dive.
http://www.shiningse...94974&k=P9P8vsf

Edited by diver dave1, 13 August 2012 - 01:04 PM.

Nauticam D7000, Inon Z-240's, 60 micro, 105 micro, Tokina 10-17

www.shiningseastudio.com


#5 Longimanaus

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 04:57 PM

Great info. Its always helpful to have this type of advice in advance for planning purposes. I appreciate the time and consideration.

I am leaning toward a 60 with a 1200. Your feedback on the critter movement is a key datapoint in this decision.

I'll bring my muck stick to discourage shot poachers! Its a proven very effective behaviour control device.
Nikon D700, Hugyfot, Inon Z240s, Nikkor 16-35mm, shaved Tokina 10-17mm, 105mm D series, 60mm, Zen 230mm dome

http://www.matthewramaley.com

#6 diver dave1

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 07:37 PM

Here is another tip provided by others that was a good one. Avoid hanging at the end of your tether when looking for a subject but rather, keep more to the middle of it. When a subject comes into view, you have some room to move in all directions to get the shot. If at the end of the tether, about half the creatures your light illuminates will be below you and you cannot get to them.

There will be times when you want to take off the tether to get a shot, planning on coming back afterwards. If you only do this dive once, avoid taking it off. Far too easy to lose perspective and location.
An Example: My depth feeling in my ears is usually very good. I can feel moving up or down a ft or 2 easily on reef dives and believe I have good bouy. control. Performed plenty of safety stops in the open blue, drifting, with no problems maintaining depth at all. During this dive, I was following a little critter deeper and deeper, watching via my eyepiece...keeping him in view and focus, working for better and better shots using my 60 micro. I expected to hit the end of the tether any second as we went lower and lower. Then "BONK" !! My head hit the bottom of the boat. I was going up, not down. Never felt it in my ears one bit as I was so focused on the amazing animal that I became oblivious to all around. The same could happen going down with far worse side effects. The tether is your friend. It will just not always feel that way during the dive when the critter is drifting out of reach.

Take a wind breaker on the boat. Its can be a cold ride out and in. Wind pants are a nice touch as well. Several were very chilly coming back and being warm and toasty sure was nice.

Edited by diver dave1, 13 August 2012 - 07:39 PM.

Nauticam D7000, Inon Z-240's, 60 micro, 105 micro, Tokina 10-17

www.shiningseastudio.com


#7 Longimanaus

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 01:44 PM

Good tip. I have done 5 Sydney to Hobarts through some nasty roaring forties weather and know the importance of being physically connected to the trip home when in the wet. The tether will be interesting underwater.

What was the water temp like? I'll be on my way back from drysuit diving and I was wondering if this is overkill or is the current cold enough so I can avoid bringing a 5 mil? What strength of current did you have?

Can you get away with slower shutter speeds to saturate the colour or will this cause blur on the swimming bits of squids, etc? I have been looking for the meta on great blackwater shots to get a feel for settings.
Nikon D700, Hugyfot, Inon Z240s, Nikkor 16-35mm, shaved Tokina 10-17mm, 105mm D series, 60mm, Zen 230mm dome

http://www.matthewramaley.com

#8 diver dave1

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 10:16 AM

I used my D90 max shutter speed for flash sync.

The boat floats with the current using a parachute, you going with it. The observed current was the difference between the boat+you moving and the actual current. I could not feel a current nor will you have visual references for gaining the feeling of motion. You feel stationary with creatures floating by. From memory, the time between something coming into view and being out of camera range was around mostly under 30 seconds with some being more, some less. Watching them swim/float into view, picking them up in the viewfinder, snapping off a few shots, hitting the end of the tether all seemed to go by very quickly. Exposure was set early in the outing and kept there once I thought it was adequate. I definitely had post exposure correction work to get the best results. Doing this dive several times, reviewing results on a large monitor and repeating would be helpful but not available for my schedule. Viewing the exposure in-camera during the dive has limits to these old eyes but I turned up the strobes until I could see the subjects on the screen. The histogram is of little benefit for exposure monitoring, if memory serves correctly.

I was diving a 5 mil and was comfortable. Ask your dive operator for the temperature and judge for yourself. I do not think it varies a lot there. I think a 3 mil would work. It was not cold water at all but I do not recall the temperature profile. Drysuit would be overkill but depending on the type, perhaps with no undergarments you could make it work.

Edited by diver dave1, 15 August 2012 - 10:18 AM.

Nauticam D7000, Inon Z-240's, 60 micro, 105 micro, Tokina 10-17

www.shiningseastudio.com


#9 Longimanaus

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 05:55 PM

Two weeks until we leave for our Socorro-Hawaii trip. I read everyone's posts over the last few years on Blackwater diving set ups (twice). Great info. I am very happy to have this library of info to study beforehand.

I am on the fence between using my 60 or my 10-17 with a 1.4x TC. Query for you on the Tokina-TC set up:

If I get a 1.4TC and use it with my shaved 10-17, can I use my 230mm dome? Normally I use the 10-17 with this dome, but I am wondering if the optical maths don't work if I add the TC. I have a 35mm extension ring so I can put the outer glass on the 10-17 in the same place after adding the TC as before. Trying to avoid buying a minidome since I don't have that many opportunities to use it.

Thanks for your thoughts.
Nikon D700, Hugyfot, Inon Z240s, Nikkor 16-35mm, shaved Tokina 10-17mm, 105mm D series, 60mm, Zen 230mm dome

http://www.matthewramaley.com





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