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Advice with dark subjects

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#1 Ron Boyes

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 10:32 PM

This image was taken with a D100 F9 @ 125 single SB80DX Flash.
No Photoshop processing straight raw to jpeg conversion and image size reduction.

Please comment on ways to improve these types of images such as juvenile batfish and ribbon eel etc

I now have 2 x Inon Z220 strobes as well - would using 2 strobes help?


#2 Alex_Mustard


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Posted 24 February 2005 - 12:31 AM

Hi Ron,

Personally I would light this with the 2 Inons. Either side of port. This would concentrate nice even flat lighting on the main subject and help it pop out from the background. At the moment it looks like your strobe is lighting the background as much as the main subject.

I would also have used the Linkia starfish as the background, rather than the sand. Come round to the right by 90?. A smaller aperture combined with the strobes would help stop the background being lighter than the eel.

The ribbon eel is a strange green colour. But maybe it was. The colour of the starfish is OK - although for my taste could probably do with a punch of contrast in RAW conversion.


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#3 Kelpfish


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Posted 24 February 2005 - 06:42 AM

Sometimes you are going to get what you get with the DR of your system. I am assuming that you are shooting TTL with the SB80DX, is that correct? What I see in the picture is very hot, white spots and lots of dark eel. First, you may need to play with strobe position. Try to aim the strobe at different angles to the eel, preferably low and to the front, as Alex suggests. I have found that strobe position can make a HUGE difference when shooting TTL. Over shooting the subject with strobe light will expose for the wrong areas such as the sand, causing the camera to shut off early because it exposed the light sand, not the dark eel. Thus you end up with a dark eel and properly exposed sand/reef. The only other way to correct this is don't use TTL. No matter how much light you have, the camera will shut off based on the reflected light. More light means the camera will shut off sooner.

However, if you shoot manual, you can expose for the eel much easier and with far greater control of your lighting. Strobe position is critical as well so you don't blow out the lighter highlights such as the background. Sometimes, depending on the position of the subject to the camera, it is not possible to put your strobes in a optimal position so you may have to live with the hot spots. But in manual you can adjust your f-stop or your shutter speed to properly expose the eel.

With your existing picture, make some basic tweaks in raw exposure, WB, color temp and some slight contrast then pull it into PS. The very first step I do on pics like this is to perform a shadow/highlights action. That should bring out the eel. Drag the "shadows amount" slider to the right until you get an acceptable exposure. Don't over due it because you will simply ruin the picture and get unwanted noise. Next, drag the highlights amount slider to the right and watch what happens. Select a level that pleases you and click okay!!

Here is your picture with some shadow/highlight adjustment. Then I did a little desaturate on the eel and some dodging. It's still a very solid idea to get the exposure as accurate in the camera as possible to maximize your image quality after post processing. Many potentially great pictures are tweaked way too much in PS and it saimply ruins the quality of the image.


#4 Ron Boyes

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 03:13 PM

Hi Joe/Alex

Thanks for the comments.
The juvenile eel was at F11 @ 5.3 single strobe DTTL
Lens 70-180 @ 135mm

again no adjustments.


Thanks for the image adjustment tips - will have a play and see how it looks.