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Puffer Fish

Member Since 29 Feb 2012
Offline Last Active Mar 06 2012 10:06 AM
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Posts I've Made

In Topic: Arms length for photos and videos

04 March 2012 - 10:21 PM

Thank you for your answer Puffer Fish.

So, for you the 5"/8" arms combination is a good idea but it's not effective for animals bigger that 6 feet (around 2 meters) ?

Concerning the effects of the strobes on animals, it is strange to have difficulties for finding informations...



If you mean around 2 meters away, then yes. Flash coverage varies, as would where you have the center of the strobes pointed, so how big of an animal that would cover is pretty variable.

You will see a fair number of absolute opinions of what the "correct" strobe arms lengths should be, but like many things with shooting underwater, the conditions and type of water you shoot in, as well as what type of images you like make a difference.

If, for example, you dive in very clear water all the time, well you don't need long arms. If you dive in hazy water, a little distance helps and if you dive in terrible vis, removing any defuser and getting the strobes out to at least 45 degrees is really important (which can mean more that the standard 5"/8".

I have 3/5/8/12 inch arms and while I normally use the 5/8 combo, have used them all.

If all you are shooting is wide angle, in clear water, you may find that a single arms works.. would not recommend that for general underwater use.

Oddly, about one in of ten dives I have something that can not be lit without actually removing a strobe and holding in my hand. Assuming one can control their position without using their hands, it is kind of fun and it occurs to me that one dive I should just take all the images that way. It is surprising when you do that how many new lighting options come to mind.

Note: The last time was to get an image of a never before photographed deep reef scorpion fish. It was in a recess that the strobe arms made it impossible to get light to. I actually had to hold the strobe in front of and over the top of the camera, farther than the arms would go. The one before that was a leaf fish in a small ledge, where the strobe needed to be under the camera to get any light on it.

The neat part about this is that strobe arms don't cost that much, and regardless of what anyone says, you can try different setups and pick the one you like.

In Topic: Problems with TSA

03 March 2012 - 06:22 PM

I carry everything (except tools) in my carry-on...and in the last year, it has gotten much easier. I used to get a major remove everything from the bag check, and my last two times (Bonaire and Bora Bora) the bag did not even get any extra checking. They don't seem to care about arms anymore.

In Topic: The advantage of using a red focus light

03 March 2012 - 09:43 AM

But they do have eyes. It's just that the eyes aren't easily seen in the large amphinomid species with prominent caruncles overlying the head.

:swimmingfish: Not all amphinomidae polychaetes have "eyes", but you are correct. However, their "eyes" would hardly be considered highly developed. I was referring to eyes in the sense of highly developed, wide spectrum, focusing sensing organs. Clearly they (well, except for the ones that don't have any eyes) have a far better color vision than we humans.

As they tend to be night feeders, and can live fairly deep, it would seem (at least to me) rather odd to be extremely sensitive to red light. The other obvious option would be that they have a highly complex multi-frequency photo-sensitive compounds...which would be really interesting if they do.

Also those eyes are located in a rather shaded, dark location, not the best for seeing anything, particularly for a night animal

I also notice there is some belief that some may have light sensing organs on their top side.

In Topic: The advantage of using a red focus light

02 March 2012 - 02:44 PM

Hello Puffer Fish,

It seems that marine animals have a varied response to light, and David Barrio has had good luck with red plastic over an inexpensive focus light. That's all good news for someone like me who has hit the wall on spending.

I'm pretty skeptical that it requires pure red light from an LED to avoid disturbing underwater subjects. Is there any evidence to suggest that a very specific wavelength is important in this regard? A homemade red plastic diffuser produces a wide beam of soft red light. Is it not possible that such a light may impact even less on a creature's eyes than more powerful LED lights. I won't be able to make the comparison because I'll just have to get by with the light I presently own (it has already been noted that I have lost the run of myself over this camera).

I see there is also a, less powerful, red underwater laser (only $24). Playing with that may help figure out whether a fish is blind to red light (hopefully without blinding him in the process), or just less averse to it.

John McCracken


John, All the spectral data I have seen on organic light sensitive compounds shows them to be sensitive over some fairly wide spectrum, so I think it would be safe to say that it would not be a single or very narrow frequency

In Topic: Time For A Major Philosophy Change?

02 March 2012 - 08:30 AM

Digital photography has been around for such a short time and yet has come so far. But it has only really taken us back in time. As some have already mentioned Ansel Adams and his piers manipulated the hell out of their original images and I am changing my attitude back to what it was when I started photography. I'm probably one of the few underwater photographers who actually studied photography at college at a time before digital technology and before slide film was the norm. Sure we had slide film, but mostly we used colour neg and black and white neg. Plus we had 35mm, medium format and large format cameras to play with. We had a massive darkroom with black and white and colour processing and I would spend hours in a chemical infested orange glow dodging and burning, cropping and tweaking until what was on the paper in front of me was how I imagined the final image to be.

When magazines wanted colour slides to really justify the cost of the scanners the companies bought, all that creativity died away and while it encouraged many photographers to hone certain in camera skills, it killed some of the creativity in producing a final image. Now that creativity is back and it doesn't turn your silver jewelery black! Photoshop is just a darkroom, without the need to convert the loft or take up the toilet all evening. It's a means to really put into pixels what your mind saw.

Many people who think themselves photographers I'm sad to say, can now produce well exposed, pin sharp pictures, but should that be the ultimate end result? I don't think so. Henri Cartier Bresson didn't produce pin sharp, frozen images, nor did my other hero Don MacCullin. But their images had emotions wrapped around the main subject. I'm fed up with seeing lifeless looking fish portraits or frozen nudibranchs. Where is the drama? where is the animal's sense of place in the world (or sea)? Digital photography has given us the world to create beautiful emotion filled images and the majority treat it as a way to try and recreate the constraints of slide film (with a lot of added saturation in many cases).


Elegantly written, thanks (and you are not alone). Am very glad to see you picked two of the great photographic communicators, as in today's world it is easy to forget what an incredible tool we have in our hands.