Just a quick idea, when shooting stationary subjects such as lionfish you do not need fast flash recycle times, so here is what I suggest:
Put your flash on full power (or at least somewhat higher power) and increase your aperture to get a deeper depth of field.
Another thing, maybe consider warming your strobes somewhat, use a Lee Straw filter and put it on the front of your strobe, this will give you a pleasing foreground color (as you already have) but a much better blue background color!
I thought the hue of the blue in underwater is adjusted in camera settings f-stop/shutter speed, e.g sunburst shots etc.
The exposure- fstop/shutter/iso controls the exposure of your background- not the color. However, if you severely overexposure your background colors will be washed out, the background should normally be a little underexposed to bring out the colors that are determined by your white-balance.
Think of it like this, there is only one "acceptable" color for your foreground, the realistic color. If I put on a warming filter and keep the same white-balance as I do without the filter, then the foreground will be way too warm and the water will be the same color as before.
The white-balance can only make global changes on your image, either your entire image is warmed by the white-balance, or the entire image is cooled by the whitebalance.
So imagine you have an image with a really warm foreground and a pretty dull (not blue) background (taken with filters). Now we use the kelvin slider in your RAW processing program to turn the entire image colder. This means that the foreground which was too warm will now be the correct color, but your dull background, not lit by your strobe will become colder and colder, giving you a nice blue background without making your subject cold as well.
I use lee straw filters, when I do wide-angle dives I bring a total of 8 filters with me, 4 for each strobe.
2 yellow'ish and 2 red'ish. In the beginning of the dive I put on what I think will be appropriate, if its sunny and clear water you wont need as many as if its overcast and murky. I set my whitebalance to Kelvin and play around, once I have found a pleasing color, background and foreground, then I start shooting!
On my first few dives with this I took some notes on which filters I should use for which conditions, and which white-balance I should set for which filters and now, after maybe 5-6 dives playing around it comes naturally, just like you sort of know which exposure to set when you imagine your shot.
A good friend of mine does all of his camera diving on side-mount and he says its nice, he only does wide-angle, I could imagine that its really hard to stay clear of the bottom while doing macro shots though. If you can't dive perfectly with normal back-mount then I don't think starting to play around with side-mount will be a good idea.
Thanks a bunch Paul, glad you liked it!
The length is an issue, I guess especially for internet, I made it to loop in the diving center and thats why I wanted to put in a bit more material so if someone was sitting doing logbooks or whatever they would most likely not see the same footage twice.
John, it was shot with a Canon 7D, 100mm USM, 60mm USM, Tokina 10-17, in Aquatica housing. The wide-angle shots were made with manual white balance, the macro shots were lit up with the focus lights from my strobes (D2000 & Z240).
I know, I really need to get some video lights but my girlfriend insists that if I buy 1 more piece of camera gear she is allowed to buy 3 pairs of shoes..
Does anyone have any other advice on how I can improve my video skills?
I think the 6" dome will be great, as far as I understand Its not always a case of the bigger the better.
I should probably mention that I am by no means an expert in dome-port optics but what I know is that the length of your extension ring (ring that goes between housing and dome) is extremely important for overall sharpness/ability to focus (see the lens chart).
I always shoot with the 10-17 and a very small 4" dome and I love it, because of the strong curvature of the small dome you do get unsharp image corners at high apertures. If you want to have the corners tack sharp then you need to stop down to f.8 or lower, but then again, how important is it really that the corners are totally 100% sharp?
Hehe, think of that gorgeous shark over-under shot with the one eye above the surface, teeth clearly showing, almost bumping the dome with his snout, while the sun is setting in the background, now tell me if you really care about having tack-sharp corners
As far as I can see, the only major disadvantage of using a small dome such as my 4" mini-dome is that over-unders are basically impossible to get right, for that you need a bigger dome, I believe a 8" or even a 9,5" is preferred by most.
With a 8" or 9,5" dome of course then it would be impossible/very hard to get close-focus-wide-angle shots of critters :/
It seems there is never a perfect choice that is great for everything but I guess the 6" dome is a good choice to start out with!
Having more awareness on the issues of solo diving is for sure great!
As far as I have understood from googling a little: The PADI Self reliant diver course is not a solo diver course, it is meant to teach someone the skills to avoid getting into a sticky situation if they by accident get separated from their buddy.
I think these courses are excellent, teaching people to be more independent rather than relying on someone else to plan, think and dive for them.
The only thing that I am strongly opposed to is the minimum course entry requirement of only 100 dives.
In my short time as a diving instructor/guide/manager I have seen a billion and one people who can not dive at all with 100 dives.
If you think about it, 100 dives are only 4-6 diving holidays and since a lot of people only do one dive holiday every 2 years that means that they've maybe averaged 10-15 dives/year for the last 7-12 years. That is in my opinion not enough to be a self reliant diver (for the vast majority of people).
If they would put up the minimum requirement to say, 400-500 dives + proof of doing a minimum of maybe 50 dives/year for the last 3-5 years. Now that would be a different story.
Seems like you had a lot of fun doing these shots, unfortunately it looks like the guy on the right is resting with his fins on top of that table coral, it sort of ruins the otherwise cheery-pictures for me, even though it might not be the case and that it only looks like it (post 2, picture 1).
Congrats on the nice footage, incredible how easily animals change their behavior when humans start interfering, hopefully the sharks will be able to change back if the fishermen ever decide to move to another location.
The Leatherback turtle is very high on my must see list- gotta be an amazing experience!
I was only wondering, are there any regulations when tourists film/photograph the turtles while laying eegs?
The leatherbacks are rated "critically endangered" by the IUCN.
I am in no way an expert on this, so correct me if you think I'm wrong, but what I remember from previous experiences working with turtle conservation programs in Lombok and Malaysian borneo is this:
1: Avoid using flash on turtles while being on land as it can confuse and scare the turtle to a point that she will give up laying her eegs. Also it is not recommended to use high intensity torches, especially one should take care not to shine the torch/flash the camera in the "face" of the turtle.
2: Make sure that you do not light up the beach with any artificial light (headlights of cars, hotel/restaurant lights, bonfires etc).
3: Stay at the tree-line, do not walk on the beach as you will never know if you're walking on top of a turtles nest and crushing the eggs.
4: Finally, don't touch the turtles unless absolutely necessary (if the turtle cannot find its way back into the sea because of artificial lights etc)
As we can see in the video there seams to be taken data of the turtles, and to my eye it even looks like they are doing tagging- which is something I wouldn't expect here in Indonesia, big thumbs up for that, would just wish that the tourists would be a little more careful.
Anyways, it looks really cool whats going on out there in the east, whale-shark galore, leatherbacks, gotta get some time off and finally come out for a visit! Is the leatherback population large enough that there is a good chance to see them while diving/snorkeling?