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Steve Williams

How many shots per dive is "Normal"?

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I've been shooting the 40D now for a while (on land) and I'm starting to get the hang of this digital way of seeing the world. I shot the 350D for a couple of years before that (on land) to start to make the transistion. CS3 is up and running, working on that too. I have found it fascinating though that I still find myself shooting in a series of 36 shots. I'll start working on something and when I think I should be done, the frame counter is on 36. 30+ years of diving with film has rattled by brain I guess. (too much nitrogen or rum) :) It's a very tough habit to break, for me anyway. On land it's not that big a deal, I just notice the frame counter and keep shooting. But underwater I'm expecting to be a completely different thing, There is a timing to a dive that I need to relearn. Time in the ocean in special places is too precious to waste but slamming away until the batteries are dead isn't the answer either.

 

I've watched guys shoot hundreds of images a dive but they didn't come back with much. I'm curious to know how many frames you pros typically shoot on a dive assuming your not limited by your card? I'm guessing WA and Macro might be different numbers. How do you think about the timing of the shots?

 

I'd also like to know how long it took for those of you that transitioned from film to get in the digital shooting habit. Your thoughts appreciated.

 

Steve

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Hi Steve,

 

Its a bit of a how long is a piece of string question. Dependent greatly on the quality and quantity of subjects on a dive, the suitability of your lens to them, and also how often you have shot them before.

 

As a rough rule I shoot about 1 shot per minute. So on an 80 minute dive I shoot about 80 frames.

 

I also believe there is no right or wrong approach. Some people's photography works best shooting lots of frames, others shooting less. I would say I shot more than many other pro-level shooters I dive with although far less than a spray and pray novice! Personally I find that I think clearest about my photography while shooting, rather than thinking before shooting like many do. Just a personal preference.

 

Alex

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More is always better,.... but with skill and creative deliberation and focus.

 

I remember helping David Doubilet before the digital photo age, and bringing him many cameras per dive and shooting a series of about 5 cameras with 36 shots each on one subject. The NGM printed only one, but it was a double pager! :D.

 

You increase your chances by shooting more, but it needs to be backed with skill and talent, which you can learn more by shooting more. So more and as much as possible is always better.

 

Batteries in the strobes and camera now the limiting factor once you eliminate air supply and cold. Never shooting enough and capturing that magic moment perfectly, is my constant struggle and challenge.

 

Bo

 

 

I've been shooting the 40D now for a while (on land) and I'm starting to get the hang of this digital way of seeing the world. I shot the 350D for a couple of years before that (on land) to start to make the transistion. CS3 is up and running, working on that too. I have found it fascinating though that I still find myself shooting in a series of 36 shots. I'll start working on something and when I think I should be done, the frame counter is on 36. 30+ years of diving with film has rattled by brain I guess. (too much nitrogen or rum) :) It's a very tough habit to break, for me anyway. On land it's not that big a deal, I just notice the frame counter and keep shooting. But underwater I'm expecting to be a completely different thing, There is a timing to a dive that I need to relearn. Time in the ocean in special places is too precious to waste but slamming away until the batteries are dead isn't the answer either.

 

I've watched guys shoot hundreds of images a dive but they didn't come back with much. I'm curious to know how many frames you pros typically shoot on a dive assuming your not limited by your card? I'm guessing WA and Macro might be different numbers. How do you think about the timing of the shots?

 

I'd also like to know how long it took for those of you that transitioned from film to get in the digital shooting habit. Your thoughts appreciated.

 

Steve

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Thanks for the insight guys. I'm feeling comfortable with the 80 or so shots per dive kind of timing as a starting place. I'm using 8 gig cards so RAW + Mjpeg gives around 500 frames. That sounds like a good 6 dive day on a liveaboard. On a normal weekend off the beach I'm good too. I'd still have plenty in the bank if the mermaid swims up.

 

My concern, I think, is around having to change the way I approach the dive. I have the most fun and the best luck when I see the image in my head before I hit the shutter. It took me years to develop that underwater. I don't want to lose it, guess I'll have to think faster. :)

 

Steve

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Hi Steve,

Unless you were shooting in preschool, your post gives away a little about your age. So I think it's unlikely that folks like you and I are going to be thinking any faster. :)

Seems to me you should shoot the way you've always shot, except you don't have to hold back just because you're concerned you may run out of film.

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Steve,

 

Your thinking isn't that far off of setting up a shot then capturing your image. Alex and many others (me included) even with huge cards probably shoot 80-100 and occasionally a tad more depending on the UW subject opportunity.

 

Two weeks ago with an 8GB card I shot all RAW for a week and didn't run out of space. (PLEASE don't let Eric, James Wiseman or others Wetpixellites know I have finally TRIED RAW after preaching Fine / Large JPEG is all most people need :) Oh, the shame!!!

 

I still would end my day with a culling session, and I preach to shooters to at least carry the little cord that comes with every digital camera. You can plug into a TV and look over your obvious gaffes, deleting them and then come home with at least a rough edit worthy of post processing.....

 

I will agree battery power both camera AND strobe(s) is now the limiting factor, and have watched one shooter come back with 550+ frames from ONE dive! Not sure how hard an edit he did........

 

Good luck!

 

dhaas

 

post-244-1198252939_thumb.jpg

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Hi Steve,

Unless you were shooting in preschool, your post gives away a little about your age. So I think it's unlikely that folks like you and I are going to be thinking any faster. :D

 

I'm afraid I must take umbrage with that statement. I got certified in 1968, I was 16 (you had to wait then), This year I will celebrate 40 years of diving. So that only makes me 55 or 56, uhhh.... I forget. :)

 

I was worried about downloading all those files every night so I bought my son a new super fast laptop with a huge harddrive for Xmas. I thought that was pretty fast thinking!

 

I'm loving RAW, I've spent the last two weeks with Scott Kelby"s book on CS3 and I now understand a lttle better what's possible. Can't wait to get in the water, Just need my new housing to show up and I'll get a chance to try this out. I'm hoping for a memorable year!

 

Steve

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This would make an interesting survey. In general I agree that more is better, but I find that as I get more experienced I shoot fewer images. However, when I find a good subject I like to spend a long time with it and I shoot a lot of frames. One way of thinking of it is that I spend a lot more time searching for subjects and composing shots than I do actually shooting

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Hi Steve,

 

I prefer to think that us old timers have an edge to those young ones that missed the discipline of using film cameras. I too got certified at age 16 back in 1969 and was later using 12 or 24 roll film in housed medium format.

 

I remember always diving in angst of deciding what to shoot and what not, for you knew that the action and opportunities would be at the end of the dive when you were low on air and out of film. This discipline by angst, I think, provides the knowledge and experience to look for the shot more.

 

Now my gripe is that I spend way too much time behind a computer screen. So off I go...LOL.

 

Bo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm afraid I must take umbrage with that statement. I got certified in 1968, I was 16 (you had to wait then), This year I will celebrate 40 years of diving. So that only makes me 55 or 56, uhhh.... I forget. :)

 

I was worried about downloading all those files every night so I bought my son a new super fast laptop with a huge harddrive for Xmas. I thought that was pretty fast thinking!

 

I'm loving RAW, I've spent the last two weeks with Scott Kelby"s book on CS3 and I now understand a lttle better what's possible. Can't wait to get in the water, Just need my new housing to show up and I'll get a chance to try this out. I'm hoping for a memorable year!

 

Steve

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I'm curious to know how many frames you pros typically shoot on a dive assuming your not limited by your card?

 

I'm not a pro, but my answer is between 7 and 105. I would guess I take 3x times the number of shots I did with film on any given dive.

 

I'd also like to know how long it took for those of you that transitioned from film to get in the digital shooting habit. Your thoughts appreciated.

 

Not long. I did one land trip with both film and digital right after getting my D100. I remember the rewind mechanism not working on the F100. I would barricade myself in the bathroom, towels on the door seams and rewind the film manually in the dark.

 

Once I got a good feel for manual strobe/aperture settings, it was pretty easy underwater. Life got a whole lot easier, although I found a bunch of new ways to not be able to take pictures on a dive.

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I'm not a pro either, but as already said, it does depend on the dive. I have taken as few as 20 (cold water, poor visibility) and as many as 180 (diving in the tropics). I guess on average I take around 100.

 

On my last long dive trip I took 2043 photos over 21 dives, but on a double dive I did in September, I took 318 shots.

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Steve - I think having a habit of shooting 36 shots per dive is a healthy discipline.

 

For me, I almost always come back from a dive thinking I shot more than I actually did. Very wierd. I usually come back from a dive with about 70 frames, of which 20 are exposure setting shots. Like DrSteve, as I go on more trips and get more experience, I tend to shoot less. If I get one satisfying shot per dive, I consider that a success. I usually keep about 3 images per dive, everything else gets deleted.

 

A lot of photographers I know will fire off several shots to get sharper images or to adjust focus points. For great macro, I'm not sure there is really any other way.

 

If I'm testing new equipment or new techiques, 150 shots is easy on a shallow dive. If I'm shooting supermacro, often times I'm lucky to get 20 shots off in a dive. If I'm shooting wide angle I like to shoot between 5-10 shots per subject to adjust lighting. On drift dives I tend to shoot less.

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This discipline by angst, I think, provides the knowledge and experience to look for the shot more.

 

"Discipline by Angst" I really like that, should have been a book title for underwater film photography.

 

Thanks folks for all the great detailed info. You've confirmed for me that I will need to change the rythmn of shooting but keep the quality choices.

 

I was surprised at a couple of things Will said; 3 good shots per dive? That was what I was doing on a good day with film. Is that common? Guess we'd have to define good huh. Alex's good is not the same as mine I'll bet. I was also not expecting 20 exposures shots on a dive, just hadn't thought about it. I was thinking I'd just read the meter like the good old days and take 3 or 4 to confirm. Is this a common practice?

 

Bo, we need to find a mahogany dropoff on an island and we'll talk about the old timer comment. :)

 

Steve

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Bo, we need to find a mahogany dropoff on an island and we'll talk about the old timer comment. :D

 

Steve

 

Hey Steve,

 

That better be an island in the Indo-Pacific. PNG or Indonesia comes to my mind. Seasoned craftsmen there do wonderful stuff with mahogany :)

 

Bo

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Wait until you go on a bahamas shark trip, and see your average skyrocket to insane numbers :) Ive filled up a 16GB card in 1 day on one of those trips.

 

Normally i take anywhere from 0 to maybe 50-75 images per dive. Rarely more. As you get more experienced and have a larger portfolio of good shots you become more critical of the type of images you want.

 

I dont really agree with the 'more is better' idea. Quality is more important than quantity, and I dont think just shooting more is a good strategy. Take your time, think for a bit about what you want, and then try and shoot the image you imagined.

 

Cor

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I tend to agree with Cor's comments above -- the more good shots you already have in the bag the less willing you are to take multiple shots of that "whatever you have a lot of in your area" fish/critter.

 

Don't, however, be hesitant to pull the trigger early and often when something unusual is happening in the water . . . even if it's only unusual to you.

 

The best advice handed out at last year's Kona Classic by the photo pros was "Get closer, shoot more".

 

Advice which resulted in an "honorable mention" photo during a night dive of a squid eating an arc-eyed hawk fish. The photographer didn't even know he had the shot until reviewing the shots on his computer that night. A shot that wouldn't have happened had he waited until he could "see" the shot completely.

 

As for the pros diving the Kona Classic? Jim Watt came up with 230-ish on the same dive I shot 50 or so. David Fleetham and Marty Snyderman seemed to routinely be in the hundreds of shots per dive also.

Edited by TonySuber

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At the beginning, my CF card was the limiting factor, then I bought a 4GB and started shooting like crazy, sometimes 400 shots in one dive. Then I realized that I was spending way too much time deleting bad shots in my computer, so now I try to think the pictures...take the pictures as if I was using a roll of film, as if it wasn't unlimited...

I am happier this way...my pictures are turning better (I think) because I pay more attention to them.

Now maybe my average is around 50-60 per dive. (well, not in the last trip to Wolf and Darwin...way too many sharks)

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HI,

this is quite a interesting thread, I find its a matter of what life is in the water, some waters

like the med I have found that you need to look harder to find subject matter. So I may not

take as many images as lets say the Red Sea. But saying that when I find interesting subjects

I take between 30/60. On the liveboards I have been on I have shot between 1000/1300 images

which converts to about 200/250 a day 3 dives so about 80 per dive.

Andy :D:D:D

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Alex really sums it up....it all depends. I have shot 0, nada, zip on many dives and filled up 300 images on other dives. In California where I do most of my diving, for example, I am finding that I now only really shoot something that is unique or a setup I have in mind. I don't focus on garibaldi anymore, I don't jump in a fill a card on kelp beds anymore, I don't shoot sheephead anymore, I don't get all giddy anymore. Why? I have been diving California since 1976 and unless there is something that can enhance my portfolio, I don't need more of these images. Fast forward to Indonesia. I darn near filled a card every 1-2 dives. Why? It's not my backyard, it's new and I wanted to get all I could before I left.

 

Joe

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I take on a normal dive 50 - 90 frames if some thing is happening or a set up is going on it can be 250 plus

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I normally only shoot with a 1 gig card for speed so if im shooting large file sizes, which I do, It just has to be less than 100ish...

 

however, If I'm set to shoot wide angle I'll usually come back with less than 30 as theres not a whole lot of chance to mess with the shot (plus theres not a whole lot of wide angle to be had when your average vis is less than 15 feet).

 

for that reason I normally shoot macro, where depending on location, time and conditions I'll shoot between 30 and 60ish depending on species. Things like nudies and anemonies I like to play around, change my focus, lighting, angle, framing and I can come back with 5 or 6 shots of the same thing all slightly different. theres always 1 or 2 that are bad due to focus, conditions etc, and then 3 more that I cant decide which I like best (and occationally the one that I ask myself what I was thinking when I took it).

 

on some of the local shallow rock reefs however, I can end up doing a 2 hour dive and almost filling up my card.

 

 

then theres also the friends and family aspect:

 

sometimes when I shoot (particularily someplace new), Im not always thinking in the photographers mind. A lot of times I can come back with 60 shots and 2 of them be intended to look good. the rest just pictures to show off to non divers...like when you go on vacation and play tourist...

 

why? well you can dive for photography and dive for fun, but when you mix them, sometimes you miss a lot. If your shooting wide angle your less likley to stop and look at the smaller stuff and when your shooting macro you dont always step back and look at the whole picture...we all need days off...

 

 

 

So in the end, I suppose it all depends on my mind set...30-60 is about average to me...

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