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Alex_Mustard

High ISO under the spotlight in Lembeh

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After a few days down exploring and photographing an undeveloped diving area called Buyat Bay in North Sulawesi with a team from Lembeh Resort I am now up and running with my group here in Lembeh. And as usual its critter-tastic. (BTW I hope to write up the Buyat Bay trip for Jason on DPG before I got to Roger's Armpit in a week).

 

I got my D700 last year because I wanted a camera with different strengths to my D2X. Personally I think that the D300 is arguably a better all round underwater camera than the D700, although not by much. But the D300 is so similar to the D2X that I felt the D700 was a more useful team-mate. Different strengths - hopefully allowing me to take types of underwater images I could not with the D2X. Prominent among the D700's strengths is its high ISO capability - which in terms of noise means ISO 800 for free and ISO 1600 must be pixel peeped to spot the differences with base ISO. ISO 1600 is better than ISO 250 on the D2X!

 

That said, I have often struggled to find justifiable uses for high ISO when shooting underwater (I have used FX Nikons as my main underwater system on 6 trips so far: Vancouver Island, California, Mexico, Egypt, Cayman Islands and now Indonesia).

 

Anyway, I consider bumping to ISO 800 a free move (noise-wise at least - I see less dynamic range than at ISO 200) so I thought I'd have a go this afternoon at some different critter shots with ISO 800. All taken with D700 + 60mm AFS at ISO 800. No strobes - used a torch instead - kindly aimed by dive guide Erwin. After some trial and much error we started to find images that worked. Surprisingly Auto WB produced the best results - setting the WB to the K of the torch didn't do a good job.

 

I am pleased to have produced something different - particularly as the image quality is not compromised. These files will print as large as required. Do folks like them? I hope that the pictures appear to everyone - they are linked from Facebook (which I have not tried before).

 

2188_3420192890009736528_7768_n.jpg

Wonderpus. 1/160th @ F10. ISO 800.

 

2188_3420192890009736522_1215_n.jpg

Nudi on leaf. 1/160th @ F13. ISO 800.

 

2188_3420192890009736502_2668_n.jpg

Hermit. 1/160th @ F9. ISO 800.

 

Alex

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They look great, the spot light is not too red. Did you do much post processing?

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I like these. I'm guessing that the torch had a hot spot and that's why you're getting the spot-light effect. The high ISO capabilities of the G700 make the use of continuous light sources an interesting possibility. A few years ago I tried using a L&M Mod Light with an Olympus 5060 and got some encouraging results but then the Mod Light died and I never replaced it with anything comparable.

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Cool stuff. Could bode well for the 5D MkII underwater. Being able to up the ISO like this could be very handy if I'm shooting video with lights and want to snap the odd still. I've just converted my housing from the original 5D so will hopefully test it out underwater next week. :)

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Spotlight photography makes the subject really stand out.

 

What ligt did you use?

 

 

Love the wonderpus... amazing animals :)

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I like the effect best on the octopus. maybe your snoot could give you a similar effect

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I like them all. Is that the snoot in action?

Edited by BotSO

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I like the spotlight effect as well. The Wonderpus makes me wonder (sorry :) ) how the shots would look on a night dive with no ambient light.

Edited by randapex

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Randapex said exactly what I've been thinking - saw these shots on your Facebook page this am, but was in a hurry and didn't have time to really look 'em over. (Now that I'm at work, of course, time is abundant.... :) ) Presume there'd be even more contrast, which could really give you some cool results if the light was perfectly placed...

 

As for these, I really like the "spot" under the nudibranch - but you know what a nudi freak I am. I can't stay away, they're just so pretty....

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I like the spotlight effect as well. The Wonderpus makes me wonder (sorry :) ) how the shots would look on a night dive with no ambient light.

 

Probably something like this

post-59-1234560316.jpg

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Very interesting effect, which seems to have worked quite well with the octopus especially.

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Excellent shots, Alex. I really like 1st and 2nd shots very much... The colors on the 2nd one is awesome!

 

Ed.

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I think the nudi is terrific. The others look too much like a video frame grab shot with failing halogen light. I think the darker background looks better and I'd like to see whiter foreground lighting. Herb's manipulation is interesting.

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you see this sort of style a lot with compact camera shooters who use lights as opposed to strobes. you have done it better though:)

 

The backlit leaf is very interesting.

 

I think this would work very well at night like Herb's edit..

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I think the nudi is terrific. The others look too much like a video frame grab shot with failing halogen light.
I Agree with you, the Nudi us my favourite, I think the wonderpuss is grabbing attention mostly due to the subject not the technique. I do disagree about the video frame grab with failing lights.

 

This reminds me of a dusk or twilight dive, the effect is almost perfectly capturing what you see with your eye. It's not dark you can sort of see your surroundings, but with no details the only things that stand out no matter how hard you try are the things in your spotlight.

 

Does this mean that you will now be asking all your friends you dive with to be holding a damn flashlight now ?

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Does this mean that you will now be asking all your friends you dive with to be holding a damn flashlight now ?

 

Only the new moderators I'm sure....sort of a hazing ... if you will.

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As I have posted more of my Lembeh shots on my website now I thought I'd share a few more with this technique.

 

These are a couple more of the wonderpus from the same series:

 

LMB09_03.jpg

 

LMB09_19.jpg

 

The first one is more backlit.

 

Alex

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Great shots as usual, Alex. I was toying with the idea of getting one for use in natural light but worried that natural light might be a bit flat and samey. Now you've cost me money, yet again!

 

JB

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Cool Alex. As you know I'm pretty psyched about the high ISO thing, even under water. I just think it opens up new possibilities and ideas; some, like this one, we may not have even thought of before.

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Thanks guys.

 

I agree with you Jeff, that there are plenty of ops for new types of images from high ISO. Like there are from any advancement in camera technology, from image stabilisation lenses to better AF.

 

Shooting with a torch for light is nothing new. Heck there 100s of compact shooters who do it on every dive. We also used to try it on film - but since the torches back then were always yellow/tungsten and film had a fixed white balance it wasn't great unless you wanted orange pictures, plus the ISO 400 slide film was super-grainy! I have some shots somewhere which aren't a patch on these! I certainly think that the latest cameras enable this to be technique that no longer means compromise (on either colour and image quality), which is when it really becomes exciting.

 

Alex

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As I have posted more of my Lembeh shots on my website now I thought I'd share a few more with this technique.

 

These are a couple more of the wonderpus from the same series:

 

LMB09_03.jpg

 

LMB09_19.jpg

 

The first one is more backlit.

 

Alex

 

With my 'empty-glass' input :) i think the 2nd looks like it was set up in a studio with a model 'wonderpus' and not underwater at all... Lovely pic Alex... The first looks like a shot anyone (apart from me :) ) could have taken on a compact...

 

I just love it when people experiment :bye:

 

Dive safe

 

DeanB

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#2 is an amazing capture and photo.

is it possible to put a crop of the photo just to see the quality of the high ISO?

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Hi Ilan,

 

This is the best I can do quickly - have Eli hassling me for text for Wetpixel Quarterly due today!

 

This is a crop of this image:

LMB09_49.jpg

 

I chose this one, because it was already processed. But I have to say that it is not completely sharp (the other , so don't judge that judge more the detail and noise characteristics of the file - I have tried to include areas of highlight, mid tone and shadow. This image has also been up-rezzed to my standard delivery size (300x450mm @ 300dpi - approximately 19 MegaPixel or 54MB in 8bit).

 

LMB09_am-10746.jpg

 

Alex

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Hi Alex,

I think the octopus is amazing as it remains sharp, has a nice DOF and colour balance in both foreground+background! I think shooting HIGH-ISO is quite a bit 'unspoken' as people are used to fire at will, "Strobe Power!"... Anyway thanks for inspiring again. :)

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