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How to get black backgrounds during the day, on sandy bottoms

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echeng111112_080310.jpg

 

I wanted to illustrate how moving lower and re-positioning strobes can affect how an underwater macro shot turns out. When you have a willing subject (i.e., a subject that doesn't move quickly), you have the opportunity to perfect your lighting. In the image on the left (one of my first attempts), the background is lit by light from my 2 strobes. In order to knock out the background, I repositioned my strobes so they were pointing *in*, towards my camera. This goes against everything underwater photographers are taught, but if the water is clear enough and your subject close enough, it will not create enough backscatter to be a problem. With strobes pointing more or less inward, you are using the outer falloff of each strobe to light your subject. No light reaches the background reef or sand. If you shoot with a fast shutter speed, low ISO, and small-ish aperture (in this case: 1/250s, f/9, ISO 160), your background is probably going to be completely black. For dramatic effect, get lower, so the shot is taken from the same level as the subject. A 45-degree viewfinder helps to make this possible; there is no reason to create neck problems by trying to use a 180-degree viewfinder. :D

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For inward lighting techniques in a less than particulate free water column (like we have in the UK) I've been experimenting with collimated light from my Z-240s.

 

Try these or similar ducting products

 

http://www.wickes.co.uk/male-flexible-roun...or/invt/713031/

http://www.wickes.co.uk/female-adaptor-rou...le/invt/713040/

 

The round hose connector is a secure fit on a Z-240 and provides a mount for the rectangle ducting

 

HTH, Tim

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post-2-1323155122.jpg

 

I wanted to illustrate how moving lower and re-positioning strobes can affect how an underwater macro shot turns out. When you have a willing subject (i.e., a subject that doesn't move quickly), you have the opportunity to perfect your lighting. In the image on the left (one of my first attempts), the background is lit by light from my 2 strobes. In order to knock out the background, I repositioned my strobes so they were pointing *in*, towards my camera. This goes against everything underwater photographers are taught, but if the water is clear enough and your subject close enough, it will not create enough backscatter to be a problem. With strobes pointing more or less inward, you are using the outer falloff of each strobe to light your subject. No light reaches the background reef or sand. If you shoot with a fast shutter speed, low ISO, and small-ish aperture (in this case: 1/250s, f/9, ISO 160), your background is probably going to be completely black. For dramatic effect, get lower, so the shot is taken from the same level as the subject. A 45-degree viewfinder helps to make this possible; there is no reason to create neck problems by trying to use a 180-degree viewfinder. :D

Eric, very nice that is a non-intuitive but very useful technique. We need to send this to the guys submitting highly photoshopped pictures to the competitions.

Bill

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A clever technique, I wonder if this could be applied to tight shots on video as well. Hmmm

Steve

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Wow ! that must be the most colorful nudi i've seen . Do you have the sp. name ?

 

JA

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Thanks

 

I saw the album , GREAT images as usual !!

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post-2-1323155122.jpg

 

I wanted to illustrate how moving lower and re-positioning strobes can affect how an underwater macro shot turns out. When you have a willing subject (i.e., a subject that doesn't move quickly), you have the opportunity to perfect your lighting. In the image on the left (one of my first attempts), the background is lit by light from my 2 strobes. In order to knock out the background, I repositioned my strobes so they were pointing *in*, towards my camera. This goes against everything underwater photographers are taught, but if the water is clear enough and your subject close enough, it will not create enough backscatter to be a problem. With strobes pointing more or less inward, you are using the outer falloff of each strobe to light your subject. No light reaches the background reef or sand. If you shoot with a fast shutter speed, low ISO, and small-ish aperture (in this case: 1/250s, f/9, ISO 160), your background is probably going to be completely black. For dramatic effect, get lower, so the shot is taken from the same level as the subject. A 45-degree viewfinder helps to make this possible; there is no reason to create neck problems by trying to use a 180-degree viewfinder. :)

Eric:

How long are your strobe arms for doing this.

thanks

Bill

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I'm gonna hurt my neck (I have an 180 degree Inon viewfinder) but I gotta try this idea and compare it to a snoot treatment. I will be in Magic Island (Moalboal) in a week and there is a nice house reef to experiment with these kinky ideas. Last time I located something that looked like a Painted Elysia on this reef but against a sand background the picture was trash. Thanks.

 

Tom

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