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Sandfordb

My first shots - Macro and CFWA help and advice needed

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Hi everyone,

 

Finally I have the confidence to post up some of my pictures from my recent trip to St Lucia. This is my first proper attempt at underwater photography and I am looking to improve and learn from all of the amazing photographers on this forum.

 

I attempted a mixture of macro, super macro (failed miserably so no pictures) and close focus wide angle shots on my dives.

 

I found macro to be the easiest to get right, or rather get it to a point where I was happy with the outcome, but I really struggled getting good CFWA shots, no matter where I put the strobes or what settings I changed on the camera, I just could not get the exposure correct. I resorted to colour correction in post which I don't really like doing.

 

I'd really appreciate some feedback and constructive criticism on how I can improve.

 

My set up is as follows;

 

Canon 5DIV

Nauticam housing

Nauticam macro port

Zen mini dome port

2 x Ikelite DS160

2 x Ikelite dome diffusers (for CFWA)

Canon 100mm f/2.8L macro

Canon 8mm-15mm f/4L fisheye

 

Warning some of these shots are pretty poor, but I wanted to give you idea of where I was struggling :)

 

post-56322-0-89499900-1487714655_thumb.jpg

 

post-56322-0-36935500-1487714708_thumb.jpg

Edited by Sandfordb

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Apologies, I am not sure how to post multiply pictures on one thread so will need to post pictures on individual replies.

 

post-56322-0-31468400-1487714878_thumb.jpg

 

post-56322-0-95246200-1487714902_thumb.jpg

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Not bad for an early outing! Lots to be happy about.

 

You don't say how you are controlling your strobes - manual or TTL? That will make a big difference in the advice people offer.

 

Your macro shots are pretty good. They do have a sort of "floodlit" look to them though, I'd suggest trying to use the edges of your strobe lights or even turn one off (or way down) some of the time to add more shadow textures and dimensionality.

 

For the WA shots, first you need to expose for ambient light, then use the strobes to highlight part of the scene. Your first example is a good one, but (assuming the original was shot as a vertical) it looks like the bottom strobe was much closer to the reef than was the top strobe. It's very easy to make this mistake when shooting upward toward the surface. The strobes should be in a plane parallel to the subject you are lighting - in this case pull the bottom one back and push the top one forward. Unless the strobes are evenly distanced from the subject, this is what happens. I have many such examples myself!

 

The other two WA shots look like you were just too far away. There is some illumination at the bottom but little to none at the top. Light falls off very quickly underwater. Also, if you're using TTL, it is very hard to get right for these kind of shots, and you're better off going manual.

 

I'd recommend Alex Mustard's recent book, as its the most user-friendly explanation I have found for strobe placement. Martin Edge's book is also very good. Here are a few other web resources:

 

http://www.uwphotographyguide.com/underwater-photography-lighting

 

http://www.divephotoguide.com/underwater-photography-techniques/category/underwater-photography-lighting-guide/

 

https://www.opticaloceansales.com/files/OOS-Strobe-Positioning.pdf

Edited by troporobo
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I shoot a very similar setup, except it's a 5DIII and a Sigma 15mm fisheye. One of the first things I worked on with CFWA shooting was dialing in proper exposure of the ambient light to get the blue water color I wanted for the scene. Obviously as you move up and down during the dive, and sunlight conditions change, you're going to need to change your shutter speed to keep control of the exposure. If you take your posted wide examples, I'd say regarding the ambient exposure 1 is under, 1 is over, and 1 (to my taste) is just a little under. However, most of your foreground/subject is being missed by your strobes, so either your strobe positioning is off or you're too far away.

 

The easiest strobe position to start with is "10 and 2", generally just pointing them straight ahead, parallel to the lens barrel. That should get pretty good coverage of your foreground and thanks to the angle of the light coming from the strobe, should still avoid hitting particulate between lens and subject. Once you get comfortable with properly exposing the scene you can begin playing around with strobe positioning to add dimensionality to the light. Also, with CFWA, you really need to get the lens close, probably a lot closer than you think if you've never used it before. Keep in mind that your lens is focusing on a virtual image when using a dome port and not the scene itself, so when getting close your main concern is bumping the port or, more importantly, bumping the reef.

 

I would also recommend Martin Edge's book. It's very well suited to a beginner and it's chock full of information.

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I shoot a very similar setup, except it's a 5DIII and a Sigma 15mm fisheye. One of the first things I worked on with CFWA shooting was dialing in proper exposure of the ambient light to get the blue water color I wanted for the scene. Obviously as you move up and down during the dive, and sunlight conditions change, you're going to need to change your shutter speed to keep control of the exposure. If you take your posted wide examples, I'd say regarding the ambient exposure 1 is under, 1 is over, and 1 (to my taste) is just a little under. However, most of your foreground/subject is being missed by your strobes, so either your strobe positioning is off or you're too far away.

 

The easiest strobe position to start with is "10 and 2", generally just pointing them straight ahead, parallel to the lens barrel. That should get pretty good coverage of your foreground and thanks to the angle of the light coming from the strobe, should still avoid hitting particulate between lens and subject. Once you get comfortable with properly exposing the scene you can begin playing around with strobe positioning to add dimensionality to the light. Also, with CFWA, you really need to get the lens close, probably a lot closer than you think if you've never used it before. Keep in mind that your lens is focusing on a virtual image when using a dome port and not the scene itself, so when getting close your main concern is bumping the port or, more importantly, bumping the reef.

 

I would also recommend Martin Edge's book. It's very well suited to a beginner and it's chock full of information.

 

 

Not bad for an early outing! Lots to be happy about.

 

You don't say how you are controlling your strobes - manual or TTL? That will make a big difference in the advice people offer.

 

Your macro shots are pretty good. They do have a sort of "floodlit" look to them though, I'd suggest trying to use the edges of your strobe lights or even turn one off (or way down) some of the time to add more shadow textures and dimensionality.

 

For the WA shots, first you need to expose for ambient light, then use the strobes to highlight part of the scene. Your first example is a good one, but (assuming the original was shot as a vertical) it looks like the bottom strobe was much closer to the reef than was the top strobe. It's very easy to make this mistake when shooting upward toward the surface. The strobes should be in a plane parallel to the subject you are lighting - in this case pull the bottom one back and push the top one forward. Unless the strobes are evenly distanced from the subject, this is what happens. I have many such examples myself!

 

The other two WA shots look like you were just too far away. There is some illumination at the bottom but little to none at the top. Light falls off very quickly underwater. Also, if you're using TTL, it is very hard to get right for these kind of shots, and you're better off going manual.

 

I'd recommend Alex Mustard's recent book, as its the most user-friendly explanation I have found for strobe placement. Martin Edge's book is also very good. Here are a few other web resources:

 

http://www.uwphotographyguide.com/underwater-photography-lighting

 

http://www.divephotoguide.com/underwater-photography-techniques/category/underwater-photography-lighting-guide/

 

https://www.opticaloceansales.com/files/OOS-Strobe-Positioning.pdf

 

Thank you for all of your help guys!

 

I was shooting with the strobes on manual and had them dialled down half a stop. The WA pictures were all shot at 1/25 sec and mostly at f8 and occasionally f18 (I think that may have been accidental as I don't remember changing it to that setting) also ISO was at 100.

 

As for positioning I tried the 10 and 2 position when in landscape mode with the strobes pointing out slightly and got some ok results but for the attached pictures I had them at 12 and 6 with the bottom strobe pointed slightly up. I also tried the strobes at a 9 and 3 position slightly back from the housing facing the handles. In a pool session this worked really well but in the field I didn't have much luck at all, it think it was most likely down to not being close enough as you both mentioned. I was generally 12" from the subject each time I took a picture. Would you get closer still?

 

Also for these pictures Troporobo has made a good point, in my efforts to get the sun in the shot I was tilting the camera up slightly without readjusting the strobes.

 

Thanks for the recommendations and the links I have both books and have been reading them as I go, sort of as a reference book.

 

Many thanks again, you have already given me lots to think about for my next dive

 

Ben

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