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Starting to get a handle on sunballs

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I havent had time but to look at a few of this weeks photos but I'm very happy with how my sunballs have been coming out.

 

I'll add more later when I get a chance to process them.

 

Sun.jpg

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Hi William,

 

the sunball loks good but the flash position was off.

 

Can you please post the camera settings son this shoot, that was we can learn

how to archieve such an sunball.

 

I am heading to egypt next month and sunballs are subject I plan to train...

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Can you please post the camera settings son this shoot, that was we can learn

how to archieve such an sunball.

 

 

It's in the EXIF, 1/320 F/18.

 

I agree with Chris. Nice sun exposure!

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Hi William,

 

the sunball loks good but the flash position was off.

 

Can you please post the camera settings son this shoot, that was we can learn

how to archieve such an sunball.

 

I am heading to egypt next month and sunballs are subject I plan to train...

 

The darkness on the left side of that first shot is a combination of shutter shadow (the darkness on the sea wip on the left) and the shadowing by the 3D'ness of the subject and having both strobes on the same side of the subject. (this is intentional, I'll post more on strobe positioning later)

 

To use 1/320 I need to make sure the strobe lit subject is not in the bottom 1/5th of the frame. The last photo I posted shows the shutter shaddow effect more clearly. I dont mind the shutter shaddow to much but I do need to make more of an effort to leave some negative space there.

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What did I do?

 

Well I was in 25 ft of water on a day that had better than average visability (for the keys average is about 30 ft. so the vis still wasnt that great)

 

I have nothing really new to say about shutter speed, for sunballs the faster the shutter speed the better.

 

1/320th (causes shutter shadow on the bottem 1/5th of the frame) This ammout of shaddowning doesnt bother me much so I used it for most of the shots or

1/250th (no shutter shadow)

 

With my pair of DS-125's at full power normally I use F/8 to get proper exposure for WA with diffusers and each strobe to the side and pointing slightly out. BUT F/8 will totally overexpose the sun.

 

So I needed to find a way to get more out of my strobes.

 

I use F/16 to get proper exposure for macro with no diffusers and both strobe pointed directly at the subject and the subject to strobe distance about 1 ft. This was my inspiration.

 

First I loose the diffusers. I then position the stobes so they both point directly a subject that is 1 ft away and in the bottom half of the frame(the camera is rotated sideways so bottom is really right or left from the camera's point of view). (I am limited subjects are limited to small enough they fit in the frame and leave room for the sun when the camera is only 1 ft away) The strobes are as far forward as possible without showing up in the picture. The stobes are pointed toward the bottom half of the frame.

 

With this stobe positioning I can get proper exposure at F/14 or F/16. But this still isnt really enough So I bump it up to F/18.

 

So my final settings are F/18 and 1/320th second

 

The picutures come out of the camera with the subject underexposed and the sun over exposed. Just perfect...

 

Then in RAW conversion I boost the exposure so that the strobe lit subject is exposed corectly (usually about 1 stop) and export it to photoshop as a 16 bit file. The 16 bit part is important because if you dont do your processing in 16 bit you cant save the sunball.

 

Now the sun appears very over exposed but it isnt as bad as it looks. The raw was only 12 bit so even though I pushed the exposure up (usually about 1 stop) by working in 16 bit mode no additional clipping is caused by increasing the exposure in raw conversion.

 

I then used shadow / highlight recovery tool with shadow set to 0 and highlight set to 60, 30, 40.

 

Finally I adjust the hue/saturation of cyan to 7, 0, -7 to get a nice blue water.

 

Finally I sharpen and then convert back to 8bit before saving as a JPG.

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I can't see them

 

JPG compression artifacts were killing the stripes in the sunburst so I had to save them as big (200kb) files. If you dont have broadband your computer may be giving up on them before they download.

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William, you developed quite an interesting technique!

 

I guess with my "little" DS-50 I have no chance at trying this. Not enough power to light

an object on those settings.

 

Actually the shutter shadow bothers me quite a lot. I will try to get some results with

1/250 when I am in the water again. Had you any success with a slower setting?

 

At Bali my best sunballimage was the attached image. But it was just "a shoot" and not

part of serious tries to get the best result at a sunball. 1/100 @ f11 ISO200 @ appr. 5m

depth. Your shoots are far advanced and "crisper" with more natural colours.

post-240-1124918208_thumb.jpg

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William, you developed quite an interesting technique!

 

Actually the shutter shadow bothers me quite a lot. I will try to get some results with

1/250 when I am in the water again. Had you any success with a slower setting?

 

 

Yes I have gotten good results with 1/320 & F/16 so 1/250th & F/18 should work but I havent tryed it. I flooded one of my strobes so I wont be able to give it a try untill I get that fixed.

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No broadband here....i get about the top 1/10th of about 4 shots, just enough to see the top of the sunbursts....

 

Nice description of your methods, exactly what i do, minus the shadow/highlight tool, perhaps i should try that? Haven't used it before...

 

As HErb and i were lamenting about on some other thread our strobes just not powerful enough for the CFWA at times, best to make those shots early morning so you can still overpower the sun.

 

Sooo, now that you have flooded a strobe, time to go out and buy one of those really powerful Subtronics so you don't have that problem, got a spare 2K? :)

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No broadband here....i get about the top 1/10th of about 4 shots, just enough to see the top of the sunbursts....

 

I do have broadband, but I am getting the same results as above.

 

On a side note, I always get this backscatter on my photos from the Keys, even in fish portraits. I guess the backscatter in Florida is more reflective! :)

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Ok, now I see them, after hitting refresh on the browser a few times. Here is one that I took with the D2x:

 

gorgonia2.jpg

 

16mm fisheye lens, ISO 100, 1/125, f13, at approx. 30ft deep.

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Ok, now I see them, after hitting refresh on the browser a few times. Here is one that I took with the D2x:

 

16mm fisheye lens, ISO 100, 1/125, f13, at approx. 30ft deep.

 

Nice shot, but the sunball is not in the frame...Thats when it gets difficult when the whole sunball is in the frame.

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No broadband here....i get about the top 1/10th of about 4 shots, just enough to see the top of the sunbursts....

 

Nice description of your methods, exactly what i do, minus the shadow/highlight tool, perhaps i should try that?  Haven't used it before...

 

As HErb and i were lamenting about on some other thread our strobes just not powerful enough for the CFWA at times, best to make those shots early morning so you can still overpower the sun.

 

Sooo, now that you have flooded a strobe, time to go out and buy one of those really powerful Subtronics so you don't have that problem, got a spare 2K?  :)

 

Yes I love the highlighlight tool. Unlike the shadow recovery it does not introduce noise. You have to be carefull though if your sunball is too overexposed or you go to strong on the highlight recovery it can make the clipped area's stand out even more.

 

No I dont have a spare 2K. Actually I think that all I really need is another battery pack. I didnt think the front half of a DS-125 was water proof but minus the rusty battery contacts the strobe seems to work fine when I put my other battery pack on it.

 

I was planning on fabricating a graduated neutral density filter to my kit this july but I never got around to it.

 

Ok, here are low bandwith versions for Mike and all of the other dial-up users

 

http://www.web.willandsam.com/sun-s-1.jpg

http://www.web.willandsam.com/sun-s-2.jpg

http://www.web.willandsam.com/sun-s-3.jpg

http://www.web.willandsam.com/sun-s-4.jpg

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I was planning on fabricating a graduated neutral density filter to my kit this july but I never got around to it.

 

 

 

The problem with a ND filter is that it cuts your strobe light as much as it does sun light which leaves you no better off than just reducing aperture. A gradient filter with a way to rotated like the one they're selling at Backscatter will help, but I think they only have it for one housing and lens, and it's too much trouble.

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JPG compression artifacts were killing the stripes in the sunburst so I had to save them as big (200kb) files.  If you dont have broadband your computer may be giving up on them before they download.

 

Ok now I see them, don't no what the problem was. Great capture of the sunball.

Your workflow is a great example of digital power.

 

I will certainly keep this in mind.

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I was planning on fabricating a graduated neutral density filter to my kit this july but I never got around to it.

 

The problem with a ND filter is that it cuts your strobe light as much as it does sun light which leaves you no better off than just reducing aperture. A gradient filter with a way to rotated like the one they're selling at Backscatter will help, but I think they only have it for one housing and lens, and it's too much trouble.

 

Yep, that's what I was planing on doing, copying the backscatter one. It should be very easy to glue a filter to an Ikelite zoom gear. The hardest part has been finding a ruler and the time to measure the diameter of the gear to find out what size of filter to use. :)

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I have to say, while you captured the sunrays (and your thread should be titled w/ 'sunbursts', not just 'sunballs') well in each of the photos you posted, that especially in the second, third, and fourth examples you should be more than careful with the use of the Shadows/Highlights recovery tool, as they work to introduce the varied grey-cyan circular banding around the sun that is so noticeable. This is a result of the computer trying to interpolate from photosite data that really is not there (overexposed), even though it seems to be.

 

The clearest solution for sunbursts (to reduce the possibility of having to make major adjustments that introduce this effect) is in fact to expose for the situation and not have to rely on computer manipulations. Often the banding will still exist in some lessened form, but it will not transition through as many as three different color ranges (each with their own range of banding) before reaching the white middle of the burst.

 

Just something to think about...

 

~Matt Segal

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I have to say, while you captured the sunrays (and your thread should be titled w/ 'sunbursts', not just 'sunballs') well in each of the photos you posted, that especially in the second, third, and fourth examples you should be more than careful with the use of the Shadows/Highlights recovery tool, as they work to introduce the varied grey-cyan circular banding around the sun that is so noticeable. This is a result of the computer trying to interpolate from photosite data that really is not there (overexposed), even though it seems to be.

 

The clearest solution for sunbursts (to reduce the possibility of having to make major adjustments that introduce this effect) is in fact to expose for the situation and not have to rely on computer manipulations. Often the banding will still exist in some lessened form, but it will not transition through as many as three different color ranges (each with their own range of banding) before reaching the white middle of the burst.

 

Just something to think about...

 

~Matt Segal

 

Matt, I hate to admit it but I didnt get the point of your post?

 

I agree that if you try to recover where there is clipping, the hightlight tool leaves some nasty artifacts. Were you saying be carefull of this, or that you see this in the shots I posted?

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I think he is saying both, that he is seing it on the three photos of your second post and that you shouldn't use it too much. I do see a cyan halo around the sun of the first picture of the second post, but I am not experienced enough in Photoshop to say that it is due to the shadow/highlight tool or just because it was captured like that.

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I think that these are good sunbursts. Small sunball and good rays.

 

The only critique I have is that your intermediate between white and dark blue is not light blue, but grey. I presume that this is what Matt is refering too:

 

sun-s-3.jpg

 

I think that these images would be excellent if the transition was white - light blue - mid blue - dark blue, with no grey!

 

Alex

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I think that these are good sunbursts. Small sunball and good rays.

 

The only critique I have is that your intermediate between white and dark blue is not light blue, but grey. I presume that this is what Matt is refering too:

 

 

I think that these images would be excellent if the transition was white - light blue - mid blue - dark blue, with no grey!

 

Alex

 

Ok, I dont know what was wrong with my eyes or but I now see what you guys are talking about, it is rather obvious now, I dont know why I couldnt see it before.

 

I'll see what I can do about it.

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Ok, another attempt. Biggest change in processing is in the colour settings during raw conversion.

 

sun-re.jpg

 

sun-re2.jpg

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The first looks a little better, but the second is just as bad (we're referring to sunball specifically here) as it was previously.

 

~Matt Segal

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