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Photo Tips


Exposure Underwater is specialists and supplier of equipment for UW-photography. Scuba Travel has the honour to work together with Exposure Underwater and each month they will give you a valuable photo lesson to help you take wonderful photos on your dive trips. You will find all these photo tips on this page. Further down on this page you will also find a special offer from Exposure Underwater. A offer that will change once a month and where you will be able to buy photographer products to special rates.

To contact Exposure Underwater call +46 40 18 62 62 or email info@exposureunderwater.com and check out www.exposureunderwater.com

Photo Tip 9 (Swedish text): O-ringsunderhåll - ett nödvändigt ont

Efter att jag har undervisat elever i undervattensfotografering i mer än 20 år inser jag att de flesta känner sig mycket osäkra på hur de skall hantera o-ringar på bästa sätt. Här kommer en kort guide på bra tillvägagångssätt som hjälper dig att hålla kameran torr och hel.

Två kategorier
De flesta undervattenshus, blixtar eller uv-fototillbehör är utrustade med ett stort antal o-ringar som gör att prylarna är vattentäta. O-ringarna kan delas upp i två olika kategorier. 1) O-ringar som användare sköter själv. 2) O-ringar som endast byts ut vid en eventuell service av en service tekniker. Den här guiden handlar uteslutande om o-ringar som användaren sköter själv.


Den stora o-ringen på ett DSLR UV-hus. 


Lagom är bäst
När du fettar in dina o-ringar skall du undvika att ta på alltför mycket fett. Det är lagom som gäller. När o-ringen är glansig och hal är det ett bra tecken och använd alltid det o-ringsfettet som tillverkaren rekommenderar.


Silikonfett på tub med blå kork för Sea&Seas blå o-ringar. 


Inför resan

Inför en kommande dykresa bör du gå igenom alla dina o-ringar och syna dem i bra belysning. Om en o-ring är skadad byt ut den direkt. Se samtidigt till att du har ett komplett set med back-up o-ringar och tillräckligt med o-ringsfett med dig på resan. Med extra o-ringar i bagaget kan du ju alltid byta ut en skadad o-ring på resande fot och dyka vidare med din kamera.

Inför dyk
Om du inte använder huset dagligen går du alltid igenom alla o-ringar i god tid, helst kvällen innan ditt/dina dyk. Genom att göra prepareringen av din undervattenskamera i lugn och ro, utan stress i bra belysning så har du trollat bort 90% av dina möjliga problem. Du avlägsnar o-ringarna med en o-ringsbortagare för att inte skada o-ringsspåret eller o-ringarna. Gör rent o-ringsspåret, kolla att o-ringen är hel och ren och fetta in den med ett tunt lager fett. Är o-ringen statiskt laddad sköljer du den i vatten, torkar den och fettar in den igen.


Ett exempel på hur en o-ringsbortagare kan se ut. 


Om du dyker flera dyk efter varandra, eller flera dagar efter varandra, så räcker det att du gör rent de o-ringarna där du bryter en tätning på alla följande dyk. Till exempel om du byter batterier i blixtarna – då gör du rent och fettar in de o-ringarna igen. Byter du port på UV-huset mellan dyken - då gör du rent den o-ringen och dess spår.

Storstädning

Om du dyker mer än en vecka i följd, typ på en dykresa, då bör du bryta ner hela kamerasystemet efter en vecka och göra vid alla o-ringarna för att få bort saltavlagringar, sand och sediment som samlas på olika ställen. Dyker du i en sedimentrik miljö skall du storstäda ännu oftare.

Efter resan
Efter ett större antal dyk är det bra att låta UV-riggen (ihopsatt som inför ett dyk) få ta ett ljummet bad i badkaret då alla knappar gymnastiseras ordentligt för att skölja ur så mycket som möjligt av saltavlagringar, sand och sediment. Glöm inte att ”gymnastisera” dina knappar även på daglig basis i sköljkaret på båten eller dykcentret. Om du inte skall använda utrustningen på länge kan du ta ut o-ringarna och lägga dem infettade i en ziplockpåse så håller de formen bättre till nästa gång du skall dyka. Men dyker du regelbundet sitter de bäst på sin plats.


Ikelites UV-hus med ett extra o-ringskit. 

Kom ihåg alla ta hand om alla dina o-ringar som till exempel på blixtkablar, lock till kabelingångar, portar, batterilock eller på din dyk- eller fokuslampa.


Magnus Lundgren
www.exposureunderwater.com

Photo tip 8 (Swedish text): Två fundamentala fototips för dykresan


Fototips under dykresan (photo by magnuslundgren.com). 


Den ”viktigaste” bilden
När du monterar in kameran i UV-huset och till exempel kopplar på två blixtar, med armar och kablar så är det sedan dags att ta den ”viktigaste bilden” direkt där och då  - nämligen testbilden. Det är den som gör att du slipper strul senare under ytan.

Jag brukar fotografera mitt linslock. Genom att ta en testbild på mitt linslock så kollar jag följande kommer att fungera under dyket:

  • Jag ser motivet igenom linsen och är därmed säker på att linslocket inte sitter på kameran inne i UV-huset. Det är surt att upptäcka det en bit in på dyket.
  • Jag kollar att kameran kan fokusera så att kameran eller linsen av misstag hamnat hamnat i manuellt fokuseringsläge. Det händer.
  • Jag tar en bild och verifierar att båda blixtarna slår och att blixtljuset hamnar på bilden. Då vet jag att batterier inte sitter felvända och att kablar mm har kontakt. 
  • Min sista koll brukar vara att kolla kameran att jag valt att spara råfiler så att jag inte ”bara” fotograferar jpeg bilder under hela dyket.
  • Nu är systemet skjutklart.




Ta en testbild på linslocket.


No bubbles, no troubles!

Nästa steg är att göra en så kallad ”bubble check” för kolla så kameran är tät. Du tar UV-kameran fullt monterad till ett skölj-kar sänker ner hela riggen under ytan. Håll ett öga på på UV-hus och blixtar så att inte en liten bubbelström läcker ut från någon enhet. Inga bubblor, inget trubbel.

UV-fotoutrustning är ju tillverkad för att hålla vattnet på utsidan av utrustningen med hjälp utav ett antal o-ringar. Vissa undervattenshus är dessutom utrustade med läckagelarm som blinkar och/eller piper om vatten skulle komma in. Det finns också UV-hus med en täthetstestare (vakuumpump) som indikerar om huset är tätt innan dyket med en grön blinkande lampa.

Även om du har larm eller täthetstestare så skall du alltid göra en ”bubble check” med hela systemet monterat så att du kan se om blixtar, kablar eller kanske ett fokusljus läcker. Om det läcker får du upp kamerariggen på två sekunder istället för ett avbrutet dyk och en lång och långsam väg upp till ytan från 25 meters djup.


Vakuumpump från Nauticam. 


Sista kontrollen

Om du glömmer att bubbel checka innan dyket eller om det inte finns något skölj-kar i närheten så gör du en bubbelcheck av kameran direkt i ytan efter igång i vattnet innan nedstigningen. Tänk bara på att om det är strömt i ytan eller stora vågor gör du det hellre en bit ner när du har stabila förhållande.


Magnus Lundgren
www.exposureunderwater.com

Photo Tip 7: Traveling with photo equipment

Before you leave on holiday you are always left with a number of choices of what to pack in your bag and what to leave at home. When you start packing in UW camera equipment, the choices get even greater. Here you will tips on what to bring..

Whale shark and diver, Galapagos, Ecuador. (Photo by magnuslundgren.com) 

Flight - a transport style bottleneck
We all know that the baggage rules change over time. There is a clear trend of increased security from the airlines of what we are allowed to have in our bags and how much we are able to take with us. The one positive trend is that the cost for having extra baggage has actually decreased with many airlines. 

It is a clear fact that the photo equipment that you have packed is what you will have to use when arriving at the destination, nothing more, nothing less. It is therefore important that you optimize your UW photo packing without hindering what you will be able to do while on holiday.


Tips - travel equipment

  • Choose a compact camera model that also has a smaller UW housing
  • A “mini domeport” is a good alternative for a fish-eye lens
  • A modular system for flashes and video lamp is easy to take apart and pack away, as well as being more durable
  • A good wide-angle zoom has a wider range of use and minimizes the number of lenses needed for wide angle



Chargers and batteries 
Rechargeable batteries means less batteries to pack, but make sure you have a reliable charger with you. Many people buy equipment that has the same battery type in order to avoid having to take several chargers. NOTE: Batteries are best packed in your hand baggage to avoid the cold and bumping in the airplanes baggage compartment. 


New generation UW flashes often perform similar, or even better then older, larger ones. 

Check in extra baggage?
You should consider taking extra baggage on your trip. If you use a hard and durable bag with shock-absorption foam on the inside, then you can solve packing issues and even be able to have more items with you on your dream holiday. My experience is that it can make a huge difference on site and most of the time, it doesn’t cost that much extra to take along a few extra kilos.


There are many products that are “travel sized” such as this little Shaker from Exposure Underwater. 

Hand baggage
The most temperature sensitive and fragile pieces should always be in your hand baggage, for instance, your camera, lenses, flashes, batteries, lamps, etc. It is essential to remove batteries from flashes and lamps during transportation to avoid fires. A photo vest can be a great way to get extra pieces on the flight that don’t fit in your hand baggage.

Prepare your equipment for the trip
The cabin pressure is equivalent to 2000m over the sea and it is therefore a better idea to have your UW housing, flashes, lamps, etc, open. You can easily take out the o-rings and place them in a sealed bag within the item (ie. UW housing). If you forget to leave the items open, it can be difficult to break the pressure that was built up in the item during the flight.


Smaller dome ports work well with fisheye lenses and take up less space than larger dome ports. 


Avoid standing still

There are plenty of small and smart products that can be good to use to avoid “stand-still” - time when you can’t photograph any longer. It can be a flash lock to the battery section of your flash, or a pair of optical cables that make it possible to photograph even when the flash contact has become wet. Extra battery, a complete set of o-rings, an extra memory card, etc.


Magnus Lundgren
www.exposureunderwater.com

Photo Tip 6: DSLR camera as a travel mate and dive buddy

A DSLR camera is a sharp camera suitable for your unforgettable travels where you want to capture unique moments in images with top quality. The same camera can also be used under the surface for both still imagery and video, if you have an UW-housing for your particular camera model. Many people hesitate to take the big step into the DSLR world - but when it is done, no one has any regrets after they have seen the results. The majority say, "I should have done this much earlier."

Sony ”kompakt systemkamera”

DSLR-rig with an UW-housing, dome port, arms, cable and UW-strobes. 


UW-housing - aluminium or plastic?
Manufacturers of UW-photography equipment rapidly churn out underwater housings to most new DSLR cameras launched. Aluminium housings like Sea&Sea and Nauticam have the advantages that they are durable, ergonomic, smaller and often have different types of solutions built in such as a moisture alarm. Polycarbonate housings (plastic housings) for DSLR’s should be as robust as Ikelite's system, which includes a TTL converter and has exclusive port systems for wide angle and macro lenses.

Tip: It is a good idea to always check that there is an UW-housing available for the camera model you intend to buy before buying. Here is a guide to what can be useful to have included in your DSLR system.

An underwater photographer approaching a tassled wobbegong in Raja Ampat with an Ikelite UW-housing made of polycarbonate. 


Small, affordable and easy to use
Today most DSLR cameras are very small and easy to use with a nice viewfinder that inspires you to take good pictures. There are different programs that simplify shooting, as well as lenses that make your images razor sharp. Although most DSLR’s are small and light, there are still the prestigious models from Canon and Nikon that are big and bulky. These cameras are built in a way so that a press photographer can be in the field at the West Bank in a cloud of dust for three months.

Top class also among entry-level models 
As more and more people buy and use DSLR’s, the prices have gone down rapidly. The entry-level models are now starting around 3-4000 SEK. What is really fun is that even the cheaper models have good autofocus systems, fine sensors that can do the work in low light, they handle noise in a good way, and on top of this, affordable optics are available.


Nowadays most DSLR cameras are small, compact, and easy to use. 


What is a DSLR camera?

DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. What is special about these cameras is that the photographer looks through a viewfinder through the lens, via a mirror. Another feature is that you can swap lenses on the camera. The most popular DSLR cameras among the world's UW-photographers today are Canon 70D, 7D and 5D, or Nikon D7100, D7200, D800 and D810. And Sony's DSLR’s are now going strong.


A DSLR camera comes in handy when there is action at the surface near the boat. 


Large or small sensor?

A common question I often get is whether to choose a large sensor (full frame), or a smaller sensor (cropped sensor). There is no clear answer here. How do you want to use your camera, how much money do you want to spend and what do you already have in your camera bag, are some of the parameters to consider. Here are some pros and cons around large and small sensors: 

* Small sensor’s benefits - large field of depth, forgiving, edge sharpness, greater magnification (macro), smaller camera and UW-housing, lower cost

* Small sensor’s cons - more noise sensitive, weaker dynamic range in the image files, less "blur" effect, more fragile construction 

* Large sensor's advantages - magnificent image files, high-quality, low noise in low light, shallow field of depth with beautiful blur, autofocus works well in low light

* Large sensor’s disadvantages – demands high quality lenses, more expensive, less wide-angle lenses to choose from, more difficult to set exact focus, larger camera and UW-housing


DSLR UW-housings in aluminium are compact, ergonomic and extremely durable. Many even have a working range allowing technical dives. 


DSLR - a terrific tool

What makes me so happy about my DSLR camera is that I get inspired when I look through the viewfinder. I can shoot when the light is low and at its best, I can see where the focus is set when I look in the viewfinder, and it is fast and durable. Another advantage is that all of the controls are in the right place so I do not have to look in cumbersome menus. And last, but not least, the image files in raw format are a photographic dream to work with.

Next month
In the next newsletter I will present practical travel tips for UW-photographers. What is good to bring and what you can leave at home? Useful information to have for all traveling photographers.


Magnus Lundgren
www.exposureunderwater.com

Photo Tip 5: Mirrorless Cameras (MLC) - compact quality

In the last five years, a new type of smaller camera with interchangeable lenses has entered the photo market. They are usually called "mirrorless cameras," - referred to as MLC, mirrorless interchangeable lens camera - MILC, mirrorless or Micro 4/3 (which is actually a sensor size). The "mirrorless camera" is competing hard with lower praised DSLR cameras. There are two important reasons for the popularity of the new systems: 1) the camera is very small, and 2) although the lenses are compact, the quality, in most cases, is outstanding.

Sony ”kompakt systemkamera”

A Sony ”mirrorless camera”.

Who is this camera for?
The mirrorless camera is built for those who want something smaller then a traditional DSLR, but miss the options that are not available on a compact camera. On a mirrorless camera you use the LCD-display on the back when you compose the image or you can use an electronic viewfinder (which can often be purchased as an accessory if not already built into the camera).

Skarpa vidvinkellinser (både raktecknade- och fisheyelinser) finns det också till det ”spegellösa” segmentet.

Sharp wideangle lenses (both rectilinear- and fisheye lenses) support the ”mirrorless” camera segment.


Increasing selection
The "mirrorless cameras" are becoming more and more popular because people like compact camera units that are easy to pack. Panasonic and Olympus pioneered the mirrorless segment and Sony followed close behind. Nowadays the big boys, Nikon and Canon, together with Fujifilm and Samsung, have also followed suit. Luckily for the consumer, there is a lot to choose from these days.

Ett begränsat men bra utbud av makrolinser till de ”spegellösa” gör undervattensfotografen glad.
A small but strong selection of macro lenses make the ”mirrorless” underwater photographer happy.

Mirrorless underwater
Manufacturers of underwater cases such as Sea & Sea, Ikelite, Fujifilm, Samsung and Nauticam, followed the photo market and everything from exclusive aluminium housing to less expensive plastic housings are now available, along with associated port systems for wide-angle and macro lenses.

New video camera
The mirrorless camera has also become known as the underwater filmmaker's new video camera. With super-sophisticated autofocus systems and newer camera models filming in 4Ks resolution, even many professionals are choosing "mirrorless cameras" as their underwater video camera. One of the more popular "video camera models" is Panasonic GH4.

Det finns många UV-hus till ”kompakta systemkameror” att välja på idag.
There are many good UW-housings for ”mirrorless cameras” to choose from today. 

Rounding up
Are you looking for a compact camera system that is easy to carry along? Do you want high performance and quality and still be able to swap lenses, use sharp wide-angle and macro lenses, video film, and use the camera in a nice underwater housing? Then you should check out the "mirrorless camera” selection available. And should you get lost in the jungle of models and housings, Exposure Underwater is happy to guide you.

Video i 4K med till exempel Panasonic GH4
Video in 4K with Panasonic GH4. 


Next month

In the next newsletter we will tell you more about DSLR cameras and bring up some the eternal questions: small or large sensor, what lenses and UW-housings is doing the trick?


Magnus Lundgren
www.exposureunderwater.com

Photo Tip 4: Take your GoPro film clips to a new level!

The GoPro is very popular among scuba divers as it is small making it easy to bring on a trip and to use. The new models also produce high quality footage under good lighting conditions. So what accessories can help you take your GoPro footage to a new level?

Ikelites ”Steady tray”

Ikelite’s ”Steady tray” with double handles and a pistol-grip that offer the possibility to attach arms to the handles. 

Steady filming
A common problem among GoPro users is too much movement, making many film clips almost unusable. Users pan or tilt the camera way too fast, or even more common, the camera is shaking throughout the film clip. If you attach the GoPro to a steady platform you will reduce or even eliminate the shaking. At the same time, you should be aware of how fast you are panning and tilting during the clip. By following these simple rules, your films will suddenly have a professional touch. There are many good platform solutions with either double handles or a single pistol grip.


Sharp macro
The lens of a GoPro camera is a wide lens. So when you film a small subject (ie. nudibranchs and shrimps), it is easy to accidentally place the camera too close to the subject therefore getting blurry footage. This happens because the subject is closer than the lenses closest focus. To create sharp footage you need to have a small macro lens that is attached in front of the GoPro housings small flat window and will enable you to get sharp macro films.

Makrolins GoPro
A macro lens mounted on a GoPro camera will make it possible to film very small subjects with high sharpness. 

Colourful macro
When you get your macro footage nice and sharp you will realise that you do not always have enough light on your macro subjects. It is highly recommended to use a light attached to your steady platform with one arm so you do not have to hand hold the light. You will be amazed by the difference it makes when using a macro lens and a light when you are filming the seas small inhabitants.

Boost your wide angle
Even though the GoPro camera is equipped with wide-angle lenses, it sometimes needs a boost to get an extra level of quality. This comes into play when filming wrecks, big animals and scenery. You simply add a wide-angle lens in front of the GoPro’s little flat window. This will enable you to place yourself closer to the subject. With less water between the camera and subject, you will get sharper and more colourful footage.

GoPro filter
Filters can make wonders for your GoPro films. Here is the popular flip-filter.

Filter
As we explained in Photo Tip #3 last month, a filter can do wonderful things with your films. Coloured filters really can make a difference, especially if you want to make movie clips without the need to edit colours afterwards. There are various red and orange coloured filters for the blue seas, and magenta filters for green temperate waters.  

The recommended depth range in the tropics is between 2 and 20 meters deep under favourable conditions. At what depth you shoot, and how close you are to the subject, are valid variables.  So-called flip-filters for GoPro users are very popular. You can have the filters away from the lenses while close to the surface, one filter flipped in front in shallow water, and another filter flipped into place at depth.

 

Next month
In the next newsletter we will speak about mirrorless cameras and housings, which are camera systems that are much smaller than DSLR, but that produce great quality images and Pro quality videos.


Magnus Lundgren
www.exposureunderwater.com

Photo Tip 3: Natural light and filters

Today's cameras are so much better at photography and filming in low light compared to cameras made just a few years ago. Development has been fierce. So what does it mean to you as an UW-photographer and filmer?

©Magnus Lundgren

An Oceanic White tip Shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) photographed in pure natural light in the Red Sea. . (photo by magnuslundgren.com) 

Natural light
With the camera sensors of today you can do much more photography with the sun as the only source of light (no flash – no lamp). It is something I do with about 10% of my images especially wide-angle shots where the sun's quality creates a dramatic underwater feel. It is always easier to succeed if you are near the surface where there is plenty of light with a broad colour spectrum.


Quality vs. ISO
The less light available when shooting in natural light, the more sensitive the sensor must be set (higher ISO number). You can set the ISO manually, or your camera does it for you automatically (ISO Auto). In any case the rule says the higher sensitivity (high ISO) = more noise in the image = lower quality.

Magnus Lundgren
In strong sunlight like on this image I use fast shutter speed to freeze the sunrays. It is a common Moon Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) photographed at Skånska Limhamn. (photo by magnuslundgren.com) 

RAW
It is a great opportunity to shoot in natural light when it comes to scenic shots, wrecks and big marine animals near the surface where there is plenty of sunlight. When shooting in natural light it is good practise to use your camera RAW format as it gives you a new dimension to set white balance afterwards with very good results.

Red filter?
So why do UW-photographers use red colour filters then? With a red filter mounted in front of the cameras lens it equalizes the three colour channels, red, green and blue (RGB). The red channel becomes a little more intense as the filter removes some of the blue and green light. It is debated how much effect a red filter have to pictures taken in RAW format, and white balanced afterwards and the faithful believe it makes a difference when editing the image and white balancing to reproducing the real colours from a scene.

©Magnus Lundgren
You can find filters for filming that fit almost any camera housing today. Here is popular flip filters for GoPro.

Good for filming
When it comes to moving pictures under the surface, the red colour filters really make a difference, especially if you want to make movie clips without the need to set colours afterwards. There are various red and orange colour filters for blue seas, and magenta filters for green temperate waters. 

The recommended depth range in the tropics is between 2 and 20 meters deep under favourable conditions. At what depth you shoot, and how close you are to the subject, are valid variables and so-called “flip-filters” for GoPro users. You can use the filters in three ways; away from the lenses close to the surface, one filter flipped in front in shallow water, or one filter flipped into place at depth.

Do not forget!

Natural light - When shooting with the available light as the only light source remember to dive shallow and to keep the camera steady. Squeeze the trigger and aim at fast shutter speeds. The faster subjects, the faster the shutter speed you need.

White Balance - All photos taken with natural light below the surface must be white balanced. If you are taking pictures in RAW format, then you can white balance your uncompressed file when you are back home at the computer.

Red filters – Is a great way to bring out the true colours when shooting film in the tropics, and under favourable conditions, can be a possible option in Scandinavia. Auto white balance filming with a turbo!

Next month
In the next newsletter, we report to you on the GoPro-filmmaker's hottest accessories and why you should consider a stable platform, light, macro and wide-angle lenses and various types of filters!


Magnus Lundgren
www.exposureunderwater.com

Photo Tip 2: How to recreate colours below the surface

Your actual diving depth determines the quality of the light around you. Shallower waters equal better light quality. Most colours vanish in deeper water and the images you take without an artificial light, often have a blue or green hue depending on the colour in the body of water around you. There are good, easy methods to recreate nature’s own colours that even our advanced eye may find it difficult to see deeper at sea. So how do you do it? Is it difficult? What are the options?

strobe kit

A typical strobe kit designed for compact cameras with a single strobe, robust strobe arm, stay and an optical fiber cable that is easy to connect through a universal fiber optic cable holder to virtually all UW compact housings.

 

Strobe or constant light?
The best way to recreate nature's natural colours is to illuminate the scene with a strobe (flash) or a bright, constant light source. The light beam sent out will hit the subject while you are pressing the shutter button and will bounce back into the camera. If the light is at the right strength for your camera’s settings, the colours will pop up in the image correctly. An underwater light (constant beam) is very useful for finding subjects, to shoot video at close range, and it works very well when you take pictures. But the strobe is the best option when doing photography.

Why? The strobe casts its beam of light only briefly, which is the advantage in comparison with a constant light. A strobe hits as fast as 1/30000 second. This means that as a photographer, you do not have to be as steady and the picture will still be sharp. The subject's own movements are also "frozen" by the quick strobe light. In short, it is much easier to get many high quality sharp images.

UW-photographer with a SLR camera
UW-photographer with a SLR camera with dual flash units connected by a so-called traditional strobe cable. Note the air-filled strobe arms that add the user's housing some positive buoyancy which will give the photographer a lighter feel in the water.

External flash - A huge quality leap
The internal strobe on the camera is placed exactly where you do not want a flash positioned when doing underwater photography. When the internal strobe is fired, the light travels along the camera lens and lights up all of the water between the lens and the subject. The particles are illuminated and reflected back into the picture similar to "snowflakes," and this is called "backscatter." The internal flash can be used, but only if you nothing else is at hand, and you are very, very close to the subject.

Your UW photography will take a major leap in quality on the day that you start using an external flash. The external flash is usually mounted on a strobe arm that allows you to position the flash away from the camera lens. This will avoid harsh strobe light from entering the picture, leaving you with a softer, more diffused light. The strobe can be angled from the arm system enabling you to influence the flash angle and it should feel like you are aiming the strobe past the subject to avoid “backscatter”.

To use an external flash on your underwater camera you need three components - flash, cable and arm system with a bottom plate. All of these elements are often included in strobe kits.

©Magnus Lundgren
The emperor angelfish as a juvenile (Pomacanthus imperator). Strong colours and razor-sharp focus highlighted by fast strobe light. This image was taken with twin strobes in the Maldives. (Image by magnuslundgren.com).

One or two?
It is most preferred to have two flashes as you get an even lighting and can cover a larger area (like wide angle lenses) with strobe light. The downside is that it means there is more equipment to handle. For those who feel unsure, you can always start with one strobe and then add a second one later. It is important that the strobes have the same colour temperature and are roughly the same strength when using two units.


Next month
In the next newsletter we will tell you about the red filters and why underwater filmmakers use them so often.

 

Magnus Lundgren
www.exposureunderwater.com

Photo Tip 1: Rule number one in underwater photography

A world famous photographer always lived by the motto "if the image is not good - go closer to the object." This is even more important when it comes to underwater photography. Rule number one is to be close to the object that you want to photograph. Keep this fact fresh in your mind, instead of letting other information or technology blur your brain so you suddenly end up too far away. Being close is a must!

©Magnus Lundgren


The problems with water!
Water contains particles and diffuses light. The body of water that you are shooting in becomes, more or less, a thick mist in front of your camera. The better the visibility, the less mist effect you will get. The most limiting factor when you are taking pictures underwater is the waters visibility. If you are too far from the object, the image becomes out of focus and colourless.

The diving depth also determines the quality of the available light around you. The shallower you are, the better the light quality. When you are diving deeper you lose the available colours from the natural light, and images taken without a strobe will have a strong blue, or green hue, depending on the body of water’s colour.

©Magnus Lundgren

Closest distance for focus
Another aspect of the same phenomenon is that the water acts as a colour-tinted filter between the object and the camera. The distance between the lens and the object determines how thick the filter is.

If the distance is two metres on the Swedish west coast, then you will have a two metre thick green filter. Again, the closer you are, the better it is. This is why underwater photographers like to use lenses that have good close up focus for SLR and mirror less cameras, or compact cameras. This is the closest distance that a lens can focus sharply. So on an interchangeable lens, it is often the measured distance from the image sensor, to the shortest focusing distance possible. On compact cameras, usually the distance is measured from the outside of the lens, to the subject. In both cases the closer, the better. This close focus distance is an important parameter to consider when you choose lenses or compact cameras.

Next month
In the next newsletter we will tell you more about how to recreate the natural colours using underwater strobes, lights, white balance and colour filters.


Magnus Lundgren
www.exposureunderwater.com



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