It’s another week and I am once again on my way to Komodo! Can’t wait ti take a lot of photos and video throughout the next 10 days, will share it all once I am back. Will try to post a photo or two during the trip as well, hoping for some great manta action!
One of the things we hear the most when talking to underwater photographers is “I have a whole hard drive full of fish butts!” I believe everyone knows the feeling of sneaking up on an underwater subject to get just that much closer when “boom” the subject you have just spent endless time stalking suddenly turns and speeds off just as you pull the trigger! The resulting photo is what is lovingly called a “fish butt” shot and I know I have a hard drive full of them myself! In fact, I have often thought about publishing a book called “Butts of the Pacific” but then I figured it may get banned for censorship reasons so unfortunately I have yet to do so! However, not all “butt shots” are created equal, in fact, I think this small hawksbill turtle has a lovely butt, he sure did spend a lot of time with his beak in a hole eating sponges and showing me nothing but butt until I ran out of air, therefore, before heading up I had to snap off at least one photo of this turtle and I believe the result wasn’t too bad, for a butt shot!
This was taken at Whale Rock in the incredible Misool area of Raja Ampat where we will be heading again in 2017!
When diving in Bali or Lembeh or a myriad of other sites with sandy bottoms, do you ever see a cloud of dust rising up in the distance? When you get close the disturbance it often turns out to be a big school of striped catfish churning up the sand in search of food. These social fish with their distinctive barbed mouth are a common resident in the Indo Pacific area and always make an interesting photo subject in both macro or wide angle formats. This shot was taken in Bali at Seraya Secrets with a Nikon D7000 and Aquatica housing, 105mm, f22, 1/250 and Sea and Sea strobes
Over on the Bali Academy of Underwater Photography website we are constantly uploading new “How To??” tutorials which give brief descriptions of “how to” do something related to photography and image making in general. Here is the latest in its entirety, entitled “How To?? Shoot the Perfect Silhouette”. To see the whole series head on over to the How To?? page on the BAUP site.
How To?? Shoot the Perfect Silhouette
A well shot silhouette is one of the more simple yet most stunning examples of an underwater photograph when done well. Although a brilliant silhouette may look intricate and difficult to get right, it’s often the composition that has made it stand out rather than a technical setup. With a few tips, anyone can learn to take a great silhouette photo, here are 5 tips to get you on the right track.
Use a fast shutter speed: it’s the shutter speed that freezes the light rays, use as high of a shutter speed as you can. Don’t forget to turn off your internal flash if you are shooting with fibre optics, the internal flash will limit your shutter speed capabilities
Block the sun: by blocking the sun with your main subject or leaving it outside of the frame, the “rays” take centre stage and are not overshadowed by a bright sun ball
Don’t use too high of an f-stop: the higher your f-stop the darker the edges of the photo become, if you want the silhouette to stand out against a brilliant blue then f8-f11 is the perfect f-stop
Choose a subject that is recognizable in silhouette! Large subjects such as mantas, sharks, and turtles work well as silhouettes.
Try shooting on shutter priority: Shooting “natural light” is the only time I might consider shooting with anything other than Manual mode underwater. By choosing shutter priority and then selecting a shutter speed of 1/500 I know I will get very nice sun rays if I compose my photo properly and the sunlight is right. As the sun rays are the most important part of a silhouette, then having the correct shutter speed is my “priority” on the shot and I can let the camera figure out the f-stop if I am moving quickly.
I recently arrived back from a short trip to the Komodo National Park in Indonesia and it was another great trip to this wonderful location. The highlight of the trip for myself was that we were able to swim with dozens of manta rays in the south at a site called Manta Alley. The mantas themselves were all at the surface feeding for the entire morning, so even though we tried jumping in the water to dive with them, we weren’t having much success with encounters. Therefore, we did the smart thing and surfaced from our dive in order to snorkel with them instead! These beautiful animals did not feel any threat from our presence and willingly swam alongside us for minutes at a time. We enjoyed the encounter so much we even came back and jumped in a second time! Although the water was cold and somewhat green, that doesn’t really matter when you are surrounded by mantas does it?!? Interested in a trip to Komodo, join the Underwater Tribe on an adventure there in September 2015!
Over on our Bali Academy of Underwater Photography website we often post short “Photo Tips” in a section called “How To??“. This page is dedicated to very short tutorials with quick tips on helping you improve your photography; for those interested in longer tutorials we reserve those for our “Articles” page instead. So head on over to the site when you have time and check them out! Here is the latest “How To??” article below
How To? Shoot Stunning Coral Reef Garden Photos
Nothing shows the reality of a healthy coral reef better than a wide angle photography of a beautiful hard coral garden. To shoot a coral garden effectively there are a couple of things to keep in mind that will help to achieve the best results.
1. Stay shallow! The best results will be in less than 10 metres of water
2. Turn off your strobes and use the sun at your back, the sun will illuminate the coral and bring the colour in
3. Shoot at a slightly downward angle, this will allow you to frame as much of the interesting coral reef as possible
4. Use a fisheye lens or a higher f-stop (such as f11) in order to avoid bad corners from a rectilinear lens. Bad corners will show very obviously with intricate corals filling the frame
5. If possible utilize a red filter or magic filter and manual white balance settings. Using a filter will help filter out the blues and greens from the image and create a more even colour tone. Also, shoot in RAW so you can experiment with WB in post processing.
6. If time of day and conditions allow, try to include sunrays at the edges of the photo in order to add a second element in the composition. Including a distant diver or freediver is another excellent choice of a secondary subject.
I am just back from a great voyage to the Komodo National Park! It was my first trip there in 2015 but it won’t be long until my second, heading there again in two weeks time. The diving was amazing as always and I will be posting a short video of a snorkel we had with around 30 mantas at Manta Alley! Here is a teaser image of the scenic lookout on top of Gili Lawa Darat to keep you entertained until I can upload the mantas.
One of the more unique looking photos you can take are of fairly common subjects but shot in an abstract way. A simple way to do this is with a macro lens and using your “artsy” eye to see outside of the box. In this photo of a wrasse in Bali I go right up close and personal and only focused on its pectoral fin rather than shooting the entire fish. This style of photograph works extremely well with varied colored tropical fish which have interesting and unique designs. Try out shooting abstract photos the next time you are shooting macro.
One of the recent collaboration I have become involved in is creating short 3-5 minute narrated clips for an online media company called Earth Touch News which specializes in wildlife and nature programming. The segments I am contributing go to a series they call “Wild Oceans” which is a collection of shorts which comprise of single dives on a single dive site. So far I have uploaded videos about Citrus Ridge in Raja Ampat, Manta Alley in Komodo, and most recently Andiamo in Daram, Raja Ampat. The gist of the video is to have the cameraman narrate what he sees over a dive so that the viewer has an idea of what he/she is seeing throughout the world. It’s like having a back stage pass to all the world’s premiere dive sites in one handy location!
It has been ages since I have been there but finally off to Komodo again tomorrow, can’t wait. I will be there for 7-10 days and it promises to be a great trip with lots of diving, snorkeling, walks, and of course Dragons! Hoping to capture some great images as well as video and of course will upload some when I get back.