How To?? Shoot Underwater with a Filter

Another in the “How To??” series of short photo articles that I present over on the Bali Academy of Underwater Photography website, have a look at the full list on the How To?? listing page

Photographer and Hard CoralShoot Underwater with a Filter

Filter photography has really come into it’s own with the advent of digital photography and the ability to white balance underwater. Although it has been used for a long time with digital video underwater, red filters and white balancing did not really become popular with still photographers until the early to mid 2000s. The use of a filter underwater allows the photographer to filter out some of the nasty blues and greens that dominate the colour spectrum deeper than 10 feet and bring back a warm colour balance along with a lot of contrast and typically a beautiful blue. Shooting with a Filter of any sort is actually quite easy, here are a few tips to get you started:

 

  1. Don’t Use Strobes – to get the most from a filter it’s best to use with natural light only
  2. Stay Shallow – as the shot will be illuminated with natural light, the best results are typically from 15 m (50ft) or shallower
  3. Keep the Sun Behind You – the key to illuminating the subject properly and getting the best colour is to have the sun helping
  4. Shoot Slightly Down- although this sounds like the opposite of what is drilled into new photographers (Shoot UP!) in natural light or filter photography shooting on a slightly downward angle helps
  5. Use manual white balance and re set it prior to shooting each new subject
  6. Concentrate on using a wide angle lens, this will provide the best potential for filters. Macro is best shot with strobes

That’s it! Now it’s just a case of getting your hands on some filters and a nice shallow dive site. Our friends over at Magic Filters provide the best and largest range of filters for underwater photographers so head on over to their website to have a look at their products.

500px Image Platform

500px mangroves500px is a photo sharing site similar to Flickr or any other number of photo sharing sites out there but it does offer something of a twist.  For photographers who are interested in selling some of their images via “royalty free”, 500px offers a 70% commission to the photographer for any and all sales using their 500px Prime platform.  Also, 500px is a great site to have a look at some incredible photos from all sorts of different photographic genres.  I now put a lot of my “seconds” on this site in order promote and hopefully make a few $$ in income along the way.

To see my portfolio on 500px please have a look here: Mike Veitch on 500px

If you want to look at the general site itself then simply go to 500px.com to look at some fantastic and inspiring images from all around the world

Doug Sloss Joining Us in Lembeh

We are excited to announce that world famous photographer and Post Processing wizard Doug Sloss will be joining us for our Lembeh Strait Photo Funweek at NAD Lembeh Resort for 2016.  As an update, we have also changed dates for this exciting event from May to July/August, the new dates for our Lembeh Photo Week are 30 July – 6 August 2016.  Doug is a long time friend of the Underwater Tribe and NAD Lembeh Resort and he and his wife Lorenza are one of the top underwater photography and post processing teams on the planet.  Like any Underwater Tribe photo fun week (click to read about our 2015 Lembeh Photo week), Doug will be joining the guests underwater with a slate in hand, as opposed to a camera, in order to help the participants get their best possible images.  Throughout the week Doug will be presenting tips and tricks about Lightroom and Photoshop as well as being on hand to give individual help to everyone.

Here is a brief bio about Doug:

Doug Sloss Bio Pic“Doug Sloss is an underwater and landscape photographer, photography educator, and digital image developing enthusiast based in the Rockies just outside Denver Colorado. Once a long time photo pro and dive instructor in Palau, Micronesia, his award winning photography has appeared in numerous diving magazines and books worldwide. His passion for teaching photography led to a successful series of DVD tutorials he’s created that help underwater and topside shooters of all levels professionally post-process their images with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. He is the principal photographer at Studio Sloss and is an expedition leader and photo pro for Beyond The Capture Photo Tours, a company he owns with his wife Lorenza. When not shooting client work for his Colorado based photo studio, he offers a select calendar of field workshops, photo tours and image developing classes throughout the year and spends time teaching his little man Sam how to scuba dive.”

 

To find out more about Doug please visit his website www.underwaterlightroom.com

For more information about our UWT/NAD Lembeh Photo Fun Week 2016 please visit our Lembeh 2016 web page or email us at info (at)underwatertribe.com

How To?? Limited Depth of Field Macro Underwater Photography

Over on our Bali Academy of Underwater Photography website, we have a series of articles called “How To??” which are very short posts discuss “How To” shoot a certain type of photo or photography style or even post processing techniques. If you haven’t had a look at the site before there are several of these short posts on the site as well as a few full articles, check them out on the Tutorials page.

I have copied the latest “How To??” article here, entitled “How To?? Limited Depth of Field Macro Underwater Photography

Depth of FieldLimited Depth of Field composition is a very effective and stunning form of photography when it’s done well. Although it does look complicated, it’s actually a very easy technique to setup. Here are a few steps to follow to learn “How To” take macro underwater photos with great bokeh.

 

  1. Choose an fstop between 1.8 and 8, the more open the f-stop the less DOF there is
  2. Strobe strength has to be at a very low power or else utilize TTL
  3. Choose subject accordingly, a flat subject will not “show off” the bokeh properly, therefore subject selection is key
  4. Don’t forget the background, a colourful background will enhance the “out of focus” aspect of the background itself. Bright colours work well
  5. Use a fast shutter speed: the DOF is very narrow so any little movements from the camera will be multiplied in the photo, using a fast shutter speed helps
  6. Use manual focus or focus lock, keeping a very narrow area of a macro image is hard to do, using manual focus helps so that the lens does not “hunt” while focusing

 

That’s it, very simple yet effective hints for trying this fun form of underwater photography

I Am Now on Instagram

Well, it took many years but I have finally signed up to Instagram.  I have always kind of looked at Instagram as something for iphone people only, as you can’t sign up from a laptop!  Why would a company not want people to sign up from a computer?  That just seems weird and annoying in my opinion!  However, obviously it’s working because Instagram sure has taken off, so here I finally am signing up.   Why now?  Well I  finally have a phone running on Android (I refuse to pay $1000 for an iphone!) which has allowed me to sign up and post.  I do find the square crop to be somewhat limiting but have found a way around that by framing each photo with a border in order to keep the natural ratio of the photos in tact.  So if you are a follower of Instagram then please do give my new portfolio a follow @MikeVeitch and while you are at it, follow the Underwater Tribe on Instagram as well @Underwater_Tribe

Here are a few square shots to get you started…

Batfish Coral Reef Cuttle Ayau Lagoon

 

Story Behind the Shot – Hawksbill Turtle Eating the Dome Port

Hawksbill Turtle

 

One of my favourite underwater photo subjects are turtles, it doesn’t matter if it’s a “relatively” common hawksbill turtle or green turtle or any of the other more endangered turtles, I am always happy to encounter any turtle when diving. On this particular encounter on the island of Layang Layang in Sabah, Malaysia, I ran into this friendly hawksbill turtle who was happily munching away on sponge embedded in the hard coral.  As with any turtle encounter, I stopped and watched it for a few moments to see if it would be spooked by my presence or if it would allow me to get closer.  After watching it for a while I decided that it wasn’t bothered by my presence and so I slowly moved closer in order to take a few photos.  After snapping a couple of shots from the side I then decided to see if the turtle would allow me to approach from the front, as this photo can attest, it sure did!  As I moved from the side toward the front I realized that the turtle was allowing me to get quite close, but as I started to maneuver my strobes closer to the port the young hawksbill turtle decided that it was a lot more interested in my dome port than the sponges!  Abandoning the idea of moving my strobes, instead I started backpedaling away from the hungry hawksbill while snapping off a few photos and trying to avoid “turtle bites” on my port!  My guess is he/she reacted to the reflection of another turtle in the port and the attempted biting was in order to scare off a potential competitor.  After I backed off again the happy hawksbill went right back to munching on sponge and ignoring my ungainly presence.  Although I didn’t necessarily get the lighting correct on this shot, it is a photo that stands out as it was really a funny situation with a personable turtle who was intent on showing me who’s the boss!

Layang Layang, Sabah, Malaysia – Nikon D90, Aquatica Housing, 10-17mm lens, f10, 1/100, Sea and Sea Strobes

 

Underwater Tribe/NAD Lembeh Photo Fun Week Wrap Up

Group photo of workshop

Another Underwater Tribe/NAD Lembeh Resort Photo Fun Week has come to an end and we have arrived home back in Bali already missing the great atmosphere and wonderful food at NAD. We aren’t sad though because we are happily reminiscing over what a wonderful week we have just had with a great group of people. It all started on the 18th of July with all of our guests arriving by the mid afternoon. After having the chance to set up equipment in NAD’s spacious camera room, we all gathered together after dinner to discuss the plans for the upcoming week and listen to a quick strobe primer by Mike before enjoying a wonderful slideshow about the cool critters we could expect to see throughout the week presented by NAD manager Serge.

Serge Presents

 

The following morning, and for each of the next 5 days, our schedule consisted of heading out after breakfast for 2 dives in the diverse Lembeh Strait. Our bottom times were set to 75 minutes max with between dives snacks and hot drinks served on the roomy and fast boats. With 1 dive guide for every 2 guests, plus 2 photo instructors in the water with slates in hand, everyone was well looked after in the water and there were critters a plenty every day. After lunch back at the resort, we gathered in the upstairs area for a daily presentation before heading out on an afternoon dive. After the afternoon dive we would gather in the restaurant for our daily critiquing and Lightroom sessions before dinner. After dinner each night we would then meet once again upstairs for another presentation as well as a primer on the next days dives and a suggestion of what to work on in the way of photographic technique.

Guide Rokles gives a briefing

Topics throughout the week consisted of the following: Strobe Positioning, Shooting Wide in Lembeh, The Basics of Lighting (fstops, shutter speeds and how they work together), Lightroom, Shooting with a Constant Light Source, Blue and Black Macro Backgrounds, Snooting, and How to Win a Photo Competition. In the water, Mike and Luca spent every dive with a slate in hand working one to one with our students helping them with new techniques in order for them to improve their photography with practical underwater hands on help. One of the big successes this year was the effectiveness of the evening Lightroom and critiquing sessions as everyone gathered in the restaurant each day for image review and Lightroom technique tutorials in a relaxed atmosphere.

Luca Presenting

 

On the last day our schedule consisted of just 2 morning dives with the afternoon scheduled for final image review and the preparation of images for the final night slideshow! The big event at the end of all of our photo workshops is a slideshow of everyone’s favourite images taken throughout the week which are shown in random order on the big screen in order to show the highlights of diving in Lembeh. We don’t create a competitive atmosphere during our workshops and we don’t offer prizes because we believe this creates too much competitiveness amongst participants and takes away from the fun vibe of our “Fun Weeks”. Our NAD 2015 final slideshow showcased some of the best images we have seen from all of our workshops over the years and we are very happy to showcase some of the images from the participants below!  The list of critters that we encountered throughout the week is too long to mention but some of the memorable ones include multiple blue ring octopus, hairy frogfish, loads of different frogfish from tiny to giant, ghost pipefish, wonderpus, harlequin shrimp, and even an eagle ray!

Group shot on Boat

 

Thanks to all of this year’s participants from Australia, the Netherlands, and the USA, we had a few familiar faces this week as well as a great group of new participants, we look forward to seeing you all again soon on a future Underwater Tribe event. Enough with the chit-chat, lets get on with the presentation of some great images from the gang for a very well deserved round of applause.

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On the Road Again – Destination Lembeh

Manta Rays

It’s been a bit of whirl-wind over the past few months!  I returned yesterday from my third trip to Komodo in May and June and will be here in Bali for an entire 3 days before shipping out to Lembeh!  I will of course be heading to NAD Lembeh Resort for almost 3 weeks of fun in the critter capital of the world.  The main reason I am heading to Lembeh is of course to conduct our annual Underwater Tribe/NAD Lembeh photo workshop which starts on the 18th and ends on the 25th.  However, I am going early in order to take some of my own photographs in the wonderful world of muck as I won’t be taking any photos during the workshop itself.  I am certainly looking forward to it as I haven’t done any serious shooting in Lembeh for quite some time.  It will be quite a transition from the wide angle photo and videos I have been shooting in Komodo lately to the behaviour and macro photo and video I hope to be shooting in Lembeh!  I will be the special guest blogger on the NAD Blog so please have a look over the coming weeks.

And here is what I will be shooting next week, it will be a challenge on my eyes I think!

Crinoid Cuttlefish

 

The Fish Butt Photo

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!

 

Hawksbill Turtle Butt