Part One is Here
Going to talk about 2 new parts of underwater photography that we are starting to get our heads around.
The first topic today is external lighting.
We last left you last time with successfully getting our camera to fire a remote flash by radio signal as long as the flash (trasmitter and receiver) was ~15 inches away. The plan is to use this “on camera” flash unit to optically trigger our other flashes in the water. We have found the best path is using a Canon 430ex hooked up to cold shoe and CyberSync Receiver to get the signal from the Paul Buff CST inside the housing. The flash from the 430 is what we use to optically trigger a LumoPro 160 in a Pelican Case. We then stepped up one more light by using a boomed Einstein unit to add a large amount of backlight to the scene. So now we have 3 flashes working underwater and some adding to exposure and others just there for a signal. The great part about optical is that it’s cheap to add multiple units without lots of expensive triggers.
This setup has yielded us photos such as the following
Our second topic for the day is controlling the ambient, or rather, not letting the ambient control you.
We had been testing and shooting mostly during the day time. Our ambient light was a hot overhead sun that caused rippling effects and hot spots. This caused us several problems. One, getting a strobe underwater with enough power to compensate was either prohibitively expensive or the recycle rate was insufficient for our needs. Two, the hot spots on subjects faces is undesirable. Three, our continuously lit dive lights have little to no effect with enough range to not be in the shots. Let me problem solve out loud.
My original thoughts were to drape over the pool surface with a dark fabric of some kind to control the ambient. Maybe with a few cut outs for neat effects. After considering the safety of our models though, and the need to reset the drape after each shot we decided to move in a different direction. The next idea was to find an indoor pool that we could use. We called around to dive shops and other places with covered pools deep enough. No such luck. Finally, we came up with our Russian pencil in space solution – work at dusk and night times. Less ambient, strobes can recycle faster, and our dive lights start to show up in our exposures!
Above water in the above photo, below water in the below photo. Look at the flash in Austin’s hand, it is triggering the boomed Einstein for the backlit effect.
Getting back to photographic priniciples, this exercise proved to make a lot of sense. Don’t work in harsh light if you don’t have to or want to. Find open shade. Makes sense now, but boy did we bang our heads for a few shoots before we figured it out. Thanks to Courtney for being an awesome spur of the moment tester up for anything! Our next underwater feature will be veering to the creative side so stay tuned!