JANUARY 2011: My Surface Interval named one of the best scuba diving blogs

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Underwater photographs using Canon G9's full manual settings

Okay, before I start, I acknowledge that these are in no way shape or form fantastic underwater images. They are not even good if I am completely honest.

But, they do represent a start for me in getting to grips with my Canon G9's manual settings while scuba diving and a better understanding of some basic principles.

First, and perhaps most importantly, lets get the setting right. These were taken in Dosthill in about 3m worth of viz. I've not really tested myself with adjusting the manual settings (shutter speed, aperture, ISO) before so everything was a learning curve of trial and error. Also nothing image-wise was planned, three of us jumped in armed with cameras and started blasting away. And these are a few of my efforts.

Practical things I've learned:

Challenging oneself with three independent functions while also scuba diving was a tad tricky and I would have been better off trialling one first but you don't learn until you give it a go.

You need a lot of patience to get things right.

Taking a white balance before each image is now second nature but I found a white slate left the colours looking a a bit harsh and found using the palm of the hand might be better.

The intensity of the built-in flash can be altered to make it softer or stronger. Don't forget that.

The two images of the perch who was happily hanging about the bottom of the buoyed line that drops onto the house are perfect demonstration of the wrong settings.

The fish didn't want to leave the safety of the line and, like a clown fish darted here and there every time the camera was pointed at him.

Unfortunately, catching him with a bit too much flash left left almost burnt out areas of white on his underbelly and near his mouth. Slightly less flash might have softened the images more.

As the next three images show, while white balance returned the right colours to the underwater realm, the poor viz meant there was still too little light to capture a crystal clear image, hence a bit of blurring as the fish darted around, caused by a shutter speed that was too slow.

Closing the shutter speed down, got a sharper image (below) but left the image darker than those above. A strobe which can be angled around the camera is a must.
I was surprised by how little backscatter was created by such a large unit used by my buddy by carefully angling it when taking different pics.

Dosthill itself is not short of atmosphere and the next two pics, of the buoyed line down to the old pump house and the reeds at two to three metres give two different natural-light perspectives to different parts of the quarry.

The reeds are where we find the population of pike. Below is a jack pike. Hopefully instinct will help me approach a scene with the right camera settings in mind but the best I could get here ended with the rear of the pike giving off too much white reflection and the blue background of the water becoming almost black because of such a short shutter speed.

As the next image shows, the G9 needs a wide angle lens. In poor viz situations the camera just cannot capture a wide enough shot of a diver behind the Parcelforce van. The G10 offered a wider image but a compact fitted with a wet wide angle really opened up the image a lot more.

So, nothing to worry Tom Peshak or David Doubilet but we've all got to start somewhere and despite the issues with each image, I've learned a few things and discovered that there is the possibility of getting decent images even in somewhere like Dostill Quarry.

No comments: