Underwater Photography 101: Let There Be Light!


Most photographers know that light is crucial to good photography.  The way light is applied to a subject can drastically change the way we perceive it. When I first began taking pictures under water, I had a compact camera with an on board flash. But my images came out looking blue or green. There just wasn’t enough light. Then I purchased a small strobe and everything changed. The strobe had enough power to light my subject and some of the surrounding environment. As my skills improved, my lighting needs evolved and it wasn’t long before I was using two strobes.

I am always learning new lighting techniques. Some of my favorites include using a snoot, using fill light, and strobe placement. I think they all take a lot of practice to master, but the snoot seems to be many a photographer’s arch nemesis. Put simply, a snoot is tool that channels light from a wide beam down to a small area. It is used to light just the subject and not the surrounding environment. There are different types of snoots, too. Some, funnel light from the strobe into a beam that looks like a spotlight. Others use fiber optics that enable the photographer to articulate the light in any direction.

Many-Lobed Ceratosoma image created with a fiber optic snoot

Many-Lobed Ceratosoma image created with a fiber optic snoot

This nudibranch was photographed using a fiber optic snoot positioned directly above the subject. In the image following, the same nudibranch was photographed using one strobe on the right side.

Many-Lobed Ceratosoma lit with one strobe.

Many-Lobed Ceratosoma lit with one strobe.

Notice how much of the surrounding environment is lit when the strobe is used. It can be very creative and pleasing to light only your subject or even a portion of your subject.

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Snoots can also be used for wide angle photography. In this case, the snoot is used to reduce backscatter, or light just a foreground subject. The snoot used in the image below was nothing more than an old wetsuit sleeve that was cut off and placed over the end of the strobe so that the beam angle would be reduced to something like a spotlight. This enabled me to light up just the foreground subject without lighting any particles in the water.

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The “go-to” article on using snoots was published by Dive Photo Guide and Keri Wilk. For more in-depth information on snoots, check out the article HERE.

Fill light is another technique I have come to appreciate. It was only recently that I learned that I didn’t have to have both my strobes set to the same power when I was taking an image. When one strobe is set to a higher power and one to a lower power, you can have a subject that is strongly lit on one side, while filling in with a little bit of light on the other. This can create more dramatic texture and shadows in your image.

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In this image, the strobe on the left was set to half power, and the strobe on the right was set to 1/4 power. That allowed the texture in this nudibranch’s rhinophores and branchial plume to appear more defined.

Finally strobe placement is probably the most important and most used technique I have up my sleeve. I am continuously moving my strobes around. It is important to think about the direction the light is coming from in order to properly light your subject. Sometimes you want the light to come from directly above the subject. Such was the case with this jawfish that would not come out of its hole. In order to light it properly, I had to aim my strobes directly down on the fish.

Jawfish with eggs

Jawfish with eggs

Other times you may want to isolate the subject against a black background. In this case, the subject has nothing behind it but water, and the strobe light is coming from directly in front of the subject.

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You can also isolate the subject from a busy background by turning your strobes in towards your camera housing. This way, only the edge of the strobe’s light beam reaches your subject, and the background remains dark.

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All of these lighting techniques take practice and patience. Often, no matter how I aim my strobes, I just can’t get the subject lit to my satisfaction. But the point is, don’t be afraid to try all kinds of different lighting techniques. You may find you have a whole new stock pile of tools in your photographic toolbox if you do.

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog and please feel free to share on Facebook or other social media.

My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

 

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10 Best Photography Blogs


Thank you to Paul from “Pick My Camera” for referencing my blog as one of the ten best Photography blogs!  You can read the article here:

Stay tuned for a tutorial on wide angle underwater photography coming soon!

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As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog and please feel free to share on Facebook or other social media.

My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

A Pat on the Back!


Just as I was leaving for a long vacation last month, I received a few honors that I didn’t get to properly revel in.  Being in a foreign country without internet left me unable to toot my horn, so to speak, so I will belatedly honk away now.

Underwater Macro Photography eMAG  featured one of my photos in their top ten for the months of September/October.  Click on the Magazine link to see all the beautiful images that were featured.  Below is the image of mine that was featured:

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The image is of a Hopkins Rose, a tiny nudibranch that is found in Southern California.  It measures around 5mm and can be seen at some of the Channel Islands and along the California Coast.

Another fun honor, was having my review of Sea&Sea’s YS-D2 strobe published by Dive Photo Guide.

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Take a look at the article if you are interested.  I can’t say enough good things about the YS-D2 strobe.  It is a great improvement over the already excellent YS-D1.

Stay tuned for some new and inspiring images from Indonesia.  I’ve been enjoying a solid two weeks in my under water studio and can hardly wait to process the images and post some of them here.  In the mean time, here is one from Lembeh. 20151124-20151124-_BPP7007

This image is of an anemone fish caring for its eggs.  Both the male and the female will aerate the eggs by blowing water over them with their mouths or their fins.  The male has the toughest job though, because the female will scrutinize how well he does his job, and if it isn’t up to her standard, she will rid herself of him!

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog and please feel free to share on Facebook or other social media.

My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

 

 

 

Great Advice from a Master Underwater Photographer


I just came across this article and wanted to share this great advice with any other aspiring underwater photographers.  Please enjoy!

This coral head is one of my favorite images because of the diversity of life surrounding it.

Image by Brook Peterson

How to take the perfect underwater photo, according to a master Hawaii photographer

Hawaii Magazine

Sex Change


In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Change.”

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The blue ribbon eel is one of the most fascinating creatures of change.  All of the ribbon eels are born male.  Toward the last year of their life, they may begin to turn yellow, and also turn into a female.  All yellow ribbon eels are female, and all blue ribbon eels are male.  A female ribbon eel will procreate after she has changed, and then die, so it is very rare to see a yellow ribbon eel.

Blue Ribbon Eel

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog and please feel free to share on Facebook or other social media.

My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

Diving in Fish Lake


I have many fond memories of Fish Lake, Utah.  My family has been going there to fish since 1945–Long before I arrived on the scene.  My dad remembers getting up at midnight and driving with his dad and brothers down to Fish Lake and arriving about 5:00 AM, just in time to start fishing.  This tradition continued on into his adulthood, until the 1970’s when my dad’s siblings and their children began making it a yearly occurrence. This is where I came in.  I remember as a child the long drive (probably just a couple of hours) to the lake.  My cousins and I would watch the horizon so that we could be the first to yell “I” when the lake came in to view.

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I was a very curious child, and my favorite thing about Fish Lake was fishing. I would anticipate arriving and taking my pole down to the bridge that spanned the small harbor and fishing with my salmon eggs and hooks for the “chubs” we could catch there.  My favorite fishing, though, was done from the boat, early in the morning with my dad.  We trolled for trout, and I don’t remember a time when we didn’t catch plenty for our dinner for the next several weeks.  I loved to look over the side of the boat at the seaweed that grew along the banks and see if I could see fish, or some other treasure that had fallen overboard.  Once I even went swimming in the lake, though it is only around 60 degrees F.  Family legend has it that the lake is “bottomless.”  However, the depth gauge on our boat puts the lake at around 110 feet deep all the way across.

This year’s trip was the first time I had gone to the lake in several years.  In that time, I have learned to scuba dive.  My new anticipation for this year’s reunion was to scuba dive in Fish Lake and take pictures of what I saw to show to all my relatives who are surely as curious as I am as to what lies beneath the surface of our beloved lake.

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On the first dive, I took my twenty-one-year-old son.  I am a scuba instructor, and I am certifying my son for his Advanced Open Water certification.  He was required to go to a depth of 60 feet.

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On our descent my first reaction was that the visibility was terrible.  I couldn’t see more than 10 feet.  The surface of the lake was 64 degrees F, but when we hit a depth of 35 feet, it dropped dramatically, to 54 degrees.  Brrrr.  The murky bottom finally came in to view and there was nothing to see except mud.  I hurriedly did the skills with my son that he required, and we made a bee-line for the warmer waters above 35 feet.  At this point, we decided to explore the seaweed, which began growing at about 25 feet deep.

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This was one of the more intriguing things about the dive.  The seaweed was full of fish and the visibility was slightly better.  I started to find the treasures left behind by other fishermen;  Fishing rods and reels, stringers, pop gear, lures and some other treasures such as a large metal bowl and lots of antique soda bottles and cans. These were the treasures that I wondered about as a child and was able to verify on my dive.

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At the end of my second dive, I decided to take some images of the lake and the mountain behind it. Although I enjoyed my dives immensely, I probably won’t need to dive in Fish Lake again.  It was fun to see the underside of the lake and solve the mystery of what it looks like down there, but now my curiosity is satisfied.

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As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog!
My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

Underwater Photography 101: Cut your Fringe! Dealing with Chromatic Abberation


Have you ever had an image that could be great if only there wasn’t that weird blue/purple outline along your subject’s back?  Well I have. And to tell you the truth, until someone pointed it out to me, I didn’t really notice how distracting it was. Meet “Chromatic Abberation,” a sketchy friend of a friend who lurks in shadows and has blue hair. Also known as “Color Fringing.”

Chromatic abberation happens when a lens is unable to bring all the colors in a wavelength into the same focal plane.  The results are often a bluish or greenish outline around the subject or parts of the subject.

Below is an image of an Alleni nudibranch, a very uncommon creature.  You can see a bluish tint around the bottom of its protruding lobes.

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Fortunately, Adobe Lightroom has a fix for this!  It can be found in the DEVELOP module in the LENS CORRECTIONS toolbox.

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When you open this toolbox, you will see a menu across the top (Basic, Profile, Color, and Manual).  Click on the word COLOR.  From here you can try clicking in the box that says “Remove Chromatic Abberation.”  Lightroom can automatically find the color fringing and reduce it.  If this does not completely solve the problem, you can click on the eyedropper then click on the color that you want removed from your image.  This will reduce the fringing even further.

In the image below, you can see that the color fringing has been greatly reduced, but there is still a little bit that lingers.  Here is one more trick you can try:

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Click on the “HSL/COLOR/B&W” toolbox.  You will see the colors listed under Hue, Saturation, and Luminance.  Try desaturating the offensive color slightly.  In this case, the “blue” desaturation slider worked great.

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Sometimes making small corrections like this makes all the difference between a good image and a great image.

To watch a video of this tutorial, click HERE.

If you have questions, or suggestions for underwater photography tips, please feel free to leave comments below.

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog!
My photographs are taken with a Nikon D7000 or D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me