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Featured Divetrip to Marsa Shagra, Red Sea, Egypt

Discussion in 'Nature' started by StefanKruse, Feb 17, 2019.

  1. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Top Veteran

    526
    Jan 28, 2015
    Denmark
    Stefan
    Recently spend a week combining my favorite hobbies - Travel, Diving and photography. This time I went to a dive camp in the Egyptian desert bordering the red sea. This i a cool place where you sleep in tents and have free access to all the diving you want.

    Underwater photography is what opened the world of photography to me and although it is my favorite kind of photography it is also the most challenging kind and at times frustrating. I find it, in many ways, similar to street, in that you can do some planning but once in the water you can either find a nice frame for your shot and then wait for something of interest to enter the frame, or you are set your camera to what you think may happen and then shoot the moment. Most of the time I shot the moment because diving with a buddy, who does not do UW photography, I find I test his patience too much when I am waiting for someting interesting to enter my precomposed frame.

    One thing I learned is that I need to get better at telling a story with UW photgraphy i.e. get the subject in an interesting situation and get some of the habitat and surroundings in the shot as well. Too often I go for something close up, fish portrait style, but I find after this trip I prefer shots that dont just show a beatiful marine animal.

    I also did a bit of Cavediving photography which was quite fun - for this I killed the flash as I really liked the natural light in the caves, but that meant cranking the ISO to 3200 which was a bit of a challenge because of the rather dark caves - I would have liked to play around with settings a bit, but in a cave where you dive from one end to the other theres only limited time to hang around playing with camera settings, so back to the street photo style of shooting.

    Here are a few of the shots that turned out best - all shot on the EPL-5 with the 9-18mm Oly.

    Comments and critique are much welcomed ,thanks.

    Out of the Dark 2.jpg
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    Dolphin.jpg
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    Turtle.jpg
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    Triggerfish.jpg
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    Red Coral.jpg
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    LionFish.jpg
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    Bluespotted Stingray.jpg
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    Indian Mackerel School 2.jpg
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    Cave light.jpg
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    Cave Diver.jpg
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    Also managed to get few shots above water
    MoonTent.jpg
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    Dinner time.jpg
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    Barbeque.jpg
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    Desert Sunset.jpg
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    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019
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  2. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 18, 2015
    I really like the lion fish shot. The blue spotted stingray also looks really nice. Maybe when you're shooting natural light you might consider bracketing the exposure. Even hand held brackets often work. I'm not sure if there is some compression going on in your shots though. They seem a bit too crunchy.
     
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  3. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Top Veteran

    526
    Jan 28, 2015
    Denmark
    Stefan
    Thanks :)  the Lionfish and the Stingray are what opened my eyes to putting the subject into context and show some of the habitat.

    Thanks for the tip - I never considered bracketing for UW, because it is impossible to hold the camera steady unless you are on the seafloor, would it not require me to have the camera complety steady?

    What do you mean by crunchy? too much clarity/sharpening or how do you see it? I always struggle with overdoing PP especially with UW because of backscatter removeal etc.?
     
  4. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 18, 2015
    Of course for maximum sharpness it is best to have the camera perfectly steady, but it is possible to hand hold brackets. If merging in LR (which is what I prefer, because it looks quite natural) it will align the images if shot hand held. It is not perfect, but you lose more sharpness to noise than to slightly bad hdr technique, so in many scenarios I think it's preferable. I rarely do my brackets from a tripod, just because I'm too lazy. Of course you could get an underwater tripod (many video folks use stuff like the Gorillapod SLR for macro).

    On the overdone part. I think it might actually be saturation that is to blame. The red in the sunset for example nearly looks blown out. Backscatter is a thing you will learn to avoid. You should not have to PP it. I've had the same problem before, but I just came back from Indonesia and I seem to have managed to eliminate Backscatter in most of my photos. Especially in the red sea which is more often than not crystal clear you should be able to light your scene without any backscatter. Just make sure that your strobe is angled slightly outward (counterintuitive, but effective). That way only the edge of your strobe hits the subject and nothing the water in between the camera and the subject.
     
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  5. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Top Veteran

    526
    Jan 28, 2015
    Denmark
    Stefan
    It could be that Ive overblown the highligts i will check in lightroom. Backscatter can be dealt with when you have time to adjust the flash to not light up the water between the camera and subject, but as i dont always have the time to adjust the flash it sometimes means backscatter. By the way the red sea was not as crystal clear at all divesites in january, one night they even closed the house reef because visibility was so low taht you couldnt see your buddy when he was more than 2-3 meters away.
     
  6. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 18, 2015
    Wow, 2-3 meters of viz in Egypt is not something I've experienced yet. What I meant, is that with more experience you will get to the point that you know where you get backscatter. You won't need time for a second shot. I dive in a similar situation to you, although my GF is very interested in me getting good pictures that she can show her friends, so she is fairly accepting of maybe 5 or so shots of one subject.

    That said, I may have spoken too soon about the success with eliminating backscatter on my recent trip. More careful inspection shows that quite a few still have significant amounts of backscatter. However, there are also many that show nothing. I would think that two or three more trips like the last one (24 dives in 2 weeks) will probably teach me how to avoid it almost completely. I bet you can do the same, although in the beginning it might help to try shooting a subject more than once to make sure you nail it. Do you use one strobe or two?
     
  7. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Top Veteran

    526
    Jan 28, 2015
    Denmark
    Stefan
    It’s a constant learning experience to do underwater. I only use one strobe with a video light (which I don’t use to often). Examining my shots I realise that back scatter is not what is my main challenge but particles in general, probably due to the low viz on some of the dives. When we dove places like elphinstone where the water was clear I don’t have that much trouble.
    I only get to do dive photography every other year or so. Would love to do it more regularly to allow learn from my experiences - with this long in between dives I always start a few steps back, but hey I get to do it and that’s the important thing thanks for chiming in it is really helpful to get feedback
     
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  8. Kalifornier

    Kalifornier Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Apr 29, 2014
    California
    Fantastic pics!
     
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  9. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Top Veteran

    526
    Jan 28, 2015
    Denmark
    Stefan
    Thanks so much - appreciate it :) 
     
  10. paddy567

    paddy567 Mu-43 Regular

    27
    Mar 31, 2013
    Tell me about you strobe, what are you using? How long is the arm?
     
  11. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Top Veteran

    526
    Jan 28, 2015
    Denmark
    Stefan
    I try to keep things compact, so I have a sea&sea YS-D1 with a 10 cm and 15 cm I-das arms on the base with a 15 cm grip.
     
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  12. paddy567

    paddy567 Mu-43 Regular

    27
    Mar 31, 2013
    Thank you! :) 
     
  13. Sam0912

    Sam0912 Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    292
    Mar 1, 2012
    Manchester UK
    Sam Roberts
    Amazing stuff, something I’d like to get into but first need to learn how to dive! The lighting in that cave was amazing! I’m also enjoying the technique/gear conversation
     
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  14. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Top Veteran

    526
    Jan 28, 2015
    Denmark
    Stefan
    Thank you! I would recommend learning to dive no matter whether you intend to do UW photography or not. It can be done quire easily 4 or 5 days, plus a bit a reading, gets you your first license - I requires you to be near a waterbody so it depends on where you live I guess:) 

    The light in the caves was amazing and Love photography that has big contrast whether it be underwater, concerts or other stuff. This has prompted me to consider other systems at times when I have been longing for a setup that handles high ISO better. But I never found anything that ways up the advantages of M43, the smallness an compactness which is great for underwater as I dont ike logging a gigantic rig around UW, but also because the EPL-5 with the 20mm is so small tht I can put it in my pocket and bring it to concerts that dont allow professional photo gear (which is the case for most concerts in Denmark). The EPL5 can pass as that in checks, as what they always look for is something that obviously is professional big rig. They always question me and ask if it changes lenses and I always say no and they believe me (thats their definition of professional :)  I fear a bigger e.g. Sony would not allow that little lie to be convincing. So I stick to M43 and to be honest the noise only really bothers me when I pixelpeep in lightroom.

    Te cave shoots are by the way slightly "underexposed" and that is also bringing out more noise, but once in the cave systems I dont change settings and I had set it to 3200 ISO, but I was going for the contrast which worked out pretty well in some cases. Actually I reduced exposure a bit in post to get the contrast and expose for the light that came in. MAybe M43 actually is a benefit for me with lower Dynamic range as I like the other parts to be very dark in order to create the effect of the natural light that came into the caves. So maybe DR works for m? hmmmm
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
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  15. Sam0912

    Sam0912 Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    292
    Mar 1, 2012
    Manchester UK
    Sam Roberts
    I often suffer with “GAS” myself, but what keeps me with the m43 generally is the size, IBIS and lenses. I started with and still love the 20mm 1.7, my favourite lens of all time, shot a few concerts at small venues with it and my old GF1. Hoping to try the diving in the next 2 years, we’re inland here but have a Haley Hansen water sports centre nearby
     
  16. zzffnn

    zzffnn Mu-43 Veteran

    206
    Nov 19, 2017
    Texas
    Beautiful images! Thank you for sharing, @StefanKruse@StefanKruse!

    If you had to choose lens again for your diving trips: between O9-18mm f/4-5.6, Samyang 12mm f/2.0 and O17mm f/1.8, which one would you take?

    Samyang 12mm is manual, but I heard it can focus well onto everything more than 1 meter away at f/2.0. So auto focus is probably not necessary there, as long as shooting distance is enough? I imagine you would have 1m or more of shooting distance, even in some cave dives?
     
  17. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 18, 2015
    I don't know the exact science behind it, but you generally shoot wide angle lenses behind a dome port, which creates a virtual image much closer to the lens, which the lens focuses on. This also often creates soft corners when shooting at large apertures. Close Focus ability is actually a pretty crucial feature for Wide Angle lenses under water.

    On top of that using manual lenses would require gears for adjusting the aperture and focus ring. Unless you have access to a (more expensive) dome port with another knob for focussing you will have to choose which one. Gears for those lenses would have to be 3D printed, but that has never been an issue for me.

    I know some people have used old manual lenses with special bokeh (e.g. bubble bokeh) under water, but I imagine that it is pretty challenging.
     
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  18. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Top Veteran

    526
    Jan 28, 2015
    Denmark
    Stefan
    Thank you so much :) 

    I would choose the 9-18mm but it depends on where and what you want to shoot. I dont have a domeport for my rig, only a flatport which means that the 9-18mm becomes a 11-23mm'ish (cant recall the exact math but it is somewhere around 20-25% added. For caves and tight spaces the wider the better, for open water I like the wide angle as well and when I dont shoot wideangle I tend to prefer my macro lens, but for say fish portraits the 17mm would do well I think, but you need to consider your housing and the port and make sure it fits. The 9-18mm is not the sharpest lens but underwater it doesnt matter that much as I find that the water messes with your sharpness. The slower aperture also isnt a big problem as I always bring light, but when shooting in natural light like in the caves a faster lens may work but only if it is wide enough. I like the flexibility of the 9-18mm zoom.

    I dont know about the samyang but it could work I guess (similar to the samyang fish eye I have, which is also just set to focus on every thing between short and infinity.) So if you know what you want to shot when in the water it could work, but as mentioned by hypilien you want to get as close to you subject as possible underwater.

    So in short I would take the 9-18mm and if I could find cheap domeport I wold use that, but the best way to find out is to try and see what works for you. I know it isnt easy with underwater because you often can only prepare for so much and on divetrips you rarely come back to the same site twice and if you do conditions can be very different, but that goes no matter what lens you bring :) 
     
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  19. StefanKruse

    StefanKruse Mu-43 Top Veteran

    526
    Jan 28, 2015
    Denmark
    Stefan
    Thank you all - for the feature, the comments and the incredible amount of likes, winners and wows.

    I like to tell myself that I am insusceptible to such things (internet likes), but I guess I am not :) 
     
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