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Close Focus Wide Angle Critters

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Don’t forget to pack your wide angle lens.

Last year I decided to make the the move from the pristine beaches of Mahe, in the Seychelles to the mucky slopes of Ambon, Indonesia. The Island of Mahe was surrounded by beautiful hard coral reefs, colorful fish, turtles and the occasional shark. The majority of my time in the Seychelles was spent shooting wide angle, and only occasionally did i get the chance to break out the macro lens. Now living in Ambon, it is a different story; with dive sites packed with weird and wonderful critters, the macro lens has certainly been getting a good work out. Having the luxury of spending time exploring the sites of Ambon and becoming familiar with the critters, I have noticed that there are many great opportunities to move away from the classic macro shot and to break out the fish eye lens – not only to capture some of the larger critters, but also to incorporate some of the strange and diverse habitats these critters call home.

When planning a macro trip, people often fall into the trap of thinking small. We pack our macro lenses, dioptors and tele convertors in order to capture classic shots such as the yawning Frogfish, Harlequin Shrimp on a blue Sea Star and Squat Lobster in a Crinoid. Not many people think about packing a wide angle lens for obvious reasons, but one thing Ambon has taught me is there is as much diversity available in photographic options as there are critters in Ambon Bay! There are opportunities to be had through a wider lens and the results can really set your images apart from the rest.

What is Close Focus Wide Angle?

Close focus wide angle is a technique that is typically practiced using a very wide lens. Fisheye lenses work best because of the extremely close focusing distance and the ability to focus on subjects just off of your dome port. This technique will make your subject appear larger and really pop from your background, especially

with the forced perspective this type of lens gives. Close focus wide angle is not normally associated with muck and critter diving due to the small size of the majority of subjects, but there are some species where Close Focus Wide Angle is a very effective technique.

Fresh Water Eels of Larike Village, Ambon, Indonesia, Canon 7d, Tokina 10- 17mm, Nauticam Housing, Ikelite ds160-161 Strobes. f8, 1/200th, ISO 160

Fresh Water Eels of Larike Village, Ambon, Indonesia, Canon 7d, Tokina 10- 17mm, Nauticam Housing, Ikelite ds160-161 Strobes. f8, 1/200th, ISO 160

Choosing your subject

One of the most challenging aspects when shooting close focus wide angle is finding a prominent foreground subject and also a pleasing background. If you can find both of these you have the basic building blocks for a great image. Jetties are always a good place to start as they attract a large variety of life and provide great backgrounds and light. It is always worth planning your dives under a jetty in accordance with the sun’s height; knowing which way the jetty faces and timing your dive will ensure you make the most of the light. Close Focus Wide Angle is not a technique that you are going to be able to use on tiny critters such as a Skeleton Shrimp or Boxer Crabs. Instead concentrate on larger critters such as Giant Frogfish, Scorpion Fish, Rhinopias, Octopus, Anenomes and Ghost pipe fish which all provide great opportunities with the wider lens. What you are really looking for is a slow moving bottom dwelling creature that has a balance of colour and character. A lot of the time, especially on a critter diving trip, some of your subjects are bound to be on a rubble or sand slope with only limited visibility. To combat this you want to get as low and close as possible, minimizing the distance between you and your subject. This will give you more contrast and colour from your subject. This trick is not only specific to Close Focus Wide Angle, however; getting close and low in general is a great tip to remember when shooting underwater.

Your dive guide will play a big part in helping you choose the right subject – not only because they will know what critters are around, but they can also advise you on the type of substrate or background you will be dealing with. Often a good muck diving site will have a number of critters around, so it’s worth doing a macro dive on the site first to check it out, and if the conditions look good, return with your wide angle set up.

Giant Frogfish (Antennarius commersoni), Ambon, Indonesia, Canon 7d, Tokina 10-17mm, Nauticam Housing, Ikelite ds160-161, f8, 1/250, ISO 100.

Giant Frogfish (Antennarius commersoni), Ambon, Indonesia, Canon 7d, Tokina 10-17mm, Nauticam Housing, Ikelite ds160-161, f8, 1/250, ISO 100.

Lighting

In terms of lighting and exposure, you are going to want to light your subject with your strobes; you can then control the light in your background by using your shutter speed to get the water tone you are after. As for your subject, you can control the exposure by using your aperture and strobe power. Start of with an aperture of f8 (but you may need bump it down a few stops if you want more depth of field to maybe f14). For your strobes they will have to be tucked back away from the port (about level with the hot shoe connection) and angle them a little way out from the housing so you are utilizing the softer light on the edge of the strobe beam. Your strobes will also have to be nice and close to your housing in order to illuminate the whole subject and not create large shadows.

Robust Ghost Pipefish, Ambon, Indonesia, Canon 7d, Tokina 10-17mm, Nauticam Housing, Ikelite ds160-161, f9, 1/125, ISO 200.

Robust Ghost Pipefish, Ambon, Indonesia, Canon 7d, Tokina 10-17mm, Nauticam Housing, Ikelite ds160-161, f9, 1/125, ISO 200.

Equipment

Fish eye lenses are the order of the day with this technique (Nikon 10.5, Canon 15mm and the Tokina 10-17mm). Tele convertors are also great addition as they reduce the coverage of the lens and add depth of field to your shot. As for the dome, a small dome is essential – no bigger than 6 inches in order to get as low and close to your subject as possible.

Hairy Frogfish, Lembeh, Indonesia, Canon 7d, Tokina 10-17mm, Nauticam Housing, Ikelite ds160-161, f9, 1/125th, ISO 200.

Hairy Frogfish, Lembeh, Indonesia, Canon 7d, Tokina 10-17mm, Nauticam Housing, Ikelite ds160-161, f9, 1/125th, ISO 200.

Tips

  • –  Plan your dives and speak to your dive guides. Ask them what is around and also where it is. Only use the wide angle set up if you know there may be a critter you can use this technique on. Don’t strap on the fisheye for every muck dive.
  • –  Get low and get close – this technique is all about getting as close as you can without disturbing the critter.
  • –  Have your strobes close to your housing.

So when planning your next muck diving trip, consider a wide angle set up for some of your dives. Take the time to look at some of the critters with a wider perspective to add a bit off diversity to your critter portfolio.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/joedaniels/ or
www.jldaniels.co.uk

Joe’s passion for the marine environment has led him to numerous locations across the globe, from working as a Divemaster in Australia to working on marine research expeditions in the Seychelles. One thing which has remained constant is that his camera has always travelled with him. Joe is now Resort Manager at Maluku Divers, a photography focused resort on Ambon Island in a remote part of Eastern Indonesia. To see more of Joe’s work, visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joedaniels/ or www.jldaniels.co.uk

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Introducing the Nauticam NA-D780 for the Nikon D780

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While the Nikon D850 dominates the high-megapixel end of the Nikon DSLR lineup and the D5 delivers unparalleled dynamic range and low-light capability the D780 is a blend of both with a splash of Z-series mirrorless hybrid-shooting capability thrown in. The D780 employs a full-frame BSI 24.5MP sensor to create still images with incredible detail and dynamic range as well as to produce UHD 4K video from the full sensor width.  Autofocus and metering enhancements as well as video output over HDMI options allow the D780 to excel in both video and still applications.

Nauticam’s NA-D780 is built around the N120 Port System for the Nikon F-Mount lenses.  Combined with Nauticam’s lineup of Premium Professional Optics such as the WACP-2, the D780 can achieve an ultra-wide 128º field-of-view, with zoom down to 72º using the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR lens with unparalleled optical quality.  When pairing the powerful SMC-1 and SMC-2 super-macro wet lenses the Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED lens is capable or producing 2x and 4x life-size images.

The NA-D780 incorporates Nauticam’s Mission Control philosophy in every aspect of its design.  Intuitive control placement, refined design aesthetic and rugged functionality are at the core of all Nauticam housings.

Now available for pre-order!

NOTE:  Product images shown are renderings, actual product may vary.

Model Number: 17226
MSRP: $3,620 USD

For information in the UK click here.

For information in the USA click here.

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Paralenz underwater video camera now available to rent

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Paralenz is a powerful, user-friendly underwater video camera enjoyed by scuba divers, snorkelers and coastal tourists seeking to capture their underwater adventures in beautiful high-quality video and still photos. The camera is now available for daily rental at select dive shops in Florida and Italy for $25 (25 euros) per day.

Not only does the Paralenz camera preserve users’ experiences for take-home memories, it also captures valuable geolocated data that can be shared with international ocean conservation organizations.

“The Paralenz rental camera is simple to use and by making it available to rent, more underwater explorers can capture their vacation memories without making a permanent investment,” said Lise Engelbrecht, chief executive officer of Paralenz. “Our camera can capture any ordinary underwater adventure in high-quality video and turn any diver or snorkeler into a citizen scientist contributing to ocean conservation.”

Ease of Use Is Top of Mind

The Paralenz rental camera is based on the company’s current flagship model, the Paralenz Vaquita, modified to offer an easy-to-use point-and-shoot camera experience with powerful technology that yields high-quality videos and still photos, patented Automatic Depth-Controlled Color Correction, an ultra light-sensitive lens, quick auto-edit functions, integrated GPS and several video-sharing options.

At the heart of the Paralenz experience is the Paralenz App. When consumers rent the camera, they download the free app, which offers a dive log, media library and multiple sharing options, as well as “TheOceanBase,” an interactive map where users can upload their favorite dive videos.

“Our goal was to develop an app that was fun and functional for Paralenz camera users,” said Peter Thiell, chief technology officer for Paralenz. “It’s the main hub where you save your underwater recordings, geek out over dive statistics and get inspired by other divers’ uploaded dive footage from all around the world.”

Rental customers’ recorded footage is private and secure, and is available for direct download from the cloud for up to three months after they return the rental camera to the dive shop. Video assets can be automatically edited in the Paralenz App and easily shared with friends, family or to social media.

A Camera with a Higher Purpose

Every dive shared on TheOceanBase via the Paralenz App contributes valuable ocean data — collected via integrated camera sensors that log conductivity, temperature, depth and geolocation — to Paralenz’s conservation partner Coral Restoration Foundation, located in Key Largo, Florida.

“We are excited at the possibilities presented by this relationship with Paralenz, and with every diver using a Paralenz camera,” said Amelia Moura, science program manager at Coral Restoration Foundation. “This kind of huge, user-generated, real-time data resource could add incredible value to our restoration efforts, supporting our monitoring strategy and potentially helping us as we evolve our coral restoration strategies over the coming years.”

Now Available for Rent or Purchase

To find a convenient location to rent a Paralenz camera in Florida or Italy, follow this link.

The Paralenz Vaquita also is available for purchase for $749 on the Paralenz website. The camera comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and 12-month warranty. Paralenz also offers a line of accessories that enhance the versatility and usability of the camera.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

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This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

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