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Duxy’s Underwater Photography Blog: Available Light, Part 2

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Why so blue?

In part one of our series on Available Light, I looked at why wide angle lenses are such a deal breaker when trying to get great available light in underwater pictures.

Wide angle lenses are only part of the solution though, and a two pronged assault on the flat, blue problem pictures is what is needed.

We’ve established how you need to get much closer to your subject hence the wide angle lens, but we also need to address the lack of colour that will blight a lot of underwater shots.

We see a multicoloured vibrant reef, resplendent with hard and soft corals, populated by a variety of fish in a myriad of hues. Yet why do our pictures end up as just fifty shades of blue?

Our perception of what we are seeing is one of the main issues in available light underwater photography. So using Custom White Balance allows us to take back control of the situation.

What’s going on?

It helps if we understand a little of what is happening. As we descend the colours are filtered out progressively more as we leave the surface, with the reds and oranges disappearing first followed by the yellows then greens as we approach the relatively modest depths of 15 to 20 metres.

In our minds eyes though, especially nearer to the surface, we “experience” these colours because our brains are tricking us a little. Our cameras though see things as they really are, which is why folk are often disappointed with their first foray into underwater photography.

Pre-digital cameras, we had little alternative than to use strobes or flashguns to replace the colours in our shots.

With the advent of digital though came a new option to control the colour temperature in our pictures, and for each and every shot if we wished.

This opened the door to a whole load of exciting new possibilities for us underwater photographers, and this was called Custom or Manual White Balance.

Setting the right balance

Most digital cameras these days have an option to control the colours of their end results. This is accessed using the menu controls, and is normally a bunch of symbols under the heading of white balance. It’s very difficult to be specific here, as each brand, and even individual models of camera, are often different in this respect. If you’re not sure with your camera, or are thinking of buying a suitable camera once again, get in touch at duxy@scubatravel.com and I will advise you on the current choices.

With beginners this is the single most popular thing I start folk off with on our photo workshops.

When you find the White Balance menu on your particular camera you need to find the symbol in the middle. After accessing it your camera will tell you what to do onscreen. I can’t be more specific because it differs widely from camera to camera.

It’s usually the turning point when they realise that they are able to get great colourful underwater pictures. Here’s a selection of white balanced photos and videos that I shot with compact cameras from across the years:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_V9UUQTSDpk

OK, hopefully that’s shown you that this is a valid technique for putting some colours back in your pictures.

How to do this is the big question though.

As I mentioned, most cameras are very specific with their means to correctly White Balance, but generally speaking the procedure requires you to show the camera a reference “white”. This can actually be a neutral mid grey tone too – a slate is one solution.

Or I tend to just use my hand (see below). You don’t need to fill the whole frame with your hand; better still to hold it at around the distance your foreground interest will be.

This is the usual distance and size in the frame of my hand when taking a white balance reading. I try and replicate the angle and depth at which I am shooting as accurately as possible too.

Follow and read your instruction book

And then you nearly always follow some onscreen instructions to take the reading.

What is clever here is that the camera will try and bring back the neutral mid grey or white back to what it should be, and hopefully then any colour cast, i.e. the blue of the water, will stop affecting the colours in your shots.

As you go deeper you need to take further readings, as the depth that you are at effects the white balance quite markedly.

Distance from subject is also an issue, so it helps to factor in this when you take the reading.

OK – if you follow this procedure in an ideal world and with the conditions in your favour, you’ll get great colourful pictures. Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world, and Custom White Balance doesn’t always provide such a simple solution.
So in the next instalment of this four part series we’ll look at some of the pitfalls to Custom White Balance, and in what circumstances it works best, and more importantly what circumstances it doesn’t work too well with.

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Scuba Travel new logoDuxy is the in house photo-pro for UK-based dive tour operator Scuba Travel. To find out about availability on Scuba Travel’s underwater photography workshops hosted by Duxy click here.

Duxy has worked for nearly 20yrs in the dive industry, starting at the pointy end of dive tourism in Sharm as a guide and videographer, transitioning into a fixture back home in the U.K. helping and advising on all things underwater photographic, and as a popular speaker at shows and dive clubs delivering talks. He now works as the in house photo-pro for ScubaTravel and has conducted nearly 40 overseas workshops for them, helping all flavours of underwater photographer with everything from GoPro's to DSLR's to improve their shots. He speaks fluent Geek but his motto is that what really counts at the end of the day is 'pictures not pixels'.

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Join Pharaoh Dive Club for Red Sea Splash Family Summer Camp in August 2024

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family summer camp

3rd AUGUST 2024  – 1 or 2 WEEK PROGRAMMES

Daily water programme with Snorkelling & Scuba Diving.

Beginners or qualified, something for all.

Leave the kids with the Splash Team for days of Excitement, Fun & Adventure!

family summer camp

BOOK NOW: INFO@PHARAOHDIVECLUB.COM / TEL: +44 7598 329059 or +20 100 6822000

There are various options for accommodation with options for 2, 3, 4 or 5 guests.

Eco Huts provide accommodation for families of up to 4. The best option to enhance the adventure and closest to camping with basic facilities. For August we will provide central air cooling for all the Eco Huts.

family summer camp

Deluxe Chalets are only suitable for 2 guests. Fully air conditioned rooms with private bathroom and other facilities.

family summer camp

Boutique Rooms are available for families of up to 5.
Individual bespoke rooms fully air conditioned with private bathroom and other facilities.

Eco Huts: £675 per adult / £425 per child / Under 8 FREE of charge
Deluxe Chalet: £830 per adult / £505 per child / Under 8 FREE of charge
Boutique Room: £925 per adult / £550 per child / Under 8 FREE of charge

BOOK NOW: INFO@PHARAOHDIVECLUB.COM / TEL: +44 7598 329059 or +20 100 6822000

This is a truly unique opportunity to have a Family Desert Adventure totally away from it all! You will be based at the remote Roots Red Sea on the coast of the Egyptian Eastern Desert, 140km south of Hurghada city.

family summer camp

Red Sea Splash main focus is Snorkelling & Scuba Diving but that’s not all, we provide a rounded week of activities in support.

Pool& Field Games – Arts & Crafts
Marine Biology Workshops
Cultural Activities – Orienteering Adventures

Roots Red Sea have established strong links with the local communities of Hamerwain  & El Quseir affording our guests to have a true taste of the local culture, SPLASH CAMP embraces this opportunity and bring in the local children to join in the fun with our adventure seekers.

family summer camp

During the day, families are welcome to take part in all activities together or the kids can be left with the SPLASH CAMP team while the parents enjoy the facilities or go diving themselves!

family summer camp

At the end of the day, its family time while the SPLASH CAMP team take a break. For those with the energy, there are family evening activities planned a few evenings.

Open Air Movie Night – Desert Star Gazing Walk & Talk
El Quseir Evening City Tour

The second week is very special, we head off on the Big Blue for a liveaboard safari around Fury Shoals.

family summer camp

BOOK NOW: INFO@PHARAOHDIVECLUB.COM / TEL: +44 7598 329059 or +20 100 6822000

U-8 Splash Club

Sadly we can’t offer Scuba Diving to the Splash Club but we can have lots of fun Snorkelling & Free Diving!

Splash Club includes:

Certified Snorkel Course – Marine ID Games – Intro to Free Diving
Arts & Craft Sessions – Adventure trails – Cultural Playtime – Pool Games

family summer camp

U-12 Explorer Club

In addition to an exciting snorkelling and Free Diving Programme in the Splash Club we can take you under the water on SCUBA to a whole new world of fun and wonder. If you are under 10 your first breath under water will be as a Bubblemaker and continue with daily Seal Team Missions. From 10 we will complete a Discover Scuba Diving experience in the amazing Red Sea. Alternatively we offer a full junior certification programme to become an international qualified Scuba Diver.

family summer camp

U-16 Adventurer Club

For qualified Scuba Divers regardless of age it’s the Adventurer Club and exploration of the local reefs and marine life. There will be 2 dives every day with the Open Ocean marine field station team who will introduce you to Red Sea marine life and workshops on marine research. Alternatively there are opportunities to continue your scuba diving certifications with our instructional team.

family summer camp

Parents are welcome to join the club activities and join the courses.

BOOK NOW: INFO@PHARAOHDIVECLUB.COM / TEL: +44 7598 329059 or +20 100 6822000

Big Blue might seem like the new kid on the block, but the team behind the highly acclaimed liveaboard is far from that. They have been running Red Sea safaris since the late 1980’s and were in fact part of the early pioneers who ventured out to the unknown on vessels that in today’s world, really shouldn’t have left the harbour! It’s that experience and the years of operating the award-winning Roots Red Sea resort which truly set Big Blue apart from the crowd!

family summer camp

Large lounge area, spacious sun deck and terrace deck.

family summer camp

Airy restaurant with five tables with up to six chairs per table, serving a varied and delicious menu with special dietary requirements catered for.

family summer camp

The spacious cabins have side by side beds and a large walk in wet bathroom.

family summer camp

Ample dive deck for divers & snorkelers.

family summer camp

Safety is everyone’s priority, whether you are relaxing on board, swimming, snorkelling  or diving.

On board Big Blue is fitted with smoke alarms, emergency lighting and a fire alarm system. The lower corridor has a full-size door fire exit at the bow and open stairs to the stern. There are evacuation plans in each room along with life jackets, glass breaker tool and a fire extinguisher.

BOOK NOW: INFO@PHARAOHDIVECLUB.COM / TEL: +44 7598 329059 or +20 100 6822000

Red Sea Splash at Fury Shoals is a very rare opportunity to get involved with marine biology expedition for children and adults. Open Ocean biologists are on board to provide fascinating and entertaining facts about the marine life you will see. The team will provide workshops on marine life identification and survey methods both of which, should you wish, you will have the chance to put into practice during your safari.

family summer camp

The week is open to snorkelers, scuba divers and non divers too!

Fury shoals is perfect for first time mariners as it offers plenty of protection from the weather.

We board at Port Ghaleb on Saturday evening and prepare to set sail early on Sunday morning.

family summer camp

Heading south, our first day will be diving the reefs of Abu Dabbab before sailing overnight to reach our ultimate destination the Fury Shoals.

Here we will spend four days swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving amazing reefs. This includes guaranteed DOLPHIN encounters at Sataya Reef!  After the last dive we haul anchor and head back to Abu Dabbab for our final two dives before disembarking our boat BIG BLUE.

family summer camp

Camp Extension Cost*
Adult £650 per adult
Under 16 £350 per child

BOOK NOW: INFO@PHARAOHDIVECLUB.COM / TEL: +44 7598 329059 or +20 100 6822000

FURTHER INFORMATION – INFO@PHARAOHDIVECLUB.COM

TEL: +44 7598 329059 or +20 100 6822000

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Meet Pure Dive Resort: Your Gateway to Unforgettable Diving in Bali, Indonesia

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bali

If you’re passionate about the underwater world, listen up! We’ve got an incredible opportunity for you to experience the vibrant reefs and majestic marine life of Nusa Penida, Bali, Indonesia.

bali

info@purediveresort.com / +62 811 3999852 / www.purediveresort.com

Pure Dive Resort isn’t just another dive centre; it’s a team of experts dedicated to providing world-class scuba diving and freediving adventures around Nusa Penida, Lembongan, Ceningan, and even Bali.

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info@purediveresort.com / +62 811 3999852 / www.purediveresort.com

Whether you’re a seasoned diver or completely new to the sport, Pure Dive Resort has something for you:

For certified Divers: Discover stunning dive sites, encounter manta rays, seasonal mola-mola (sunfish), and a dazzling array of marine life.

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For beginners: Embark on your scuba journey with beginner programs like Try Scuba and Basic Diver, Open Water and Advanced certifications.

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Freedivers: Explore the depths on a single breath with guided freediving experiences and courses.

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Exclusive Scubaverse Offer: Save on Your Next Adventure

As a valued Scubaverse follower, you get an exclusive 10% discount on any Dive & Stay or Learn & Stay package booked at Pure Dive Resort for 2024. Dive into the crystal-clear waters, explore breath-taking reefs, and create unforgettable memories in this diver’s paradise.

Visit https://www.purediveresort.com/package-offers/ to explore amazing packages and claim your discount with the code: SCUBAVERSE10

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info@purediveresort.com / +62 811 3999852 / www.purediveresort.com

Ready to make a splash?

See you in Nusa Penida!

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Experience the Red Sea in May with Bella Eriny Liveaboard! As the weather warms up, there’s no better time to dive into the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea. Join us on Bella Eriny, your premier choice for Red Sea liveaboards, this May for an unforgettable underwater adventure. Explore vibrant marine life and stunning coral reefs Enjoy comfortable accommodation in our spacious cabins Savor delicious meals prepared by our onboard chef Benefit from the expertise of our professional dive guides Visit our website for more information and to secure your spot: www.scubatravel.com/BellaEriny or call 01483 411590 More Less

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