In Part 1 of my Ghiannis D blog about the inside of the Ghiannis D I showed a couple of pictures to try and convey the drama and light of the insides of this picturesque Northern Red Sea wreck.
So this time I’m going to show a collection of shots of the exterior to try and show how you can get very different shots by simply moving a small amount in the water column, switching your strobes on and moving around the different areas of the wreck.
Before though I will say that I think the best light for shooting the exterior of the Ghiannis D is in the afternoon, when the sun has moved around, and you are not facing into the light whilst getting the classic external picture of her stern.
Another good reason to do this is to avoid other groups in the water, as on a normal schedule she will generally be dived as the first dive, and in the afternoon you will dive one of the other three wrecks at Abu Nuhas.
To shoot the classic angle of her, you are best quite shallow, looking down on her and simply using available light to capture her. There are a couple of alternative viewpoints to be had simply by moving around in an arc whilst staying at the same depth. From a technical viewpoint I’ve shot at an ISO of 200 at 1/50 sec at f6.3.
You need to be aware that with relatively slow shutter speeds like this there is a potential for micro shake, which is not normally visible on your camera’s LCD screen; and even though modern cameras have pretty good image stabilisers, this can still happen if you don’t concentrate and jab at your shutter release.
If you have a steady hand and good buoyancy you can get away with even slower speeds, but you will get a lower success rate as the speed drops.
Like in the previous shot, I’ve used a diver to add scale, and in this case I’ve composed horizontally or in landscape as it’s more commonly called. The above two pictures were taken three minutes apart, and I simply waited for the other diver to move into position. I also kept at the same depth but moved to the left a few metres.
I know a lot of people get annoyed with folk in their shots but I think seeing a diver connects us to the shot and can only heighten the drama and scale.
Neither of these two in these pictures were my buddies and in both cases I simply used them to make the shot, unbeknownst to them.
If you are working with a model and you can direct them, then all the better, however on a photo trip I try to avoid interfering with someone else too much, and usually just sneak shots like this. The technical settings are the same as with the previous shot.
If you keep moving around to your left another classic view will reveal itself. For this though you need to be a little deeper than for the previous pics. You need to properly plan and shoot a wreck dive, as it’s important to make sure you keep a good profile and avoid going up and down too much. If planned properly then you should avoid this. I like this angle as she appears to have slumped in resignation at her fate.
Like the previous pics the technical settings are pretty much the same as the light hasn’t changed over the course of these ten minutes. This doesn’t mean that this will be the same for you though, as the day we had was uncharacteristically overcast with a sandstorm that had blown over.
Being a little deeper now, myself and my buddy, who was lurking on the other side of the Wreck, decided to head off up towards the bow end.
She is separated quite distinctly bow and stern, and there is a section of the wreck which I always find quite graphically strong, so I try and get a little ahead of my buddy, so I can turn and frame them within this “V” shape.
I’ve scooted ahead to try and shoot my buddy coming across this section of the wreck, so I am now pointing back towards the stern area of the wreck. I am also still shooting just using available light at this point, so the technical settings are broadly similar, but very soon there is a good reason for me to turn on my strobes and mix things up a bit.
In amongst this section of the Wreck is an anemone and a couple of Clownfish; this though is buried well within the actual wreckage itself. So a whole new way of shooting needs to be adopted. Behind and around this anemone is very close jagged metal work, and definitely not enough room for my bulky frame, so to get this shot I have to shoot from the hip, with the front of my small dome one an inch or two from the body of the anemone.
There isn’t any room to see what’s on the screen or in the viewfinder, and I don’t have a right angle viewfinder… but to be honest it’s not that necessary once you get used to shooting from the hip.
Previous knowledge of this wreck has allowed me to pre-empt these shots, but on a photo week, these are things I’ll cover usually after the guide has given the regular dive briefing.
This shot required me to switch from available light to using my strobes, and the technical issues were getting my strobes in nice and close to the dome, but still back so as to avoid backscatter, and then gauging the correct exposure. I normally get my strobe exposure set on my hand before I move in for the actual shot, placing my hand in the position of the subject, or where I think it will be if I’m shooting from the hip like this.
I took a quick test shot of the subject to make sure I’d got the exposure right. I will also usually switch from autofocus to manual focus, as the camera, even with the huge depth of field of a fisheye lens, when this close can get the focus off a little.
All I had to do then was wait for my buddy Christian to swim where I think he would appear in the frame and take a couple of shots; this was the one where all the elements fell into place.
Phew! a bit of a logistical headache I agree, but worth it and the more you practice these techniques, and change from available light to strobes, then the easier these things will become.
Up at the the bow we were treated to a flickering shimmering lightship of silversides swirling around like millions of shards of glass, catching the light as they changed direction.
They are very reflective, so the flash exposure can be a bit hit and miss to be honest, and this shot was my personal favourite; but annoyingly I had placed Chris too far to the edge of the frame, so I moved him a tiny bit to the left using the Content Aware technology within Adobe Photoshop.
Another shot above where I’ve mixed available and strobe light.
After spending a bit of time with the silversides watching them swirl about, we both took some shots of the actual bow itself. To be honest I didn’t get any great pictures on this occasion, so was happy that we were going to visit her again on this trip – another great reason why a specific photo itinerary is the best way to get the shots you want.
It was getting towards safety stop time so we moved shallower and headed back amidships, and there was a few more different angles that I like to shoot before finishing the dive.
I like the safety stop area of the Ghiannis D and there are lots of great unusual angles to be had whilst the last few minutes tick away, so rather than just twiddling my thumbs, I like to use the time productively – and in and around the shot line there are loads of picture opportunities.
You have to be a bit careful though as it can get quite swelly, so keep an eye on your depth and position. I like this more abstract angle of the funnel on the Ghiannis which leads the eye into the shot and back down towards the stern.
Being quite close to the funnel, I’ve also used a touch of strobe to bring out a bit of contrast and the colour of the Banner Fish using the top of the wreckage to shelter in. This also provides a splash of yellow contrasting against the duller wreckage to lead your eye in to the shot.
OK, I hope you’ve liked this particular photo tour around the Ghiannis D and it’s by no means the only way to shoot her, but all of these pictures were taken in the one dive. You might want to shoot over parts of her on another dive, but I hope these have given you some ideas.
The trick is to talk about the shots you want with the guide, your buddy or me if you’re on one of my trips… and make a plan and stick to it.
Duxy 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.