NUPG: The Right Light and Black & White


The Northern Underwater Photography Group June 2018 Meeting Roundup

The usual suspects plus a couple of newcomers enjoyed a great talk this month given by the Underwater Photography Duo of Caroline & Nick Robertson-Brown from Frogfish Photography. The subject was “The Right Light” and Caroline and Nick had brought along two or three camera setups and various lights to illustrate many points discussed in their informative talk.

Initially the use of strobes and their strengths and weaknesses was discussed including the physics of the media water, and how water being so much denser than air limits the distance the light from a strobe (or any light) can travel and is a major limiting factor when using lighting on a subject underwater.

This talk naturally progressed onto the positioning of strobes for various types of shot from macro to wide-angle with a very informative piece on Close Focus Wide Angle photography. The use of one strobe and/or two was discussed along with examples, also the use of extra off camera strobes and the addition of other forms of lighting was explained. Remembering that pointing a light directly at the subject can result in significant backscatter and how you position your strobe to try to eliminate this. A good tip was noting that even if you are normally shooting with two strobes it can be advantageous to turn one off along with using different power settings on different strobes for certain types of shot.

The difference in strobe and constant light positioning for landscape and portrait shots was illustrated. The talk then went into the merits and use of natural light and when or when not it was appropriate to supplement this with strobes and/or constant light.  The fact that many species are sensitive to light and local rules mean that natural light might be the only choice in many circumstances for certain creatures, such as when snorkelling or diving with whale sharks or photographing seahorses, means that this is a skill that is essential to master. The advances in constant lights and what they can now do was shown. Also discussed, was the importance of ISO settings and how modern cameras have improved in this aspect over the past few years with much higher ISO settings now being able to be utilised.

Tips were also given on how to photograph divers in a picture. One of the main points on improving your underwater photography lighting is to remember to just go to a quarry or even a swimming pool and practice, practice, practice and get used to how your camera and your strobes and lights work underwater.

The theme for this month’s competition was black and white. The winning shot was taken by John Spencer with a beautifully lit photograph of a squid. The joint runners-up were a shot of dolphins by Nick Robertson-Brown and Glynn Philips with his shot of a blue spotted stingray. The winning (and only) entry in the compact category with a shot of a reef scene was taken by Rob Williams.

Next month’s meeting is to be held on Monday 9th July at The Gurkha Grill, Manchester, M20 1LH. The meeting starts at 8pm but you are more than welcome to come and join us all for a curry from around 6:30pm. The theme of July’s monthly competition is “Squidge” If you are in the North-West please do come down, you will be made most welcome.

For more information please visit the NUPG website by clicking here.

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown are a husband and wife team of underwater photographers. Both have degrees in environmental biology from Manchester University, with Caroline also having a masters in animal behaviour. Nick is a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in underwater wildlife photography and he also has a masters in teaching. They are passionate about marine conservation and hope that their images can inspire people to look after the world's seas and oceans. Their Manchester-based company, Frogfish Photography, offers a wide range of services and advice. They offer tuition with their own tailor made course - the Complete Underwater Photography Award. The modules of the course have been written to complement the corresponding chapters in Nick's own book: Underwater Photography Art and Techniques. They also offer equipment sales and underwater photography trips in the UK and abroad. For more information visit

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