Balancing the Light in Temperate Waters

Basket Star in Alaska

Learning how to master lighting in underwater photography can be tricky, but throw in the darker, cooler temperate waters and all the extra things that we need to remember as divers, and it can become an even steeper learning curve.

But actually is it that hard? When I was helping John with his underwater photography online last week, he threw a really thought provoking question to me, asking me what settings I used in Lightroom.

My answer was that I didn’t use Lightroom, instead simply getting the images correct in the camera in my dive or snorkel.

Soft Coral Reef Scene, Alaska taken with a compact camera, INON wide angle lens and INON S-2000 strobe

And so I thought I’d discuss my own thought process which enabled these images to be exposed correctly on my first ever temperate wide angle shoot in just 3 degrees of water in Alaska.

First I knew that I was shooting in green water which naturally is darker so I choose an ISO of 200 to let in extra ambient light. This would depend on depth however, but for these shots I was at about 10-12 metres.

I then choose a wider aperture to give my image more light, knowing that the optics of INON being so good that their wide angle legs would naturally keep my subject sharp. Here I chose apertures between f2.8 and f5.6 depending on the light around me.

Temperate Water Reef Scene, Alaska

Finally I left my shutter speed on 1/60th sec to keep the greener water inviting and not too dark, to compliment the subject.

And it worked. No editing was needed as these are the same images straight out of the camera.

And they were all taken back in 2009 to hopefully inspire some of you that older compact camera equipment without full manual controls can still produce incredible results.

Alaskan Nudibranch

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