shooting black subjects....best method?

Discussion in 'Underwater Photography' started by chile7236, Apr 21, 2012.

  1. chile7236

    chile7236 Scuba Instructor

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    saw my first frogfish today...a nice, football sized one...ALL BLACK. my limited skill only had me taking shots with different strobe settings...what are some other proven methods to bring out something like this? thanks.
     
  2. Nitro91

    Nitro91 Barracuda

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    their faces are always deformed.
     
  3. vladimir

    vladimir Giant Squid

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    Is there an answer in there somewhere?

    Chile, low-contrast subjects like your black frogfish are a challenge. They generally make boring photos, even though a frogfish is very cool. I'd look to get as close as possible, eliminate any distracting elements in the composition, maximize my depth of field, and try lighting it from different angles and perhaps let the shadows outline the subject's form a little. Be sure to get the eyes in sharp focus—that'll help the viewer see an exotic fish rather than a formless blob.

    Not a frogfish, but this snakefish presented many of the same challenges:

    [​IMG]
     
  4. chile7236

    chile7236 Scuba Instructor

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    thank you...next time, i will bring both strobes out as well. he was on a ledge, against a wall so i didn't have a whole lot of angles to choose from. tried focusing on what i thought was interesting but the pic did not come out as well as i'd hoped.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. NetDoc

    NetDoc Chairman of the Board

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    Mine wasn't quite so black... but I was using an exceptionally crappy camera with no external strobes.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. vladimir

    vladimir Giant Squid

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    Hmm...sometimes the picture is just not there to be gotten. I find the background distracting—less depth-of field would have helped to de-emphasize it by taking it out of focus. Hopefully some of our more expert photographers will chime in—I'll be interested to hear what they have to say.
     
  7. chile7236

    chile7236 Scuba Instructor

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    i am told that this guy is there a lot so hopefully, i can get another shot using different aperture settings...i was pressed for time on this dive (it was 15 minutes just to see this frogfish) and had to get in and out so i could make it back for an appt.
     
  8. smellzlikefish

    smellzlikefish Loggerhead Turtle

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    Looks like a tough shot to get good detail. Here are a few thing you could try, but you might still come away with a detail-less black smudge of a subject.

    You might try back-lighting to help outline the animal if you have the strobe arms for it. I'd try it with a small aperture (f/18+) to reduce the amount of ambient light hitting the sensor. A second strobe focused more directly at the subject would illuminate the details such as the eye.

    Also, you might try over exposing the fish a bit to try to bring out as much detail as possible. Again, a smaller aperture would help darken the background while the strobes would bring out your subject.

    Finally, as mentioned before, byou could use a really large aperture at close range to decrease your depth of field.
     
  9. Dsix36

    Dsix36 Manta Ray

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    shooting black subjects....best method?


    I was shocked to read that title. I was thinking that this was a KKK thread or something.

    Any way the police will fire one shot into the air and yell "Police, Freeze". After that it is anyones guess.
     
  10. Wookie

    Wookie ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

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    I really figured it would be Wormil who replied with "Stand your ground and aim carefully, at least in Florida"
     
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  11. Ardy

    Ardy Manta Ray

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    Very hard and you rarely if ever see a black subject in a good photographers portfolio. I have hit the same problem with frog fish but also black ribbon eels. The only thing you can do once you have fooled the camera into over exposure assuming you wont have a background that is totally distracting, is to try to get the flash reflected in the eye. Apart from this I have no idea, tried several times but nothing great or even keep-able if I admit it to myself (I do anyway). Not my best of a black subject but the quickest to get i.e. an apology or appeal for mercy?
    _3255479.jpg
     
  12. chile7236

    chile7236 Scuba Instructor

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    i spit out my drink just now...was so consumed with tips that i forgot to really look at the title...should i be ashamed? ;)
     
  13. Superlyte27

    Superlyte27 Loggerhead Turtle

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    So this isn't a george zimmerman tutorial?
     
  14. alcina

    alcina Missing Diva. ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Black subjects like those froggies are biatches to shoot. The best options I've seen have been shooting a little wider so they are part of a scene - for some reason those images seem to show the subject off better than filling the frame.

    Good luck, they're toughies.
     
  15. chile7236

    chile7236 Scuba Instructor

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  16. chile7236

    chile7236 Scuba Instructor

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    Since I was in a hurry (always a bad thing to be when shooting)....some very noticeable particulate and less than ideal strobe positioning
     
  17. Interceptor121

    Interceptor121 Scuba Instructor

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    I have looked at my set and could not really find anything black that was decent
    The issue is always the lack of highlights and whites as here
    20101021-IMG_3108.jpg

    However if I look at video such as this one Philippines Diving Moalboal December 2011 1080p.mov - YouTube that I shot this Xmas in Moalboal you can see around 13:58 there is footage of a black frogfish without lights I had a blue water filter. You can see that the water colour greatly enhances the frogfish

    I would think that instead of shooting at speeds of 1/250 and faster shooting at 1/60 and pointing upwards so that the water can be seen instead of the reef together with a wide aperture could achieve a better result however I have no practical examples as the ribbon eel is quite erratic so you need minimum 1/100 and even there is quite blurry because of movement. I have looked at older frogfishes that I have and the better results go to old shots taken with an Ixus 65 that was full auto and shoot at 1/60 F4 confirming the theory

    Next black frogfish here I come hahaha!
     
  18. highdesert

    highdesert ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Good to know I'm not alone .... I had the same problems.
     

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  19. Interceptor121

    Interceptor121 Scuba Instructor

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    You seem to be lacking a strobe?

     
  20. dna77054

    dna77054 Angel Fish

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    I too have had this problem with ribbon eels and frogfish and I do not have a solution. Real shame we cannot share such cool creatures. These things are really black, black-hole black, no light comes back.

    For those who catch the reference, the following quote is most appropriate:

    "How much more black could it be?"
    "The answer is none, it could be none more black."
     
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