Star in Stripes

Sport Diver - - Images - Photography Tips

1 Fully Fo­cused

Pat­terns are com­fort­ing for the eyes and brain, but this means any tech­ni­cal mis­takes jar our en­joy­ment far more than with other types of im­agery. It also means that when shoot­ing pat­terns, you must get the de­tails right. Pat­terns usu­ally look best with as much of the pat­tern in fo­cus as pos­si­ble. Po­si­tion the cam­era par­al­lel to the sub­ject and close down the aper­ture to keep ev­ery­thing sharp. Take ex­tra care with your com­po­si­tion to keep the dom­i­nant el­e­ments, such as the curls of this crinoid, bal­anced in the frame.

2 Salad Bowl

Jim Church, the late, great teacher of un­der­wa­ter photography, called ran­dom pho­tos show­ing de­tails of the reef salad-bowl shots. He said those pic­tures “show a lit­tle of ev­ery­thing, but not much of any­thing.” These are pic­tures where noth­ing is re­ally wrong, but there is no sub­ject for the viewer to latch onto and love. You can avoid the salad with care­ful fram­ing and by just in­clud­ing one type of back­ground — such as the crinoid here — in your shots. Even bet­ter, many reef species have com­men­sal crit­ters liv­ing on them, which pro­vide the per­fect pho­to­graphic fo­cal point.

3 The Right Light

Macro pat­terns can be formed from de­tails, tex­tures or col­ors, and the best light­ing tech­nique for one is not the best for all. Color pat­terns and de­tails look great in even il­lu­mi­na­tion. If you use one strobe, pull it in right above the lens. If you use two, po­si­tion them on ei­ther side of the port and set them to the same power. Pat­terns of tex­ture stand out clear­est with di­rec­tional light­ing, which cre­ates shad­ows and shows the three-di­men­sion­al­ity of the sub­ject. If you’re us­ing one strobe, move it away from the cam­era so light comes from the side. If you are work­ing with two strobes, turn one down or off.

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