BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Photo Analysis -

1 TREAD SOFTLY A good strat­egy when pho­tograph­ing skit­tish marine life is to pre­pare your kit be­fore ap­proach­ing. While still two me­tres away, I ad­justed the po­si­tion of my flashes to en­sure that they would il­lu­mi­nate the area di­rectly in front, and di­alled in my ex­po­sure set­tings. Now pre­pared, I glided into the zone, hold­ing my breath (ex­hal­ing is sur­pris­ingly noisy), and took a test shot. I then backed up to ex­hale and preview the im­age be­fore re­peat­ing the process.

2 ZOOM IN Macro lenses ca­pa­ble of life-size mag­ni­fi­ca­tion at min­i­mal fo­cus­ing dis­tance are ideal for tex­tures and pat­terns. Next time I shoot a gi­ant clam, I’ll fit an ex­ter­nal wet diopter (a set of lenses that short­ens the fo­cus­ing dis­tance of a macro lens) onto the cam­era hous­ing, to in­crease mag­ni­fi­ca­tion to twice life-size.

3 POP THE COLOUR Scenes with high dy­namic range (here, both neon blue high­lights and rich dark tones) re­quire care­ful ex­po­sure. To avoid over­ex­pos­ing the blues, I re­duced my flash and checked my his­tograms to en­sure I wasn't blow­ing out the high­lights. I used RAW for­mat, which meant I could bring out the de­tail in the shad­ows in post-pro­cess­ing.

4 SHARP STRIPES The plane of fo­cus is very shal­low when work­ing at high mag­ni­fi­ca­tion close to your sub­ject. I used an aper­ture of f/22 to max­i­mize depth of field and keep as many stripes as pos­si­ble in sharp fo­cus. For a fish por­trait from 50cm I’d use f/8 to sep­a­rate sub­ject from back­ground.

5 IN THE TWIST There’s rarely a ‘cor­rect’ ori­en­ta­tion with ab­stract un­der­wa­ter shots. I pre­ferred this hor­i­zon­tal, with the black hole of the an­i­mal’s siphon off-centre.

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