February 11, 2008

Under the Sea

Posted in Commentary at 10:07 pm by Michael Sweeney Media


How I took this picture.

I plan to start posting some of my better work and detailing where and how I took the picture. Not exactly Mac stuff other than all the tools I use are on a Mac :)This is one of the underwater scenes from the newly redesigned submarine ride at Disneyland. It has been greatly improved and is alot of funEquipment List
        •        Nikon D80
        •        18mm
        •        1/160
        •        F6.3
        •        ISO 1250

Shooting this image was relatively simple with a few tricks. First,you need to crank up the ISO (film speed) unless you have a very fast lens which I did not, F3.5 was the best it could do. So I took the speed to 1200 ISO and manually set the aperture to F6.3. I wanted F8 but I lost a stop of shutter speed and the subs move at a pretty good clip. This was aperture priority so I let the camera decide on shutter speed but I did add 1/2 stop compensation to the exposure.

The real trick is that your autofocus will go nuts under water and trying to shoot through the port hole even with the lens pressed close to the glass (not touching, the subs shake). So it’s manual focus with a 2nd trick. Keep as wide of an angle as you can. The 18mm give me alot of room to miss the precise focus point and still get it sharp.

So the short version:

Fast ISO
Mid F stop
auto shutter
1/2 stop comp
very, very close to the glass port hole
manual focus
wide angle

As a follow up point. I shoot RAW for images like this that I know will need work. RAW gives me the ability to color correct and work out exposure adjustments better than an already baked setting in a JPEG file. If you can, shoot this type of image raw for max range of adjustments. If not, then shoot the highest quality JPEG or TIFF you can.

I did my post processing in both Lightroom and CS3 but CS3 by itself will do fine. The big trick is to run a levels adjustment layer for each channel (RGB) and this will get rid of the green color cast from the light being absorbed by the water. I also used a saturation layer to punch up the blues and other colors as they were a bit faded. Only some minimal sharpening was done.


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