Underwater Photography - Underwater Videography - Photo and Video Instruction
From taking images with basic Point&Shoot to making videos with DSLR cameras and camcorders - We have you covered!
The first video of 2016 is all about Syngnathidae. The Syngnathidae are a family of fish which includes the seahorses, the pipefishes, the pipehorses, and the seadragons. The name is derived from Greek, syn, meaning “fused” or “together”, and gnathus, meaning “jaws”.
“Stars of Lembeh” is the last video of the year 2015. See for yourself why Lembeh is so special – Which one is your favorite critter-star?
Are you fascinated by spooky, weird beings? In this video you will see them crawling, writhing, feeding hungrily and lying craftily in wait to ambush prey. Some, like the live headless nudibranch (we named it ‘Ichabod’) will leave you shaking your head in disbelief. Enjoy the show and when you go to bed, don’t forget to leave your night-light on and close the door to your closet, lest these spookiest critters invade your dreams. Enjoy!
It’s fright night in this episode featuring some very spooky critters of the Lembeh Strait – from the stargazer to bobbit worm, and flamboyant cuttlefish to mantis shrimp – which one do you think is the scariest?
Here some critter highlights from diving in the Lembeh Strait…enjoy!
SONY A7RII with a 90mm macro lens – Image size comparison with the SubSee +5 and the Nauticam SMC
I was checking out different options of so called “wet-lenses” on the SONY A7RII in a Nauticam NA-A7II housing. I used the SONY FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS lens without a wet-lens, with SubSee +5 and with the Nauticam SMC and compared the subject sizes at maximum magnification.
When using no “wet-lens” in Super 35mode, the image size is very similar to when using a SubSee+5 in Full Frame mode & when using a SubSee+5 in Super 35 mode the image size is very similar to when using a SMC in Full Frame mode.
The difference is that you have 42MP in Full Frame mode vs 18MP in Super 35 mode. Of course when shooting stills we want to have the full 42 MP (why else would we pay for them), but the Super 35 mode becomes really handy when shooting video. In both modes the A7RII is recording 4K in camera. It’s like having an extra teleconverter with you while diving. When I’m shooting video I try to use the Super 35 mode whenever possible, but when the subjects are a bit larger, it’s very nice to be able to shoot in full frame mode and get a tick closer.
Here are some images with my results:
All images taken at F18, 1/125sec, ISO ranged from 1250 – 2000 (I had the camera on AUTO ISO)
Final conclusion: For shooting video with the A7R2 there’s no need for the SubSee +5, but it can be useful when shooting stills. I will do some more testing and keep you posted.
UV or fluorescence dives are becoming more and more popular and many dive resorts offer them as part of the experience.
Doing fluorescence dives can be very different than normal dives, and the fluorescence is best appreciated on night-dives.
How to shoot fluorescence underwater?
There are different ways to do fluorescent photography; one way is to use a UV or fluorescent focus/video light to look for subjects, fluorescence filters on our strobes, a yellow filter on our camera and a yellow filter on our mask and the other way is to just use UV lights and a yellow filter on the camera (and mask) and no additional strobes. Because of all these filters the light is not that strong in the first place and we need to use different settings on our cameras. High ISO numbers, large apertures (low f-numbers) and slow shutter speeds are typically needed to be able to see something in our images.
Shooting with strobes
Strobes with fluorescence filters strapped on are stronger than UV lights, allowing us to choose lower ISO numbers, faster shutter speeds and smaller apertures, but we still cannot shoot with our typical macro settings…I usually start off with something like ISO 800-1600 , f8, 1/60sec, take a test-shot and then adjust accordingly…sometimes we need to boost the ISO up more to get the desired depth of field, but that can introduce noise (newer cameras can handle very high ISO numbers without having too much noise)
Hermit crab – Canon 7D, 60mm macro, ISO800, f7.1, 1/60sec, 1x i-Torch Pro6 as focus light, 1x INON Z240 with fluorescence filter strapped over the strobe
Shooting with video lights:
Many video and focus lights nowadays have the UV function built in. If you don’t want to invest in the fluorescence filters for the strobes it is possible to use only the UV lights to get some good shots as long as the subjects are small. A good starting setting there is around ISO800-1600, f5, 1/30sec and then adjust according to the subject…for moving subjects use a faster shutter speed.
Mushroom coral – Canon 7D, 60mm macro, ISO800, f4.5, 1/30sec, 1x i-Torch Pro6+, 1xi-Torch Pro 7 with fluorescence filter strapped over the light
Galaxea coral – Canon 7D, 60mm macro, ISO800, 1/30sec, f4, 1xi-Torch Pro6
It is easiest to photograph corals and anemones as they don’t move much, but a lot of the critters here in Lembeh are fluorescent as well…
Stargazer (Uranoscopus sp) – Canon 7D Mark II, Tokina 10-17, Kenko 1.4 TC, @17mm, ISO640, f7,1, 1/60sec, 2xi-Torch Venom 50
Wrasse – Canon 7D Mark II, 60mm macro, ISO640, f5.6, 1/125sec, 2x i-Torch Venom 50
Needle cuttlefish (Sepia aculeata) – Canon 7D Mark II, Tokina 10–17mm, Kenko 1.4x TC, ISO 16000, f/6.3, 1/30s, 2x i-Torch Venom 38
Lizardfish – Canon 7D, 60mm, ISO640, 1/30sec, f5, 1x i-Torch Pro6
This is a little scorpionfish with some algae growth on him…the scorpionfish itself is not fluorescent, it’s the algae! – Canon 7D, 60mm, ISO640, 1/30sec, f3.5, 1x i-Torch Pro6+, 1xi-Torch Pro 7 with fluorescence filter strapped over the light
With multiple UV lights and a wider lens (i.e. fisheye lens) it is possible to illuminate larger subjects:
Favia coral – Canon 7D Mark II, Tokina 10-17, Kenko 1.4 TC, @17mm, ISO640, f7,1, 1/60sec, 2xi-Torch Venom 50, 2xi-Torch Venom 38, 1x i-Torch Pro6+
Reef-scene in UV view – Canon 7D Mark II, Tokina 10–17mm, Kenko 1.4x TC, @14mm, ISO 5000, f/5, 1/60s, 2xi-Torch Venom 50, 2xi-Torch Venom 38, 1x i-Torch Pro6+
Hard coral (Montipora tuberculosa) – SONY A7 RII, SONY FE 16-35mm f4 ZA OSS @16mm, ISO2000, f4, 1/60sec, 1xi-Torch Venom 50, 2x i-Torch Venom 38, 1x i-Torch Pro6+
Close-up of above image
Hard coral (Montipora tuberculosa) – helicopter-shot – SONY A7 RII, SONY FE 16-35mm f4 ZA OSS @16mm, ISO20.000, f4, 1/60sec, 1xi-Torch Venom 50, 2x i-Torch Venom 38, 1x i-Torch Pro6+
Scientists still don’t fully understand what purpose(s) fluorescence serves in marine life but theories propose that it may be for communication, as protection and to fool predators. Whatever the reason, it’s fascinating to discover and photograph a whole new side to fish, creatures, corals and anemones whose appearance changes radically under fluorescent light. See if you can discover fluorescence in an organism you never knew had it in them! Remember as always to be respectful of marine life and be cautious if you are using fluorescent lights on an animal, as some may have eyes which are particularly sensitive to that spectrum of light. Also keep in mind that if you are diving with UV lights, non-fluorescent coral is harder to see, so go slow and take care not to damage unseen organisms or habitat.
This Week’s Tip: How to Photograph ‘Frogfish’
Frogfish or Anglerfish are a favorite subject of many photographers, because like nudibranchs they usually don’t move much, although hairy frogfishes tend to be more active than other species. They’re also not shy, so they can be shot from very close distance.
The best lenses to use are macro lenses such as 60mm, 100mm, or 105mm for DSLR’s, (nowadays with different cameras like mirrorless & micro 4/3 etc. the lenses vary a lot, I use a 90mm at the moment on a SONY A7R2). For shooting super-macro images of tiny juveniles, eyes or the lures, use close-up diopters or teleconverters.
Hairy frogfish (Antennarius striatus) eye – Canon 7D Mark II, 60mm, Nauticam SMC, f5.6, 1/160sec, ISO 160, 1x SOLA 4000, 1x SOLA 2100
For shooting CFWA (close-focus-wide-angle) of giant frogfish, fisheye lenses are the preferred choice, for smaller subjects we can combine the fisheye lens with a teleconverter. Try to get as low as possible and shoot slightly upwards to isolate the fish clearly against the blue water background.
Giant frogfish (Antennarius commerson) sitting on a sponge at the mini-wall @ Nudifalls – shot upwards into the water column to get a blue background – Canon 7D, Tokina 10-17 @ 10mm, f3.5, 1/80sec, ISO200, 2xL&M SunRay 2000 LED lights
The same giant frogfish (Antennarius commerson) on the same sponge, this time shot downwards in the water column to get a black background – Canon 7D, Tokina 10-17 @ 10mm, f3.5, 1/250sec, ISO200, 2xL&M SunRay 2000 LED lights
To show how well they camouflage, it sometimes can be nice to back off a bit and not fill the frame with the frogfish.
Giant frogfish (Antennarius commerson) on a sponge – Canon 7D Mark II, Tokina 10-17, Kenko 1.4 TC @14mm, f8, 1/125sec, ISO640, 2xSOLA 4000
Getting really close is key when shooting CFWA, using a mini dome is recommended. Black hairy frogfish (Antennarius striatus) very close to the port – Canon 7D Mark II, Tokina 10-17, Kenko 1.4 TC @14mm, f10, 1/50sec, ISO320, 2x i-Torch Venom 50, 2x i-Torch Venom C92
When frogfish are ‘luring’, try to shoot them from the side, to get the lure and the frogfish in focus
Painted frogfish (Antennarius pictus) fishing with its lure – Canon 7D, 60mmm macro, f5.6, 1/320sec, ISO160, 1xSOLA 1200 on spot
Frogfish also look cool when shooting portraits, it can be nice to fill the frame with the face only (especially when you run into a larger frogfish with a 100/105 (or 90mm 😉 ).
Use a large aperture (low f-number) to get out of focus backgrounds and foregrounds.
Hairy Frogfish (Antennarius striatus) close-up portrait shot with a large aperture – Canon 7D, 100mm macro, f3.5, 1/800sec, ISO160, 2x L&M SunRay2000 LED lights. This frogfish was just too big for my lens (100mm), so I decided to go for a portrait.
Why can using only one light-source be helpful?
Warty frogfish (Antennarius maculatus) sitting in sponges, 2 lights lighting up the subject, but also the distracting background – Canon 7D Mark II, 60mm macro, f13, 1/60sec, ISO160, 1xSOLA4000, 1xSOLA2100
Using only one light-source will create dramatic shadows and can give us a darker background if we don’t light up all that sand.
The exact same subject (and exact same camera position), but this time I used only one LED light on spot – Canon 7D Mark II, 60mm macro, f5.6, 1/1000sec, ISO160, 1xSOLA2100 (on spot) – to get a similar result with a strobe, use a snoot.
Warty frogfish (Antennarius maculatus) shot with one LED light on spot – Canon 7D Mark II, 60mm macro, f16, 1/60sec, ISO100, 1x Sea Dragon 2100 on spot
When using a snoot or spot on a LED light, black backgrounds and dramatic shadows are possible – Canon 7D, 60mm macro, f11, 1/125sec, ISO160, 1x SOLA1200 on spot
Always remember that with moving your strobe/light around you’ll get different results as I mentioned here:
For hairy frogfish, backlighting with a LED light or a strobe will make the hairs stand out more. Use one strobe from behind and one from the front to light up the face as well.
Hairy frogfish (Antennarius striatus) backlit to make the hair stand out more – Canon 7D Mark II, 60mm macro, f11, 1/200sec, ISO160, 2x SOLA 4000 (1xfront, 1xback), 1x SOLA2100(front), 1x F.I.T.2400WSR (back)
To get behavior shots like yawning, you have to be patient (and of course lucky), frogfish often open their mouths a little bit only just seconds before the real yawn, so try to be ready for the shot and have your settings right. Take a couple test shots and when you have your exposure right, then wait. Of course don’t wait too long if there are other divers waiting for their turn to see/photograph the frogfish.
Hairy frogfish (Antennarius striatus) yawning – Canon 7D, 60mm macro
CFWA Hairy frogfish (Antennarius striatus) yawning – Canon 7D, 60mm macro, CFWA wet-lens (that’s why there are blurry edges), f5.6, 1/200sec, ISO160, 2x SOLA 4000
Even if frogfish usually don’t move much and seem to be relaxed, never harass them (the same goes for every creature underwater). We often see frogfishes in the same spots for many months, but if they’re harassed, they move away and future divers cannot get a glimpse of the weird and wonderful world of frogfishes.
In recent years, there has been a flood of video lights onto the underwater imaging market. The emergence of LED lighting technology has made it possible to pack a lot of lumens into a small unit for an affordable price. With this cascade of LED video lights, manufacturers have sought to separate their products from the competition by offering different combinations of advanced features, such as red focus lights, optical triggers, and the ability to switch between flood and spot beams.
The simple truth is that there is no single best video light—there’s only the best one for your specific needs. Recognizing this fact, i-DiveSite has released the i-Torch Venom series—four compact, but powerful video lights ranging from 3,500–5,000 lumens. But selecting the Venom that’s right for you entails more than simply deciding on output power. Here, we break down the Venom c92, Venom 50, Venom 38, and Venom 35s, to help you find the perfect light for your needs.
Overview of the Venom Series
The four lights in i-DiveSite’s Venom series can be divided into two pairs: the more sophisticated Venom c92 and Venom 50, which each cost $975; and the simpler Venom 38 and Venom 35s, which set you back $749 each. The specifications table below gives an overview of the similarities and differences between the four models.
|Venom c92||Venom 50||Venom 38||Venom 35s|
3 xpg red
2 xpg red
4 3W UV
2 xpg red
4 3W UV
2 xpg red
3 xpg white
|Beam Angle||100°||100°||100°||100° (flood)
|Burn Time at 100%||~55 min||~50min||~60min|
|Battery||50Whr Li-ion||38Whr Li-ion|
|Control Modes||5x White
1x UV, 1x SOS
|Remote Control Option||Yes||No|
Each of the lights has distinguishing features and characteristics. However, the basic operation of each model is the same across the series. Each light has two push buttons. One powers the light on and cycles through its different modes, while the other cycles through the various power levels in each mode. The power setting and remaining battery life are indicated on a small display located between the two buttons. In the sections below, we’ll take each of the lights in turn and look at its features in detail, considering what sets it apart from the others in the series and what kind of image-maker it would be most suitable for.
i-Torch Venom c92
The i-Torch Venom c92 is the flagship model in the series, boasting 4,000 lumens at a beam angle of 100 degrees. It’s the only light in the series that uses a 50W COB (chip on board) LED, with a CRI (color rendering index) of 92, which is designed to produce very natural and pleasing colors underwater. The light comes with a replaceable 50Wh Li-ion battery pack that can be recharged in under two hours when empty and lasts around 55 minutes at the highest power setting. The Venom c92 has eight modes: five power levels for the white light (100%/80%/60%/40%/20%), two levels for the red light (100%/40%), and an emergency SOS mode for signaling.
What Makes the Venom c92 Special
The Venom c92 can be used with an optional remote control via a fiber-optic cable, and this is where the light really comes into its own—giving you fine control right from the handle of your rig. A dial wheel on the remote allows you to adjust the power output in 10% increments while a push button switches between the modes (white/red).
I-Torch’s optional remote control unit, which works with both the Venom c92 and Venom 50
A great feature is that the light “remembers” its last setting on white and red. This means you can, for example, switch from 100% white to red, and then dial the power setting all the way down to 0% on red, so the light is effectively switched “off.” Then when pressing the push button on the remote, the light goes back to 100% white and when pressing it again, it goes back to 0% red.
Blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena sp.): Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 60mm macro lens, dual i-Torch Venom c92, f/6.3, 1/125s, ISO 160
The remote can even operate two lights at the same time. So, for instance, setting one light to 100% white and the other to 60% white, you can switch both lights on and off using just a single button on the remote. There’s no fiddling around to switch on one light on the left and another on the right, which wastes time and might scare off skittish subjects. The responsiveness of the Venom c92, combined with the ease-of-use of the optional remote control will redefine how you think about using video lights.
Who Is the Venom c92 Perfect For?
The Venom c92 is ideal for the prosumer to professional videographer and still shooter that values ease of use and the power to light up wide scenes. The surprisingly warm and natural color of light produced by the Venom c92 is this light’s greatest asset—a quality of light that’s difficult to find in other LED lights.
Napoleon snake eel (Ophichthus bonaparti): Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 60mm macro lens, dual i-Torch Venom c92, f/5.6, 1/400s, ISO 100
Canon 7D MarkII, 60mm macro, f5.6, 1/400sec, ISO 160, 2x i-Torch Venom C92
Show reel using dual i-Torch Venom c92’s
i-Torch Venom 50
The i-Torch Venom 50 is the most powerful in the Venom series, with 5,000 lumens and a beam angle of 100 degrees, great for lighting up wide-angle scenes. The light comes with a replaceable 50Wh Li-ion battery pack that takes less than two hours to recharge from empty and burn time is around 50 minutes at the highest power setting. The battery is identical to that used in the Venom c92—only the head (LEDs) is different.
The Venom 50 offers the same eight modes as on the Venom c92—five power levels for the white light, two levels for the red light, and an emergency SOS mode for signaling—but there’s an additional ultraviolet (UV) mode (100% output only), which has you covered if you want to experiment with fluorescence imagery.
Painted frogfish (Antennarius pictus): Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 60mm macro lens, dual i-Torch Venom 50, f/5.6, 1/320s, ISO 160
Show reel using dual i-Torch Venom 50’s
What Makes the Venom 50 Special
The Venom 50 may seem to be pigeonholed by its high lumen output, but it really shines for its flexibility in many different shooting situations. While it can pump out an impressive 5,000 lumens at a 100-degree beam angle, you can also add just a touch of light when required by adjusting at 10% increments via the optional remote control. There’s also the red light, which does a great job as a focus light for super skittish subjects that would otherwise scram at the site of white light. For something completely different, you also have a UV light built in if you want to indulge your fluoro-diving fantasies.
Who Is the Venom 50 Perfect For?
Intermediate videographers and photographers using a DSLR or mirrorless camera will find the Venom 50 powerful and versatile. Those who want to do the odd fluoro dive will love the fact that they don’t need an additional UV light.
Slipper lobster (Scyllarides latus): Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Tokina 10–17mm lens, Kenko 1.4x teleconverter, dual i-Torch Venom 50 (UV mode), f/6.3, 1/60s, ISO 8000
Snowflake mooray (Echidna nebulosa) inside a bamboo stick, Canon 7D MarkII, 60mm macro, f5.6, 1/500sec, ISO160, 2x i-Torch Venom 50.
Venom c92 and Venom 50 side-by-side comparison
The i-Torch Venom 38 packs 3,800 lumens and comes with a replaceable 3,400mAh/38Wh Li-ion battery pack, which has a burn time of 60 minutes on the highest power setting. It can be recharged from empty in approximately two hours. The Venom 38 has four power levels (compared to five on the Venom 50 and c92) using the white LEDs, two using the red LEDs, and one in its UV mode. i-Torch’s optional remote control is not compatible with this model or its less powerful sibling, the Venom 35s.
What Makes the Venom 38 Special
One could argue that the Venom 38 is the workhorse model in the series. Sure, it doesn’t have a 5,000-lumen output, and it can’t be operated by remote control, but for most video and photo situations, the Venom 38 delivers. It has a slightly warmer output than the Venom 50, which will help bring desired reds back into the image for less experienced videographers. And for those looking to experiment, you still have UV mode and the red focus light available.
Starry blenny (Salarias ramosus): Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 60mm macro lens, dual i-Torch Venom 38, f/5.6, 1/250s, ISO 160
Needle cuttlefish (Sepia aculeata) feeding at night: Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Tokina 10–17mm lens, Kenko 1.4x teleconverter, dual i-Torch Venom 38, f/14, 1/60s, ISO 640
Who Is the Venom 38 Perfect For?
The Venom 38 is a great choice for the photographer looking for a solid focus light in red or white, who also wants to experiment with video and UV imagery.
The Venom 35s
The i-Torch Venom 35s distinguishes itself from the other models in the series by having both flood and spot modes. As with the other lights in the series, the Venom 35s comes with a replaceable Li-ion battery pack (3400mAh/38Wh), which can be recharged from empty in under two hours. At the highest power setting, the light is good for around 60 minutes. The Venom 35’s modes, in sequence, are white flood, red, white spot, and off. The light offers 3,500 lumens in flood mode and 1,000 lumens in spot mode.
What Makes the Venom 35s Special
The Venom 35s is defined by its versatility. This video light is ideal for macro videography, but it is also powerful enough to do close-focus wide-angle video and stills. It may not be sufficient to cover larger scenes in terms of power output, but the handy spot mode is a real boon. This mode, which switches the beam angle to 18 degrees, is excellent for snooting and directional lighting of critters. It also serves as a backup torch, or as a light for your dive model if shooting wide angle. All of that from just one compact light.
Needle cuttlefish (Sepia aculeata): Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 60mm macro lens, i-Torch Venom 35s on flood, f/5.6, 1/80s, ISO 160
Needle cuttlefish (Sepia aculeata): Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 60mm macro lens, i-Torch Venom 35s on spot, f/5.6, 1/125s, ISO 160
Who Is the Venom 35s Perfect For?
The Venom 35s is a less-expensive option for the more casual still shooter or action camera videographer who wants a video light that serves a multitude of functions.
The increasingly crowded market of LED underwater video lights can be tough to navigate. It seems like every manufacturer these days has a dozen different models, with each claiming to be the best and brightest. For its part, with the i-Torch range, i-DiveSite hasn’t attempted to make the do-all video light, but instead created a range of lights designed to cater to different kinds of shooters.
Tailored to a range of users, from more casual diver to the seasoned semi-professional, each of the four lights in the Venom series offers its own particular combination of specs and functions, but without sacrificing light quality or output power.
Needle cuttlefish (Sepia aculeata): Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Tokina 10–17mm lens, Kenko 1.4x teleconverter, dual i-Torch Venom 38 (UV mode), f/6.3, 1/30s, ISO 16000
This article was originally published on DivePhotoGuide
Sascha is a consummate Pro, whether it be with his photography, videography or post-production skills. His wealth of knowledge can help fine-tune enthusiasts from novice level to pro alike. His enthusiasm and passion flow through into his teaching style. I also appreciated his patience and trouble-shooting skills. My photography and knowledge level literally improved overnight after working with Sascha.
This could happen when you do a photo course with Sascha. It brought real improvement to my pictures. Thanks a lot for the fun and the lessons learned!
A few helpful comments by the in-house photo pro Sascha considerably improved my pictures.
Sascha was very helpful for camera support and gave good hints about software for better images!
I was particularly grateful to the Lembeh photo-pro Sascha Janson for his patient and tailor-made tuition. I can highly recommend the DSLR course, especially for those who want to get the most from their underwater photography during the trip. Sascha was also able to provide a tailor-made lesson on post-editing which I found invaluable.
Arriving as a complete novice underwater photographer and leaving with some relatively decent photos can only be credited to the technical knowledge of the inhouse photography expert Sascha, as well as the help of guides underwater.
Sascha packed so much into 2 hours my photography improved instantly.
A special thanks to Sascha, the Photo Pro, who I learned a lot from and who was always available for help and advise. Anybody who wants to improve their photography skills, Sascha is the Pro to go see and spend time with!
Extremely satisfied with the Photo Center service. Finally, we have also made progress in our uw photography with valuable tips from Sascha, who also introduced us to the world of Lightroom.
I took an underwater photo class with Sascha. Sascha provided some excellent tips and advice on camera settings, lighting, and even on organizing and editing pics in Lightroom. It was very helpful and made the trip even more interesting, giving me a fun mission to improve the quality of my pics while I was there. I don’t have an SLR, but am happy with the results from my Canon S95 and the class was worth every penny!