D810 underwater again

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PHXAZCRAIG
PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 13,530
D810 underwater again
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Let me know if you would like to see some more recent underwater images taken with the D810 in Roatan. Or larger sizes than those I'm posting here.

I spent Sept 23-Oct 7 diving in Roatan. 37 dives, so I had a lot of material to work with. I have relatively little underwater experience with this rig, (40 dives before this trip, over 2 years), and I tried to use different settings than the past, specifically trying to keep ISO as low as possible. I have found that dynamic range is extremely important in underwater photography as so many subject have a high degree of reflectivity. Pulling down highlights in post is pretty much something I do in 100% of my shots, or at least the ones with strobes.

I also end up cropping almost 100% of the time. Mostly because you just can't always get close enough, and also because of weak corners and edges.

Autofocus is quite good, though I have big issues at times with focus hunting when I'm nearing macro range with the 105vr. (I have no manual focus control at this time with this lens).

Here's a nearly uncropped image. F29 for depth of field. 1/160th is my go-to shutter speed, though I supposed I could go slower if getting all illumination via strobe. (At 1/100th I get a lot of blurry fish though).

View: original size

Here is a center crop from the above image:

View: original size

This image was pushed 0.8 stop in post, but I also pulled the highlights down about 100 points in Lightroom. You see the hot spot in the middle of the face? That's a typical issue for many undersea creatures (and corals).

I was able to get a good shot of this shrimp mainly because he was in a very accessible position. He was looking up out of a sponge, and all I had to do was shoot straight down - no corals or underwater obstructions to get in my way and force awkward shooting or holding angles.

These are cleaner shrimp (and often found in salt water aquariums) about a couple of inches long. Being cleaner shrimp, they sometimes come right out of hiding and wait for you to get close to them. Makes them very convenient to shoot as they basically pose for you.

Here is another type of cleaner shrimp that is smaller. Pederson cleaning shrimp are about the size of your thumbnail, and they literally dance around waving their antennae to get your attention. Size and movement make them a bit more difficult to image, but at least they don't hide.

In this shot you can see six Pedersons around a Corkscrew Anemone in a crevice about 6 inches across.

View: original size

Moving closer I captured this:

View: original size

Here is a shot from last year that gives a sense of scale:

View: original size

I make good use of the high resolution of the D810. Sometimes you have to crop to get any shot at all, and sometimes you just want to see details.

Here is a nearly 100% crop, due to the extremely small size of the subject. I've actually never been able to actually focus my eyes on these creatures. The wire coral they live on is about 1mm in diameter.

May not be a great shot, but without 36mp I would have almost nothing to show.

View: original size

Here's another quite heavy crop. These small fish live in abandoned Christmas Tree Worm burrows that are about the diameter of a soda straw. Making it more difficult to get a good shot is the fact they tend to be at shallow depths (15 feet) in areas that always seem to have some back-and-forth surge. This is case where you are swept in a foot or more, click the shutter and hope, are swept back, and then back in again. In some cases I've made 30 shots to get one or two in focus.

Roughhead Blenny

View: original size

Sometimes you just have the wrong lens mounted. Here I had a wide angle 16-35 behind a dome port, and I wished I had a macro lens. (Note; you do not get image magnification when shooting through a dome, unlike a flat port).

Here is the uncropped shot. I was at 35mm and almost touching the anemone to get maximum magnification:

Those anemone arms are the thickness of your fingers - do you see the shrimp?

View: original size

Here is an extreme crop of the above, though I don't think I got the best post processing out of it:

View: original size

Here is an example of a subject that is difficult to shoot due to high reflectivity. I generally turn down flash power a lot, reduce highlights and pull up shadows trying to get shots of Caribbean Lobsters"

Caribbean Lobster

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The Spotted Lobster is even worse for dynamic range, with a lot of reflective white spots on a dark body:

Spotted Lobster

View: original size

Here's a mistake that most non-photographers don't notice. When I started this trip, I left the camera on Auto-ISO for the first dive - until I saw that the D810 was selecting ISO 8000.

Anyway, a tribute to the camera as I got a somewhat-usable shot at that ridiculous ISO.

Longsnout Seahorse at ISO 8000

View: original size

Here's another subject I find difficult to expose correctly. My strobes light the subject, but the subject is so bright and white that I lose most detail in it unless I pull the highlights way down in Lightroom.

Social Feather Dusters

View: original size

Here's a subject that has a lot of detail - but I always need to pull down highlights to have any detail in those white 'hairs'.

Bearded Fireworm

View: original size

here's another high-reflectivity subject. I'm not sure how to light this one properly, and I simply may not have the tools in Lightroom to deal with it.

I've reduced exposure and highlights here tyring to tame the colors.

View: original size

Here's a close crop of some coral to show the details.

View at 100%...

View: original size

I bought a housing for my D810 a couple of years ago, before I get too old to carry it or dive. I was tired of the autofocus issues with a series of point-n-shoots (various Canons and a Sony RX100 II). I also wanted more dynamic range and more pixels. I've been quite happy with the D810 underwater, and I'll be shooting it for years.

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Phoenix Arizona Craig
www.cjcphoto.net

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Phoenix Arizona Craig
www.cjcphoto.net

 PHXAZCRAIG's gear list:PHXAZCRAIG's gear list
Nikon D80 Nikon D200 Nikon D300 Nikon D700 Nikon 1 V1 +35 more
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