Monthly Archives August 2017

Let me introduce myself. I have been the Chief Sports Photographer of The Sun Newspaper in London, England for the last 29 years. It’s my job to fill the sports pages of the UK’s best selling newspaper, with over 1.6 million papers sold daily and with over 45 million unique viewers to our digital platforms.

12 months ago I covered my sixth Olympic games, on this occasion in Brazil, where I followed some top British athletes in their quest for gold at the games, getting up close to them in training and getting great access to them before going to the games.

I also covered my 10th European soccer championships in France, my 35th Wimbledon All England Championships, my 35th English Football Season, England’s summer cricket campaign, and many professional boxing bouts working in conjunction with some top fighters.

It’s been a busy few years in the game!

I have been honoured to have won three major industry awards for my work, including The Sports Journalism award for my picture of a double handed save by England’s Joe Hart voted the best football picture of the season. I also won two awards from our National Football Association for the same picture and for a goal celebration by Daniel Sturridge against Wales. Plaudits like these make you strive harder to keep trying to get those images we all remember.

I started the campaign by photographing our Olympians.

Adam Peaty competitive swimmer and breaststroke specialist who has represented Great Britain at the FINA world championships and European championships

First was Adam Peaty, our gold medallist in the games. I wanted to photograph Adam in the pool using strobe lighting. I shot with a Canon 1DX Mark II and 400mm f/2.8 lens using two Elinchrom D-lite RX strobes with a fast syncing connection and two soft boxes and two assistants hanging over the pool lighting Adam. I powered the lights with a Godox power pack and took no more than 5 attempts before I knew I had my shot.

Matthew Hudson-Smith is a British track and field sprinter who specialises in the 400 metres.

Next came Matthew Hudson-Smith, a British track and field sprinter who specializes in the 400 metres. We photographed him in the National Indoor Arena, again using two fast syncing Elinchrom D-lite RX strobes. This time I shot with a Canon 1DX Mark II and a 300mm f/2.8 lens on a tripod. We used a beauty dish to the front with a grid on it, as well as a soft box in front, and a grid with a blue gel on it behind, just to change the colours.

Claudia Fragapane artistic gymnast She represented England at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Great Britain at the 2014 European Championships

My third assignment was well out of my comfort zone. I had to photograph Claudia Fragapane, who is an artistic gymnast. This was a challenge, knowing nothing about this sport. She was wonderful to photograph! She showed me the most dangerous move that she did, so all I had to do was try and light it. I used three fast syncing Elinchrom D-lite RX strobes and shot with a Canon 1DX Mark II and 85mm f/1.2. We used a beauty dish to the front with a grid on it again, we also used two grids to the front and rear.

The result was nice but it needed something else. I used a Topaz star burst filter in post production and it made the image pop. She was pleased with the image and that was good enough for me.

Giles Scott Olympic Sailing

Next, it was down to the National Sailing Centre in Plymouth where I photographed gold medallist sailor Giles Scott. I did not have a clue about sailing, but he was great. He allowed me to bolt on Canon 600EX-RT flash guns and sealed them with house hold kitchen film because of the salt water. These were fired with an infrared transmitter. I shot the image with a Canon 1DX Mark II and a 24mm-70mm lens. The strobe light made the image pop beautifully.

When we finally got to Rio for the Olympics, it was full on chasing Brits winning medals. The city handled the games well, but the distances between the events put lots of stress and strain on photographers getting from A to B for events, not to mention the crime aspect. You had to be vigilant 24 hours a day to protect your equipment and your personal belongings. I luckily had nothing stolen, but knew of people having things stolen.

My favourite image from the games was of Mo Farah, who won the Men’s 5000m Final. He did his thing very easily and won the race, but the image came after the race. He had finished his lap of honour, and from behind a stand came running out and jumped in mid air with a union jack flag behind him. I was using a Canon 1DX Mark II with a 300mm lens. This image was corner to corner in the view finder. Many photographers cut fingers or cut off the top of his head, but luckily for me I got the frame.

The English Domestic football season was dominated by Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. Chelsea had a new manager, Antonio Conte, who came in and won the Premier League in his first season. The night they clinched the Premiership, the players were celebrating with him. They grabbed the manager and started to throw him in the air. Luckily for me I was positioned perfectly! They threw him up and threw a banner that said “The Champions.” This was taken on a Canon 1DX Mark II with a 500mm f/4 lens.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United scores 3-2

Manchester United won the League Cup at Wembley Stadium. The game was won in the dying minutes of the final half with a winning goal by Zlatan Ibrahimovic. I took an amazing image on a remote camera positioned behind the goal with a Canon 1DX and 24mm f/1.4 with Pocket Wizard. My paper loves these pictures because of the angle its taken from.

People who know me well know that I love to photograph boxing, the fights as well as the previews building up to the fight. One fight in particular was Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko. The fight was set to take place at Wembley Stadium in front of 90,000 people. The build up in the UK was massive. Luckily for me, I had access to Joshua before the fight. This is where all the KelbyOne videos I’ve watched paid off.

Anthony Joshua ahead of his fight with Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium

I turned a nice image of Joshua into an amazing front cover of the pull out for my paper. It was taken on a Canon 5Ds with a 85mm f/1.2 and three Elinchrom D-lite RX strobes using soft boxes with grids.

The highlight of the summer sports for me is the Wimbledon All-England Tennis Championships. 14 days of sunshine, great working facilities, great pictures and a great place to have the privilege of working. You have to have your wits about you all the time.

HRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

It’s not just tennis, you have to watch for celebrities arriving and enjoying the tennis, members of the Royal Family having a day out, including HRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. You must not point a long lens at the Royal Box during play, which is one of the rules of Wimbledon that is observed by the press pack.

Eddide Redmayne and Bradley Cooper
Roger Federer wins his match and Grace Jones cheers

This year there were celebrities like Eddie Redmayne, Bradley Cooper, and singer and actress Grace Jones. The women’s championship was won by Garbine Muguruza and the men’s was won again by Roger Federer.

Garbine Muguruza wins
Roger Federer wins final

I am one of the lucky ones who are allowed on the court for the trophy presentation, but there are certain rules that have to be observed. No shorts, only trousers and a shirt must be worn to take the pictures, and definitely no monopods allowed on the grass. All cameras have to be hand held.

I use two Canon 1DX Mark II bodies and one Canon 1DX at Wimbledon that are cabled to the internet for direct picture transmission to our photo editors in the media centre. I use 500mm, 300mm, and 70-200mm lenses for celebrities and tennis action pictures.

Another summer sport for us Brits is cricket. There are three forms of the game: 20/20, which is fast a furious a bit like baseball, then there is 50 over cricket and the last is a five day test match between England and South Africa which I had to cover. Basically you have to be there for a 9:30 photo briefing to pick your working position for the day. You watch every ball bowled from 11am till 1pm, then 1:40pm till 4:40pm, then from 4pm till the official close of play at 6pm. Luckily the BBC provides great radio commentary, so this helps when the play gets slow. This can go on for four days without a result, or if you get lucky you can get a result inside three or four days. Days four and five turned out to be big moments in the game.

Ben Stokes 1st ball Faf Du Plessis

Ben Stokes, English bowler, bowled Faf Du Plessis of South Africa on the fifth day England spin bowler to a hat trick and bowled out the last three South African batters for no runs, and then was mobbed by his England teammates after he secured victory in the match.

My final two pictures of the year I want to talk about are from the IAAF World Athletics Championship most recently held in the London Stadium, which was formerly The Olympic stadium for 2012 games. First night action, especially for the British fans, was Mo Farah competing in the 10,000m. The anticipation of the crowd was electric and the noise was so loud. 25 laps of the track in the last event, Mo was being pushed about. He had a spike put into his leg, elbows, the usual thing. On the last lap he went for the front and took the lead. The roar of the crowd was nothing that I have experienced since 2012. He came hammering towards us, and for me it was go small with a 300mm lens or stay strong and go with the 500mm.

Mo knew he had the victory on the line. Arms went out wide and the eyes popped! What a great picture on the first night.

My final image was on the Saturday night of Usain Bolt’s last ever race in the 100m against his rival Justin Gatlin. The British media had hyped this race up over Gatlin’s past with drugs. The race was terrible for me. Bolt was in lane four, Gatlin in lane nine. Anyway, on your marks, set, go, the only thing you can do is keep an eye on the track and the giant video screen, 60 yards out is decision time. I go on Bolt.

Justin Gatlin (usa) wins the final and acknowledges Usain Bolt

He comes across the line in third, not a frame on Gatlin. Then, by luck, Gatlin looks to the video screen and sees he has won. Bolt comes to him and holds his hands out, Gatlin then goes down and bows to the greatest sprinter in history. What a picture perfect positioning for me! An incredible two days for me to finish a calendar year in sports photography.

You can see more of Dickie’s work at DickiePelham.com, and follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

My genre is travel, and I’ve spent years perfecting travel photography and learning the best ways to shoot travel. This week, I’m not going to share my killer tips with you on how to take better travel photos, but I’ll tell you how to take the best travel photos! There’s no point holding back, let’s get it done!

Think about the light

The easiest way to make your subject appeal to the complex, little, biological device that is the human eye is to think about the light. It’s the beautiful light that makes the image over the subject. Take this example:

In this photo above, we have an indistinct field of sunflowers. It’s in Germany, but it doesn’t matter where it is, and I’ll bet the farmer who owns this field wouldn’t even recognise it in the photo. The next photo is of one of the world’s most recognisable places, but the light makes it much less attractive despite our brains being wired to like familiar things. The difference that the right light can make is amazing. Consider the time of day, and the position of the sun (or other light source). Trust me in saying there’s no time like sunrise—people are still in bed, the atmosphere tends to be calm, the colours (not colors) tend to really pop, and for the photographer, the resulting image can be a huge reward and a great start to the day.

 

Redesign familiarity

Let’s take the Eiffel Tower, again. Google it, and you’ll find 61.5m results, most of which look pretty similar to one another. That’s the crowd, and you need to stand out among it! It’s a pretty big challenge and to overcome it, we absolutely must be original. That means be creative with our perspective, our content, composition, light, focus point, everything! If we can capture a place along with a person and/or a thing, then we stand a half decent chance of changing things and even becoming the rose (British reference. Go team!) among the thorns. Here’s what I mean…

This is a shot I took (which Scott stole—he must’ve read Glyn Dewis’ book) in Paris a few years ago, giving a different view of the Eiffel Tower.

Twist into portrait

Taking a tall photo, rather than a landscape one, will work wonders with many scenes and gain much more attention in today’s smartphone-oriented world. The days where most people look at photos in landscape mode on a desktop or laptop computer screen are passing, and now it’s far more likely that your photo, when viewed online, will be portrait-oriented on the screen of a phone or tablet. And, if you want to go so far, let’s not forget that magazine covers are set that way, too. When we scroll through Instagram, we are far more likely to engage and react to a photo which fills the screen, for example.

Emphasise the person

When you take a portrait, make sure it really is a portrait. Capture the person and make sure the photo is all about them in any and every way you can. If you choose to reflect their character, their location, their emotion, make sure their personality comes with it and that the photo evokes thought about the subject with your viewer. If you present someone in your photo and the viewer goes away wondering about their back story, then you’re winning.

Think about your composition

Look, then think, then look, then think—just make sure you’ve really nailed the composition. Take a look around, suck in what surrounds you, look for leading lines, look for foreground elements, break things up into threes or into spirals. If you give yourself a second to think about what’s going on and being more deliberate about your composition, your photo stands a much higher chance of catching people’s eye.

Research hard!

When you go somewhere new, and most of the places we go when shooting travel are new, it’s a very, very good idea to put in the time to research where you’re going. Learn the local stories, the specialties, the history, and find the best spots for your photos. Two of my preferred (and tried and tested) ways to do this are to get on Pinterest and Google Maps. There is a LOT of information out there from people who have been before, so make the most of their experiences and use their information. You’re doing it right now! On Pinterest, we find a whole variety of photos, articles, and tips on locations simply by searching the right keywords. We can save our favourite bits and pieces straight to our own board and build a plan from there. Once we know where we’re going, or at least where we think we’re going, we can save the destinations on Google Maps and even download an offline version of the area just in case our cell phone loses data while we’re there roaming. Put in the legwork beforehand, and be armed with knowledge, and don’t forget that there’s a reason they say “failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”

And that, my friends, is how to be the BEST travel photographer! Now that you’ve taken the photos, show them to the world!

You’re welcome ;)

Much love,

Dave

Hi everybody – I’m back from a whirlwind trip out West – three seminars in one week (LA [seen above], San Francisco & Seattle), plus a talk at the Canon Experience Center in Costa Mesa.  Had a really fun time, and met some really cool people along the way. Thanks to everybody who came out. OK, onto what’s up this week:

The Eclipse is here
Hope you caught Erik Kuna’s excellent post on Friday called ‘7-tips for shooting the Eclipse’ and if you didn’t, here’s the link. Erik and Kalebra hosted ‘The Grid’ this week and their topic was photographing today’s eclipse and there’s lots of great info that episode as well, so I’m embedding it here below. Hope you get some great shots!

I’m back at HQ now, so I’ll be on this week’s show, broadcast live, this Wednesday at 4PM ET. Hope you can join us this week.  

2017 Worldwide Photo Walk Update
We’re just a couple of weeks into this year’s walk and it is already rockin’! Here’s a quick look:

  • Photo Walks already up and running (you can join these today): 547
  • Cities with approved walks not yet released by the leaders: 949
  • Photo Walks started by leader and in draft mode (almost ready): 84 
  • Number of walkers signed up for walks so far: 5,272

New Photo Walk Prize Category for Kids
More and more parents are bringing their kids along on our Photo Walks, and getting them involved in this social photography event, and so this year, with Canon’s gracious help, we launched a new prize category for the competition for kid’s under 16-years-old, and the winner in this Youth category gets all this stuff:

How cool is that!!!! A big high-five to Canon, and all our sponsors who stepped up big time to support this new category for our youngest walkers. :)

My September Seminar
I’ve only have one Lightroom seminar date coming up in September (I had to reschedule Houston and Dallas due to a scheduling conflict), but it’s in an awesome place — Denver, Colorado. Hope you can join me for the day.  

Good luck tonight at the eclipse. Here’s to staying safe, and getting some once in a lifetime shots! :)

Best,

-Scott

Millions of Homes in America Will Go Dark Monday Afternoon, Are you ready? [guest post by Erik Kuna]

Seriously, unless you’ve been living underneath a rock in the U.S.A (which might not be a bad thing lately) you know that there’s a total solar eclipse happening Monday for around four hours starting on the west coast of Oregon at 9:04 am PDT and moving all the way to the east coast in South Carolina to end at 4:10 pm EDT. While total solar Eclipses happen every year or two, it’s rare that they cover so much land mass, in fact, it’s been almost 100 years since something like this happened in America.

Being photographers, it’s an event that gives us a unique opportunity to capture unforgettable images of this rare event. Recently, I had an opportunity talk to some Astrophysicists from Kennedy Space Center while covering the NASA/SpaceX CSR-12 mission about the 2017 Eclipse. During that time, I picked up some great tips that I wanted to pass along here for you all that I’m hoping will help on Monday if you’re shooting. Fair warning that most of the tips I’ve also been hearing all over the place lately in many of the coverage about the eclipse, but they also clued me into something that made me explore one topic that I haven’t seen discussed much online. More on that later.  For now, let’s give a quick rundown of 7 tips for shooting the Eclipse.

 

#1- Be Safe and Bring the Right Equipment

Yes, Yes, I know, I know. If you’ve heard anything about the eclipse, you’ve probably seen this in every article, video or news story. But, this is very serious. The Sun is a super mega bright ball of light, burning at 10,000 degrees with parts of its corona reaching into the millions of degrees and just like your skin will get sunburnt, so will your eyes, and fast and it will be permanent. This is nothing to mess around with and goes for every day of our life. Don’t look into the Sun whether it’s the Eclipse or not, without approved protective eyewear, period. Moving on.

Just like with your eyes, you’ve got to protect your camera sensor if you’re going to be pointing the camera at the super-mega-uber bright ball of light. So, if you’re going to be taking images while the moon is eclipsing the Sun, you’ll need to use a solar filter or solar film to protect your camera. Just as you’ll need a pair of eclipse glasses to protect your own eyes, your camera needs protection. With that said, if you’re one of the lucky few in an area of 100% totality, you’ll have the two and a half minutes or less where the Moon completely blocks the Sun you can remove the filters and eyewear so you can see the Sun’s outer atmosphere or the corona. This is the holy grail of the Eclipse, it’s the only time we can see the corona with the naked eye.

Sun’s Corona
Shot of the Sun’s Corona courtesy of NASA
Credits: Miloslav Druckmüller, Martin Dietzel, Shadia Habbal, Vojtech Rusin

Keep in mind the area of totality is very small, only about 70 miles wide. See NASA’s interactive map for the exact areas. If you’re outside this totality, you should always wear solar glasses and protect your camera with solar filters. One caveat to that is if you’re going to take a few wide-angle picture of the eclipse here and there with a smartphone and not going to point your camera at the sun all the time, you do not need a solar filter. Apple even issued a statement the other day in an article from USA Today where it confirmed it. DSLRs should be fine too for temporary exposure. We all shoot sun flares and position the sun in our shots from time to time and I’ve never heard of anyone damaging their sensor from occasional use. Of course, as with everything, in moderation. Bottom line, if you’re going to point your camera, smart phone or anything at the sun for a long time, use some sort of solar filter especially if you have a telephoto lens on your camera or smartphone.

Besides your camera and a solar filter and glasses, having a few other pieces of equipment can also come in handy during the eclipse. Using a tripod is a must to let you stabilize the camera and avoid taking blurry images. You’ll really want to use a tripod during the lower light moments around totality or if you’re using a telephoto lens. Also, using a shutter release timer or trigger will allow you to make better eclipse photos with less blur. If that strikes a chord with you, you’ll also want to use mirror lockup to minimize vibrations in your DSLR.

#2- It doesn’t matter what camera you have

Taking an awesome photo has more to do with you as the photographer than your camera model or brand. Yes, the equipment helps, especially if you’re going for a particular type of shot of the eclipse. Like if you want something like these multiple exposure close ups, you need a telephoto lens on a tripod.

Total Solar Eclipse phases.

However, if you have just a camera phone or a kit lens, you can still take great photos during the eclipse. The best piece of gear with you is your own vision. (which is why you better be wearing those solar glasses) Of course, you have to work with what you’re given, so if you don’t have a telephoto zoom lens with a solar filter, maybe focus on taking landscape shots, or capture reaction shots or capture the changing environment. Which leads me to the next point…

#3- Up, Down, Up, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Select, Start

While we’re all focused on that magnificent ball of burning gas and plasma that’s being blocked by either a large rock or just huge piece of cheese (if you get your science from Folklore) remember to look up, down and all around. You’ll see changes in the way shade appear or the way the sunset comes from 360 degrees. This is the “other” side of the eclipse that most people miss. Landscapes will have long shadows, creating odd lighting across the landscape. Light through trees leaves will create creating natural pinholes, which will also create mini eclipse replicas on the ground. You can even create awesome pinhole effects with things like colanders, strainers, or even the holes in Ritz crackers.

Almost anywhere you point your camera even if it’s not into the sun, it could give you unique photos, so be on the lookout to compose some creative perspective, environmental shots or wide-angle photos that can capture the eclipse experience. Even reaction shots from people watching the eclipse might end up being the most memorable ones of the day.

Along these lines, if you’re a KelbyOne member make sure to join our photo contest over in the Community starting Monday where we’re looking for the most creative shot of the Eclipse. The winner will be selected by the KelbyOne Community and will win a ThinkTank SpeedFreak v2.0

#4- Know the Sun you’ll be dealing with…

Remember earlier I mentioned there was something big that I haven’t seen many people talking about with the eclipse. Well, here it is! Know where the sun will be and what you’ll be dealing with in the exact location you’ll be, and know it now, before the day of the Eclipse.

What do I mean? Well, if you’re in Oregan you’re going to have a very different perspective on the Eclipse than someone shooting in South Carolina. Why? The Angle and Azimuth of the Sun. What’s that you ask? Well, it just means how high off the horizon and in what location the sun will be relative to your position. Why is this so critical? This will change what gear you bring, what technique you might want to use, the lens you might want, your composition, the type of shot you plan, basically everything. You might have a vision for the image you want to create but the Sun isn’t going to cooperate. So, you’re might need to need to adjust your vision slightly.

Solar Eclipse Sequence in Iceland on March 20, 2015

For Example, let’s say you’re going for a multiple exposure landscapes shot with the moon eclipsing the sun or any type of tighter landscape shot with the sun and the moon where it’s not just a very small speck in the sky you better be on a plane to Oregon while you’re reading this post.  Even at that, the sun is going to be between 27 and 45-degrees up in the sky in the western states like Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming. However, knowing that is valuable information. You’ll have the opportunities people in other places like the Southeastern U.S. don’t have, where we’re going to be dealing with 65 to 70-degree angles on mid afternoon sun for our Eclipse.  With that kind of angle, we’d need a very very wide wide-angle to capture the sun being eclipsed in a landscape. Not to mention that the sun would be a speck in the frame.

To illustrate the point here’s an example of something you won’t see from the 2017 Eclipse unless you see a bunch of ocean in front of it, the angle of the sun relative to the horizon is too small for any land mass during the 2017 Eclipse.


Another thing to consider besides the angle is that Azimuth. That way you’ll know where the sun will be in your frame not only on the horizon but in the scene or part of the sky. For example, don’t expect to get a beach shot of the eclipse on the Oregon coast or even the South Carolina Coast, unless you’re on a boat. The Sun’s azimuth will always be in the opposite direction. That one is a little more intuitive, rising in the East and setting in the West, but again just something to consider when planning.

Transversely, if you’re looking for an awesome shot of the corona or the greatest eclipse, hopefully, you’re on your way a little northwest of Nashville, Tennessee. There you’ll experience a long eclipse where the axis of the moon’s shadow cone passes the closest to Earth. (Weather permitting, of course, it’s looking like a lot of cloud cover is predicted around this area as of Friday)

#5- Practice Now

You have a couple days, and be sure you know the settings and capabilities of your camera before Eclipse Day. Start by shooting the Sun today during the times which the Eclipse is passing over you. That way you’ll know a few things. First, you’ll master the angle and azimuth of the Sun at your location. Frame up the shots you want and get your settings right. This will allow you to have a good starting point. If you’re wondering what time it will pass over you, check out this interactive map from NASA.


Our cameras and even camera phones have adjustable exposures, which is essential to help you adjust your image during the varying eclipse lighting. This is the key to getting a good eclipse shot. As for focus, make sure you know how to manually focus the camera for sharp shots and then lock your focus so your camera won’t try to adjust focus with the varying brightness. Plus, use live view to compose the image, it’s less dangerous than looking through the viewfinder especially if you’re going to be risky and shoot without a solar filter. As far as settings for a DSLR camera, the best way to determine the correct exposure is to test settings on the un-eclipsed Sun this weekend.

For the best results, you’ll want to dial in your settings manually, which is another reason to practice. Get your DSLR out of auto mode and go manual, using a fixed aperture of like f/11 or so and the lowest ISO you can go, that’s ISO 100 on my Canon. Then, try shutter speeds to find the optimal setting. You’ll probably be around 1/1000 to 1/4000 with a solar filter but just find the setting that works best for you. This will give you the exact starting point you can use to take images during the beginning stages of the eclipse. That way on the day of the Eclipse you’ll just have to adjust your shutter speed settings as the lighting changes. During totality, the corona has a wide range of brightness so it’s best to use a fixed aperture and ISO and multiple ranges of exposures from approximately 1/1000 to even as high as 4 seconds. Make sure to take your filter off during totality. I’d suggest bracketing your exposure too. There’s a lot of detail in the sun but you’ll see some things better over exposed and some thing better under exposed.

Here’s an example of different exposures of the sun and about the same time:

You can see the little difference in the sunspots and better to take multiple exposures than miss some sort of detail you’ll want later. Also, shoot in RAW if you can, it’s going to give you the flexibility you want later since you’re shooting a bright ball of light.

Now, If you’re going to miss getting the shot you want this time around, never fear, another total solar eclipse will be coming back to America in 2024 traveling from South Texas up through Maine. So, you’ve got 8 years to practice! Who knows though, by then we might be shooting Ultra HDR holographic light field cameras.

#6- Its mother nature, be flexible

As with anything that relies on the weather, it’s a roll of the dice. If you’re a landscape photographer, you know exactly what I mean. Unfortunately, with the Eclipse, there are no do-overs, missing your alarm or “we’ll just try again tomorrow morning” kind of plan. It’s a one and done kinda thing, so that’s why I can’t stress enough the practice element.

So, check the weather before you go out Monday to see what you’ll be dealing with before you leave for your shooting location. Maybe even come up with a backup plan if you get cloudy weather and try to have a backup location if the weather looks like it is not going to cooperate. If all else fails, NASA has tons of live coverage of the event on their site the day of the Eclipse and while I know it’s not the same, the weather just might not agree.

#7- Share your experience

The 2017 Eclipse is predicted to be the most photographed one-day event in history. Share your eclipse experience with friends and family afterward. Use the hashtag #Eclipse2017 or upload your eclipse images to NASA’s Eclipse Flickr Gallery.

While you’re out trying to capture the perfect eclipse shot, don’t forget to take a break from shooting every so often and look at the eclipse with your own eyes. And, just because I can’t stress it enough remember to wear your eclipse safety glasses for all stages of the eclipse except for the totality.

Thanks for letting me share,

-Erik

Speaking of sharing our experiences, here are a few of my shots from this weeks NASA and SpaceX CSR-12 launch. Big thanks to NASA for allowing photographer’s access to shoot these events. The Dragon spacecraft atop the rocket in these pictures docked with the International Space Station just a couple days ago with a laundry list of awesome science experiments and cargo. There’s even a huge experiment on board that might lead us closer towards a cure for Parkinson’s disease. If you’ve never experienced a rocket launch live in person, it’s probably up there with an event like the moon passing in perfect alignment with the Sun and the Earth. Plus with the frequency that Kennedy Space Center is launching rockets nowadays if you’re in the area your chances of seeing one are very high. I can’t recommend it enough.

Mastering Layers: Advanced Techniques with Dave Cross
Become more effective using layers in Photoshop! Join Dave Cross as he builds on his previous class to teach you more advanced ways to leverage the power of layers. In this class you’ll learn how to use shape-based masks, vector masks, layer comps, advanced layer blending options, powerful ways to use smart objects, and much more. Dave wraps up the class sharing some of his favorite keyboard shortcuts for working with layers that you can implement in your workflow right away.

In Case You Missed It
Join Dave Cross to learn how to become successful using Photoshop’s layers. Aimed at beginners, this class is designed to help you understand what a layer is, discover what types of layers exist and the ways they can be used, navigate the Layers panel, learn how to manage your layers, and much more. Understanding layers is the key to unlocking Photoshop’s tremendous capabilities for all manner of creative pursuits. By the end of this class you’ll have the confidence to take on more challenging projects.

In January 1927, the first ever color photograph taken underwater appeared in National Geographic. The picture introduces us to a hogfish living it up in the Florida Keys, and underwater flash photography was born. Photographer Charles Martin, with an autochrome camera, teamed up with marine biologist Dr. William Longley, and together, they headed to the Florida Keys. The biggest problem they faced was underwater illumination, and they solved it with magnesium flash powder. That’s right, explosives! And those of us who remember film days thought developer was nasty!

Credit: Charles Martin and Dr. William Longley

That little hogfish changed the course of photographic history forever. It’s been ninety years since the days of Martin and Longley’s experiments, and underwater photography has progressed by leaps and bounds. Modern camera and lighting technologies have made it possible for us to explore the beautiful underwater world and to take our love for water, photography, and creativity to new heights.

…or should I say depths.

I have always had two passions: photography and the water. I picked up my mom’s camera when I was ten years old and never put it down: I knew I wanted to make pictures. After high school, I attended the University of Florida and then moved to Daytona Beach where I worked on various projects and building my book. I got the opportunity to head to Los Angeles and work for Turbo Magazine & Import Tuner. After a few years on staff, I decided to branch out on my own again and started pursuing a career in advertising, working in all creative aspects from photography to creative direction to production. Growing up in Florida I played in the ocean, springs, and rivers. Later, I would also dive them and complete instructor level training with the 2 top SCUBA agencies in the world, PADI & NAUI, and becoming a NAUI certified SCUBA instructor. Then, eleven years ago I combined both my passions and started focusing on underwater photography and I’ve never looked back.

Let’s be honest, underwater photography looks awesome. It is eye-catching and different, and it gives us a view into a world that most of us do not get to see every day. Using a camera underwater can be difficult, with many more challenges than we face on dry land. How many have tried it with a disposable camera on vacation, a GoPro, an iPhone housing or even the ol’ “fish tank in the pool,” only to come back with lackluster images?

I know I have. But that was part of the learning curve, and there are different techniques needed for underwater photography that I have picked up over the years. Hopefully these pro-tips will get you started whether you are a new to photography or a pro making the transition to the underwater world.

1. SAFETY
This is something we don’t normally think about in our daily photography, but it is the most important. Make sure you are a good swimmer and are comfortable in the water. Safety must come first. If you don’t feel good about swimming without a camera, you are putting yourself in danger when you add a camera to the mix. You don’t want to be thinking about keeping your equipment safe or adjusting your camera settings when you should be focused on safety. If you are going into deep water, make sure you have experience with snorkel or scuba gear and that operating this equipment is second-nature for you. Learn to dive properly first! You can’t focus on buoyancy control, camera and strobe settings, and composition all at the same time, so you should have enough diving experience that you do the buoyancy control part automatically.

2.  CAMERA & HOUSINGS
The best quality underwater photography is still pretty expensive. However, you can still get some decent images on a budget. On the low end, a GoPro can do a pretty good job as an entry into underwater photography. However, it is limited by the fact that there are no manual controls. Some “waterproof” point-and-shoot cameras can do a little better job, certainly the ones that have manual controls and that you put into a housing. The best option is to use a DSLR with a waterproof housing with strobes.

3. GET CLOSE
And then get closer! All those little particles in the water between you and your subject are called “backscatter,” and cause images to look less clear and more hazy, especially when light hits them. The closer you are to the subject, the fewer problems you will have with clarity and contrast. This means that most of the time you will be using a wide angle lens underwater. Telephoto lenses will not work very well shooting through a large volume of water.

Pro Tip: While you want to get close, do not chase the marine life. Doing so never got an underwater photographer anywhere except back on the surface, quickly, with a memory card full of bad shots. Be patient, set up your shot, and wait for the scene to develop. It doesn’t matter how good of a swimmer you are; the fish are faster.

4. BRING BACK THE LIGHT
Water is nearly 800 times as dense as air, and it sucks out color from full spectrum light. Specific frequencies of ambient light get absorbed at different depths. Remember the mnemonic ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) from high school chemistry?

Underwater, red nearly disappears at around 5 meters (16.5 ft.), followed by orange at 10 meters (33 ft.), yellow at 20 meters (66 ft.), green at 30 meters (99 ft.) and eventually even blue at 60 meters (198 ft.). In other words, there are not many colors left at deeper depths. That’s why so many underwater images look blue and lack color contrast. The best solution is to add artificial lighting by using underwater strobes that will bring back color, create contrast, accentuate textures, and retain details that were lost from the water’s absorption of natural light. After purchasing a camera and housing, strobes are arguably the best investment you can make to improve your underwater photography.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have strobes, they miss-fire, or your subject is just too big, try black and white and boost the clarity & contrast!

5. ALWAYS SHOOT RAW
The flexibility of RAW files will allow you to bring back some of the contrast and color to your photos. Also, there will be a blue cast to most of your images since many of the warmer red wavelengths don’t make it into deeper water. You can use RAW adjustments to help balance out the color spectrum.

6. SHUTTER SPEED
Shooting around 1/125th will freeze motion underwater and still leave a good amount of ambient light in your scene. Move your shutter speed up a couple of stops to darken the background or down a couple of stops to have a lighter blue. Make sure you know what your camera’s sync speed is to avoid that annoying black bar from crossing your photo.

7. GO MANUAL
Beginning your underwater photography foray in “auto mode” is not a problem, but eventually you will want to start using manual controls. While “auto” or “program” works fine on land, those settings were designed for shooting in air, not water. Additionally, if you are using an external strobe, you will want to manually control your exposure, as your camera won’t be able to automatically balance the natural light in the scene with the additional light from the strobe. TTL can be a mixed bag and it’s not consistent underwater.

Pro Tip: Light is quickly lost the deeper you go, so you will want to bump up that ISO. With modern DSLRs ISO sensitivity isn’t much of a problem, and you can easily shoot at 400 or 800 with no noise.

8. THE RIGHT LENS
Unlike topside photography, not all lenses are best suited for underwater use. Deciding which lenses are most useful actually goes back to rule number 3: the need to get close. Because you are forced to be in close proximity with your subject, you will need to use lenses with close minimum focus distances. This is why underwater photography is usually categorized into either macro or wide-angle, as the lenses that work best for shooting close are macro or extreme wide-angle lenses. Midrange zooms tend to have minimum focus distances that are too far for underwater photography, so you can leave that kit lens on land.

9. SHOOT UP!
Underwater subjects look better when shooting them with a slight upward angle. The tendency to shoot down is a more natural one, as we are usually swimming with the reef below us, but images of the tops of most subjects shot this way are almost never appealing. By shooting up, you can include the water column in your image and can create necessary contrast between the foreground subject and the background.

Pro Tip: Try shooting with the sun behind your subject for a nice back light.

10. DO THE SPLITS
And use a big dome. A good split-shot is comprised of several elements: a strong topside scene, a strong underwater scene, and an interesting water line across the frame. The larger the dome port, the more surface area to create this water line. The big dome provides more room for the waterline to move up and down on the dome while still splitting the water. Shoot wide or with a fisheye, because you want to have plenty of room for both under water and topside scenery.

Don’t forget, shooting split-shots is similar to landscape and close-focus wide-angle photography in that you need a large depth of field in order to keep the entire image in focus. In most split-shot scenes, there’s an underwater subject, say a stingray, within a meter or two of the lens and also a topside subject that can be anywhere from three meters to hundreds of meters away. Stopping down to a low f-stop like f16 allows you to keep both scenes in focus, including the water’s surface just in front of the dome.

Pro Tip: The best split-shot will be unusable if blurred out by water droplets on the dome. My preferred method of keeping those drops off the dome is to use my custom mask antifog: baby shampoo.  That’s right, this is the good stuff. Putting a dab on the dome, rubbing it in, then dunking it a few times will help shed water and give you a few minutes to capture a spot-free image. In a pinch try licking your dome, it may be a little salty, but the photos will be sweet.

Remember, underwater photography is all about being safe and having fun. Taking pictures underwater is a completely unique experience, and by following a few of these tips you will be producing stunning images that your land-lubbing photography friends will drool over.

My last tip for the day something I tell every student, diver, and photographer: Take nothing but photos and leave nothing but bubbles.

You can see more of Dalton’s work at DaltonHamm.com, and follow him on Instagram and Facebook.
Close