Berkley White:Doug and I shared more in-depth photo techniques in the afternoon class sessions today. I discussed the trials of shooting sunballs and a few tricks to prevent the evil cyan banding that can wreck many a good composition. I also discussed the different types of split images and how to use strobes above and below the water. I also briefly shared a few tips on shooting slow shutter blurs and a few of my favorite black and white tricks.
Very impressive images in tonight's critique session. Many of the new shooters have told me they are shooting their best images ever and I agree. Strobe placement is a recurring theme in the nightly critiques. Poor strobe placement is the most common pitfall of wide angle photography and when I find myself struggling with a wide angle exposure I have to remind myself get my eye out of the viewfinder and check my strobe positions. Most people lock down their strobes in what I call the default position with a strobe on either side of the port. The default position might give reasonable results for macro, but produces uneven brightness and poor shadows for wide angle photography. Many of the guests are now thinking about the strobe position rules before pulling the trigger.
On the first day of the event I challenged everyone to loose weight... weight off their weight belts. Dropping pounds off a weight belt is essential for balance and critical focus near the reef. So far people have lost 2-8 pounds off their belts. Unfortunately, the food here is so good we'll not be dropping pounds from our waistlines. Please pass another mushroom burger my way!
Jim Decker: Today I tested out the Canon 5D Mark II with an internal TTL converter with the 15mm fisheye and 1.4x Kenko teleconverter. One might ask "why the heck would you put a teleconverter on a fisheye lens?" Using the 1.4 knocks the angle of coverage down to about 128 degrees. This is still wider than a rectilinear lens, and it maintains all the close focus capabilities of a fisheye lens. The curved edges disappear. It makes for great close focus wide angle when a fisheye lens is just too wide.
Hopefully tomorrow we will make it to the wreck over on Brac. Crossing our fingers on the weather. I'm going to shoot mostly video with a magic filter in ambient light, as I have lent out all of our strobes to guests. This is a fringe benefit of coming to the shootout...
Rusty Sanoian: Today I tested the Olympus Pen camera and housing on my first dive. The Olympus Pen is a micro four thirds camera and comes stock with a 14-42 lens that is good for topside, but is lacking for underwater wide angle. I installed the Olympus 9-18 lens behind the new Zen dome. This is a killer combination! It's a reasonably priced system and a great alternative to a point and shoot system.
The micro four thirds cameras have a larger sensor than a typical point and shoot camera, no shutter delay, removable lens and shoot 720P HD video. The housing has good ergonomics for being priced at $599. We will have pictures posted at the Digital Shootout website.
Our second dive site was called Bus Stop. We had sunny weather with a little overcast and occasional rain making it difficult to use the magic filters on my 5D MKII as I had to white balance every time the light changed for accurate colors. This was a great dive site with a large sandy channel with rays and the biggest basket sponge I have ever seen that had its own eco system and 3 or 4 other basket sponges growing off it!
Dan Baldocchi: Everyone's getting into video this year! We showed 10 videos at the bar party tonight, a new Shootout record. And the best part was that we got a few submissions from people in the photo classes that are shooting on dSLRs. Cameras like the Nikon D90 and the Canon 7D & 5DMII can shoot HD video as well as stills and it's great to see still shooters begin to explore the world of underwater video. I'll warn you though, it can be tough to try to shoot both stills and video on the same dive. The shooting techniques are very different and in some cases completely the opposite of each other, and sometimes you can strip a gear as you shift back and forth.
Erin Quigley: So a guy comes up to me at the bar after the slideshow. Asks " Are you Erin?".
I say "Yeah, so…?".
He says "I am so tired of this Go Ask Erin sh**t!"
Now if this was someone in our own group, I could understand. There's been a lot of joking around about Go Ask Erin. People have asked me about their marriages, their investments, whether there's romance in their future, etc. Ha, ha. I get it. Not everyone cares to savor the finer points of Photoshop and Lightroom.
But this was a stranger from another group at the resort.
"What's the problem?", I asked, somewhat testily. It was late, after all.
"My name is Aaron." he said. "And I've been hearing nothing but Go Ask Aaron since the day we got to the resort. It's driving me nuts."
Walk a mile in my shoes, brother.
Doug Sloss: Today was another session of classroom talk, but this time it was all about shooting creatively. I gave a talk on wide angle compositions, specifically, how to shoot close focus wide angle for maximum impact, and finished up the afternoon teaching Shootout participants how to shoot and work with models. Combined with Berkley's talk on the fundamentals of doing splits and shooting sun balls, most shooters walked away with the knowledge needed to perfect their wide angle shooting techniques. Everyone seemed excited to test out the techniques we covered, and there were plenty of questions from shooters hoping to submit that winning image. Helping out those who stuck around afterwards and having a look at some potential winners convinced me this is a great dive destination!
Jennifer Penner: I've been taken by surprise as a few Shootout participants have asked me today if I'm allowed to enter any images into the contest. As staff, we are not eligible to compete in the competition. My response to their question was coincidentally (?) met with the same reaction, "Well, that's good!" Since the contest is looming, the shooters are mentally sizing up their competition, and have eliminated me as an opponent! Ha-ha! I guess I should feel complimented… Can't wait to see all the contest submissions – the Cayman waters offer great macro and wide angle photo opportunities. Check Thursday for contest submissions and Friday for all the winners.
Jean Bruneau: Well, back to the Sigma circular 4.5mm fisheye lens drawing board for video... After yesterday's humbling experience, I was determined to capture some video with that funky, but oh-so-cool lens, and I did indeed put my strobes in the next zip code!