Photo Tips 4

For more information on classes, trips, and photography schedules and costs - E-Mail Peggy Goldberg at pgoldberg@goldenimages- photo-scuba.com or talk to her in person at 352.591.1508.

Focus and Parallax

Sometimes when I am writing these little photo hint articles, I sit frozen, staring at the screen....because, even after 40 years of doing photography, there are so many  things I can say that it is sometimes hard to decide what to talk about next....I am still learning new things myself, and photographers are getting  overwhelmed now with new technologies.
These articles are not intended to be an extensive photo course, as I don't  believe there is that much room on the web for that! I will cover some of the  major problems people have, and also gear these hints to the most common questions I receive. No matter what equipment you do use, however, there are  some standard rules that still apply.
Most of you who  get into underwater photography will be using viewfinder cameras. That includes the Nikonos systems. What that means is, when you look through the viewfinder, your subject appears to be in focus. The viewfinder is not connected to the lens, and the lens may not be adjusted in focus. Some of you who have the SLR  (single lens reflex) cameras for land photography, find this disconcerting,  because you may keep forgetting to manually focus the lens with each shot when  you are underwater.
Remember to manually adjust the focus on the lens for every shot, or you will  have out of focus photographs. (Of course, when you do make that mistake, you  can always tell everyone you are going for that "soft focus" look and used a diffusion filter!!) Speaking of focus, and this is very important, especially when you use a strobe - Underwater, always focus at the distance your subject appears to be (the apparent distance).

Apparent Size Drawing
Focus on the Apparent distance, not the actual distance of your  subject

Remember one of the things you learned in  your dive class - that an object that appears to be 3' away is really 4' away.  Ignore the fact the subject is really further away, the camera sees just as you  do!
The other problem with the viewfinder camera is something called "parallax error". Note the lovely photo below....

Parallax Drawing
At close distances, move the camera up to compensate for parallax error

When you get close to a subject (less than 3'), and you look through the viewfinder to compose your picture, you  think that what you see in the viewfinder is what the lens sees! AH HAA! Fooled  you again! The viewfinder, up by your eye sees one thing. The lens, down by your nose, sees another! The result is you will cut of some part of the subject, usually heads or fins. This applies to fish as well as mermaids. Of course, if  you do see mermaids underwater, you are visiting the wrong website, and probably have been in www.baddrugs.com....
A helpful hint for you that seems to work well for me is - I put a large dot on the back of the camera, directly in line with the lens. I compose my picture through the viewfinder, then before I push the shutter, lift the camera up so  the dot is now in front of my eye, and snap the picture. Works like a charm. But, you must remember to lift the darn camera for close subjects. Some lenses,  like the 35mm, may only focus down to 2.75', and the 15 mm (at f22) can focus down to inches, so when you are working close, remember the viewfinder is for  aiming only. If you are using a Nikonos viewfinder, they have parallax  compensation marks in the viewfinder - make sure your subject is composed below  those marks.
If there are any subjects you would like me to write about or problems you are having (with photography that is) that need addressing, send me your ideas/suggestions, and who knows? Maybe I can answer them...or maybe not. Dive safely, and good  shooting!

 

Grouper with Cleaner Blennies
The grouper  allowed me to get very close - I moved very slowly, breathing softly, and I did  not invade its "personal space". I pointed the camera up and opened the aperture to get the blue water background

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