Evolution of a Shot

January 20, 2020  •  1 Comment

 

"The engine room of the San Francisco Maru in Truk Lagoon"

Persistence, Patience and Perfection

As a photographer, it pays to have an obsessive compulsive personality; that is if you want to obtain high quality imagery. Depending on how severe a case of OCD you have depends on whether or not you will ever be content with your photos. Review your images, be your own worst critic and have the persistence to go back and take a shot over and over again until you are satisfied. No matter how good the photo is, a perfectionist will always want to do better. Using this approach will likely result in a continual improvement in your photography but, it may drive you a mad if you are not being patient during the process.

The Evolution

The sequence of images below is a shot that evolved over the years with the last one being the most recent and the one I'm most satisfied with to date. The San Francisco Maru is one of Truk Lagoon's premier dive sites but it rests in 200'/61M of water making it a challenging environment to shoot in. Having to penetrate the engine room for this photo makes it more demanding and difficult to closely analyze the images during the dive. I had to shoot and scoot, return to the editing station, review the shot in detail and come up with a new plan afterward. Was all the effort worth the payoff? I feel it was.

<Attempt 1

2008 Nikon D200. The engine room was hazy, the dynamic range of the camera poor and the angle was off. 

2> 

2017 Nikon D800. The results weren't good even with improved dynamic range and visibility.

<3

Oct 2019 Nikon D850. Superior dynamic range, increased high ISO and secondary lighting all helped. 

4>

A month later I tried again but from a different angle. Obsession setting in.

<5

Two weeks later I added a second video light but vis was poor.

6>

One week later the haze cleared and used the same plan. Am I done? I don't think so. I may have a few new ideas to play with but for now this will do. 

Join me on one of my dive photo expeditions, including Truk Lagoon, where I will be offering comprehensive photo and video techniques. Visit the Travel drop down menu above. 

Join me in Truk Lagoon for Rec•Tec 2020: https://www.evolutionunderwater.com/mike-gerken-truk-lagoon-rec-tec-photo-expedition-odyssey

 


Comments

Graham Owens(non-registered)
Really good real Mike,
And funnily enough, I am down the same rabbit hole with a shot I'm trying to take in the engine room of the Um el Faroud in Malta. Not as deep, but still the same challenging environment.

The camera sensor clearly makes a big difference, and the D850 is a phenomenal beast. I recently upgraded to a Canon 5D MkIV which has a reasonably good sensor and I'm hoping it's going to help.

I'm normally pretty conservative with ISO though and I wonder if I'm just not pushing it far enough?

Would you be willing to share the settings you used as a base point?
My last attempt was an impromptu dive
https://www.flickr.com/photos/graggz/49007772377/in/album-72157711624879342/
The torch placement is terrible - my first attempts at off-camera lighting - I quickly realised you have to hide the torches and 'see' the effect of the light on a subject.
A diver in here would also help massively.
f8 1/20th ISO 3200
It was very mucky down there on this dive, even though I had managed to buy myself 10 minutes of peace and quiet by jumping in ahead of the group!
I was really struggling with strobe placement and all but gave up using them.

If you are interested, we are back out in Malta in May doing a load of wreck diving?

Thanks for taking the time to document this stuff.

Graham (Graggs)
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