Monthly Archives: May 2015
My Early Days Of Film Photography My early days of film photography started in 1998, well actually earlier in 1978! I got hold of my parents Kodak Instamatic 33 camera and shot 24 frames of our pigeons we kept. When caught out, I claimed that I only shot 2 frames and got a hiding for that! Later, around 1982, our family friend Rob, gave me a Kodak Junior to try out. Kodak Instamatic 33 After getting married in 1998 and going on honeymoon to the Kruger National Park; spending how many hours in the heat waiting for the preverbial hippo yawn to take place at Kanniedood Dam in the North of the park, snapping the shot with a point and shoot camera, feeling elated about it, did I think that I had made it big! The joke was, after returning home, and developing the film, finding out to my absolute HORROR, that the hippo was merely the size of a match stick head in a postcard size print! It looked NOTHING like the coffee table books I had seen!! It was there and then that I decided to purchase my first real film camera! This was to be a Pentax MZ-50 with a 80-320mm lens for wildlife. I then bought a Tamron 28-200 for all other purposes. I shot a lot of wildlife, sport and weddings on film at that time. The film photography bug had bitten! My Favourite Film My favourite film for film photography was Agfa Professional Film. I especially enjoyed the slow Agfa Ultra 50 for extremely punchy colours and ultra fine grain. This was a fine arts film with an exaggerated color palette; skin tones will appear orange, so this was not for photographing people (unless you like orange faces!), but perfect for landscapes and other subjects. My other choice was Agfa Optima II Prestige ISO 100, 200 and 400, of which I still have an unopened roll of Agfa Optima II Prestige ISO 400 in the fridge. By keeping film in the fridge, it helps prevent it from ageing as it is under a constant temperature. Agfa Ultra 50 Agfa Optima II Prestige ISO 200 The Pentax later grew up and became a Nikon F90X, which I still have and use today. This was my first introduction to Nikon gear. I am glad I had my foundations of photography based on film photography. In the day, film was expensive and every frame had to count, more so professional film. There was no image preview, no delete and try again, everything was manual. Exposures had to be perfect, if you weren't sure you could work off of sunny f/16 or ISO 100 for sunny days, ISO 200 for cloudy days, ISO 400 for rainy days and sport, and ISO 800 for night shots. Another trick was to check the persons pupils for the amount of dilation and then determine your f-stop accordingly. I then went on to join ELPS and grew photographically. We were required to complete set subjects for the month until our next meeting. Above that we had to shoot in different film mediums; that being monochrome, slide or transparency and film. That being said, we had to shoot in different genrés to stretch and extend ourselves; this forced one to grow photographically. Once our goals and objectives were achieved, we were then promoted to the next level. Ultimately, one could achieve a licentiate through PSSA. Later came photographic competitions, my inspiration was the Agfa Wildlife Competition, the entrants of the day were Richard du Toit, Nigel Dennis to name a few. I never made the grade for the Agfa Wildlife, but did excel locally though. Finally came publications in local magazines SA 4x4 Magazine. Some Of My Achievements: The GPS Challenge Click on the images and articles for full view. KJ Bolton Consultants, now NavWorld ran a GPS competition, of which I was a part of, met two great journalist on that trip, and had my images published in three editions of SA 4x4 Magazine. December 2004 - Full page spread 62; single pages 63, 64. December 2005 - Single page 42 and 47 February 2006 - Double page spread - pg 46, 47; single pages 48 and 51. December 2004 SA 4x4 Dec 2004 SA 4x4 Dec 2004 SA 4x4 Dec 2004 December 2005 SA 4x4 Dec 2005 SA 4x4 Dec 2005 February 2006 SA 4x4 Feb 2006 SA 4x4 Feb 2006 SA 4x4 Feb 2006 Tourism Buffalo City Photographic Competition I entered a competition run by Buffalo City Tourism in 2002 in East-London and came out tops with an aerial shot of the East-London breakwall, unfortunately the second shot wasnt sharp, as this was taken from a rather windy and bumpy helicopter ride on the day. I would have preferred this to have been the winning shot. Thankfully film photography is not dead, and I can still shoot film. If you havent tried film, I suggest give it a try, you will grow in leaps and bounds, as it will slow you down to think about your composition, your settings etc. Another thing, it may even offer you a better marketing strategy to say that you shoot film, not many people do these days. Newspaper Article Daily Dispatch Feb 26'02 Winning shot on the board. The Winning Shot East-London Breakwall on Agfa Ultra 50 ©2001 My Preferred Winning Shot East-London Breakwall on Agfa Ultra 50 ©2001 I hope you will be inspired by this blog to try film photography, furthermore to push yourself past your expectations, who knows, perhaps your images would appear in a recognised magazine too.
Nikon Professional Services - NPS Nikon Professional Services NPS You may or may not have heard or read about Nikon’s NPS - Nikon Professional Services support to its professional band of photographers, worldwide. I am so excited to have been informed on 12 May 2015, that I have been NPS accepted. Nikon Professional Services - NPS But what does it mean for you and more importantly, how will it benefit you? I have been a member of Nikon’s NPU service since 2014, and just recently became a member of NPS. To become a member of this select group in South Africa, you need to have the following minimum requirements: All your photographic equipment would have to be purchased through Nikon in South Africa (Premium Brand Distributors) 2 x Professional Nikon camera bodies (D300, D300s, D600, D610, D700, D800/800e/810/810a, D3, D3x, D3s, Df, D4 and D4s) 3 x FX Nikkor lenses Be a full time professional photographer To submit a portfolio which will be reviewed and considered for NPS status. 6 months is the waiting period to re-apply, unfortunately. As an NPS member one can look forward to the following benefits: 48 Hour repair turnaround time with immediate load equipment (depending on availability) Entitled to product loans / test units per year On site cleaning assistance at selected media events (where applicable) Specialized Nikon workshops and discounted training courses Information on new products and invitations to product specific launch events NPS membership card Subscription to Nikon Pro Magazine (available on the iStore) Telephonic technical support Online technical support through Facebook and Twitter The Philosophy Behind NPS (http://nps.nikonimaging.com/about_nps/philosophy/) NPS: Pushing photographers forward “Year after year, Nikon products continue to gain the patronage of professional photographers across the globe. Such trust is invaluable to us, and it plays a crucial role in who we are, what we make and what we do. As an optical manufacturer and brand leader, it is our mission not only to create reliable, high-quality products, but also to consistently offer useful, faithful and dependable service to those who make their living from the images their cameras produce. This is where Nikon Professional Services (NPS) excels. Our goal is to keep NPS members shooting with certainty, ease, and a feeling of security that comes with dedicated support. This kind of support is important not only for the member and for our brand, but also for Nikon as an imaging products manufacturer, since input from professional photographers frequently inspires our engineers as they create future products. We never take this relationship for granted: as we respond to the demands of photographers, they provide us with vital, real-world information and advice from the field. This relationship, built on mutual trust, is a cornerstone of Nikon, creating a cycle of information and respect that pushes both Nikon and NPS members to new levels of excellence.” Mr Yasuyuki Okamoto, Director, Member of Board & Executive Officer, President of Imaging – Nikon. Nikon NPS has, on its website, (http://nps.nikonimaging.com/about_nps/faq/) answered almost all of the questions associated with NPS. You can find it below too. About NPS Q1: What is NPS? NPS, which is short for Nikon Professional Services, is a Nikon organization designed solely to assist qualified, full-time professional photographers who earn their living using Nikon equipment. The organization is currently operating in approximately 30 countries and regions with primary functions to provide equipment maintenance and repair services and on-site support for professional photographers working at international events. Q2: Who manages each regional NPS organization? NPS organizations are managed by the Nikon Group company operating in each country or region. Original services may be provided at the initiative of the NPS organization of each country or area. Q3: What is the NPS Global Site? The NPS Global Site is a website managed by Nikon Corporation mainly for professional photographers. It offers an outline of NPS activities, countries and areas covered and contact information, etc. Q4: Who manages the NPS Global Site? The NPS Global Site is managed by the Nikon Corporation. Q5: Is there global membership? There is no common global NPS membership system apart from the NPS membership systems operated and managed by individual countries or regions. However, members traveling abroad are provided NPS support and services at the designated service centres. Please refer to the Support and Services page for an outline of the services. Original services may be provided at the initiative of the NPS organization of each country or area. Q6: What are the member benefits of NPS? The benefits include priority support and services at the NPS service centres of the member’s home country and NPS service centres operated by Nikon Group companies at working locations, etc. Please refer to the Support and Services page of this site for an outline of the services. Original services may be provided at the initiative of the NPS organization of each country or area. About Admission Q1: What are the requirements for NPS membership? To become a member of NPS, you should be a full-time professional photographer owning and using a certain amount of Nikon equipment. In addition, there are further membership requirements imposed by regional NPS organizations. Q2: How do I apply for NPS membership? Information about admission is available at regional NPS websites or by contacting regional NPS organizations directly. In this case Nikon South-Africa. Q3: Is there a charge for NPS membership? An admission fee and annual membership fee may be required according to each country or area. Q4: There is no NPS office in my country, can I still apply for NPS membership? There may not be an NPS organization depending on the country or area. Please refer to the NPS Global Network page for inquiries. Q5: Can I apply for NPS membership in more than one country? It is not possible to register NPS membership in more than one country or area. If you relocate to another country and there is an NPS organization that covers the country or area, you must newly apply for admission. Q6: I am a member of a professional service organization of another manufacturer. Can I apply for NPS membership, too? If you are a member of another professional service organization, you can apply for NPS membership if you meet the admission requirements of the regional NPS organization. Q7: Where can I ask other questions about admission? Please refer to the contact information of the regional NPS organization that you would like to apply for admission to on the NPS Global Network page for inquiries. About NPS Services Q1: If I experience equipment problems when I travel abroad, should I contact the nearest NPS or the NPS of my home country? Please contact the nearest service center indicated on the Global Support and Service Network page. If there is no conveniently located service center, please contact an NPS representative in your home country. Q2: Where can I ask other questions about NPS services? Please refer to the Support and Services page for an outline of the services. Original services may be provided at the initiative of the NPS organization of each country or area. Please refer to the contact information of the regional NPS organization on the NPS Global Network page for inquiries. About Purchase, Inspection and Repair of Equipment Q1: Where can I ask questions about purchase, inspection and repair of equipment? Original services may be provided at the initiative of the NPS organization of each country or area. Please refer to the contact information of the regional NPS organization on the NPS Global Network page for inquiries. NPS / NPU South Africa Our NPU / NPS Representative in South-Africa currently is Julio Moreira. He can be contacted at Tel: 086 116 4566 (South-Africa)
A Guide To Underwater Photography From the outset, I do not claim to be an underwater photography specialist, or even an underwater photographer, but my love for wildlife has brought me to write this guide to underwater photography. I was recently inspired by good friend Dawie v/d Merwe who took a trip to Zanzibar in April 2015, shot some amazing images, and has allowed me to use them for the purpose of this blog. He is a NAUI - National Association of Underwater Instructors and PADI: Professional Association of Diving Instructors qualified Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Nitrox, and Deep Specialist Diver; this allows him to dive to 40m. The equipment he uses is a Sealife DC 1200. The images captured in this blog were all around a depth of 10-40m (30-120ft) and by Dawie. So lets begin... About Underwater Shooting On any given day, if one were to go shooting wildlife, we would more than likely encounter a few bird species, the odd lion, buffalo etc, depending on the national park you visiting. The difference with underwater photography, is that this wont be seen on land, the other worldly creatures like jelly fish, corals & myriads of fish to be found in one location, far exceeds what you would find on land! This is what makes this form of photography so much more interesting. A typical dive is around 45minutes long, a lot needs to done during that time. One needs to keep an eye on your surrounds and not drift off from your group, monitor your breathing apparatus every 30 seconds, adjust your buoyancy and lastly try and capture the image of the subject you are interested in. What adds to this difficulty is, one isn't in a studio where a reflector can be used, fish move around a lot, light changes at different depths, so different filters need to be used to bring out the colours of those fish. It offers exciting and rare photographic opportunities. Animals such as fish and marine mammals are common subjects, but photographers also pursue shipwrecks, submerged cave systems, underwater "landscapes", invertebrates, seaweeds, geological features, and portraits of fellow divers. Equipment Needed Obviously one will need the necessary diving courses to be able to dive to these depths, if you snorkel and are in a rich reserve of fish, you will still be able to photograph some amazing fish in the shallows. Camera: Sealife camera, Go-Pro or your own brand Underwater Camera Housings - Ikelite Underwater Systems make great systems Strobelights or flash Filters Macro, Wide angle or Fisheye lenses Lighting and How Underwater Filters Work The primary obstacle faced by underwater photographers is the loss of color and contrast when submerged to any significant depth. The longer wavelengths of sunlight (such as red or orange) are absorbed quickly by the surrounding water, so even to the naked eye everything appears blue-green in color. The loss of color not only increases vertically through the water column, but also horizontally, so subjects further away from the camera will also appear colorless and indistinct. This effect is true even in apparently clear water, such as that found around tropical coral reefs. When you are very shallow, just below the surface, in the top 3m (9ft) then white balance alone is absolutely fine. However, once you are deeper than 3m (9ft) the advantages of a filter become more and more apparent. Deeper than 10m (30ft) underwater, all reds all gone, and no amount of filtering can restore them The main advantages of using a filter, as opposed to white balance alone, are more subtle variations of foreground colour, and probably most noticeable, you get these colours with a richer blue background. Many photos taken with manual white balance are characterised with a completely washed out background water colour. Filters produce a much richer blue. A strong blue background is an important aesthetic element in an underwater photograph. Underwater photographers solve this problem by combining two techniques: The first is to get the camera as close to the photographic subject as possible, minimizing the horizontal loss of color. Wide-angle lenses allow very close focus, or macro lenses, where the subject is often only centimeters away from the camera. Many serious underwater photographers consider any more than about 1 m (3ft) of water between camera and subject to be unacceptable. The second technique is the use of flash to restore any colour lost vertically through the water column. Fill flash, used effectively, will "paint" in any missing colors by providing full-spectrum visible light to the overall exposure. Another environmental effect is range of visibility. The water is seldom optimally clear, and the dissolved and suspended matter can reduce visibility by both absorption and scattering of light.Underwater filters and red filters do not "add in" color, they subtract other wavelengths. This means you have some loss of light, so you may have to shoot at a higher ISO underwater or wider aperture in order to get a high enough shutter speed in your underwater photo. Except some small improvements, but don't expect miracles, filters can only help so much. The use of a flash or strobe is often regarded as the most difficult aspect of underwater photography. Some misconceptions exist about the proper use of flash underwater, especially as it relates to wide-angle photography. Generally, the flash should be used to supplement the overall exposure and to restore lost colour, not as the primary light source. In situations such as the interior of caves or shipwrecks, wide-angle images can be 100% strobe light, but such situations are fairly rare. Usually, the photographer tries to create an aesthetic balance between the available sunlight and the strobe. Deep, dark or low visibility environments can make this balance more difficult, but the concept remains the same. Many modern cameras have simplified this process through various automatic exposure modes and the use of through-the-lens (TTL) metering. The increasing use of digital cameras has reduced the learning curve of underwater flash significantly, since the user can instantly review photos and make adjustments. Colour is absorbed as it travels through water, so that the deeper you are, the less reds, oranges and yellow colours remain. The strobe replaces that colour. It also helps to provide shadow and texture, and is a valuable tool for creativity. An added complication is the phenomenon of backscatter, where the flash reflects off particles or plankton in the water. Even seemingly clear water contains enormous amounts of this particulate, even if it is not readily seen by the naked eye. The best technique for avoiding backscatter is positioning the strobe away from the axis of the camera lens. Ideally, this means the flash will not light up the water directly in front of the lens, but will still strike the subject. Various systems of jointed arms and attachments are used to make off-camera strobes easier to manipulate. When using macro lenses, photographers are much more likely to use 100% strobe light for the exposure. The subject is normally very close to the lens, and the available sunlight is usually not sufficient. There have been some attempts to avoid the use of flash entirely, but these have mostly failed. In shallow water, the use of custom white-balance provides excellent colour without the use of strobe. In theory one could use colour filters to overcome the blue-green shift, but this can be problematic. The amount of shift would vary with depth and turbidity, and there would still be a significant loss of contrast. Many digital cameras have settings that will provide colour balance, but this can cause other problems. For example, an image shifted toward the "warm" part of the spectrum can create background water which appears grey, purple or pink, and looks unnatural. There have been some successful experiments using filters combined with the raw image format function on some high-end digital cameras, allowing more detailed manipulation in the digital darkroom. This approach will probably always be restricted to shallower depths, where the loss of colour is less extreme. In spite of that, it can be effective for large subjects such as shipwrecks which could not be lit effectively with strobes. Natural light photography underwater can be beautiful when done properly with subjects such as upward silhouettes, light beams, and large subjects such as whales and dolphins. Although digital cameras have revolutionized many aspects of underwater imaging, it is unlikely that flash will ever be eliminated completely. From an aesthetic standpoint, the flash emphasizes the subject and helps separate it from the blue background, especially in deeper water. Ultimately the loss of colour and contrast is a pervasive optical problem that cannot always be adjusted in software such as Photoshop or your favourite editing software. Underwater Composition Getting Close Get close, then get closer! Whatever size your subject is, the most important principle to remember when taking images or video underwater is that you need to shoot through a minimum of water. Water is nearly 800 times as dense as air, and it sucks out color from full spectrum light, so in order for your images to have clarity, contrast, and bright colors, you’ll need to be right on top of your subjects. If you think you’re close enough, you probably should be even a little bit closer. You’ll have to do this by being relaxed and learning how not to spook creatures by letting them get used to you, breathing calmly and approaching with your camera already up. A wider perspective creates intimate images that really engage the personality of your subject, but you need to get as close as possible. For awe-inspiring underwater photography and videography, you absolutely have to go wide, especially if you want to capture large animals or landscapes. Shooting wide allows you to get very close to a subject for maximum clarity and light while still fitting your subject (say, a dolphin’s entire body) into the frame. The other aspect of getting close is that there’s a minimization of the amount of particulate between you and your subject (suspended in even apparently clear water) that can bounce your flash back, causing a sort of visual fog called backscatter. Ordinary focal lengths just don’t work well because you’re shooting through too much water and capturing dim, murky images. This need for wide-angle shooting has a direct impact on your camera and housing choices and affects the recommendations we’re making in this article. Macro is the other key lens type to think about. Cameras that can focus close and deliver good magnification are going to be better at capturing the innumerable creatures of the underwater world. Normal and telephoto lenses have virtually no role underwater—leave them at home and save some space in your bag. Shoot Upwards Shoot upwards towards the surface, not down (in nearly all cases), so your perspective includes more than just the sea bottom. If you aim your camera down, you are likely going to end up with a jumbled mess as your subject blends into the background of coral to the point where it’s hard to even pick apart the two. Separation is the name of the game; upward angles are key for isolating your subject against the water column. Exceptions: creatures with beautiful backs like sharks, cetaceans, and turtles against contrasting backgrounds like sandy bottoms or open ocean. Trying to shoot is why many photographers opt to use expensive 45 degree or 90 degree viewfinders. Expose Things Properly As with any type of photography, proper exposure is critical to get good results when shooting underwater. However, underwater photography adds additional complexity because artificial lighting is used most of the time. This requires balancing light from strobes or video light with the ambient light in the scene, especially in wide angle. This is done by dialing in shutter speed, ISO, strobes, and aperture independently, so it’s good to get comfortable with your camera’s manual mode. Be Prepared To Shoot A Lot Prepare to shoot a lot. Shooting underwater is a lot more challenging than shooting on land when first starting out, but by taking a large volume of images and experimenting with your lighting and settings, you can make progress very quickly. It’s one of the great advantages to digital photography that you can easily shoot hundreds (if not thousands) of images and review each one. And for learning how to shoot underwater, you’re going to need that ability. How To Edit Underwater Photography Images I recently completed a 6 hour online course by a very well known Adobe Certified Instructor, Deke McClelland - Enhancing Underwater Photos with Photoshop. This was also my inspiration to write this blog. It was very informative and the course can be found here. You will learn how to correct contrast, enhance color, sharpen moving targets and correct distortion. In a nutshell, he uses layer masks, adjustment levels, editing techniques in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop in a step-by-step process to achieve the results, that you too can apply to your images. I highly recommend this course, as it will explain the techniques far better than I could ever in this blog. Gallery Here are a few edits of Dawie v/d Merwe's shoot that I edited, with before and after results. This is the first time I had edited underwater photographs, it was quite challenging, but rewarding all the same. The edits were done in ACR & Photoshop using various filters. White Tip Shark (Carcharhinus longimanus), Simons Cave, 2 Mile Reef, Sodwana, South-Africa – ©2015 Dawie v/d Merwe White Tip Shark (Carcharhinus longimanus), Simons Cave, 2 Mile Reef, Sodwana, South-Africa – ©2015 Dawie v/d Merwe Guinea Fowl Moray (Gymnothorax meleagris), Simons Cave, 2 Mile Reef, Sodwana, South-Africa – ©2015 Dawie v/d Merwe Guinea Fowl Moray (Gymnothorax meleagris), Simons Cave, 2 Mile Reef, Sodwana, South-Africa – ©2015 Dawie v/d Merwe Potato Bass (Epinephelus tukula), Garden Route, 2 Mile Reef, Sodwana South-Africa – ©2015 Dawie v/d Merwe Potato Bass (Epinephelus tukula), Garden Route, 2 Mile Reef, Sodwana, South-Africa – ©2015 Dawie v/d Merwe Black-Sided Hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri), Coral Gardens, 2 Mile Reef, Sodwana, South-Africa - ©2015 Dawie v/d Merwe Black-Sided Hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri), Coral Gardens, 2 Mile Reef, Sodwana, South Africa - ©2015 Dawie v/d Merwe