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Alert Diver is the dive industry’s leading publication. Featuring DAN’s core content of dive safety, research, education and medical information, each issue is a must-read reference, archived and shared by passionate scuba enthusiasts. In addition, Alert Diver showcases fascinating dive destinations and marine environmental topics through images from the world’s greatest underwater photographers and stories from the most experienced and eloquent dive journalists in the business.


IMAGING PHOTO TECHNIQUES THE BIG LITTLE GOING BEYOND 1:1 Text and photos by Mike Bartick In the past, taking macro photography beyond 1:1 — greater than life size — was difficult. Magnifying lenses (known as diopters) could be threaded to the front of a macro lens inside a housing, but then the whole dive would have to be dedicated to shooting small creatures because the diopter could not be removed underwater. Wet macro lenses, which attach to the outside of the housing, could be put on and taken off during a dive, but the level of magnification was marginal. With the introduction of apochromatic wet lenses in the past few years, however, diopters of varying strengths have managed to achieve effective magnification for high-quality images. These new tools have made supermacro photography readily available to anyone who wishes to go beyond 1:1. A wet diopter increases magnification while decreasing the lens’ working distance. This makes a longer lens (such as a 100mm or 105mm lens) the best choice. Magnification beyond 1:1 can also be achieved with a 60mm macro lens, but this can make the working distance between the port and the subject so short that it becomes difficult to illuminate the subject with a strobe light and skittish creatures are more likely to be frightened. Using a longer macro lens will allow you to maintain a respectful distance from marine life and provide the space for a more creative approach to lighting. The most popular setup involves an external wet lens attached with a flip adapter. This configuration allows the photographer to shoot without additional magnification for larger or more nervous critters or to flip down the diopter and zero in on really small subjects. To paraphrase David Doublet, “If you can’t shoot exotic subjects, then shoot the common subjects in an exotic way.” Supermacro photography will relentlessly challenge your skills as a photographer and a diver. Even spotting supermacro subjects is challenging. Shooting supermacro will certainly deliver visual diversity and can add exotic flavor to a plain vanilla portfolio. Ideally, the objective is to capture the images in-camera — not through creative cropping in postprocessing. This ensures the highest-resolution images and, thus, the greatest enlargement possibility for decorator prints or publication. Newer high-resolution cameras such as the Canon EOS 5DS and Nikon D810 offer huge files, and some cropping is certainly acceptable. But purity of the discipline obliges composing and capturing as close as possible to the end result. Once you’re within the realm of supermacro, certain technical considerations must be considered. Magnifying your subject and creating supermacro images significantly affects depth of field, composition and lighting. DEPTH OF FIELD (DOF) To increase DOF, most photographers begin by adjusting the aperture, or f-stop. The higher the number, the less light enters through the camera’s iris and the greater the DOF. Yet this comes at a price: Ambient light is decreased, and the background may go black. This is a nice effect at times, but not every supermacro shot benefits from a black background. The creative photographer will know how to bring more ambient light into the image via aperture or shutter speed and can thereby control how light or dark a background will appear. An aperture that’s too small can soften the image detail due to diffraction. An image may actually be sharper at f/11 than at f/32, but the DOF won’t be as great. Imagine, for example, a small moray eel. You might be able to get the sharpest detail of its eye at f/11, but if your intended composition requires both the eye and the nose to be sharp you might wish to shoot at f/32. A slight increase in ISO will also help you shoot at a higher f-stop by amplifying the incoming light. Knowledge of the science of optics will help translate the vision in your mind’s eye to the pixels in your digital camera. 100 | SUMMER 2016

A colorful pygmy squid (Idiosepius pygmaeus) rests on a cobaltblue tunicate. Colorful details of supermacro subjects may go unseen without the use of a diopter. Lighting also plays a significant role in creating a glow effect in translucent subjects. Opposite: Supermacro isn’t just for the tiniest things — larger subjects, such as this Glossodoris cincta nudibranch, shot with a diopter can completely fill the frame to create a dramatic image. Pay close attention to the camber of your subject relative to the lens to ensure the best plane of focus and desired depth of field. ALERTDIVER.COM | 101

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