Inward Lighting – Underwater Photography Tip

Hi and welcome back to another one of my photography blogs for Sairee Cottage Diving. This time I will be talking about different ways to use strobes. For most underwater photographers, getting their first strobes is a big day. It means that from now on we don’t need to worry so much about white balancing the camera. We can also control which way the light and shadows falls, giving us a lot more creative control over our images. It is also a whole new learning curve and even photographers who are very experienced with using ambient light may find the transition to strobe lit photography frustrating at times. Small movements closer or away from the subject can completely change the way that the light falls.

Achieve inward lighting using a strobe

Some of the best results using different strobe techniques can be gained from unlit areas or underexposed areas of negative space which really emphasizes the key subject. I have explained one way to create this effect in my previous blog about ‘snoot photography’ but snoots don’t come cheap and are not the most versatile piece of underwater camera gear. A great cost effective way of utilizing dark negative space is with inward lighting. This is when the strobes are angled to face the photographer rather then the subject. By doing this, only the far edge of the beam will light up the chosen subject so the surrounding area and background remain unlit. Add a faster shutter speed and adjust your aperture and you can completely under expose everything other than the main subject. This way even if the main subject looks similar to it’s surrounding we can make it stand out with striking contrast. It does get easier with practice to control the edge of the beam of light and really pinpoint what can be lit up even on flat sand. To do this, firstly choose a subject that either stands up out of the sand or protrudes from the background. You also want a subject that will let you practice this technique as close as you can so sponges or interesting coral formations are best to start learning on as they wont swim away. One of the most important things to remember is to position the strobes no further forward than the cameras handles. If the strobes are aiming the correct way but positioned even slightly too far forward they will cause lens flare.

Inward lighting in UW photography can create great effects

This is a great lighting technique to really make your subjects stand out with beautiful definition in a fun new style without the added cost of a snoot. If you would like to learn more about underwater photography or book any diving courses then please contact us

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