Douse The Flash

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Taken with my D300s in a Housing Photo by Louis Cahill

All waterproof point and shoot cameras have a built-in flash, but is it your friend?

Well, sometimes. I’m a big believer in fill flash and use it a lot myself but when the camera drops below the surface of the water it can be a liability. When pros use flash under water the they take the flash off to the side, well off the lens axis, and trigger it remotely. It’s a great technique and works well but it’s impossible to pull off with a point and shoot.

Not What You’re Looking For

Here’s the problem with having your flash on the camera.

It’s remarkable how much stuff is in water that looks gin clear to the eye. If the water has any visible matter in it it’s going to look ten times worse to the camera. When you set off a flash that’s too close to the lens you light up all of that stuff in the water. Because the trash between you and the subject is closer to the flash than your subject, it’s much brighter. The result is that you see your subject through a cloud of bright white trash.

Underwater photography is cool and best of all it’s easier on the fish. Have fun with it, but start by turning off that flash. I think you’ll like the results.



Louis Cahill

Gink & Gasoline
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5 thoughts on “Douse The Flash

  1. Any suggestions on housing brands or models you prefer? There seems to be alot of stuff out there, and wondering if you have any feedback on any of your prefered brands, and/or anything to stay away from.

    • Jay, sorry I missed this question earlier. I use the Ewamarine housing. It’s a glorified ziplock bag. I like it for two reasons. It’s a third the price of a hard housing (still $500) and it packs easily for travel. A hard housing is bulky and a pain to fly with. I might like the hard case if I was a diver but I’m only sticking the camera a foot of so under for short bursts. This works great.

  2. the problem for me when I turn off the flash is that the lens speed slows down too much and unless there is no motion my picture always turns out blurred. How do you offset that effect? I have a Nikon 5000 series, love it, but really hard on non flash moving environments (aquariums, etc).

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