Sunday Classic / 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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One thought on “Sunday Classic / Douse The Flash

  1. excellent tip Louis ! apart from and as you cite, all the stuff that’s in the water, direct flash and fish rarely go well together as we’ll almost often end up with over-exposed burned out areas due to the fish’s reflectance.

    another thing i’ve noticed photographing fish almost exclusively under water over the years is light levels underwater when the sky is getting dark seem to always be higher than above water, at at least a lot more than we think which in turn giving us better non-flash photo opportunities.
    boosting ISO just a little gives great, natural-looking results.
    lovin’ G&G as always.

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