Day 2 of The Digital Shootout (first day diving)

Still taken on my first day diving in Little Cayman

For this trip, I took with me a Sony NEX 5N with the 18-55mm lens, and a Nauticam housing.   I have used this rig once before, but always in an automatic mode (similar to using a Point and Shoot).   Now, for this trip, my goal was to get better at using the full functionality of the camera and increase my skills as an underwater photographer and videographer.   So, I got a quick lesson in how to use the system in completely manual mode.  I manually set/changed ISO, f Stop, and shutter speed depending on if I was shooting video or photo and depending on the conditions where I was.   I did leave the camera in auto white-balance mode and then fixed up most of the shots/video in post production.  For lighting I was using 2 Light & Motion Sola’s (one 1200 and one 800).  These lights did a good job for video, but created quite a challenge for shooting stills.   Ultimately I will need to upgrade my rig to include 4 lights, 2 strobes and 2 video lights to give me that flexibility to switch between the two mediums at will and not burn down my video lights when I am shooting stills.

In the morning we went on two dives, that were nice (although lets face it, for me any dive is a nice dive so I may be biased).   I shot quite a bit of stills and some video, although nothing super inspiring happened in the water, but it was my first real attempt at going completely manual and having all the control.   It was quite fun, and I learned a lot on these dives.

In the afternoon, we got a seminar on underwater photography techniques, there was quite a bit of good information for me in the talk (and handouts) so that I could improve my skills in this area.

Every night during the week, there was a slide show and video presentation of the stuff shot that day if you wanted to get feedback on what you might do better, what looked good, and in general how to improve the work product.   It also provided a good drinking game for the event staff by playing “buzzword bingo” and drinking on phrases like “tack sharp” or “dialed in”.   I found these slide shows great not only for my own feedback, but the feedback and shots given to others.   This first day is where I really got the idea that I liked macro images of animal eyes, and later in the week got some good shots.

I also learned to make sure that of all the elements in a shot I need to ensure that I had clear focus on certain elements over others to ensure a high quality shot/video such as the eyes, mouth, and fins.  This is much harder than it sounds, especially underwater with moving “models” and current that causes you to move as well.

This video is cut together from work shot on the second day of the trip (first diving day).  Hopefully it will give you an idea of what I experienced in the water this first day… and why I fell in love with Little Cayman almost immediately.


And this video is a slideshow of some of my favorite stills from the second day of the trip.