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Extra info for Underwater Photography (August 2001)

Sample text

I’m no expert in photofinishing machines, although I know that they can be calibrated, and have the ability, under operator control, to compensate for a number of common photographic errors, including (yes - you guessed) underexposure and low contrast, presumably by attempting to boost contrast, brightness, and colour saturation. ). What he probably doesn’t know is what an underwater shot should look like, and how to correct the errors when in that environment. As a consequence, getting a good print is rather a hit and miss affair.

The f-stop perceived by the camera is the relative f-stop. As such you may see relative f-stops of f45 or even f64 even if the f-stop on the lens is only f22 or f32. Ok, so why do we care about relative f-stop? Well we do care because strobe lighting at small apertures/high relative f-stops requires more strobe power, closer strobe to subject distance, or faster film to properly expose. It depends on your strobe power whether this is relevant to your particular shot, but if you are getting under exposed images back and the strobe to subject distance is within the coupling range of your strobe for a given f-stop, this may be the reason.

What actual film to use is generally a personal preference, as each individual film stock returns slightly different results. I have noticed that underwater photographers choose to use a medium speed film (ISO 100) for wide-angle and other general work, but may use speeds down to ISO 25 for close-up and macro shots that are entirely lit by strobe. Professional film brands profess to be more carefully quality controlled and stored to help professional photographers obtain identical colour balances from rolls of the same batch.

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