Stephen Kirkpatrick

Friday, September 23, 2011

How'd You Do That?

I often get questions about how specific photographs were taken, and thought I’d use this blog to answer from time to time. These answers lean toward the technical aspect of capturing the shot rather than the adventurous aspects of finding the wildlife featured. 
The two photos below have generated a lot of questions. They are both single in camera photos on film using natural light. They were not put together from two different shots in photoshop or otherwise manipulated.  

                    Equipment used for these shots was:
                    Nikon F100 Camera
                    17-35mm f2.8 Nikkor Lens 
                    Subal Split Diopter + 3/ND2  Filter (bullfrog only)
                    Subal Underwater Housing
                    Dome Port  
                    Fuji Velvia Film

Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) on Lily Pad
July, 2006

The bullfrog photo cannot be accomplished in camera without using the split filter. Simply put, water magnifies, and a diopter is needed for the focus to be equal above and below the water’s surface. Since the light above the surface is usually brighter than below, the top half of the split needs darkening to balance the lighting across the entire image. This filter accomplishes that as well. As a side note, the diopter/neutral density optics come in different graduations of power for use in different situations.

Southern Stingray (Dasyatis americana) and Boat
May, 2008

The stingray photo, on the other hand, was taken without this filter because the ray and boat are two different subjects, not connected above and below the water. The distance between the ray and boat were about the same, the water magnified the scene, making it appear as though the ray was much closer. I also increased the depth of field by using a smaller aperture. The shallow, crystal clear water and white sand of Grand Cayman negated the need for a graduated split neutral density filter. Lighting above and below the water’s surface were about equal.

Other lessons learned in taking these photos: When a large bullfrog eats another, smaller frog, he tends to be too full to hop out of the frame, and stingrays have no problem making eye contact with the camera.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, intriguing and enlightening.
    Jim Miller


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