I just returned from shooting in Misool, Raja Ampat, an area that offers what many consider some of the best diving on earth. The lush reef scapes are endless, the biodiversity staggering, and the sheer abundance of fish, mesmerizing! My primary objective was to capture footage of all that makes this area so amazing in support of a documentary focused on the impact of climate change on reef systems. In addition, I needed new images for some up-coming magazine features and customer print requests.
Given I had to capture both high resolution stills and video with a minimum resolution of 4K, I had to bring the full kit with:
- Red Epic Dragon, shooting 6K in Nauticam housing
- Canon 1DC & L-Series lenses in Nauticam housing
- 4 - Light & Motion Sola 3000s
- 2 - Light & Motion Sola 8000s
- Really Right Stuff – stainless field tripod
For these kinds of shoots, I have created my optimal light configuration that gives me exactly what I need to handle just about any lighting requirements. I use four Sola 3000s, two mounted on each side of my rig using triple clamps attached to medium length arms. I treat these as my “running lights”, and with their incredibly long run times, I leave them on the entire dive so I don’t miss a shot. The Sola 3000s are lightweight and have a tiny form factor, resulting in almost no weight or resistance penalty underwater. My four Sola 3000 light configuration takes advantage of their super bright and wide beam, resulting in full frame coverage without harsh shadow edges, even when shooting with my 15mm fisheye lens!
When it’s time for the epic shots (big animals, wide reef scapes, deep overhangs, etc), I turn on the “BIG Canons” - my Sola 8000’s. Even at half-power, these monsters can really light up a scene. When you turn them up to 6K or 8K, even in daylight conditions, their reach is astounding! A new feature of the Sola 8000s is their OLED screen that displays the output level and the % of charge left – very handy when you want to quickly flip to a power level or gauge your battery life. And like their smaller cousins, the run time on these lights is astonishing. Over the course of two weeks, many dives shooting constantly while flipping between 3k and 8k, their batteries never once gave out. And with the new on/off flip-switch, you never find yourself with the lights turned on by accident.
An additional benefit of the 8000’s, with their super bright and wide beam coverage is that I no longer need strobes when I switch to still photography! My camera shoots 14 frames per second, and using fixed lighting I can take full advantage of these fire-breathing dragons. And, without the harsh strobing affect, I get the added bonus of being able to capture behavior sequences without disrupting sensitive marine life.
Out of the water, the Solas have a remarkably fast recharge time, enabling you to get to 80% charge with only an hour between dives. And when it comes to travel and dealing with the headaches of airline weight restrictions, these lights are a delight. You can tuck the 3000s in the pockets of your travel vest, while the 8000s slip nicely into their neoprene sleeves and can be packed in your check-in baggage.
Support Shawn's efforts for Ocean Conservation by contributing to Blue Sphere Foundation
Follow Shawn's photography at: www.shawnheinrichs.com