Nightsea diving isn’t limited to night dives – you can create striking images in the day as well. We caught up with underwater photographer and naturalist Shawn M. Miller who often uses this technique, called fluorescent enhancement, to create unique and dramatic images. Here he gives some key tips to get the most out of your Nightsea lights during the day:
Fluorescent enhancement captures reflected blue light and some fluorescence during the day without using a yellow barrier filter. I combine ambient light and continuous blue light from the Nightsea. This is often advantageous as it allows me to shoot a wide variety of images on the same dive.
The first step is to make sure your camera is setup properly. I like to have the Nightsea mounted on Loc-Line arms or similar to allow for easy adjustment. A macro lens is preferred at it works best to really get a close focus on the subject. Because we are enhancing a macro image, one light is all you need - both the Sola and GoBe Nightsea lights work well.
If the camera has manual mode use it as it will give the most control over your image. I tend to set the shutter speed at 1/200 second or faster to avoid motion blur. An aperture of F5.6 or greater helps to keep good focus. Don’t be afraid to bump up the ISO with smaller apertures (I typically shoot between ISO 400-2000 depending on ambient light).
When you find an interesting subject start by turning the Nightsea to a low setting. The biggest mistake is to immediately put the light on high; this will overwhelm the image with reflected blue light. Since we are enhancing without a yellow filter, excess blue light is not wanted. Practicing on a variety of subjects will be helpful, adjust settings and check the camera’s view screen – you’ll be surprised how little adjustments can really alter an image.
Getting the shot correct in-camera is optimal; editing excess blue light can be difficult through post-processing. There are plenty of other great programs out there - if the image needs tweaking start with the exposure adjustment, then play with the white balance to match what your eyes saw underwater. Add contrast, clarity, and saturation as needed.
Hopefully that will give some good starting advice for using your Nightsea during the day. The blue lights are a great tool for adding a creative twist to an underwater portfolio – but like all image capture, be patient and learn from mistakes. Don’t get discouraged; the reward is truly breathtaking, one-of-a-kind imagery.
Naturalist Shawn M. Miller is an accomplished underwater and nature photographer based out of Okinawa, Japan. Specializing in the unique flora and fauna of Okinawa, he has documented rare and endemic species from birds and reptiles to nudibranchs and shells. His work has been featured by various publications including National Geographic and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Follow Shawn and his conservation efforts on his blog (www.okinawanaturephotography.com) as well as Facebook and Instagram (@OkinawaNaturePhotography).
All Photos © Shawn M. Miller