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Shootist Jeff

UW photography with a GoPro Anarchy

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Any of you divers here do much with a go pro?  Any tips to get some good stills? I’ve been diving with a GoPro on and off now for several years and it’s OK. Pic quality is outstanding when it works in the right conditions but I’ve always suffered from not having a good light like the bigger camera rigs. Without good light, the shutter struggles and I get a lot of blurred I,ages. So I broke down and bought a light that clips to the GoPro as well as a handheld video light. The later is like the sun underwater. 

Anyway my questions are 1) if I’m using a light do I still need to use the red filter?  2) is it better to take video and just frame grab the still I want or is it better to use the burst shutter mode?

we just arrived in Raja Ampat for 10 days sand then will do another 10days in Lembeh doing the muck diving / macro stuff. I just want to try to get the most out of the photos for this “bucket list” trip. 

Thamks for any advice in advance. 

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1) This is a guess, but I dive and am a good photographer, so I know what you're up against. If the main light source is either light then the red filter is probably not needed, especially in deeper depths where less sunlight is getting to you. And the red filter will probably lose a lot of light through it.

2) The newest Hero (2018) takes 10 Megapixel stills. That is a lot more detail than a video frame. Using a burst mode is good if available. Much better chance of one relatively motionless frame.

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You need more light.  I have a Hero 4 Black that I've been using with two, 2300 lumen video lights.  Checkout the Backscatter.com pages on GoPro Accesssories https://www.backscatter.com/department/GoPro/product-category/Packages  and look at their FLIP filters and video lights.  Also check out their turorials on GoPro

You may also want to check out a new still camera that won't break the bank - try an Olympus TG-5 in a case.  Has special macro mode.  Used it for the first time in Bonaire last month.  Samples below with video lights, no filters and no PS.  You tell me.

Heading to the Lembeh Straits in August 2019.  Share your comments here about your experience.

PB090657 - SMALL - CROP.JPG

PB090668_-_SMALL_-_CROP.JPG

PB100742 - SMALL - CROP.JPG

PB100777 - SMALL - CROP.JPG

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Agree w/ above. The issue UW is lighting. The colors all go to shit pretty quickly, pretty shallow otherwise. I used a hero5 for a while with less than stellar results (unless you like muted green). When the folks at the UW photo gear shop I use expressed that I need more lighting, I didn’t want to carry my still rig w/ all the lights AND a go pro with more lights. Seemed to me like I’d have to choose. So I chose still (having all the stuff...housing, lenses, lighting, etc) made the choice easy.

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Thanks for the replies. Been out of internet since day 1. Just got near enough land with a cell tower to get internet for the night. Merry Christmas BTW. 

Yes, I have a 4500 lumen handheld video light and it’s awesome with the go pro - no filter needed. A bit awkward at times trying to hold it in one hand and the camera in the other. But I use it as my primary “look under rocks” light, so it easier than having it in a camera mount.

The pics so far are coming out really well. The addition of a good light has made a night and day difference. Before, as PB said, Everything was gloomy green. And even with a filter, there was not enough ambient light for decent pics unless you were at 3 meters on a sunny day. 

The one big drawback of course is the GP sucks at macro. Which is what I’m finding I like the best. Been finding lots of Pygmy seahorses, Pygmy cuttlefish, very small shrimp and crab and tiny nudibranchs and such and it’s impossible to get a decent clear pic. 

@Zonker, yes the burst mode seems to work the best as long as I can get a relatively stabilized shot. 

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On 12/19/2018 at 9:40 AM, Morgan Crewed said:

You may also want to check out a new still camera that won't break the bank - try an Olympus TG-5 in a case.  Has special macro mode.  Used it for the first time in Bonaire last month.  Samples below with video lights, no filters and no PS.  You tell me.

These are nice pics!  I might have to look into that camera for macro. How big is it and roughly what does it cost?  I have zero desire to carry around a big camera. To me UW photog is secondary to the diving. Thats why I like the go pro. It stays in my BCD pocket until there is something worth taking a pic of. I don’t want to be one of “those divers” who sits over a shot for 10 fricken minutes hogging the good stuff. We have one of those on this trip and it’s uber annoying. 

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Hello Jeff:

Couple of things about shooting macro with your GP. 

  1. Get away from the WIDE viewpoint and move to MEDIUM or try NARROW - these settings will get you in closer
  2. Go to Backscatter.com and get their wet 10+ closeup lens ($20) or, if has been a good Christmas add the 15+ macro lens ($100) https://www.backscatter.com/department/GoPro/product-category/Lenses  
  3. Go to Backscatter and buy (or make) a camera tray to hold that 4500 lumen video lights - you gain a hand https://www.backscatter.com/department/GoPro/product-category/Trays 

Now about the Olympus TG-5.  It is a small, compact camera, but you CANNOT put it in your BCD pocket.  I have mine on a Backscatter tray.  Cost of the camera is on sale at $400 and a camera and housing is another $300.  Check out this video  https://www.backscatter.com/reviews/post/Olympus-TG-5-Underwater-Camera-and-Housing-Review 

BTW, I have a lanyard attached to my camera & tray and I clip it to my BCD so it does not get too far away.

Now tell me about the Lembeh Straits.

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8 hours ago, Morgan Crewed said:

Hello Jeff:

Couple of things about shooting macro with your GP. 

  1. Get away from the WIDE viewpoint and move to MEDIUM or try NARROW - these settings will get you in closer
  2. Go to Backscatter.com and get their wet 10+ closeup lens ($20) or, if has been a good Christmas add the 15+ macro lens ($100) https://www.backscatter.com/department/GoPro/product-category/Lenses  
  3. Go to Backscatter and buy (or make) a camera tray to hold that 4500 lumen video lights - you gain a hand https://www.backscatter.com/department/GoPro/product-category/Trays 

Now about the Olympus TG-5.  It is a small, compact camera, but you CANNOT put it in your BCD pocket.  I have mine on a Backscatter tray.  Cost of the camera is on sale at $400 and a camera and housing is another $300.  Check out this video  https://www.backscatter.com/reviews/post/Olympus-TG-5-Underwater-Camera-and-Housing-Review 

BTW, I have a lanyard attached to my camera & tray and I clip it to my BCD so it does not get too far away.

Now tell me about the Lembeh Straits.

Thanks I’ll check out the links. 

I’m not in Lembeh yet. 1.5 more days in Raja Amoat to go on the boat. We are back in port and then fly to Manado and stay on shore for a week diving Lembeh. I’ll give a report once I’m there. Heard great stuff about it from other dive friends.

Have to say though that Raja has been Awesome for Macro as well. We have a dive guide that I swear has X-ray vision. How he finds some of the tiny stuff I have no clue.  But we have seen many “firsts” on this trip. Lots of different Nudis, leaf fish, coral and anenome shrimp and crabs, Pygmy seahorses, etc. saw a Wonderpuss for the first time last night. I love the little critters!  

 

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On 12/26/2018 at 2:21 AM, Morgan Crewed said:

Now tell me about the Lembeh Straits.

In a word, very awesome!  That is if you like little critters.  We've seen more of our checklist of things we've been wanting to see in 3 days of diving than we have in previous years worth.  It truly is macro heaven.

However, it's not all unicorns and roses.  The dive sites are mostly not much more than dead coral fields, gravel and sandy bottoms most of the time.  We've done one dive site (x2) that is a traditional coral pinnacle with lots of macro stuff as well.  But its the exception not the rule.  Most of the diving is in sandy/gravelly areas with some scattered trash strewn about.  One site we did was right in front of a small local Indo fishing village.  Lots of shit thrown about on the bottom.  But it also means more little holes for critters to hide in.  

Today the vis was really good but the vis the first two days was poor.  Maybe 6-8m at best.  Sometimes less.  But again, it really doesn't matter as you are swimming maybe 2-3 feet off the bottom and taking pics of stuff just a few inches away.  So long distance vis is really not an issue.

The only thing I don't like about it so far, as usual, are other idiot divers who maybe dive once a year at best.  This kind of diving is all about buoyancy control.  The trick is to be able to hover a foot or two above the sand without kicking up a big cloud.  The divers are split up into groups of 2-4 per guide and you essentially just swim in zig zag patterns across the sand.  When one of the guides finds something really cool, everyone then converges on that spot and you wait your turn to go in an look.  The problem is the idiots who kick up clouds of sand either while they're taking pics or waiting their turn.  I've seen dust storms in Iraq that were smaller than some of these.  The chinese divers seem to be the worst.  They just have a "don't give a fuck - I got mine" attitude.  And coupled with the asian lack of personal space awareness, they just push their way in and push you aside.  

If you can live with that, the strange critters are amazing and abundant.  

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37 minutes ago, Shootist Jeff said:

In a word, very awesome!  That is if you like little critters.  We've seen more of our checklist of things we've been wanting to see in 3 days of diving than we have in previous years worth.  It truly is macro heaven.

However, it's not all unicorns and roses.  The dive sites are mostly not much more than dead coral fields, gravel and sandy bottoms most of the time.  We've done one dive site (x2) that is a traditional coral pinnacle with lots of macro stuff as well.  But its the exception not the rule.  Most of the diving is in sandy/gravelly areas with some scattered trash strewn about.  One site we did was right in front of a small local Indo fishing village.  Lots of shit thrown about on the bottom.  But it also means more little holes for critters to hide in.  

Today the vis was really good but the vis the first two days was poor.  Maybe 6-8m at best.  Sometimes less.  But again, it really doesn't matter as you are swimming maybe 2-3 feet off the bottom and taking pics of stuff just a few inches away.  So long distance vis is really not an issue.

The only thing I don't like about it so far, as usual, are other idiot divers who maybe dive once a year at best.  This kind of diving is all about buoyancy control.  The trick is to be able to hover a foot or two above the sand without kicking up a big cloud.  The divers are split up into groups of 2-4 per guide and you essentially just swim in zig zag patterns across the sand.  When one of the guides finds something really cool, everyone then converges on that spot and you wait your turn to go in an look.  The problem is the idiots who kick up clouds of sand either while they're taking pics or waiting their turn.  I've seen dust storms in Iraq that were smaller than some of these.  The chinese divers seem to be the worst.  They just have a "don't give a fuck - I got mine" attitude.  And coupled with the asian lack of personal space awareness, they just push their way in and push you aside.  

If you can live with that, the strange critters are amazing and abundant.  

Elbows work wonders in establishing personal space.

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21 hours ago, Point Break said:

Elbows work wonders in establishing personal space.

Yep, Already been there - done that.  I have, however, seriously contemplated just going over to them and holding down the inflate button on their BCD.  :ph34r:

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4 hours ago, Shootist Jeff said:

Yep, Already been there - done that.  I have, however, seriously contemplated just going over to them and holding down the inflate button on their BCD.  :ph34r:

:D

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30 minutes ago, Dorado said:

Lloyd Bridges wouldn't stand for that shit. :mellow:

Mike Nelson didn't need any BCD, he was no BCD sissy, just the Argonaut and double hose regulator...................(besides they really didn't exist then :huh:)

 

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Here are some of the better pics.  I tried every combo of setting with the GoPro - i.e. running video and doing a frame capture, burst mode.  Wide, Med and Narrow lens settings etc.  I got some decent pics but most ended up being blurry when trying to crop because I found I was holding the camera too close for its fixed focal length meant for wide angle action stuff.  

My best results came with forcing myself to hold the camera at least 12" away from the subject (hard to do when the item is really small) and using Burst mode and Narrow lens setting.  As long as I could hold steady, I got some nice clear pics.  Having a big Lumen video light really helped as well so didn't have to use a red filter for the color.  I did find that especially on white Nudis and other very light stuff, I needed to tone the light down or it would wash everything out in bright white.  

Thanks for all the advice.  For the next trip, I'm going to try one of the GoPro Macro lenses to allow me to get up close and film some smaller stuff.  I gave up even trying to photo taking anything under about 1-1.5" long.  

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9Ip091T.jpg

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These were some of the ones before I figured out to hold the camera a bit further away.  I'm cropping the new ones now so hopefully they will be better.

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Some of the better ones.  Again, not Pro level stuff by any stretch.  But these didn't come out too bad....

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This one has been on my bucket list for a while....

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And of course, every loves Nudis.....

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e81c4ae45d6b27c5cf44d4ef332cc04d--underw

 

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