Determine the Potential of the Subject

You have found a subject with good negative space situated in an ideal position for you to photograph. How many shots are you going to take? How long are you going to stick with this opportunity? Could this be a really good shot?

Consideration of the potential is necessary, so ask yourself:

• How good the potential could be?

• How long should you stay in that spot and shoot?

• How many shots might it take to get one that really works?

• Is the potential just OK or excellent?

There are no hard and fast rules. Only the photographer can make these decisions.

fig. 5.11 Whilst I was in the water, enjoying this encounter, I consciously considered the potential before me. If I could shoot one with a reflection then why not a pair? What else could I include? I took in excess of 90 shots over a 60 minute period. Same equipment and settings as Fig. 5.10 At the time of writing I can think of no better place world-wide to shoot Lion fish pictures.

fig. 5.12 One of the most popular and photogenic subjects found in the sea is the ubiquitous Clown fish so it's no coincidence that it was depicted to star in Finding Nemo. Clown fish come with their very own outstanding negative space — the anemone itself — and these elements come together to create popular images with world-wide appeal. Let us consider this potential. A Clown fish in anemone tentacles photographs well but when shot against a colourful skirt they look even better. To me a 'balled up' anemone and Clown fish is always a must-shoot subject. When it's a colourful red, blue or purple skirt on offer then the potential is even greater. I took this image on the wreck of the Shinkoko Maru in Truk Lagoon. I noticed that the anemone had 'balled up' at the end of my second dive but I did not have enough air to stay. Ninety minutes later I returned to the same spot with a 60 mm macro lens and fingers crossed in the hope it was still balled up. I spent 40 minutes concentrating on areas of the skirt and pressing the shutter when the fish swam into my chosen negative space. So, the next time you see a Clown in anemone, don't follow the fish but focus your lens onto the anemone and when the Clown swims into your chosen negative space then hit the shutter button — not once or twice but as many times as it takes to fulfil its potential.

Nikon D200, two Inon Z220 flashguns, f16 at 1/125th sec, ISO 100.

fig. 5.13 There was nothing particularly remarkable about this Moray in Hawaii until it protruded from its lair at an angle, which enabled me to shoot it against a non-distracting background. Because of this it's potential to enable a successful result increased. The reef was behind it but more than one metre away, which was not in range of my flashgun. Nikon 105 mm lens, f16 at 1/125th sec, two Z220 flashguns positioned each side of my macro port in order to illuminate both sides of the subject.

fig. 5.13 There was nothing particularly remarkable about this Moray in Hawaii until it protruded from its lair at an angle, which enabled me to shoot it against a non-distracting background. Because of this it's potential to enable a successful result increased. The reef was behind it but more than one metre away, which was not in range of my flashgun. Nikon 105 mm lens, f16 at 1/125th sec, two Z220 flashguns positioned each side of my macro port in order to illuminate both sides of the subject.

fig. 5.14 I choose this patch of coral for a colourful wide angle simply because the small (anthias) reef fish were in attendance whereas some other areas of the reef had a stark blue backdrop without any fish action. A small detail but important to increase interest in the picture.

Nikon 12 24 mm at the 12 mm end, flashguns.

at 1/125 sec. Twin Inon at 1/125 sec. Twin Inon

fig. 5.15 Jamie Edge adopts a low camera angle and hugs the sand to achieve an upward angle on yet another Lion fish in Nuewiba.

fig. 5.17 Near to the drop off at Ras Mohamed, Red Sea, there is a small cave situated in 7 m of water. For several years this cave has been home to a small school of glass- fish. What excited me was that it's home to five or more red coral groupers who appear to feed constantly on the fish. Being primarily interested in dinner, the groupers are always tolerant of photographers and allow close proximity.

The cave is large enough for two photographers who can shoot either into the cave entrance or from within the cave, shooting out into the blue water. With the fish so at ease with my intrusion I recognised I had everything — good subject selection (grouper and glassfish); excellent potential (allowing me to get close); good negative space (blue water background or a dark background by shooting into the cave). After 10 minutes I appreciated quite a challenge in that every shot I took of the grouper were almost totally obscured by the glassfish. Over a period of three photo-dives I spent 90 minutes in the cave, shooting over 100 pictures. I returned because in my opinion, and for my own portfolio, I considered it worth the effort. I never captured a grouper taking a fish and so many frames were flawed with obscured features but I did achieve this shot which pleased me and made it worth the effort.

fig. 5.17 Near to the drop off at Ras Mohamed, Red Sea, there is a small cave situated in 7 m of water. For several years this cave has been home to a small school of glass- fish. What excited me was that it's home to five or more red coral groupers who appear to feed constantly on the fish. Being primarily interested in dinner, the groupers are always tolerant of photographers and allow close proximity.

The cave is large enough for two photographers who can shoot either into the cave entrance or from within the cave, shooting out into the blue water. With the fish so at ease with my intrusion I recognised I had everything — good subject selection (grouper and glassfish); excellent potential (allowing me to get close); good negative space (blue water background or a dark background by shooting into the cave). After 10 minutes I appreciated quite a challenge in that every shot I took of the grouper were almost totally obscured by the glassfish. Over a period of three photo-dives I spent 90 minutes in the cave, shooting over 100 pictures. I returned because in my opinion, and for my own portfolio, I considered it worth the effort. I never captured a grouper taking a fish and so many frames were flawed with obscured features but I did achieve this shot which pleased me and made it worth the effort.

Tips

1.

Shoot the

strongest feature

of the dive site.

2.

Consider the

accessibility of the

subject; if it's tricky,

then move on.

3.

Consider the best

place to look on

your photo-dive.

4.

Look for subjects

against good

negative space.

5.

Check the

condition of

subjects in the

LCD.

6.

Ask yourself what

the potential is of

your chosen

subject.

7.

Take a snapshot

and look for

potential on the

LCD review; if it's

not as good as you

once thought,

then move on to

something else.

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