Sunburst Exercise

• At a depth of 10 m with the sun high in the sky, using your camera's default ISO of either 100 or 200 with a wide angle lens, turn your flashgun off and switch your camera into Manual exposure mode so that you can choose both the aperture and shutter speed values.

• Set the shutter to 1/250th sec. Look up into the sunburst and take a series of shots from your smallest f22 aperture to your widest, i.e f4 or there abouts. If using a compact your smallest aperture is around f8, which is closely equivalent to f22 on an SLR.

• The pool of sunburst at f22 will record quite small, with a rapid graduation from white, close to the centre of the sunburst, to midnight blue towards

fig. 6.11 Whilst the sun is not present in the frame, I am shooting towards the general direction. You may notice that the colour of blue is a little 'milky'. Whilst this could be improved in CS or Lightroom I have left it 'as shot' f8 at 1/250th sec with a Tokina 10—17 mm at the 10 mm end. I was going for a graphic silhouette but the sunlight towards the top of the frame has illuminated the diver.

fig. 6.12 Shutter 1/250th sec at f22.

fig. 6.13 Shutter 1/250th sec at f16.

the edge of the frame. As you open the aperture through f16, f11, f8, f5.6, f4, f3.5 or compact equivalents, the pool of light will increase in size and the graduation between the white light of the sun and the blue background diminishes.

• Apertures of f 16 and f22 have a tendency to sharpen the rays of light but this effect diminishes and at f8 it is hardly noticeable.

• Next, descend to 20 m and repeat the process. If you wish, do the same at 30 m. Examine your results at different depths for acceptability of exposure.

Rule of thumb: As your depth increases, you need to open the aperture or shutter to compensate. A rule of thumb is 1 EVfor every 10 m. The effect is that a pleasing sunburst taken at f16 at 10 m will require f11 at 20 m and f8 at 30 m.

fig. 6.15 Shutter 1/250th sec at

fig. 6.16 Shutter 1/250th sec at f5.6

fig. 6.16 Shutter 1/250th sec at f5.6

fig. 6.17 Shutter 1/250th sec at f4, all the above taken at a depth of 10 m.

There is an interesting discussion by Eric Cheng of Wetpixel who has experimented with alternative RAW software programs in order to get the very best out of sunburst images.

Go to:

fig. 6.18 To put these suburst examples into context I shot some hard corals at a depth of 20 m (10 m deeper than the examples above); you may notice that the sun is a little smaller in the frame. I used 1.250th sec at f8 and two Inon Z220 flashguns to light the foreground hard corals.

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