What can go Wrong

Nothing — you've got a good shot already, but can you make an even better picture? The answer is 'yes' and it's all about working the subject! Spending enough time with the idea in order to fulfil the potential of what the subject has to offer. It's a very fine line, not easy to explain and often challenging to translate into words. A very good example of working a macro/close-up subject occurred on a workshop in the northern Red Sea on a dive site called the Alternatives.

We moored over this dive site for an entire day of repeat photo-diving. During his second dive, Stuart found a coombtooth blenny poking out of a small hole with good negative space in the background. Using a Nikon 60 mm macro lens on a Nikon D200 DSLR, Stuart recognised the opportunity for capturing a very good image of this particular blenny. He took a number of shots and was pleased with the composition, exposure and the position of the blenny. However, in order to fill the picture frame with the 60 mm macro lens he needed to be nearer to the blenny.

Stuart made several attempts to get close but, due to his proximity, the blenny became shy and dived back undercover to the safety of its home. After the dive Stuart invited me to critique his efforts with the 60 mm macro lens. He had taken between 20 and 25 shots and had good compositions of the blenny poking out and looking to feed. He was disappointed that the blenny was a little too far away. It would need to be cropped in order to fill the frame and do it justice. Stuart wasn't happy with this.

'What's my options, what would you do if you were me?'

I offered him two choices:

• To settle with the results and crop them in computer to make the blenny stand out a little larger with impact, or

• Go back on the next dive with a longer macro lens in the 105 mm range, taking the chance of finding the location and hoping the blenny was still in residence.

Stuart chose to return and re-shoot and, not wanting to miss the prospect myself, I offered to dive and re-shoot the blenny with him. We both selected Nikon 105 mm macro lenses in order to fill the frame with the blenny quite large inside the viewfinder. The 105 mm would provide a greater working distance between the lens and subject. Fingers crossed, this time the blenny would tolerate our proximity.

My thanks to Stuart Gibson, a course participant, for allowing me to recount his story.

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