Color Correcting

I’ve been spending a large chunk of my off time this past week color correcting my Bonaire pictures. I shot just over 1000 pictures over the six days of diving so it’s a lot of work, and I’ve really been struggling with some of them.

When I was shooting with the red filter, I was really excited about it, because what I was seeing in the viewfinder indicated that it was correcting the colors well, and it was giving me a very realistic feel because I was using natural light, at least at depth. In practice, some of these pictures have been very hard to color correct, because they don’t have a single overall cast – parts tend to be very yellow green, other parts kind of blueish. Other pictures are not so hard to correct, and do, in fact, give a good sense of what it’s like to actually be there.

I’m also having trouble with a lot of my strobe pictures, and today, I think I figured out why. I spent a lot of time this trip relatively shallow, around 30 – 40 feet, shallow enough that at the sync shutter speed of 1/60th second, and minimum aperture of f/8, I’m still getting a significant amount of exposure from the red deficient ambient light. This is leading to pictures that need to have a lot of red correction thrown at them, not to mention some with visible motion blur.

In addition, I was having trouble aiming the strobe sometimes, so I’m seeing a lot of pictures where one side is lit by strobe, and the other side lit by ambient light.

So what would I do differently next time? For one thing, go deeper. From a composition standpoint, working along the reef wall works better than the reef shelf anyway, and it reduces the amount of ambient light. The darker ambient light also makes it easier to see the strobe’s modeling light. The aperture can’t be set any smaller than f/8 *, but the camera does have a neutral density filter I could try.

For very shallow work – say, under 20 feet, I found the camera’s underwater white balance setting in program mode works decently.

Right now, I’ve gotten about two and a half days worth of pictures processed. I just replaced the sea horse picture from the first day of boat diving with a better adjusted version. Once I finish getting the pictures looking the way I want them, I’ll start figuring out what I was shooting, and get them online.

* The Canon G12 is a fairly advanced point ‘n’ shoot camera, but the lens focal length at the short end is only 6mm. Apertures smaller than f/8 would be small enough to introduce significant diffraction.