TECHNIQUES: Strobe position essentials
So you’ve taken the plunge and invested in a strobe arm systems. You’re ready to take your photography to the next level! But many divers find themselves unsure really how to position their strobe to get the most out of their kit. Getting it wrong can be really disheartening. It’s easy to want to go back to the world of white balance when faced with a series of shots that are poorly lit… or even worse… not lit at all!!! Believe me, we’ve all been there.
This blog will give you 3 basic positions to try out. These are key strobe positions to remember and should work in many situations underwater.
Before you get going, a word of warning. You do not want to aim your strobe directly at your subject. Instead, imagine a triangle of light coming out from your strobe in a cone. The strobe’s light is strongest in the middle but weaker on the edges. The strong light is often far too much, and will illuminate any particles in the water, meaning you can accidentally highlight any backscatter into your pics! Aim to light your subject using the softer
, more flattering edges of the strobe’s light. This also helps reduce backscatter issues.
1) Front Macro
This is a simple to use set up for macro shots, producing even lighting. The shadows should also fall behind and underneath your subject.
Keep the strobe about a fist width above the port. Pulling the strobe back behind the front of the port will help minimise the potential for hotspots.
2) Top Macro
With this top macro position get the strobe high above the port – the higher you can place it, the fewer problems you should have with backscatter.
The end result will simulate natural lighting, mimicking the suns rays hitting your subject. Shadows will be directly underneath the subject.
3) Classic wide angle
If you only have 1 strobe and want to start lighting wide angle shots, this is a good position to start with.
It is vital you keep the strobe aligned with the housing and never in front of the port. This should help keep backscatter and hot spots in check. The end result will have high levels of contrast, with dark shadows on one side.
If you want to even out the shadows, you need 2 strobes. Point these out a bit so that the subject is lit by the side light from both strobes. Expose for the background (think about your shutter speeds here!) and you should end up with a nicely lit foreground and properly exposed background!