exposing film underwater

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by michaelfairbairnphot, Feb 16, 2014.

  1. michaelfairbairnphot

    michaelfairbairnphot Member

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    I am going to be shooting underwater and wondering if there is any exposure compensation needed for when I shoot.
     
  2. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    I can't help you but thanks for reminding me that I was going to make some underwater pinhole pictures this winter. My camera will be filled with water, but I too will need to estimate exposure somehow :smile:
     
  3. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    No compensation needed if relying on the cameras meter, but the water acts like another lens and alters the effective focal length. I cannot remember the exact formula but seem to remember a 35mm lens on a 35mm camera gives something like an apparent 50mm lens effect. Don't forget if you are going more than a few feet down the colour will change too from natural colour to increasingly more blue and the level of light will drop off dramatically.
     
  4. ataim

    ataim Member

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    As BMbikerider said only after a few feet the colors get mutted. A flash is a must if want colors.
     
  5. Mark_S

    Mark_S Member

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    I used to do a lot of underwater film photography - a few tips:

    Get as close to your subject as possible - the water will act as a filter in bad ways. This means using either macro, or super wide angle. The two lenses that I used the most for underwater were a 50mm macro lens, and a 17mm wide angle on a 35mm body.


    For macro, use a strobe, set your exposure before your dive, and don't worry about it after that - if I had a subject that was particularly bright, and I was afraid of overexposing with the flash - I would put a finger or two in front of the flash to reduce the exposure a bit.

    Also, when shooting macro, I would carry a piece of black plastic in my pocket, and if shooting such that there was open water behind my subject, I would hold the plastic behind the subject (far enough back to be well out of focus). This prevented backscatter from bits of stuff floating in the water behind the subject, reflecting the strobe light back into the camera.

    I did most of my photography in Southern California where the water is more brown/green than blue, when shooting with the wide angle lens, I would put a blue filter on my camera (the one made for shooting daylight film with tungsten lights), and the complementary red filter on my strobe. The result was that the foreground subject would have approximately correct colour, but the background would look blue.

    I tended to use Velvia when using the wide angle lens, as it did a good job with the dominant blues and greens, but when shooting macro, many of my subjects were warmer colors and I got my best results with Kodachrome. Film choices now are more limited.
     
  6. gleaf

    gleaf Subscriber

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    Always used the Sekonic L-164 marine meter. Waterproof good to any depth I dove to.
     
  7. WayneStevenson

    WayneStevenson Member

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    I have a couple Nikonos bodies. Lakes here in Alberta are not great for seeing through so I haven't tried. Only in swimming pools. But you're not really going deep enough that light is blocked so Sunny 16 works great in them.

    Though as was said above, water acts as a filter and blocks your reds. You used to be able to get underwater lens filters for them. They were in the magenta range if I recall.