Asian Diver and Scuba Diver Issue 01-2020 (117) | Page 4

ADVERTORIAL Plunging into Blackwater By: William Tan The latest craze to hit the diving community has to be blackwater photography. However, blackwater photography is not for everyone. It involves diving at night in the open sea, as well as searching for and photographing alien-like planktonic larvae or pelagic adults of strange sea creatures not commonly encountered in our normal recreational diving activities. These pose extreme challenges not only to the underwater photographer’s buoyancy control, but also his equipment’s ability to get focus accurately on a tiny subject, sometimes transparent and also fast moving. For the purpose of easier focusing, most photographers resort to using a shorter 60mm macro lens for blackwater photography. But with my Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Canon EOS 5D Mark IV bodies, both with super fast and accurate autofocus, I don’t find myself at a disadvantage when using the longer Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM as my lens of choice. In fact, when coupled with appropriate diopters underwater, I get a perfect working distance to shoot even tinier subjects, sometimes down to 2mm in size. During a blackwater dive, you will be moving in midwater, as will your subject, and the current will Probably my very first blackwater dive done in South Maldives, and the sea was full of mating pygmy squids. Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, f/11, 1/250s, ISO 200 also be moving both you and your subject – probably at different speeds due to the significant difference in size. It is extremely helpful to set your camera to AI Servo AF. With this setting, your camera will automatically track and continuously readjust focusing distance when you or your subject moves. When a subject is relatively large, I use Single-point AF, or even single-point Spot AF to accurately set focus on its eye. When a subject is tiny, moves erratically, and is extremely difficult to keep within a single focusing point, I choose AF Point Expansion. This setting consists of nine focusing points “fusing together” to become one large single focusing area, making it easier to keep the subject within the now “larger” focusing zone. “But where exactly is the focusing point?” you may ask. For a subject this tiny, your depth-of-field should be sufficient to keep the entire animal in focus. Depending on the camera model, I set my shutter to the recommended fastest speed to sync with external strobes. Contrary to popular belief, professional underwater photographers rarely use apertures of f/22 or smaller when shooting. Without doubt, this Larval Phoronid. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, f/16, 1/200s, ISO 100