Unfortunately Dive Trips are most of the time shorter than you would wish them to be – that’s why we want to help you a little bit by increasing the productivity of your UW Photography during your stay with us. We introduce our new Blog Series “Photo Tips”! As in the beginning it is always easier to start with slow moving subjects we start with Nudibranchs (Ok, corals are a bit slower but we think Nudies generally make better Macro-Subjects).
Nudibranch Problem Number 1: They have no Eyes. And Eyes are the most important feature of an Animal – they create contact and therefor emotions. But all Nudibranchs have Rhinophores – the little “horns” over their heads. These horns are the most facial feature of a nudibranch and therefor should replace the function of the eyes in other wildlife photography. The Rhinophores should ALWAYS be prominently visible AND in Focus. So the side with the Rhinophores should always more or less face towards the camera. But focussing on the Rhinophores is not always easy – while Autofocus works really well on some species other Rhinophores completely refuse to be focussed on. Then the best recommendation is to prefocus on the head in between the Rhinophores and move the camera in and out until the Rhinophores are sharp. This needs to be done either with the shutter half pressed (not that easy) or (much better) with the AF released from the shutter and placed on a AF On Button. For people wanting to stick strictly to AF only a high F-Stop and focussing somewhere near the Rhinophores will work..
Nudibranch Problem Number 2: They live on the bottom and can therefore not always be isolated really well. So if Nudibranchs not happen to sit on top or on the edge of a rock – where they can be shot with a black background by stopping down – they have to be isolated differently. Sometimes they crawl on a different coloured underground like a sponge or so … than this is also fine. But usually sand, rubble and rocks are not a desired component for your composition. So the best way to direct the attention on the Nudibranch is to blurr out the background. You achieve this by opening your aperture a bit more (result is less depth of field) and/or use a lower point of view/angle … this brings more distance in between the Nudibranch and the underground.
Nudibranch Problem Number 3: Nudibranchs are not dramatic. Usually Nudibranchs are a little lump with two horns and some gills on the back … basicly a colourful turd crawling along on the bottom. Therefor a simple sideshot of a Nudibranch sitting on the sand will not produce the same emotion as a sideshot of a shark. This dramatic has to be created by giving dimension to a nudibranch photo. The nudibranch needs to be photographed with a attractive perspective. Generally the face on shot with sharp rhinophores and the body visible in the back of the picture works best. If this is then combined with a nice background (black, colour or blurr) you have the perfect nudibranch photo.