Backlighting Basics

Subjects that are backlit can look awesome, but when I tried backlighting, my photographs were completely blown out by my strobe. Can you help me learn how to backlight? – Susie, Santa Barbara, CA Backlighting can produce some wonderful images, but learning how to backlight can be tricky. Creating a pleasing look and getting the…


Negative Space

By Marty Snyderman Recently one of my students, Jean C. of Littleton, CO, told me that she had heard another photographer talking about the importance of negative space. In response to this comment, Jean’s three-part question to me was ”what is negative space, why is it important, and what should I know about it?” Negative…


Shooting Sharks

By Marty Snyderman No, not for fin soup. This month’s question from George B. of San Francisco asks for tips on photographing sharks. George is going on a Bahamian shark dive and wants to know the best way to get the ocean’s apex beast to say cheese. Even though the resorts have good safety records,…


Avoiding Backscatter

By Marty Snyderman Backscatter-the word that collectively describes those horrible, strobe-lit, out-of-focus blobs in the foreground of an underwater photo-has ruined more potentially wonderful photographs than all the flooded gear, bad weather and strobes that wouldn’t fire put together. That is the bad news. The good news is, backscatter is avoidable. So when Bob G.…


Getting Started

By Marty Snyderman Recently, I was honored to be the emcee of the 33rd San Diego Underwater Photographic Society Film Festival. After the show, Randy B., a longtime diver from Encinitas, CA, told me he had been bitten by the photographic bug, but he didn’t know the best way to get started. His question was…


Chasing the Blues Away

By Marty Snyderman In this month’s question, Chester S. from Nashville, Tennessee, asks, “What can I do to get rid of the blues? In my photographs, everything including divers, reefs, water, fish and anything that should look red or orange is too blue.” Chester’s problem is one that is faced by all underwater photographers every…


Speed Kills!

By Marty Snyderman “I’m just getting started in underwater photography and am confused about what film I should use. Some of my friends suggest that I use a fast film, one with an ISO of 800 or higher. Others tell me slower films are better. Who is right?” This question, asked by Chad S. of…


One Strobe or Two?

This month’s column focuses on whether two strobes are better than one. Tiffany B. of Philadelphia e-mailed the following: “During a recent trip aboard the Bay Islands Aggressor, I heard a discussion about whether or not it is best to use two strobes. I am a novice and only have one strobe. Will a second…


Guide Numbers

By Marty Snyderman This month’s question is from Chris H. of Miami. Chris asks, “What is a guide number for a strobe and what do I do with that information?” In short, a guide number describes the relative power of light output by a given strobe, and the information is used to get proper exposures…


Secrets to Creating Powerful Silhouettes

This month’s question, from Hank A. of Mobile, AL, focuses on silhouettes. In his e-mail, Hank commented that he thinks ‘silhouettes can make an incredibly powerful impact,’ however, he added that many of his silhouettes are ‘too blah.’ His subjects are good, but his ‘photographs don’t do them justice.’ I completely agree with Hank that…