PhotoFriday – ‘Artificial Light’

This week’s Photo Friday entry: ’Artificial Light’

As a compliment to the theme a few weeks ago of Natural Light, this weeks photofriday theme is Artificial light. Most of the images you will see have some form of artificial light source if only to bring back the colours of the undersea realm. The colours start to drop off from about 6m down, starting with the colour red as the first to go until all you are left with is blue (in warm water anyway). To bring back the amazing colours you need to bring your flashguns in with you. The photo of the tiny cowrie above is 100% artificial light. Also, below, top down abstract on this Christmas Tree Worm & Jawfish with eggs.

With those above I was using flat lighting with the strobes either side of my camera lens and both at the same power. The light on the jawfish is the same lighting position but the power in the right hand light is stronger causing a slight shadow to add a subtle depth to the image.

With this image of the tops of tube sponges I was trying to get the hang of something called edge lighting. This is where you put the strobes facing backwards, so the very edge of the light from the strobe leaks out over the surface of the subject leaving the background in darkness. This is why you dont see the whole sponge and seabed here, if I had been entirely successful you may only have seen the circles of the tops of the sponges in this image…

But the images I find the most evocative of the underwater world are when artificial and natural light combine to bring back the colours in the foreground but successfully balance the background with the wonderful blue of the sea. Here are a few I liked from my trip to Raja Ampat, this first one uses three light sources, the artificial light to bring back the colours of the foreground, the natural light of the blue water and the divers torch shining into the lens.

You can see more Raja Ampat photos here.

If you want to see my underwater photos from various places then check out the galleries in my Reef Beasties Gallery. Or my best from 2012 here.

See all the other photo Friday entries (and submit your own) for ‘Artificial Light’ here.

PS: I’m currently selling my 60mm/D300 underwater macro set-up. Click here for more details & the full list of equipment for sale or email me at Thanks for supporting my work!


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