‘Under The Sea’ – Matt Jacobs

Matt Jacobs, LUMIX Ambassador has shared with us his tips on under water photography.


MATT’S RIG

“My personal rig comprises the Panasonic LUMIX micro four thirds system (m43) and Ikelite underwater systems for the housing with an 8 inch dome.

I choose the Panasonic GH5 for its for its size, robustness, excellent stills quality, outstanding video and the 4k photo option. Being effortlessly able to switch between stills, video or 4k photo (the latter I’ve assigned to a function button for quick toggle use) allows me a huge flexibility in choosing video or stills on the fly.

The m43 system comprises a huge choice of world class optics to choice from such as the Panasonic Leica 42.5 f1.2, a stunning lens that offers other-worldly results that are in a league or their own.”

WIDE OR MACRO?

“Underwater photography is different however. For the very best results you are limited to 2 options; wide or macro. That’s not to say that you can’t venture underwater with other lenses, you certainly can, but to get world class photographs underwater it is imperative that you minimise the amount of water you shoot through. And that means getting close, really close to your subject. And when you think you’re close enough, get closer. The less water you shoot through, the sharper the photo, the more vibrant the colours. Hence the only serious choice for good underwater photography is macro or wide angle.”

LIGHTING?

“My underwater photography is all ambient light, meaning I do not use strobes. I flirted with a pair Ikelite strobes 2 years ago but I quickly realised my own personal photographic style is not suited to artificial light. This is simply a personal choice and you may decide, as the vast majority or serious underwater photographers do, to go down the strobe route. So, that being said please bear in mind that all my comments on underwater photography pertain to ambient light photography only.”

WHITE BALANCE? 

“Whatever camera system you decide on, whether compact camera, DSLR, mirrorless etc, it is vital that you are able to manually white balance the camera underwater. White balance is critical in underwater photography. I repeat, white balance is critical in underwater photography. In your topside photos you can adjust your white balance in post production but underwater it’s different.

Auto white balance will not give you stella results and the trick is to neutralise the blue in the water (or green if diving temperate water). If you fail to neutralise the blue in your underwater photography you will end up with amateurish photos that have a horrible cast to them where the whole image is a blue mess.”

GELS!

“The best way to achieve this neutralisation is to manually white balance the camera and use a red gel. I use the a red gel which gives me consistent, stellar results. When using red gel (use a blue gel if diving in green water) there are many ways to attach it to the lens.

Some lenses have provision to front mount filters and while have some holders at the rear of the lens allowing you to rear mount it. I have used lenses that have neither front or rear mount options. My work around for this is to cut the gel to the size of the rear element and to simply sellotape it in place. It works perfectly.”


That’s all from Matt for now. To see more, click here for Matt’s LGE Profile, Professional Website and Instagram