Exposing the truth: How to take unreal pics with your DSLR!!! -or- You are EXPOSED!

Discussion in 'Battlecorals' started by Battlecorals, Sep 8, 2015.

  1. Battlecorals

    Battlecorals Aquaculturist R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    If you have a decent DSLR Camera, as a lot of reef vendors and enthusiast do, you probably have a lot of questions as to how in the world some of these people get pics to look the way they do, as you think to yourself, does that coral really look like that? Well, that’s a great question with a myriad of good answers. Now, I am by no means an authority on photography, but I have managed to learn just enough over the years about how to shoot coral to have a decent understanding of how different lighting can affect the coral and the shot entirely. It's not an easy thing to master, and in saying that, by no means do I entertain any sort of accolade about my own skill, as I am still learning just as much as anyone else, but I’d like to try and share a few easy tips with you on how to achieve that near majestic exposure we are seeing more and more of.

    Every DSLR has an internal setting for a custom white balance. Think of it like auto spell but for white balance. Once you've set your preset, it just crunches away in the background, correcting the white balance the best it knows how. The problem, much like with auto spell (at least for me, because I am a terrible typer) is that, sometimes it doesn’t know the word at all, and will piece together whatever it can to make something sensible out of the garble that I punch in.

    Such is the way your custom WB function works. Especially in a hyper blue type setting, and I am really simplifying the mechanics of this process, but it’s working so hard to correct that extreme light, that it essentially “plugs in” whatever it can to make sense of the data, often resulting in something much farther away then the intended outcome. In coral photography, that result can be very pleasing. However in most cases, a bit too pleasing...

    So, today I have decided to do a step by step tutorial on exactly how some of these otherworldly pics are actually taken. Now I realize that this isn’t really all that constructive. If anything a little low brow and maybe even a bit smarmy on my part. More of deliberate jab at some of the guys taking these kinds of pics and fooling you time and again with them. After this brief but detailed tutorial, you too will be able to take those kinds of pictures; the glowing yellows and reds, and the silky electric oranges that we all drool over time and again. At the very least, if you take anything away from this, you'll understand how easy it is to turn a good looking coral into a jaw dropping coral, without even coming near a saturation slider. Now I'm not singling anyone out here either I promise. This is not written for or at any specific vendor or commercial hobbyist, but if this write up makes you feel a little introspective at all, then I'm talking to you for sure.

    For the sake of the lesson, I am going to just go ahead list the steps numerically with appropriate images in place. These functions are specific to Cannon, but I’d guess the Nikon settings are similar enough to wing it.


    1. Turn off every color on your led fixture but the royal blue. Intensity isn’t super important but you’ll want enough light to get a good shot. At least 45-50 at least. A porthole type viewer for the camera will help tremendously but is not required.

    2. In Auto WB mode go ahead and take a pic under that lighting.

    3. Next go to menu and select the WB option. Figure 1
    [​IMG]

    4. Select custom. Figure 2
    [​IMG]

    5. Then select custom white balance just below that. Figure 3
    [​IMG]

    6. It may warn you that somethings not quite right, but select the ultra blue pic that you just took and go ahead and hit ok. Figure 4. You have now created a WB preset for that spectrum. Go back to camera mode.

    [​IMG]

    7. Now peek through the lens again, as the blue is stripped away and you are greeted by a collection of coral that you have never seen before.

    8. Enjoy a brief moment of “ahh so thats how those…… do it”

    9. Now go ahead focus and take a pic. That's it, you are done.



    Below are some examples of pics taken under neutral colored lights with the camera back in the auto WB mode, and then using the method outlined above. To reiterate, these are two separate pics entirely. One was taken in normal light, and the other was taken using our new custom WB setting that we just learned under Royal Blue LED only. These are 100% unedited jpegs, processed by the camera only. I dumped them into Photos on a Mac, then uploaded to photo bucket. No post processing done at all in any way. Zero.


    This
    [​IMG]

    Becomes this
    [​IMG]

    And this
    [​IMG]

    Becomes this. Delicious isn't it?
    [​IMG]

    This one is sick but watch.
    This
    [​IMG]

    Becomes this! Same acro I swear.
    [​IMG]

    And just a couple more

    This guy, wait for it
    [​IMG]

    Turns into this! It's that easy! And I can even boast without lying that it's just an unprocessed pic, with no editing at all! For good measure. So what If I may have to explain that, well, it really only looks like this under so and such lighting, and at the right angle etc. You know you want a frag of this one. Resist!!!!!!
    [​IMG]

    And finally, perhaps the grossest of them all. I'll admit that I was even tempted to pass this one off because of how insane it looked. For just one fleeting second or two, I had the feeling that now I have one of those. THIS THING IS ONE OF THOSE!! But alas, while it's a gem with loads of potential, It's a far cry from the multicolor wonder that my cannon created.

    Lets go backwards,
    Became this!!!

    [​IMG]


    Actually is this.
    [​IMG]






    So my good friends if you stuck it out for the whole spiel thank you. I know there was an underlined flavor of just plain "mean" to this whole thing, but remember, the next time you see a pic that just looks so friggen good, that you can’t even believe it, don’t. Because the coral does not look like that.
     
    bubbaque, iamgant, jenreefer and 56 others like this.
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  2. FX CharityCorals

    FX CharityCorals Well-Known Member Platinum Sponsor

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    Dude Bravo Adam. That is an eye opener on how the camera was just making the changes. Thank you
     
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  3. jcdeng

    jcdeng Valuable Member

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    Holy crap, i freaking love u man
     
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  4. jpines

    jpines Active Member

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    Very nice write up, Adam! Awesome info
     
  5. BNUTTHEHUT

    BNUTTHEHUT Active Member

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    Bahahhah. Good deal Adam.
     
  6. Reefermadness73

    Reefermadness73 Active Member

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    Wow... Very nice. Scary thing is the egg crate looks legit in some of those pics. I hate the fact that I have to tell myself that if the coral looks half as good in person as it does online that I will be ok with that
     
  7. pirate2876

    pirate2876 Well-Known Member

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    I saw this same thing with orange lenses. Makes corals insane.
     
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  8. tnyr5

    tnyr5 Tony

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    Thank you for saying what needed to be said in public years ago! Now, call your lawyer lol.
     
  9. steve&mari

    steve&mari Blessed Reefer R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award

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    We're looking at a dslr and definitely was worried it'd take forever to learn to get get true pics with blue leds.
     
  10. coral reeftank

    coral reeftank Well-Known Member R2R Supporter

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    Nice write up Adam.
    That last piece is awesome.
     
  11. Tom Blevins

    Tom Blevins Acroholic R2R Supporter

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    Adam,
    Thanks for the eye opener I have purchased a few dollars on here and have had this sad situation happen a few times! it's sad stores do this
    and tell you that it's normal for the coral to show up brown?
    I purchased from stores on here and the corals we have had for 8 month still looks like crap and nothing like the picture asvertised!

    There are a few on here which post on ebay, coral auctions and tell you new aussie shipments with these crazy
    pictures and hook line you in on that, Adam your corals are true to the pictures you post and all the ones I have purchased from you look just like the pictures on your website.

    It's sad that the consumer has to suffer for the greed of businesses with false advertising.


    Regards
    Tom
     
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  12. That guy

    That guy Valuable Member

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    Awsome man
     
  13. TCK Corals

    TCK Corals Valuable Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    Amazing writeup Adam. This was just your camera doing all the work? Reminds me of looking at trade show tanks with those amazing orange glasses
     
    zachmac1977 likes this.
  14. MikeyB

    MikeyB Valuable Member

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    That's incredible Adam. You always show your coral exactly how it is and that's why everyone loves you. The coral you sell always looks exactly like what the pictures show.
     
  15. Ezeke1

    Ezeke1 Active Member R2R Supporter

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    WOW...simply amazing what you just exposed.
     
  16. charleslotz

    charleslotz Active Member

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    Nicly done, great info now we know no wonder they never color up.... Grrrrrrr


    .... I'll take a piece of all the yellow frags ... ;)
     
  17. -Logzor

    -Logzor Valuable Member

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    This is....hilarious. I swear some of those white balanced pics look just like others I've seen online that seemed suspicious.
     
  18. Scolacanthop

    Scolacanthop Well-Known Member

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    Awsome!!! That why pics were posted on line much so nice, compare with what I see in store!!! Carefull myself
    Thanks for showing!!!
     
  19. bneufelder

    bneufelder Member

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    That is crazy. So when you see pics and the plug and eggcrate is blue, what are they doing?
     
  20. 650-IS350

    650-IS350 Valuable Member R2R Supporter

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    Its like the hot chick you see in the club all dolled up, next morning after all the make up off... NUFF SAID. :rolleyes:
     
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