White Balance vs Strobe, When to Use

Jun V Lao, PaparazSea
For very wide underwater vistas, forget your strobes, start using manual white balance 

There is a myth in underwater photography, that only photos lit with strobes (underwater flash) makes the best ocean images. While flash lit subjects underwater give much impact, you may only use it at a certain distance and will succeed to light up a finite area of your desired image.


For the Manta Image and Jackfish Ball images on top, I've used white balance. Using strobes on very wide vistas will not be able to light up vast scenes, NO MATTER HOW POWERFUL YOUR STROBE IS, plus they are prone to back scatter, especially if the water is a bit turbid from rough surface conditions which is usually the case if you go for big underwater wildlife.  


For the sardines photo, this was strobe lit, but the main difference between the jackfish ball and the Manta shot is the Sardine shoal shot was taken on a day with great visibility with the sun behind me. I've used iso800 too light up the vast scene.

STROBE LIT and Distance

Close Focus Wide Angle is the best method to take vast scenes using strobe. A fisheye lens with a 180 degree field of view enables you to get really close to your chosen foreground/subject while capturing the wide vista behind it, the secret to producing well lit wide angle scenes. The DISTANCE is equivalent to you taking a selfie (2 feet/ arms length). With the right lens and strobe position (I use mickey mouse ears position with both strobes behind my housing), capture well lit and vibrant images which will mimic pro photographers published images on magazines


While you can use White Balance for macro, Why not use strobes. One or two strobes it doesn't really matter as you are shooting subjects which are an inch (+/-) in size. A torch will light it up as well but will not be as crisp. 

Will be sharing more macro photography techniques in the future so do find time to subscribe to my blog

Thanks for dropping by :)

Here is a list of links on how to custom white balance popular camera models used for underwater photography

Nikon D800 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrJshpNih1M
Canon 5D Mk3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fr_4l4hUOfs
Canon G16 https://www.manualowl.com/m/Canon/PowerShot-G16/Manual/379520?page=74
Olympus TG4 https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3912740

Camera not listed, You can just google camera model with "How to do Manual White balance" query in search engines

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