Reef Panorama? I’ll Have to Try Harder!

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On our dive on Saturday at Leper Island  near Madang, I tried to shoot some reef panoramas. I’ve been thinking about this for some time, just not while I was underwater. Funny how thoughts come to you when there’s absolutely nothing you can do about them. I’m driving down the road and I think, “Hey, I should try some underwater panoramas!” Do I remember this the next time I go diving? Of course not.  Does this happen to anybody else?

Here’s one that I finished:

Reef Panorama 1The colours do not make me happy at all. The Canon G10 shoots panoramas only in the JPG mode, which means that you lose all of the wonderful wholesome goodness of the Camera RAW filter. You simply cannot get the colours right:

Next time, I’m going to try shooting individual frames in the RAW mode, lock in the exposure on the first frame, and use manual focus. The only problem then is using the exact same settings for the colour adjustments on each frame before stitching them together. That may take some fiddling. Here’s a partially finished panorama:

Reef Panorama 2As you can see, I’m also going to have to frame the shots better. It’s surprisingly difficult to hold the camera at exactly the same angle when the surge on the top of the reef is pushing you around.

Here’s another partially finished panorama. I do really like the concept. I always strive to show you the scene as I saw it. This will be a very nice technique, if I can work out the colour problem. Note in this one that you can just make out the hull of Faded Glory in the upper left hand corner:Reef Panorama 3Well, enough of that until I can make them look better.

Here’s something that you don’t see every day, a Sea Cucumber wearing a clown suit. It’s a Thelenota rubralineata:
Sea Cucumber - Thelenota rubralineataThey are sometimes called Sea Slugs. Their top speed is about a metre an hour, so the concept of sluggishness fits their nature. In shallower water the lines appear bright red.

I’ll finish up today with one of the best shots that I’ve gotten of the Reticulated Dascyllus (Dascyllus reticulatus):Reticulated Dascyllus - Dascyllus reticulatus

Compare this on with one that I showed a few days ago. I have some other images of the Reticulated Dascyllus here and here (a video clip from my YouTube site).

I think that I’m getting the hang of it. No more ‘too shiny’ fish! Look at the red fish under the coral. When I took the shot I didn’t even see it.

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7 Responses to “Reef Panorama? I’ll Have to Try Harder!”

  1. Steve Goodheart Says:

    Your coral reef panoram idea is cool; but it sure looks challengin, and unlike a sky, there’s not the dramatic variations you get in, say, a sunrise. But I enjoyed what you did and hope you’ll keep after it.

    Loved your beasties, as usual, but the Reticulated Dascyllus shot is very special. Nice work!

  2. Ron Barrons Says:

    As much as I enjoy all of your photographs, I need to make special mention of Reef Panorama 1. That is the one you indicate, “you simply cannot get the colours right.” Not knowing the difference, I have to say it is an amazing picture as is, so much variety both in corals and colours. This is something I will never see for real, as much as might like to. What is the actual distance from side to side as depicted and how large is the reef itself?

  3. MadDog Says:

    Hi Ron. Always great to hear from you.

    The colour question comes from my experience shooting in the RAW mode and the ease with which you can adjust the colour temperature and tint in the opening dialog before the image is loaded into Photoshop. This is not to even mention the huge range of other adjustments that you can perform in the Camera Raw dialog. When I shot the reef panorama frames, I used the built-in panorama mode on the G10. This produces images in the JPG format. I forgot what a pain it is to create realistic colours (the actual colours) for underwater shots captured as JPG. Since the channels are mixed, there’s just no way you’re going to get the right colours back. I know that the image is pretty, but as the guy who saw it, I can tell you that it’s not accurate.

    The image covers about 100 degrees and the closest foreground corals were about one metre away. The backgroud blue on the right would have been seven to ten metres away. I’d guess that the span across the image is about eight or ten metres. It’s hard to judge distances accurately underwater, especially when you wear a perscription mask.

    As always, thanks for the comment, Ron


  4. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Steven. I’ll get better at it. The thing about photography is that you never exhaust the possibilities. There is no perfection.

    Wait until you see the next Dascyllus shot!

  5. The Spooky Eastern Sunset | Madang - Ples Bilong Mi Says:

    […] The rubralineata&nbsp: is one of the more colourful Sea Slugs. I have another picture of one here. […]

  6. Samantha Newman Says:

    Can i use one of these reef pictures that you took? I want to have it made into a canvas for my dining room.

  7. MadDog Says:

    Sorry, Samantha, for being late to answer. I’ve not checked this site for some time. You are welcome to use any of my images for personal, non-profit purposes. When possible, I want attribution. That’s not practical for a wall hanging in your home, but you can mention me if someone asks.