Underwater Snooting in four parts Pt2 title slide

Underwater Snooting – Subjects and Composition. Pt2
In part one of underwater snooting we looked at the technical practicalities of using snoots.
In part two we are going to look at suitable subject choice and composition of our snooted pictures.

Our first picture shows a very dramatic spot lit effect, and this works well  with better small slow moving subjects like nudibranchs. Or creatures that don’t move around too much. Unlike this moray!

 

White Eyed Moray, with the snooted strobe highlighting his right side only. I took a few shots of this eel, as he was moving in and out of the light, and its eye was moving in and out of focus. Don't give up if these things aren't working for you at first, keep at it.
White Eyed Moray, with the snooted strobe highlighting his right side only. I took a few shots of this eel, as he was moving in and out of the light, and its eye was moving in and out of focus. Don’t give up if these things aren’t working for you at first, keep at it.

If you’ve already had a go at making and/or using snoots you will realise that aiming the light can be quite difficult, and becoming more so as the beam of light narrows.
Good buoyancy skills are vital if you are not to lay all over the coral, and you must practice maintaining position very accurately, as the narrower your beam of light gets you will realise a few centimetres in either direction will mean the light will be completely off target.If your strobe has a modelling light this will be a great help in getting the light onto the subject.
As you saw in part one, with the exception of very large subjects, most marine life is suitable to snoot, only varying in difficulty as the creature becomes more mobile.
I would suggest that you start with things like nudibranchs or even just a patch of coral, highlighting tiny bits. After a bit you’ll get more of a feel for it, enough to attempt more ambitious subjects.

 

Nudibranch head lit up with small snoot. Sort out your hover and fine tune your buoyancy to start with and then get your lighting right, only then  experiment with your compositions and framing.
Nudibranch head lit up with small snoot.
Sort out your hover and fine tune your buoyancy to start with and then get your lighting right, only then experiment with your compositions and framing.

I experiment with my composition alternating large areas of dark negative space either prominently to the left or right, with the occasionally centrally placed spot.
It pays to experiment as the subject may be naturally positioned looking into the shot, in which case they will naturally look better if they are placed to either the left or right, or more centrally if they are looking out of the shot towards the camera more.
Sometimes though the subject may be further away and the spotlit effect less pronounced.

 

Here I've helped to isolate our grey camouflaged frogfish, by aiming the snoot from a distance (around 2 feet away) this has softened the edges of the snoot light, but also allowed me to use a wider aperture, even further separating the subject from the background.
Here I’ve helped to isolate our grey camouflaged frogfish, by aiming the snoot from a distance (around 2 feet away) this has softened the edges of the snoot light, but also allowed me to use a wider aperture, even further separating the subject from the background.

Shooting with wider apertures as outlined in the above shot I covered in an earlier blog post here.
You will be naturally encouraged to take more pictures as your hit rate will be lower as you won’t always hit the spot with the light, or the focus may be off. Persevere though and it will eventually all come good.

In the third section I will look at a typical Lightroom edit of a snooted shot. Click here