I think that I know the theory, but find it really tough to express movement in underwater still images and I fail far more than I succeed. So I followed some sage advice and devoted some proper time to experimenting. Not just with a few images, but whole dives dedicated to the idea with well thought out plans in mind.
The real break was finding a school of Indian Mackerel on my current trip to the Red Sea. I could find this school on most dives and the frenetic pace of these fish moving up & down the reef near the surface (which has texture) is ideal.
I tried every technique that I know, from the well-documented slow shutter and rear curtain flash, to panning in natural light and panning ahead with front curtain flash. Shutter and aperture priority both worked (as did manual exposure modes), but I had to work the ISO hard to get the right combinations and used low power flash to allow burst shooting using a moderate frame rate (composition is very difficult with such fast moving subjects). I had poor early results, but persistence working the subject and the techniques tends to pay off. I think that the results are still a work in progress, but my ideas are now much better formed and I’m ready to attack the next opportunity subject with more confidence. So thank you to Alex Mustard for encouraging his students to devote time to experimentation. I’m hugely encouraged to do more of this! Check out the 3 minute video at this link to compare some traditional images of the school with slow shutter speed work of various kinds and – the only thing that really captured the character of these fish (thus far) – some video footage.
Happy New Year, dear friends.