Keep the subject in focus and let the camera do the work

Catching the underwater video of fighting Reef Cuttlefish (Sepia latimanus) on a recent dive, some words from The Underwater Photographer by Martin Edge came to mind … ” Keep the subject in focus, and let the camera do the work”.

In his book, Martin describes an occasion when he and a group of other divers came across some dolphins. Starting to think about exposure and other settings, Martin decided there was no time, and chose to keep the subject in focus and let the camera do the work. He was able to get the shot while others were still playing with their cameras.

In underwater photography, you often have time to set-up your camera to create a shot. However, sometimes you see something and with no time to choose the appropriate settings, just have go with what you have to get the shot.

This is exactly what happened during a dive on Friday at Agincourt Reef  on the Great Barrier Reef with Quicksilver’s Silversonic.

We entered the water for our third dive of the day. I had just reached the bottom with the other divers of our group still on the way down. Checking my camera housing to make sure there were no leaks, I spotted a Cuttlefish (Sepia latimanus) out the corner of my eye.

My camera housing still had bubbles around it, and struggling to read the screen settings, I managed to get it into video mode. I started thinking white balance, lighting, etc …. and decided I had no time.

Getting the Cuttlefish in the screen, I hit the record button, hoping the camera would have the correct focus. Cuttlefish are able to rapidly change colours to blend in with their surroundings, and this can often confuse the camera focusing system.

Trying to keep the subject in the screen, we got more than expected with the following video.

Fighting Cuttlefish (Sepia latimanus)
Video ID: V0036
Run time: 40 sec
Format: 640×480
Purchase Option – Royalty Free (RF)

The Cuttlefish made its way towards another one, changed colour from light grey to black, and attacked the second one. They then separated and went opposite directions…. something you don’t see ever day, and a great example of their ability to change color.

Forty seconds from touching the bottom, and the whole event was over.  Had I been deciding between stills and video, or been messing around with settings or lighting, I would have missed to whole thing.

Sometimes to get the shot, you just have to keep the subject in focus, cross your fingers and let the camera do the work.