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HDR and Senior Moments in Maui

Published on 2018-01-16 00:15:30

While most of the country was struggling with arctic bomb cyclones, I spent New Year in Maui, where the temperature was a mild 78F (26C) and the water was 75F (24C). And it was before that giant ballistic missile alert system fuck-up, so I was fine.

On this trip, I stayed on the North West side of the Island, near Kalapani and I did three dives: two in Lanai with Extended Horizons and one from the shore in Mala Wharf. I also went snorkel with a zillion green sea turtles at "Five Graves, Five Caves" on the South West side of the island.

Since my trusty Canon G12 was not that trusty anymore and died before the trip, I had invested in a brand new Canon G7X Mark II and its associated Canon housing. If I end up recovering from island time, I may decide to write a review of that camera here. Maybe.

Anyway, I bought the camera and the housing online at like 60% MSRP and probably got gray market stuff, but hey, they both worked out OK, the camera taking pictures and shooting HD videos at 60 frames per seconds and the housing not leaking. So far.

The only problem with the camera is that I forgot it in my condo before I went diving to Lanai... Major senior moment, I could not believe it as I was foraging for the twenty-seventh time in my desperately empty backpack. It sucks getting old. I am however an aerospace engineer and our kind strongly believes in redundancy so, obviously, I had a backup camera. Sort of. I had packed a fake GoPro found on the beach at home and on these two dives, that's all I had. It shoots plain awful pictures with fully automatic settings and no flash but is OK with videos. Too bad we saw the biggest pair of frogfish ever. With no strobe or flash, the resulting pictures are of a big blue fish on a big blue background. Oh well.

On the shore dive, I did not forget my new Canon and experimented with HDR. I wrote a tutorial about that technique here if you are interested. One of the nice things with the G7X is that its bracketing is pretty darn fast and I had hoped that I could get decent ghost-free HDR shots. It turned out, I was a little optimistic. As can be seen in the gallery below, the shots are... let's not say anything about them for now...

Most of my shots show heavy ghosting. Not easy to stay still and shoot, even a still subject. As I was diving a collapsed pier, there was plenty of immobile structures to take pictures of but those are not that exciting. Light beams are usually awesome in HDR, but underwater, they move quite a lot... So the resulting effect is... artsy? Be the judge...

Close up worked out OK as can be seen in the comparison below. The effect is not phenomenal but hey, at least it's not motion-blurry.

I shot most HDRs in P mode. I should try Av f/8 next time as usually one does not want the depth of field to change between bracketing shots.

The camera stops bracketing as soon as the flash is on. That means that all of my HDR shots were taken with natural underwater light. I guess I could invest in a video light and do macro-HDR. Now that would be cool.

The only thing that I did not really like on the new Canon is the way White Balance is set. On the G12, it was a one touch, usually pointing at the sand or at a gray tablet, but on the G7X Mark II, Canon screwed it up greatly as one has to take a picture of said sand or tablet, go into a setting menu, select that picture for custom WB and then set the camera to custom WB, something like 7 button presses. Underwater. With gloves. What the f@#! were they thinking? Oh, I know: not about scuba divers.

Other than that, I noticed a soft focus in macro. I think I traced it down to most macros   at Tv 1/125s, forced flash being shot at f/2.2. That kind of reduces the depth of field to almost its minimum and put my subjects out of focus. I will try to set my new macro settings to Manual f/9,  1/250s and see what it does. The G7XMII has only one custom setting which kind of sucks too because you need basically two underwater: one for macro and another for wide angle.

Other than that, not much  unusual, wide angles in P mode for HDR and Tv 1/125s forced flash for close-ups.

And the short video 



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