After 10 years of diving and filming in Palau we have accumulated a huge library of HD and UHD stock footage.
Previously uploading at 3kb/s was about all we could hope for on a wobbly internet and this made sending any large files almost impossible. Palau now enjoys high speed internet from an undersea fibre optic cable and with this we have been uploading stock footage to our agents with unprecedented speed.
In this World of increasing airfares, and increased demand for on location media for environmental subjects, having a reliable and professional camera operator somewhere like Palau certainly makes sense.
When we catalog media for reference here at Lightning Strikes, it’s often with keywords like: Environment, Sanctuary, UNESCO, illegal fishing, underwater, coral reef, shark, Manta Ray, tourism, indigenous, endemic, aerial, subsistence, coral bleaching, global warming, large school of fish, tuna…..
With a huge variety of healthy almost pristine ecosystems, Palau provides a huge wealth of opportunities for stories. Visually it’s stunning too with it’s tropical islands, rich and diverse coral reefs and plentiful iconic species.
There are numerous conservation stories available, everything from Marine Protected Areas set aside in Mangroves and satellite reefs to the National Marine Sanctuary 80% the size of Texas.
We have WW2 wrecks and their de-mining and recovery of remains, extensive underwater caverns and of course the many marine lakes with their millions of Jellyfish.
The other side of the coin is also available with stories on illegal fishing and the black market trade in protected species, the need to balance tourism and development with conservation. Tuna economics, Climate Change, Ocean acidification, renewable energy, coral bleaching….
There are stories waiting to be told and new technologies waiting to tell them with.
Lightning Strike Productions has worked with numerous broadcast entities in Palau over the years including the BBC, CNN, Arte, Thalassa 3, ABC, Channel 9 Australia, Animal Planet and Discovery Channel. It’s also a regular contributor to online news media through it’s stringer services.
Our cameras, both underwater and drone mounted output Raw footage ensuring the very highest in 16 bit quality.
And starting this year at Lightning Strike we are starting to do all of this with 360 VR and 3D too……
For a run down of subjects and readily available portfolios and galleries please see here.
If there is any subject you can’t find or you would like to talk to us about licensing options or something specific please contact us.
Back in March I accompanied the very experienced Dari Divers on a filming dive down to Peleliu to document the spawning aggregation of Sailfin Snapper. The schools at this time of year number in the tens of thousands. We did three divers and were able to witness some incredible numbers. When you get the timing right expect to see lots of sharks and one of the most incredible natural displays in the animal kingdom.
During the day the huge school hangs out in a secluded part of the reef about 1km away from the corner where they spawn. During the night before they swim there and wait until dawn and the turn of the tide and on an unseen signal, commence their extraordinary ritual.
Underwater photography is a common art form these days with cameras readily available for reasonable prices. A large proportion of divers now have housed cameras ranging from a cell phone to the latest flagship behemoth “HMS Nikon”.
Underwater photography is art with a physical challenge too. The best photographer on land could be terrible underwater if they’re not a competent diver.
When everyone has a camera and is “happy” with what they’re doing it’s nice to be asked by someone to help them improve their shooting.
On this occasion my student wanted help across a range of subjects. Here’s a run down of things we covered:
Many issues that lead to dissatisfaction in underwater photographers are down to the inherent intelligence of cameras. Especially with point and shoots and the more automatic varieties. What I mean is that cameras are often thinking too much and because they are mostly not designed with underwater photography in mind, they can make it more of a challenge to get the best shots out of them. Auto focus is a big one for this.
Dissecting what the camera is trying to do for you is the first step. Turning off “intelligent” facets of it’s character often requires reading the manual and a little experimentation. Get to know your camera.
Next comes the basic shutter speed/ aperture/ISO balancing knowledge that all photographers worth their salt should have a rudimentary understanding of. It’s not always available but being able to control them in the camera is so much more rewarding….. and challenging…. but that’s what I’m here for.
What will absolutely ruin a good underwater photography dive is when the housing doesn’t perform so I always advocate spending as much time as you can on preparation. All it takes is one o-ring or one connecting rod out of place and you have a camera that won’t work on the dive or worse is flooded. Be prepared.
After that we have the lighting and strobe positioning that is so important underwater. Correct or incorrect strobe use will make or break a shot, so developing the mindset of creating a studio and moving your lights within it and around your subject will reap great rewards.
Often the student photographer has a certain shot in mind or wants to improve on certain elements of underwater images in general. This time we were going for sun beams through the water as a background to our perfectly placed subject so we focused on that when possible.
Overall, it comes down to patience and practice, but with an hour of preparation and coaching before the dives we had the set up and basic operations down, after a few trial shots underwater on stationary objects we have a better feel for strobe power and ball park exposure settings. Then after that it’s about looking for subjects and having fun. A few over the shoulder views by me allows a real time feedback for the student and quick adjustments when necessary. Between dives a more in depth discussion as we review results.
Certainly a faster learning curve than the old slide film days………
Contact Lightning Strikes for availability of courses or workshops, individuals or groups are welcome.