The Case Of The Turtle And The Missing Colors

Description: A little behind-the-scenes info here: The problem with getting underwater photos is the amount of shorter wavelength light at different depths. Basically, there isn’t as much red and orange light as you descend deeper and deeper.

One way to combat this color shift is to add a red filter to the underwater camera. While it appears that a red filter adds in red color, technically it is blocking out the excess blue and greens at those depths. The idea is a color balance as if the whole scene were taking place above the waves without water present. Sounds silly, but it is what our eyes and mind appreciate: reality as we typically see it.

In today’s Photo of the Day, I didn’t have a red filter and we were down about 30′ when this illustrious sea turtle came floating by. The best I can do is balance things out in Lightroom by adding in a color grading (shifting the overall image’s colors with the help of a color wheel) that is slanted to red.

Since this is not a scientific blog and color rendition is up to me as an artist, mixing back in reds is an artistic endeavor. While it may seem there is no red at all, without the color grading the difference between the green and blue would not be as pronounced, nor would you get as much detail in the shell.

To make this a teachable blog post, let me first show you the finished image.

Now, the original straight out of the Sony RX-100 VII.

That original is fairly flat and not a lot distinguishes the turtle from the background, which will seems more blue because it is deeper. Changing the color grading helps bring in more color that the water took out.

Location: Maui, Hawaii, United States

Camera: Sony RX-100 VII in Sony Dive Housing

Photograph Copyright Peter West Carey. Image Available For Commercial Licensing (email)

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