Most of the time, with underwater photography, it’s all about color and trying to show just how vivid undersea life can be. That’s why we use powerful lights and strobes, after all. Every so often though, I find a subject that works really well in mono. Here are some examples, and some insight on how I treated each image in Photoshop.
All of these photographs were originally shot in RAW on my Nikon D800, which, of course, captures color information as well as tonal data. With the top image of the clown hiding in the anemone, I wanted to make sure the eye was the focal point, so I upped the contrast a little. I also shifted the yellow and orange filters to increase the relative brightness of the clown’s stripes. The tips of this anemone’s tentacles were a bright luminous green, so with a tweak of the green slider those really stood out.
This basket star was an easy one to tweak. This image is all about detail, and a simple increase in contrast and adjustment to levels got it just right for me.
This Janolus cristatus has an opalescent beauty to it. I simply upped the light blue to bring out the tips of the animal’s cerrata.
This blue and yellow fang blenny is living amidst a bright red sponge. Using the filters in Photoshop, I could control the relative brightness of each color channel to bring out the detail. I think I prefer the full-color version, but it’s interesting to try new approaches.
I wasn’t sure this image would work. I had to really increase the contrast on the fish only with careful adjustment to color channels, and I think it worked quite well. The detail stands out pleasingly against the background.