For this image, I used a Nikon D2X with a Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye lens at 10mm.
ISO was set to 100, 1/60 sec at f/10 and 2 Ikelite 200 strobes.
OK, I know most of you are not going to travel all the way to Truk Lagoon to shoot jellyfish, but I have to say I saw some of the most amazing jellies when I was there. Over-under shots are something else you don't normally associate with Truk Lagoon. Most of the shipwrecks are out in the lagoon away from land, so I wasn't really imagining shooting any over-unders before this opportunity presented itself. But, that is one of the things I love about underwater photography, you just never know what is going to show up.
This image was taken in Truk Lagoon while anchored on the Sankisan Maru shipwreck. It was late in the day and this was going to be a twilight dive. I noticed a number of jellies during the dive. This was not that unusual as I had been seeing many jellies throughout the week, but as I was hanging on the decompression line during my safety stop, hundreds of jellies started drifting toward the surface. I spent a fair amount of time shooting the jellies near the surface and then I noticed the amazing opportunity of shooting the bow of the ship and the jelly together.
Traditionally, many over-under or split shots have the sun at your back and are lit mostly with ambient light. Strobes are often used just to add some fill and color. This shot is a little different and what I call a close focus over-under. The underwater subject is fairly small and isolated and is primarily lit by strobes. The upper portion of the image is lit by ambient light. I would suggest using manual exposure and strobe settings. Start by setting your ambient exposure on the above water subject, then use your strobe power settings to dial in the correct exposure for your underwater subject. Fisheye lenses are perfect for over-under shots because they focus very close, retain sharp corners and have tremendous depth of field. Bigger domes are an advantage for over-under shots. They produce a large virtual image making it easier to keep both the underwater and surface portion of the image in focus. Bigger domes also have a thinner more pleasing water line or meniscus. That being said this image was taken with a mini dome. It is what I happened to have on the housing at the time. If you do find yourself in a situation where you are taking over-unders with a mini dome, try to get the underwater and topside subjects as close together as possible. This will help keep everything in focus. Even with a big dome, focusing can be a problem. Always focus on the underwater portion of the scene and use a small aperture to increase your depth of field. Water droplets are always problematic with over-unders. I like to use the dunk and shoot method. Dip the dome into the water and then lift it out. Before the water has a chance to run off and form drops, take the shot. Glass domes tend to work better than acrylic with this method. Of course, if you are planning to take split images and you can avoid getting the upper portion of the dome wet in the first place, this would be the best way to avoid drops.
This image has very little post processing done to it. The original image had too much water below the jelly so I cropped the bottom. The upper portion of the image was still a little dark so that was opened up a bit using the Lightroom graduated filter tool and adjusting exposure. Vibrance was added to bring out the colors. I cleaned up some back scatter in the dark water and did some overall sharpening and noise reduction.
Over-under images are a great way to showcase a location and add something new to your portfolio. Just make sure you have an interesting subject both above and below the water to make your own picture perfect over-under.
Todd Winner is a professional underwater photographer and cinematographer, PADI scuba instructor and owner of Winner Productions, a boutique post production facility catering to Hollywood's most elite cinematographers.Since taking up underwater photography in 1990, Todd Winner has won over 60 international underwater photo competitions. His images have been published in numerous magazines and online publications. His work has been featured in commercial advertising, museums and private galleries. To see more of Todd's work or join one of his underwater workshops, please visit www.toddwinner.com.