Colin Doeg looks at Your Shot
Send in your slides or prints for an expert appraisal and learn how to get the best results. Essential tips for all underwater photographers

Photographs of Titan triggerfish always catch my eye, as does the fish itself when I see one on a reef. Titans can be aggressive and attack divers when they are guarding their nests. On other occasions you can sense that they will allow you into their space to take a photograph.

This was certainly the case when long- distance truck driver Stephen Bowers, 40, of Lowestoft in Suffolk, was diving Thomas Reef in the northern Egyptian Red Sea.

He said: ‘I had heard how aggressive they can be, but this one was biting into a small coral head, and not over a patch of sand where the nests are usually found. The fish was completely ignoring me, so I carefully worked my way up close to it.’

Stephen took this shot of the triggerfish (below) in characteristic vertical pose with his Sea & Sea MX-10 Explora fitted with a YS40 strobe and 20mm supplementary wide-angle lens. He used Kodak Gold print film and had it processed at Wide Angle, the photo shop on the seafront at Sharm El Sheikh.

Close up: Stephen Bowers' image of a Titan triggerfish could have been improved if it had been more tightly framed

Presented with such an opportunity I would have happily shot an entire film on this fish, as long as it was not concerned about my presence. In particular, I would have taken a lot of pictures using the MX-10 without the wide-angle adapter so that the fish was more tightly framed.

Indeed, it could well have been better to approach the triggerfish with this set-up in the first instance and to then have backed off, fitted the wide-angle lens and returned, in the hope that it would be possible to move even closer so that the reduction in the amount of water between the lens and the subject would lead to a further improvement in colour and detail.

The MX-10 is designed for use with print film because print film copes better than transparencies with small errors in exposure – you have to work out the correct exposure yourself and set the aperture control accordingly. This latitude increases the chances of having a pleasing set of underwater pictures to show family and friends when you return home.

However, there is a snag with print film. Sometimes the results are only as good as the person who operates and maintains the machines on which they are processed and printed. The work of many one-hour photographic shops, both in the UK and abroad, is as good as prints produced by a top-quality professional colour laboratory.

But such quality depends on the processing chemicals never being over-used, and the operator having sufficient experience to override the settings of the machine which is printing the shots when his or her experience indicates this would produce a better result.

If you are dissatisfied with your prints you might never know where the fault lies unless you have the ability to ‘read’ and interpret the negatives, provided they have been correctly developed. Usually a simpler test is to go to a different shop and order another set of prints from the same film. In Stephen’s case the print is slightly dark and the negative appears slightly ‘thin’ to my eye. This indicates that if he had been able to move one, or at the most two feet closer to the triggerfish, his flash would have lit the subject better and the colour and detail in the print would have been improved.

Send your photographs (with an SAE if you want them returned) to: Your Shot, DIVE, Aaron House, 6 Bardolph Road, Richmond, Surrey TW9 2LS.

Gun Point

Beware if you are offered a cheap Nikonos SB103 flashgun.

Due to a fault, the company is replacing, free of charge, SB103s with the better SB105 strobe, and a small hole is being drilled in the case of the old flashguns. However, some of these strobes which have the hole in them have reappeared on the market and are being offered for sale! Also, to my surprise, I have seen genuine SB103’s being offered for sale in both San Francisco and London by dealers who were unaware of the recall.

• If you would like to get inside knowledge about the latest photographic films on the market, dive trips with photographers, and many other aspects of underwater photography, subscribe to the Blue Water Newsletter. It is produced by Peter Cheshunt, who runs a professional colour laboratory in Dallas, Texas. You can e-mail him at:


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