If you are not freaked out by diving at night you know that it offers unique opportunities to see behavior and creatures not usually seen during the day like the monster snail in the featured image of this post.
During my recent trip in Raja Ampat we had the opportunity to see some really unique features, now for someone this fellow here is unusual enough
We had however made an indigestion of flamboyant cuttlefish in Dauin so that was not that exciting although having one of those walking towards the lens was pretty cool.
It is useful to compare the two still pictures of the flamboyant and the snail, you will notice that in featured image you can clearly understand the shot was taken at night whilst the flamboyant could have been just a day shot for how bright it is.
This leads us to tip number 1 for taking video at night which is never exceed with the lighting. We don’t have any ambient light to help and our lights are the only light source, it is very easy to exceed and wash out a scene with too much reflection from our subject.
I have lights that can be dimmed and I did not use more than half the power at night. It is also important to leave some form of dark halo around the frame to give really that night impression.
Coming to the light having bright lights on all the time also attracts lionfish, krill and plankton. On this trip I was literally attacked by krill to the point I had to switch off the lights for few minutes.
Back scatter is also more of a problem due to the particle in the water at night and the fact that they are more clearly reflecting our lights, if possible never illuminate a subject frontally to avoid the snow effect. Sometimes though, like in some sections of the video, there is just too much no matter how you angle the lights.
The real important part is the gear, I have video light that also change to spot and work as torches and are dimmable, this saves the effort of taking a torch with you and having to juggle with all the gear.
Other factor of relevance is that during a night dive you can’t really shoot wide angle as there is no ambient light, this limits the type of shots you can take so it is important to add something else to make the clip more interesting. It is also more difficult to film divers without blinding them so really there is less selection possible.
A final note are skittish critters that require a red filter, I have never been in this situation, usually I keep the lights low until time to take the shot and then go for it like for the eupalette shark towards the end of the clip. If you need to use a filter remember to set a custom white balance.
Talking of white balance every light has a specific temperature, mine are 6500K, it is a good idea to set the camera white balance to this temperature to neutralize the coldness of the light this is possible in video more on the RX100 but not all camera offer that option so you can start with auto mode to see how it works.
Anyway the video is the collection of the 7 night dives, some were not memorable but at least 4 were excellent you can see what I mean if you watch it in full and notice some of the specific quirks. I found the RX100 to perform very well and the footage is very clear. I used Movie mode P increasing or decreasing the power of the lights until I was getting the best compromise between aperture and too much light.