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https://alphauniverseglobal.media.zestyio.com/Alpha-Universedaniel-woods-cave-shoot-01082.be110857376e1c1dc5afaa178864837f.jpg

A Sea Cave Night Shoot With The α7R III

Photo by Daniel Woods. Sony α7R III

Adventure photographer Daniel Woods has always been amazed at the beauty and vastness of the La Jolla sea caves in San Diego, California. After many years doing photo shoots at La Jolla Shores, Woods couldn’t help but think how cool it would be to introduce lighting to the cave in a night shoot. Making it his own personal passion project, Woods got a crew together, gathered his Sony α7R III camera in an underwater housing and added a bevy of simple waterproof lights for a glowing sea cave adventure sports shoot.

The beauty of working with these lights was that they matched up so well with the α7R III's sensor capabilities. In the end, the lighting combined with the incredible sensors and technology in a Sony camera was a perfect recipe for raw visual impact. It was awesome.

“Since you can’t put tripods in a sea cave, we had five swimmers holding lights throughout the cave,” says Woods. “Two far back in the cave, two in the middle and one up by me for fill. Then we had a "behind-the-scenes" guy, a BTS camera guy, the talent and me – so a crew of nine people.”

Equipped with the Sony α7R III (and Sony α7 III for BTS) and a Sigma E-mount 20mm f/1.4 lens, Woods used a nighttime picture profile he found on YouTube and set Memory Recall to easily switch between still images and video, and to quickly change video resolutions and frame rates. 

Sony α7R III. 1/160-sec., f/2.2, ISO 3200.

“I’ve pulled off handheld shots on kayaks in the cave at 1/80-sec., but I needed a faster shutter speed since the waves were moving not only the talent but also the crew,” says Woods. "I shot at 1/160-sec. at f/2.2 and ISO 3200, and those settings seemed to be the ticket for this shooting situation.”

Of course, the element that really makes the shots is the lighting. The glow under the paddleboarder and ethereal illumination inside the cavern. Creating that look turned out not to be all that difficult, once Woods had the right lights. "I discovered these Light & Motion lights. They're dive lights built for much deeper conditions than this shoot and they're continuous lights so there aren't any strobe issues or long cables and they're super bright. The beauty of working with these lights was that they matched up so well with the α7R III's sensor capabilities. In the end, the lighting combined with the incredible sensors and technology in a Sony camera was a perfect recipe for raw visual impact. It was awesome.”

Sony α7R III. 1/160-sec., f/2.2, ISO 3200.

In a challenging environment like this one, it wasn’t a one-take, perfectly pulled-off shoot. Logistical issues, unruly ocean conditions, non-paddleboarding models and a flooded camera housing kept Woods from getting what he wanted, so it took multiple attempts to get it right. Each failed attempt became part of the learning process, helping him and his crew improve and prepare for the next. After one model that Woods had hired didn't work out (when it turned out that she couldn't actually stand up on the paddleboard), Woods found the perfect collaborator/model in Lauren Abraham (@laurenabraham). "She's true athlete. It was awesome working with her because she's a legit ocean woman. In the cavern it was pretty choppy and there was a lot of surge, but that wasn't a problem for her." Abraham was the final piece to the puzzle that made it all come together.

All α7R III photos by Daniel Woods. Follow him on Instagram @danielwoodsvisuals.

Sony α7R III. 1/160-sec., f/2.2, ISO 3200.

 

Sony α7R III. 1/160-sec., f/2.2, ISO 3200.

Sony α7R III. 1/160-sec., f/2.2, ISO 3200.

Sony α7R III. 1/160-sec., f/2.2, ISO 3200.

 

BTS photo. Sony α7 III. 1/160-sec., f/1.4, ISO 2500.

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