Point. Shoot. Smile. Tips for Getting Started in Underwater Photography 

For sport divers, scuba diving is a visual experience. We fall in love with the explosion of colors, stunning seascapes, sights of massive shipwrecks sitting on the sea floor, and opportunities to see creatures that range in size from inch-long, rainbow colored nudibranchs to whales when we enter Neptune’s realm. But as quickly as they fall in love with diving, a lot of divers find themselves wanting to do more than just look. Underwater photography offers a perfect solution. With a relatively small investment, some effort, and […]

Happy Hunting: Using a Targeted-Approach to Your Diving Adventures

Photo by Allison Vitsky Sallmon
Photo by Allison Vitsky Sallmon

It’s happened to all of us. We’re flipping through a magazine or scrolling through social media, and BAM, there it is — an amazing underwater creature, an unbelievable event — something we absolutely must see for ourselves. We plan trips, expensive ones, hoping to witness these things for ourselves. And then we arrive all excited, cameras ready, only to encounter sketchy weather, poor visibility or “invisible” marine life. My husband has a saying: The ocean is not a zoo. And I have to agree — […]

The Art of Fish Portraiture

Of all of the possible underwater subjects fish can be among the most elusive. It may be difficult to get the proper angle for that once-in-a-lifetime nudibranch shot, or you may not be able to communicate effectively with your underwater model. Fish, however, rarely hold still and they’re lousy at following instructions. They require the photographer to exhibit the most fluid and unobtrusive behavior, while at the same time assessing the fish’s mood and comfort level. The quest for the ultimate fish portrait is the […]

Photographer’s Mantra: Get Close. Get Low. Shoot Up.

Please envision yourself diving along your favorite California reef. The sea is calm, the water clear, and the sun shines bright. Out of the corner of your eye a once-in-a-lifetime subject swims by right in front of your camera. It could be a whale, a shark, or a tiny fish that has never been photographed. You know that if you get the shot it will make the cover of a major magazine, or at least a Facebook post that will get you millions of “likes.” […]

The Challenges of California Underwater Photography: A Guide to Local Shooting Success

Here’s a quick photo fact: it is technically easier to shoot compelling underwater photos in the bright sunlight and clear water of the tropics. Compared to the tropics, shooting in California means shooting in generally dark water that has less visibility and more suspended particulate matter. But just because California water is less forgiving is not to say creating pleasing images can’t be done. Any underwater photographer who pays close attention to their shooting scenario and technique can enjoy success in our waters. That’s another […]

Here, Fishy Fishy: How to Photograph a Fish

Own an underwater camera system and dive in California, and before long you’ll find yourself trying to create a great photograph of a fish. After all, with more than 550 species of fishes off the California coast we have a lot of great subjects. You’re practically guaranteed to have greater success if you develop a strategy for photographing fishes. I’ll share mine in this article and I encourage you to ask other photographers for their input. It’s wise to trade little bits of strategy, philosophy […]

What to Do With Your Image Files After Your Dive

Underwater photography involves a lot more than just making a dive and tripping the shutter. In last month’s issue I delved into the things you need to do before you dive to be sure your camera system is set up properly and functions as you expect it to. This month I am going to discuss some best practices for dealing with your digital images after your dives so you can find them, avoid losing them, and manipulate them so that your photographs look the way […]

Just Ducky: Preparing Your Camera System for a Dive

You’ve probably heard this quote about achieving success, “Be like a duck on a pond; always appear calm on the surface but keep paddling like crazy underneath.” I know a lot of successful underwater photographers that can relate, but in reverse. You see, we do a large portion of our paddling on the surface — before we hit water — in order to remain calm underneath. It’s easy to focus on shooting techniques and in-water strategies. For greater success and fewer disappointments, I suggest a […]

The Cold, Dirty, Truth: How to Get Good Photos in California Waters

Talk with underwater photographers about shooting in California and it probably won’t take long before you hear some comments about how much more challenging it is to produce compelling photographs in our home waters than it is in clear tropical water. I don’t disagree. But I will say that with some forethought, practice and good shooting techniques it is possible to create strong macro and wide-angle images in California waters much of the time. It’s simply a matter of employing the best shooting techniques to […]

Effective Underwater Modeling

You can be a good dive buddy in many ways, but there is nothing more precise than being the buddy of a photographer. It is essential that you plan your dive and know exactly your objective. Photographers are tricky beings and you need to stay out of their way when you need to, and help them create incredible photographs when they need you. Before we discuss anything, I want to remind you about buoyancy. Obviously, as a diver you will better enjoy any underwater activity […]

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