Better Fish Portraits

The first step to good fish portraits is finding the subject. Sand and rocky reefs attract different types of fish. Why not get the best of both worlds? Choose a spot where sand meets rock. A low ridge with some kelp is a good sign that there may be fish nearby. It is time to quit searching and allow the shot to find you.  Start with a smaller subject. Empty your BCD completely and take a position on the sand nearby. A black-eyed goby makes […]

How to Photograph Sea Lions by Dale Sheckler

The California seas are full of marine animals that can be a challenge to photograph. Personally, for me one of the most difficult is the sea lion. They are fast and they are dark. And they are smart. Back in the day I burned a lot of film on these funny guys. I have had a bit more luck with digital, but that is only because of the ever-present friend of the underwater electronic photographer: the delete button.  I have met some excellent underwater photographers […]

How to Photography Bat Rays

Coming across a bat ray or two on your dive is an exciting underwater event. They are such interesting creatures with strange faces and a unique way of propelling their way through the water that is more akin to flying than swimming. While I often find them motionless on the bottom, they can be difficult to approach and photograph because of their skittish nature. Here are a few tips: FINDING THEM: While not uncommon, you definitely do not see them on every dive. Their range […]

How to Photograph Giant Black Sea Bass

Hurry and grab your cameras! They’re here! The giant black sea bass (GBSB) are back and entertaining divers once again.  Giant black sea bass (Stereolepis gigas) were once endangered and rare due to over fishing, largely blamed on excessive spearfishing and sport fishing. In 1982 they came under protection of the state government and have made a partial but dramatic comeback. Most animals seen by divers are in the size range of 3 to 5 feet and around 300 pounds but can range upward of […]

How to Photograph Octopus

Southern California hosts a large variety of octopi (plural of octopus can be either octopi or octopuses) that can be found on almost any dive site. They love to hide in cracks and crevices and will even use discarded shells as shelter. Some of the more common octopi found here are California two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculatus) and Eastern Pacific red octopus (Octopus rubescens). The head or mantle can reach a circumference of up to seven inches and its tentacles can reach over twenty-three inches from […]

Improve Your Photography: Colored Strobe Light Reveals Hidden Color

Photography is all about seeing light — effectively using the subtle combination of color and shadow to bring out personality and evoking emotion. While most lighting technique is obvious once you think about it, there is another side to light that is both beautiful and non-intuitive. When white light from the sun or strobe strikes a subject, the light is either absorbed or reflected. If most of the light is reflected the object appears white, if most is absorbed, the object is black. If the […]

Three Useful Accessories for Point and Shoot Underwater Photograph

Have you taken the jump into underwater photography with a compact point-and-shoot camera and underwater housing? Or perhaps you are considering this as an inexpensive option for getting into underwater imaging. It is a good choice. With a point and shoot camera you can become familiar with basics of composition, exposure, approaching marine life, etc. But you will find as you grow in skills the point and shoot camera has limitations. To overcome these limitations and grow as a photographer at a much more accelerated […]

Improve Your Photography: Get Better Macro Images

Macro photography is generally considered to be a bit more approachable than wide-angle photography by underwater photographers. The lenses and strobes are smaller and less expensive compared to what is needed for wide-angle photography, and macro subjects are easier to find and compose. Importantly, most macro subjects cannot swim away and allow divers plenty of time to practice to get the image they want. With a modest investment most photographers can acquire great images from their very first dive. The first thing to remember in […]

How to Photograph Sheephead

One of the more colorful reef fish of Southern California is the Sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher). Fairly common, they are a good photo subject for beginning and experienced underwater photographers. Sheephead are an interesting creature. Being a member of the wrasse family, they are related to rock wrasse. Both of these fish are hermaphrodites starting their lives as females and eventually maturing to males. All phases of this fish are photographic but not all phases are easy. Finding all the phases in full regalia is not […]

Close Focus Wide-Angle Photography

Water is the enemy of underwater photographers. It suspends backscatter-causing particles, removes warm colors, and degrades image sharpness. Photographers try to get as little water as possible between their lenses and their subjects. This is done with specialized equipment—macro lenses and wide-angle lenses. A common technique for producing stunning underwater images is called close focus wide-angle (CFWA) photography. CFWA photographs have a characteristic photographers call depth; they have a definite foreground, middle ground, and background. The middle ground is often a diver, although a coral […]

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