Octopus Encounter

I’ve always found the octopus to be a great subject to videotape. They can be quite charming and elusive. I’ve been guilty, as many divers are, of just plan harassing the poor cephalopod instead of the gentle approach. When I’ve seen them in the open, I would rush to get a shot, just to have them scurry away. Sometimes this is a great ‘action shot’ as they change colors and textures. But the encounter was fleeting and left me feeling a bit empty. Many times […]

How to Photograph Little Fish

The quest for the ultimate fish portrait is the quest for the ultimate brain-damaged subject. I’ll define brain-damaged in this context as those subjects who are, for some strange reason, not afraid of you or your camera and may even take an interest in you. This is an unusual situation, since fish do not get to be old by being bold and reckless; they grow old by being cunning and wary. Small fish are the most elusive and frustrating of all underwater subjects. To photograph […]

How to Get Great Diver Photos

Look on the cover of any dive magazine and what do you see? While you might see the occasional invertebrate of fish photo, most cover shots are of divers having fun underwater. A diver in the photograph gives perspective to the underwater experience and gives a strong message to the viewer, “You can be there too.” This is very important in editorial photography and in winning contests. Getting good diver shots is easy if you think about what kind of photo you want ahead of […]

An Underwater Photographer’s Notebook

I learned underwater photography in a very strange way: on the job training. My very first underwater photo was taken as a paid professional. At the time I was working as a commercial diver. My company was getting a lot of inspection work but had only one photographer. They needed another and the most important qualification was to be able to process film offshore. That I taught myself in one afternoon. The underwater photography I fibbed a little, read books, and decided I could teach […]

Getting the Edge in Photo Contests

I had the recent privilege and honor of co-judging the 38th annual International Underwater Photographic Contest conducted by the Los Angeles Underwater Photographic Society. I was quite impressed with the professional standards of the contest handling. But even more impressive was the quality of the entries. There were a total of 1,244 photographic entries coming from underwater photographersaround the world. Half of the entries were near technical perfection, clear, sharp, in focus, colorful, and of interesting subjects — worthy of any publication. Competition was stiff. […]

Improve Your Photography: Lighting Angles for Clear Photos

I once met a photo buyer who was looking for underwater images with “no water in them.” What they really meant was they wanted clear images as if they were taken in air and not underwater. In-air visibility is measured in miles and clear images are easy to achieve. Underwater, this task is more difficult due to water suspended particles. The task for underwater photographers is to “get the water” out of their images. The most effective tip I can give you is to get […]

How to Take Exciting Photos of Sea Stars

“What could be easier than photographing sea stars?” you say. (“Sea stars” is the more correct term, by the way, as they are not “fish” as in “starfish.”) Stars move very slowly, if at all, a prime criterion for easy close-up underwater photography. Sure, its easy to get a flat, correctly exposed, sharp picture of a star, but you want to bring to light more drama to your underwater photos than just clinical type shots. You want to give your photos pop, snap, crackle—hence the […]

Making the Shot Before Taking the Shot

Photography is a means of expressing one’s creativity. A photographer exposes light to film just as a painter applies paint to canvas or a sculptor applies chisels to stone. However, the greatest masterpieces usually do not happen by mere chance. Usually a great deal of preparation precedes the final art form. Creating an underwater masterpiece is no exception. Since everyone is different, creativity manifests itself through a variety of ways. My motivation usually comes from viewing a roll of slides on a light box of […]

Taking a Closer Look at the Photographic Possibilities of Kelp

Hey Dale:To dive in California means diving in kelp forests of amber-colored viney plants that invariably snag on tank valves and fin straps. What a pain in the neck! In reality, though, kelp is the basis for our oceanic ecosystem. Many animals depend on kelp for both food and protection. Humans use kelp in many common everyday items, such as salad dressings, cosmetics, beer, ice cream, and other products. To many underwater photographers, kelp often serves as a beautiful, natural background for stunning photographs of […]

Successful Wide-Angle Photography on Oil Platforms

Besides being one of Southern California’s best dive sites for creating stunning underwater macro images, diving oil platforms are also an underwater photographer’s paradise for capturing equally incredible wide-angle photographs. Unlike macro photography, where great visibility is not always necessary and, therefore, can be shot all year-round, I have found greater success shooting wide angle at oil platforms in the fall and winter months when visibility is best. After the thick plankton layer thins and the sun peeks out through the “June gloom,” it is […]

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