Photo Essay

Photo essays from top underwater photographers and dive travel destinations, including behind-the-scenes insight, photo tips and best camera settings.
Starting off 2018 with amazing underwater photography in the Galapagos
By Dan McGanty, Helen Brierley, and Contributors

An Immersion into Evolution: Galapagos Photo Essay

Dan McGanty, Helen Brierley, and Contributors
Starting off 2018 with amazing underwater photography in the Galapagos

The Galapagos – A Painting of Evolution and the Circle of Life…

A trip to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador is on the bucket list of virtually every nature enthusiast, for good reason. The Galapagos are an immersion into evolution with an abundance of creatures – many endemic – each riding the train of natural selection. They are a geological wonder with a shallow, seismic hot spot under the Nazca tectonic plate spitting out islands at a rapid rate – at least on a geological timescale.

The islands themselves are a lesson on the circle of life.  Barren lava heaps slowly become dense with vegetation as organic matter saturates the soil. But in the end, harsh winds and seas erode land back below the surface.  The engine behind the incredible biodiversity of the Galapagos islands is the convergence of the plankton-rich Humboldt and Cromwell currents – which produce one of the world’s most dramatic food chains. 

 Darwin Island, Where the Big Animals Roam

Our exciting Bluewater Travel journey on the Galapagos Master began with an overnight passage to Darwin Island – the remote northern outlier of this island chain.   The introductory advice from our experienced guides was to keep our mouths closed while on the observation deck. At first it was amusing, but it soon felt very sensible as we found ourselves beneath countless soaring cormorants, frigate birds, and blue-footed boobies.

It is not possible to grow habituated to the presence of hammerhead sharks, but this would be the place to try.  Every dive was not so much a question of whether we would see hammerheads, but rather how many – with schools of thirty or more sometimes cruising past.  Very large schools of jacks, tuna, and barracuda were complemented by plentiful free-swimming giant morays and tranquil green turtles.

The "wows" on this trip never stopped – from leaping mobula rays to dolphins that stuck around long enough for us to jump in for a look.  Silky sharks lazily surrounded the boat, while Galapagos sharks circled below, and a pod of orcas passed by at a distance.  We were even treated to what seemed like the biggest whale shark ever, most likely pregnant, on one of the safety stops.

In the Heart of the Galapagos

After several amazing days at Darwin and Wolf islands, we headed back south, into the heart of the Galapagos Archipelago.   While hammerhead sightings tailed off, they were more than adequately replaced by encounters with playful sea lions, eagle rays, fur seals, and massive schools of fish.  Dives at islands such as Fernandina and Isabela had their own magical gems.  From pre-historic red-lipped bat fish, to marine iguanas feeding underwater, and giant Southern Ocean sunfish (Mola ramsayi), to countless breeding sea hares, to Galapagos penguins – every dive had something special to offer.

Top-Side Expeditions

This trip also provided some shore-based exploration opportunities – for closer looks at the sea lions, iguanas and nesting sea birds.  Of course a trip to the Galapagos would not be complete without seeing Darwin’s finches along with a face-to-face encounter with the Giant Tortoises, whose saddle shaped shells gave the island chain its name.  Several guests started or ended their time on the boat with an extra day or two in pleasant San Cristobal – where sitting on a park bench might first require convincing a sun-bathing sea lion to move on.  Respecting the two-meter distance rule in these well-protected islands is not always easy – particularly when the animals approach you.    

If the Galapagos Islands are not on your bucket list, it is probably time to review your priorities.  This is a unique and magical place – and what better way to see it than with BlueWater Travel aboard the Galapagos Master.

Join us for our upcoming trips!

 2018 Galapagos Islands Group Trip

Led by Katie Yonker of Bluewater Travel

May 21 - 31, 2018

Special Bluewater pricing, lower than published price:

Lower Cabin $7,075 $6,600 per person

Upper Cabin $7,225 $6,750 per person


2019 Galapagos Islands Underwater Photo Workshop

May 13-23, 2019

Lower Cabin - $7,075
 Upper Cabin - $7,225
 * Rates are based in USD


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

With a life-long passion for anything water-related, Helen and Dan take every opportunity to race sailboats in Southern California and scuba dive anywhere in the world.  Both Helen and Dan learned to scuba dive in the early 80’s, Helen in the UK and Dan in New York, and they currently call Los Angeles home.  Helen also serves as Board Chair for Reef Check, the global marine conservation foundation.

ALSO BY DAN MCGANTY AND HELEN BRIERLEY

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Amazing underwater photography from Anilao, Philippines taken in December 2017

Anilao Workshop Photo Essay December 2017

Amazing underwater photography from Anilao, Philippines taken in December 2017

The Diving

Each December, Bluewater Photo returns to Crystal Blue Resort in Anilao for the annual winter photo workshop. This year, Bluewater Photo's Vijay Raman and Matthew Sullivan joined Crystal Blue Resort’s Mike Bartick and ~30 guests for a week of intensive underwater (mostly macro) photography: 4 dives per day, a daily image review, and a daily presentation on some sort of underwater photography discipline. Popular topics included blackwater diving (which several guests got to participate in), snoots (think just about everybody snooted at some point during the week), black backgrounds (for dramatic portraits). 

 

 

Trip Critters

The diving was top notch as always in Anilao! If you are looking for world class macro diving and some gorgeous reefs and walls, it is hard to beat Anilao as the combination of numerous different habitats allows for a huge diversity of marine critters.

Highlights on this trip included many frogfish (hairy, warty, giant, and painted), flamboyant cuttlefish, tons of mimic octopus, pygmy seahorses, blackwater diving, Lembeh sea dragons, rhinopias, nudibranchs of course. The list could go on but it would be better to just go see for yourself! Below are a selection of guest pictures made over the course of the week. Imagery improved dramatically from day one and the guests left with some very impressive photos that I myself would've been happy to have created!

 

Guest Photos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos From Our Trip Leaders

Lighting is everything, so when I see one of my favorite subjects, the A. striatus (AKA Hairy frogfish), I like to take the time needed to light them correctly. I used a simple 1000 lumen torch positioned far enough behind my subject to enhance the details of its hairs and dorsal fin without overnighting too much else. Lighting is one of the primary subjects that I concentrate on, when working with the guests at these workshops.  – Mike Bartick

Lighting is everything, so when I see one of my favorite subjects, the A. striatus (AKA Hairy frogfish), I like to take the time needed to light them correctly. I used a simple 1000 lumen torch positioned far enough behind my subject to enhance the details of its hairs and dorsal fin without overnighting too much else. Lighting is one of the primary subjects that I concentrate on, when working with the guests at these workshops.  – Mike Bartick 

 

In addition to the abundance of critters in Anilao, we are also known to be the nudibranch capital of the world. We found this stunner while night diving on the CBR house reef. This super white nudi was fringed with purple. Visually, the contrast of colors was very subtle and bringing out the dark colors without overexposing the whites was a challenge. I worked at for a few minutes using my snoot before sharing it with the next guest. Our guide kept us all snapping away on another crazy, Anilao night dive. – Mike Bartick

In addition to the abundance of critters in Anilao, we are also known to be the nudibranch capital of the world. We found this stunner while night diving on the CBR house reef. This super white nudi was fringed with purple. Visually, the contrast of colors was very subtle and bringing out the dark colors without overexposing the whites was a challenge. I worked at for a few minutes using my snoot before sharing it with the next guest. Our guide kept us all snapping away on another crazy, Anilao night dive. – Mike Bartick


Carinal fish with eggs

If you want to make an omelet, you need to crack a couple of eggs. I love using metaphors to describe the different ways to challenge ourselves when striving to shoot better images. Using a snoot on a steal subject is one thing but shooting a subject that is moving is quite another. Peak of the action behavior and technical settings can both come together when we keep our head in the game. Behavior is also one of the top subjects I enjoy discussing in the morning photo review sessions. The reviews play a big roll each morning by getting everyones head in the game, refocused, and ready for fun. – Mike Bartick

 

 

The Group

The group was amazing. On behalf of Bluewater, thank each of you for being fantastic, and please join us again somewhere in the world!

 

 

Join Bluewater Photo in April, May, and December 2018 for the annual Anilao workshops, and some amazing reef and critter diving at Crystal Blue Resort.

 

April 19 - April 29, 2018 (10 Nights)

April 29 - May 6, 2018 (7 Nights)*

 

& December 2-9, 2018 (7 Nights)

 

10 Nights: $2,299 Shared Room, $2,849 Private Room
7 Nights: $1,699 Shared Room, $2,199 Private Room

*We will hold some rooms from May 6-9, so guests can stay for 10 nights

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matthew Sullivan is an underwater and conservation photographer based out of Los Angeles, CA. For more of his pictures follow him on Instagram.

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

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Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


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Northern Red Sea, one of the most beautiful marine environments on the planet. Known for lush reefs, and a multitude of famous wrecks.
By Brook Peterson

The Unforgettable Red Sea

Brook Peterson
Northern Red Sea, one of the most beautiful marine environments on the planet. Known for lush reefs, and a multitude of famous wrecks.

*This article was originally published on Brook's personal site, http://www.waterdogphotography.com/*

For Europeans, the Red Sea is as common a dive destination as the Caribbean is to US Citizens. Although the Red Sea is less frequented by US divers, it is one of the world’s gems when it comes to diving. The crystal blue waters, abundant sea life, beautiful coral gardens and shipwrecks loaded with precious cargo make this one of the world’s best dive destinations.

 

 

Sha’ab Abu Nahas reef is famous for hosting several shipwrecks. The reef lies just north of Hurgada. Perhaps the reef’s most famous wreck is the Giannis D, a cargo ship which ran aground in 1983.

 

 

However, the Chrisoula K, which sunk in 1981 is full of Italian floor tile and has very interesting structure which is easily penetrated.

 

 

The Kimon M which sunk in 1978 is an exciting wreck which lies on its starboard side at the bottom of the reef and the Carnatic is a skeleton of a wreck that sunk in 1869 and offers wonderful photo opportunities.

 

 

If these wrecks don’t satisfy your appetite for wreck diving, then the SS Thistlegorm should do the trick.

 

 

A world class wreck, the Thistlegorm is full of World War II cargo, including trucks, motorcycles, a tank, two locomotives and lots of army boots, ammunition, and more. The holds are easily penetrated and offer a fascinating glimpse into another time.

 

 

 

Further north is the marine protected area, Ras Mohammed National Park. Just 30 km south of Sharm El Sheikh, the park has beautiful terraced coral reefs covered in fishes and other marine life.

 

 

The best dive sites in the park are Shark and Yolanda reefs. Shark reef has steep walls with soft corals and at certain times of the year, great schools of fish.

 

 

Its next door neighbor, Yolanda, is strewn with a cargo of bathroom fixtures from the ship wreck for which the reef was named. 

 

 

Within swimming distance of Shark Reef is Anemone City, a reef covered in anemones and anemone fish.

 

 

Ras Umm Sid reef offers snorkeling as well as diving, with a large shallow shelf of hard corals and a unique dive site called Temple. 

 

 

The Red Sea is diveable year round with the warmest months being June- August, and the coldest, January-February. The average water temperature is 74 degrees (23C). Direct flights from London to Hurgada are available, where many live aboard operations are docked. Divers can also fly in to Sharm El Sheikh and dive from live aboard, or the resorts based there.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brook Peterson is an avid scuba diver and underwater photographer who enjoys capturing the beauty of the under water environment throughout the world. She is an original member of the SEA&SEA Alpha program. Her work has been featured in both print and online magazines.  She is the owner of Waterdog Photography and authors a blog on underwater photography and techniques.  More of her work can be found at:

www.waterdogphotography.com  |  Facebook  |  instagram@waterdogphotography_brook.

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A different kind of diving experience in Mexico
By Dan McGanty and Helen Brierley

Swimming with Dinosaurs in Mexico

Dan McGanty and Helen Brierley
A different kind of diving experience in Mexico

You’ve done it all and seen it all underwater, right?  Challenge!  How about 12’ crocs up close and personal?  If you are struggling with ‘just another pretty reef’ diving – and are willing to suffer a bit of rough and ready – then a trip to Chinchorro Bank has to be the remedy for you.  The bank is a shallow expanse of reefs, mangroves and a bit of dry land, 30 miles off the southernmost Caribbean coast of Mexico, just north of the border with Belize.

The ‘getting there’ is not too bad – a flight to Cancun and a five-hour drive to Xcalak (which if you have heard of, you are the only one).  The way to do this trip is with a day or so in Xcalak at the beginning and end, with a few days in between out at Chinchorro Bank, with the crocs.  The diving from Xcalak is fairly run of the mill Caribbean diving, other than the chance of seeing a manatee (we did) and the virtual certainty of seeing a massive school of tarpon – numbering in the hundreds and with some fish over two meters in size.

 

 

The reason for this trip, however, is not Xcalak itself but rather the time out at the bank.  The crossing is the usual – a pleasant hour and-a-half or an unpleasant two and-a-half (it’s called ‘weather’).  One arrives at the bank in a relatively sheltered area, with about a dozen stilted fishermen’s huts.  To call these ‘basic’ would quite frankly be kind.  If you need five-star, wi-fi, TV, thrice-daily showers, a bed, etc – then this is not the trip for you.  Life is very communal in the small hut, with hammocks strung pretty much wherever one can string a hammock.  Food is fine – it comes when it comes, but there is no pretending this is a culinary tour.

 

 

So why do it?  There are about five-hundred reasons – and they live in the murky water in the middle of the mangroves.  No one knows exactly how American crocodiles first got to Chinchorro, but it is quite unlikely they are leaving anytime soon.  The fishermen’s huts are in the clear, open-water on the leeward side of the island.  When the fishermen come in from their daily excursions, they clean their catch and give the scraps to the crocs.  This long-standing routine has made the crocs rather reliable in coming out of the swampy back-water (not all of them, but at least a few), from late-morning through the end of the day.

One scuba dives on the healthy nearby reefs in the morning – to see the reefs, but more importantly to spear the lionfish which are used to wrangle the crocs in for a closer look.  The whole area is a marine park, so it is only the invasive lionfish that visitors are allowed to take (while the fishermen have broader, grand-fathered fishing rights).  It is then back to the ‘chalet’ for an afternoon of croc encounters.  This is done in the chest-deep water just next to the hut, because that is where they expect to be fed as usual.

 

 

Seeing a croc from in the water for the first time is a heart racing experience.  Over a few days, one gets more comfortable at enjoying and filming these incredible creatures in what feels like a very natural setting.  It would be tough to say that one ever feels completely safe, but the in-water guide makes it feel manageable as time goes on.  If you are the type of person who listens to the instructions of experienced guides, you should be alright – if not, you might want to practice writing with your other hand before you go.

 

 

The bottom line is that this is an incredible experience that few will ever see – so a ‘must do’ for anyone who can cope with a bit of inconvenience for a truly unique interaction with these awesome, evolution-be-damned creatures.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

With a life-long passion for anything water-related, Helen and Dan take every opportunity to race sailboats in Southern California and scuba dive anywhere in the world.  Both Helen and Dan learned to scuba dive in the early 80’s, Helen in the UK and Dan in New York, and they currently call Los Angeles home.  Helen also serves as Board Chair for Reef Check, the global marine conservation foundation.

ALSO BY DAN MCGANTY AND HELEN BRIERLEY

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

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A different approach in creating interesting and unique underwater photos.
By Matthew Sullivan

Taking Vintage Lenses Underwater

Matthew Sullivan
A different approach in creating interesting and unique underwater photos.

 

In the constant quest for new and unique images, photographers in general come up with any number of interesting ways to make their photographs stand out. Underwater photographers are no exception. Generally this leads to two things. Lots and lots of experimentation and failure, and/or some fantastic creations.

 

Taken with the Nauticam SMC macro lens

 

There is seemingly an increasing trend in photography to use vintage lenses on digital mirrorless and dslr bodies. These lenses can be difficult to use, may not have the best optics, but many of them give a look and 'feel' to an image that is almost impossible to recreate with the technical perfection of the best modern lenses. Theoretically, almost any vintage lens can be used underwater, it is just a matter of finding the correct adapters for digital bodies, configuring ports properly, and understanding the limitations of whatever piece of glass is being used.  

 

Photo by: Nicholas Samaras

 

To achieve the most out of these lenses, photographers should shoot them at their widest aperture. Also remember, they are not meant to provide clinical, razor sharp images (The pictures included have all been downsized for the web so are much sharper than they appear here). They're supposed to provide a unique and potentially ethereal look. Embrace their imperfections. These lenses would all get terrible scores on DXO Mark and DPReview, just something to keep in mind. The two lenses represented here are the Trioplan 100mm f2.8 (the most popular of these lenses due to its remarkable optical qualities), and the Zeiss Tessar 50mm f2.8, which was recommended to me initially by Scubazoo's Jason Isley. The latter can be found on ebay for a whopping $40, while original version Trioplan's range anywhere from a few hundred dollars, up to around a thousand.

Lens Comparison:

-Trioplan 100mm f2.8 Vintage Version (There is a new, kickstarter created version)

Mounts

  • M42 / Pentax mount
  • EXA / Exakta mount
  • M39 Leica screwmount
  • Praktina mount
  • *Adapters are needed to mount on Nikon/Canon/etc
  • Weight: 600 gr
  • Minimum Focusing Distance: 110cm (43.3 inches)
  • Aperture range f2.8-f22

    

-Zeiss 50mm f2.8
Mounts – M42, Exakta
  • Optical Formula – 4 elements in 3 groups (Tessar)
  • Closest Focusing Distance – 0.35m/1ft
  • Filter Size – 49mm
  • Aperture Blades – 5
  • Weight – 170g
  • 12 Aperture Settings from F2.8 to F22    
  •  

    Both lenses have natural minimum focus distances that are just unrealistic to use underwater. The solutions to this are extension tubes (which bring the minimum focus distance closer), diopters (which allow closer focusing), and wet lenses which do the same.

    Another attribute of these lenses is the incredibly smooth and soft out of focus areas when not trying for the bubble bokeh look.

     

     

    As difficult as these lenses can be to use, especially if you don't have custom made focus gear, they can unleash a lot of creativity. Not being able to rely on autofocus and being locked into shallow DOF and one single focus plane means the photographer is forced to get creative to produce an interesting image. This type of image and image making may not be to everyone's taste, but for those looking to add something new to their portfolio, or just want to have some fun with vintage glass, this may be the way to go.

    For questions on vintage lenses under, port configurations, or any other underwater photography questions, please email me at matt@bluewaterphotostore.com

    *Thank you Helen Brierley, Jason Isley, and Nicholas Samaras for use of their fantastic photographs.

     

     

    More Photos:

    Photo by: Nicholas Samaras

     

    Photo by: Nicholas Samaras

     

    Photo by: Jason Isley

     

    Photo by: Jason Isley

     

    Photo by: Jason Isley

     

    Photo by: Jason Isley

     

    Photo by: Helen Brierley

     

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Matthew Sullivan is an underwater and conservation photographer based out of Los Angeles, CA. For more of his pictures follow him on Instagram.

    SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

    The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

     

    Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

     


    The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

     

    Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

     


    This detailed look at the underwater animals of Vancouver Island will have you packing your drysuit and camera gear right away
    By Aaron Halstead

    Portraits from God's Pocket

    Aaron Halstead
    This detailed look at the underwater animals of Vancouver Island will have you packing your drysuit and camera gear right away

    A couple years ago, I would never have guessed my vacation time would be spent packing an ever changing assortment of dive gear into checked luggage and carry-on camera gear, hoping on a series of planes, diving, and then repeating that process all over again.  To further complicate airline luggage rules, you also have these bulky dry suits and undergarments to pack and you begin to think, why would people do this to themselves?  Put simply, because it's so worth it!

    The nutrient rich waters of God's Pocket (Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada) offers some truly amazing and unique diving, full of colors and life I certainly didn't fully expect. Part of the thrill for me is discovering things I couldn't have planned for.  Sure, I had a list of things I wanted to see; giant pacific octopus, hooded nudibranchs, warbonnets in a bottle and wolf eels. But, playing tug of war with an GPO who took a quite-strong interest in my strobe, or discovering a type of anemone with miniature versions of itself clinging to its sides, or the wavy motions and sail of the sailfin sculpin; those are all safely cataloged in my internal dive logs, as stories I'll have to tell in the years to come.

     



    Aaron's Underwater Camera Gear

     Nikon D90, Aquatica housing and ports, Sea&Sea YS-110a strobes, Retra LSD snoot, Nikon 40mm, Nikon 60mm, Nikon 105mm, Tokina 10-17mm, 1.4x teleconverter and various diopters and lights




     

     

     

     

     

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Aaron Halstead is an avid diver, critter enthusiast and underwater photographer living in Southern California. He is pretty addicted, send help.

    More work can be found on his Website or Facebook page.

    SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

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    Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

     


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    12 photos of Fiji's most colorful and interesting fish flashing, yawning and displaying other great behaviors
    By Andreas Goldhahn

    The Colorful Fish of Fiji

    Andreas Goldhahn
    12 photos of Fiji's most colorful and interesting fish flashing, yawning and displaying other great behaviors

    The nation of Fiji is comprised of over three hundred beautiful islands in the South Pacific ocean. The unique topography, where towering green mountains drop straight into a crystal clear ocean fringed with coral reefs, has attracted tourists for decades. Newlyweds kick their feet up and watch sunset, surfers take shade inside racing emerald tubes and, most importantly for us, scuba divers and freedivers explore the reefs below the surface.

    Names like the Bligh Waters, Namena, Beqa Lagoon and Taveuni roll off photographers' tongues inspiring the lust for adventure in those listening to their underwater tales.

    Fiji has been written about so many times in so many dive magazines that photographer Andreas Goldhahn and I have decided to take a different approach in telling the story; we leave it to the photos. 

    Be sure to read Part I of this series, The Vibrant Soft Corals of Fiji.

    - Editors

     

    Lyretail (aka Scalefin) Anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis)
    Camera: Nikon D7200
    Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

     

    Yawning Damselfish
    Camera: Nikon D7200
    Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

    Bigeye Trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus)
    Camera: Nikon D7200
    Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

     

    Pink Skunk Anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion)
    Camera: Nikon D7200
    Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

     

    Palette Surgeonfish (Paracanthurus hepatus)
    Camera: Nikon D7200
    Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

     

    Schooling Bannerfish (Heniochus diphreutes)
    Camera: Nikon D7200
    Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

     

     Orange Spotted (aka long nose) Filefish (Oxymonacanthus longirostris)
    Camera: Nikon D7200
    Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

     

     Leaf Scorpionfish (Taenianotus triacanthus)
    Camera: Nikon D7200
    Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

     

    Mirrored wrasse movement
    Camera: Nikon D7200
    Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

    Angelfish in profile
    Camera: Nikon D7200
    Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

    Stocky Anthias (Pseudanthias hypselosoma)
    Camera: Nikon D7200
    Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

     

    Grey Reef Shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos)
    Camera: Nikon D7200
    Photo: Andreas Goldhahn

     

    About the Photographer

    Andreas Goldhahn is an underwater photographer based in Munich, Germany. An 8 year veteran shooter, Andreas has been traveling the world documenting the underwater world with both a Nikon D500 and Nikon D7200, accumulating over 500 dives in the process. You can see more of Andreas' work on his Facebook page.

    SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

    The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

     

    Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

     


    The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

     

    Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

     


    A photo essay comparing images shot on a smart phone with a variety of accessories and lighting tools.
    By Brent Durand

    Shooting a Smart Phone Underwater

    Brent Durand
    A photo essay comparing images shot on a smart phone with a variety of accessories and lighting tools.

    In an age where most photos are viewed on a computer or smart phone screen, there's a new generation of affordable cameras that can hold their own against much more sophisticated systems. Of course, there's a time and a place where each camera system (compact, mirrorless, DSLR, or other) excels, and good reason to invest in the system that's right for you.

    We grow as photographers when we problem solve for shifting variables - a concept I try to stress during photo workshops. Something as simple as passing clouds can pivot your entire wide-angle photo strategy during a dive. No arms and clamps? No problem. You can experiment with handleld light and really learn where the cone of light falls off in relation to your subject. Photography isn't just about some settings - it's about using a tool to capture the scene in front of you. The different tools do different things.

    With the spirit of experimentation in mind, below are photos shot with a melange of photo gear during our recent Sri Lanka photo workshops. Hopefully this is some inspiration for all of us to get out there and experiment!

    Photos shot using constant lighting techniques. Be sure to check out the What's in the Camera Bag feature where I discuss this gear in more detail.

     

    A diver hovers below a cloud of fish on the Car Wreck in Sri Lanka. Photo: Brent Durand

    iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  Fantasea UWL-09F Wide-Angle lens  |  2x Kraken Hydra 5000 lights

     

    A tractor sits overturned on the Medhufaru Wreck in Sri Lanka. Photo: Brent Durand

    iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  Fantasea UWL-09F Wide-Angle lens  |  2x Kraken Hydra 5000 lights

     

    A moray eel peers at the photographer. Photo: Brent Durand

    iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  2x Kraken Hydra 5000 lights

     

    Macro time! Photo: Brent Durand

    iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  Fantasea UCL-06LF Diopter  |  Kraken Weefine Ring Light

     

     

    Colors abound on the Car Wreck. Photo: Brent Durand

    iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  Fantasea UWL-09F Wide-Angle lens  |  2x Kraken Hydra 5000 lights

     

    Even the dive guide can't help but film some video on the Perseus shipwreck in Sri Lanka. Photo: Brent Durand

    iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  Fantasea UWL-09F Wide-Angle lens  |  2x Kraken Hydra 5000 lights

     

    It pays look search the nooks and crannies of the Car Wreck for colorful subjects. Photo: Brent Durand

    iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  2x Kraken Hydra 5000 lights

     

    A lionfish drifts back and forth in surge during a dive on the Lotus Barge wreck. Photo: Brent Durand

    iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  2x Kraken Hydra 5000 lights

     

    Distortion can create a fun effect when used sparingly. Photo: Brent Durand

    iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  Fantasea UCL-06LF Diopter  |  Kraken Weefine Ring Light

     

    Sometimes it's nice to step back and enjoy the big picture. Photo: Brent Durand

    iPhone 6s+ in Kraken Smart Phone Housing  |  Fantasea UWL-09F Wide-Angle lens

     

    Be sure to read these features for more info on the gear in this article.

     

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer and story teller from California.
    BrentDurand.com   |  Facebook  |  Instagram

    Brent is a writer for the Underwater Photography Guide, an avid diver and adventure photographer, and shoots underwater any time he can get hands on a camera system. He can be reached at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

    SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

    The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

     

    Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

     


    The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

     

    Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

     


    A photo essay and diving overview, including best dive sites, in Tulamben.
    By Nirupam Nigam

    Photographer's Guide to Tulamben

    Nirupam Nigam
    A photo essay and diving overview, including best dive sites, in Tulamben.

    Situated on the northeastern edge of the island of Bali, Indonesia, the fishing village of Tulamben has gained increasing recognition of its excellence as a dive destination. Almost all tourists here are divers – the black cobble beaches and the single road lined with dive resorts do not cater to anything else. The diving is certainly the best in Bali and as diverse as one could ever hope for in a diving destination.

    Tulamben is heaven for the budget diver and the underwater photographer. The three sites on the main beach and half dozen sites in the Tulamben area can keep a diver occupied for weeks! All dives in the area are done from shore and equipment rentals can be dirt cheap – a tank rental may cost under $5. Reputability comes at a price, so if you are going to dive cheap, it’s best to be experienced and use your own equipment. Budget diving does come with adventurous perks – a faraway dive operation often means a ride on the back of a scooter with your gear between the driver’s legs!

     

     

     

    USAT Liberty Shipwreck

    The highlight of Tulamben, of course, is the USAT Liberty shipwreck. At over 120 m in length, this shipwreck is arguably one of the best wreck dives in the world. The vast size of the WWII cargo ship creates massive “walls” and jungle gyms of corals for divers to swim around. Countless species of fish dart in and around the wreck, and rainbow colored nudibranchs and frogfish hide in its crevices. Beautiful and iconic yellowline sweetlip perch and batfish hang out around the shallow edges of the wreck. Among some of the prettiest rainbows of soft coral that I have seen can be found along the stern and adjacent to the hold. A night dive here almost guarantees a sighting of massive, sleeping bumphead parrotfish. Although Tulamben is known for its macro photographic opportunity – the wide angle opportunities at the wreck are unbeatable. Beware of diving at peak hours – growing popularity has introduced crowds of divers on the wreck daily, especially divers that are “bused in.” However, diving at other times can often yield an empty wreck.

     

     


    Coral Garden & Drop Off

    Just south of the shipwreck lies two equally spectacular sites. The first of these is the Coral Garden. Situated along the same black sand slope the wreck sits on – Coral Garden is an ideal site for finding critters. Cuttlefish, harlequin shrimp, leaf scorpionfish, and ribbon eels are all frequent inhabitants. Various statues, including a popular Buddha statue lie at the southernmost point. Perhaps the most spectacular thing about coral gardens is the fields of large anemones and anemonefish that start only 2-3 meters below the surface. Farther south, at the termination of the beach is the third (arguably the best) site in Tulamben – the Drop Off. Here, schools of fish resembling rush-hour traffic swim over a vast, beautiful coral wall. Coral here is healthy and huge – some sea fans are larger than a diver! A ton of life hide in the cracks and crannies of the wall. Currents pick up as soon as you round the point – I personally got stuck fighting to get back to the beach against current for half an hour on a full moon. Beware of the tides!

     

     

    Seraya Secret

    Tulamben would not be a haven for underwater photographers without its iconic muck site – Seraya Secret. Though it isn’t much of a secret, the site is just south of the main Tulamben beach and has facilities catered to underwater photographers. Seraya is the perfect opportunity to photograph some of Tulamben’s famed critters among dark, black sand. This is a great place to see pygmy sea horses, juvenile emperor angelfish, frogfish and countless species of nudibranch.

     

     

    Although Tulamben may be out of well-trodden tourist areas of Bali, it has something for every type of diver. It’s best to see it now before its growing popularity catches up with it!

     

    Learn more about scuba diving Tulamben, Bali on Bluewater Travel.

     

    About the Author

    Nirupam Nigam works as a fisheries observer in the Bering Sea collecting scientific data for NOAA fisheries. When he doesn’t work he travels and dives when he can – preferably on the west coast of the USA.

     

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Nirupam Nigam is a dedicated underwater photographer and fisheries scientist. While growing up in Los Angeles he fell in love with the ocean and pursued underwater photography in the local Channel Islands. He received degrees in Aquatic and Fisheries Science and General Biology, as well as a minor in Arctic Studies, at the University of Washington. Now he works as a fisheries observer on boats in the Bering Sea and North Pacific. When he is not at sea, he is traveling with his fiancee and taking photos. 

    SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

    The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

     

    Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

     


    The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

     

    Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

     


    12 vividly colored wide-angle photos that will make you want to book your dive trip to Fiji tomorrow
    By Andreas Goldhahn photos, Brent Durand text

    The Vibrant Soft Corals of Fiji

    Andreas Goldhahn photos, Brent Durand text
    12 vividly colored wide-angle photos that will make you want to book your dive trip to Fiji tomorrow

    Say the word 'Fiji' in a room full of divers and you can watch as eyes widen and smiles begin to appear on suntanned faces.

    The nation of Fiji is comprised of over three hundred beautiful islands in the South Pacific ocean. The unique topography, where towering green mountains drop straight into a crystal clear ocean fringed with coral reefs, has attracted tourists for decades. Newlyweds kick their feet up and watch sunset, surfers take shade inside racing emerald tubes and, most importantly for us, scuba divers and freedivers explore the reefs below the surface.

    Names like the Bligh Waters, Namena, Beqa Lagoon and Taveuni roll off photographers' tongues inspiring the lust for adventure in those listening to their underwater tales.

    Fiji has been written about so many times in so many dive magazines that photographer Andreas Goldhahn and I have decided to take a different approach in telling the story; we leave it to the photos.

    Photographer Andreas Goldhahn captured the images below with the Nikon D500 or the Nikon D7200.

    Enjoy!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Learn more about scuba diving in Fiji.

     

    About the Photographer

    Andreas Goldhahn is an underwater photographer based in Munich, Germany. An 8 year veteran shooter, Andreas has been traveling the world documenting the underwater world with both a Nikon D500 and Nikon D7200, accumulating over 500 dives in the process. You can see more of Andreas' work on his Facebook page.

    SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

    The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

     

    Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

     


    The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

     

    Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

     


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