Story Behind the Shot

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Go behind the scenes as Seaproof.tv explores deep inside a Titan 1 missile silo in this underwater documentary short
By Trisha Stovel and Russell Clark

Video: Diving a Nuclear Missile Silo

Trisha Stovel and Russell Clark
Go behind the scenes as Seaproof.tv explores deep inside a Titan 1 missile silo in this underwater documentary short

Not many dives begin with a site briefing in the middle of the Washington desert. Nor do they include a drive through a field of abandoned cars and trucks before arriving at a hole in the ground, guarded by an ominous looking locked cage. 
3 years ago we were invited out for an unusual dive inside an abandoned and flooded Cold War era nuclear missile silo. 
The place is a videographer's dream. We could have spent an age underwater there, moving behind cables, grids, launch platforms, and old equipment. It’s like a gigantic movie set.

We didn’t really know what to expect, so we kept gear to a minimum: a trusted Canon 60D with Magic Lantern for topside filming and interviews, a Sony RX100 in Nauticam housing paired with Light & Motion Sola 4000s for underwater, and some handheld Sola 800s for additional lighting. If we did it again now, we’d be taking all kinds of camera gear, lights, sliders, tripods, drones, a sherpa… but this was in our early days. In a lot of ways, the video we decided to make helped form the heart of Seaproof.tv - our Minimentaries.

The original RX100 was an excellent choice for good quality and full HD video, with a decent codec and an acceptable bit rate for a compact camera. Unlike the current incarnation, no over heating issues either. We could dive in an unknown location, with lots of hazards, with a small camera capable of good quality results, and be assured it would shoot well when we needed it. 

Our plan was pretty simple. We only had two dives, so just shoot as much as possible, get an interview with the guide, then see what we could edit together.

 

Diving the Missile Silo

The silo makes for an adventurous and fun recreational dive. That’s right, you don’t have to be a tec or cave diver for this one, as it’s not technically in an overhead environment. The silo is about 130 feet or so deep, 100 foot of which is underwater, meaning there is a sizeable area in which to surface, look around and breath air from.  

Other parts of the underground silo complex are also flooded and have overhead environments that can be accessed by divers with adequate training and an okay from the dive company that runs the guided tours there. These sections are smaller office-like parts of the complex that are large enough to swim around in, but not so big that you could get lost or lose site of your entry point. 

The silo complex was not prepared for divers like an artificial reef is. There are a lot of things hanging, protruding, and could prove hazardous. You need to have your eyes open as you carefully step over pipes and cables, waist-deep in water, wading your way through the tunnels on your way to the silo entry point. The guide recommends Advanced Open Water certification and very good buoyancy. Water flow is very slow, so stirring up the silt inside will take a few days to completely clear. If you’re there for photo or video purposes, make sure you’re the first group in that weekend!

The nuclear missile silo is a fun dive and an interesting look into a unique part of U.S. history. The shoot had it’s challenges: no time to plan, only two dives, and of course having to keep one eye on hazardous surroundings, despite being glued to the camera monitor. But it’s a fun, unique and adventurous dive that makes for some great video, and a great dive story when chatting with buddies.

 

Diving in a nuclear missile silo - a Minimentary by Seaproof.tv

 

 

 

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Seaproof.tv is an underwater video company based in British Columbia, Canada, a partnership between Trisha Stovel and Russell Clark. Trisha was originally from Ontario; a dive instructor, underwater videographer, and ocean lover through and through. Russell moved to Canada from England just over 6 years ago, started diving, and never looked back. 3 years ago we formed Seaproof.tv as a way for two video and ocean lovers to combine forces; it’s been non stop videos, endless camera gear, and lots of diving ever since. 

With a focus on underwater video, we produce unique content for small businesses, independent productions, and non-profits. But at the heart of what we do are our Minimentaries - and we’re just getting started. We have at least four more Minimentaries in the can, and an endless stream of ideas for new ones. 

Website     |      Facebook

 

ALSO BY RUSSELL CLARK AND TRISHA STOVEL

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Take an inside look at the camera and housing gear used by professional underwater photographer Mike Bartick
By UWPG Editors

What's in the Camera Bag: Mike Bartick

UWPG Editors
Take an inside look at the camera and housing gear used by professional underwater photographer Mike Bartick

First off, I need to say that it's all about function and not fashion for me. My gear MUST all be durable and able to withstand the abuse of diving daily. Logging more then 400 dives a year with my camera gear puts everything to the test. My current housing has more than 1200 dives on it without any rebuilds - kudos to Sea&Sea!

My gear configuration changes almost daily depending on what my target subject might be. I've minimized my need to change ports by selecting a port and extension that will accommodate both 60mm and 105mm macro lenses. The port is threaded to accept my diopter adapter.

For shorter focal lengths I'll change to a shorter port, but I've also been known to break a few rules along the way.

 

Inside Mike's Gear Bag

 

Camera:  Nikon D7100

Lenses:  Nikkor 105mm, Nikkor 60mm, Nikkor 50mm, Nikkor 40mm macro, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye, Sigma 28-80 macro

Diopters:  Nauticam SMC, SMC Multiplier, Subsee +10, Subsee +5, INON +15, etc.

Housing:  Sea&Sea MDX-D7100 housing (more than 1200 dives on the housing in the photo!)

Strobes:  Sea&Sea YS-D1 and YS-D2 strobes, INON Z240 strobes

Accessories:  Retra Light Shaping Device (snoot), Kraken focus and video light

 

 

My favorite setup is currently my Nikkor 105mm with the SMC diopter, with the Nauticam flip adapter. This setup allows me the flexibility to shoot the way I like to shoot the most: capturing behavior.

This setup is heavy underwater as well as on land, so I use float arms to offset the weight. I use Ultralight Control Systems float arms and INON mega float arms with long clamps. I also use long arm clamps supplied by Beneath the Surface for my modeling light.

 

Lighting

Lighting is where I become more picky. I like big, bold macro images as well as contrasty or smoothly-lit snooted images.

For hard targeted shaping, I use the Retra Ultimate Light Shaping Device (LSD). I almost never dive without this snoot. That doesnt mean that I'm always using it, but just that the option is always there. I've also been known to use my Subsee optical snoot. This snoot is a bit tougher to use but offers a different form of light that I like with subjects like hairy frogfish.

Some of the items not seen in the gear image above include a variety of torches used for backlighting, side lighting  and other specific lighting effects. These include video lights from Kraken Sports, Xtar and INON.

I experiment often with my gear and am always adding to the arsenal.

 

 

Editor's note:  Mike Bartick also manages Crystal Blue Resort in Anilao, Philippines, conducting frequent photo workshops to share his knowledge.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Bartick is an avid and experienced scuba diver and Marine Wildlife Photographer. He has an insatiable love for nudibranchs, frogfish and other underwater critters, and is the official critter expert for the Underwater Photography Guide. Mike is also one of the UWPG trip leaders. See more of his work at www.saltwaterphoto.com.

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Story Behind the Shots of two special experiences swimming with humpback whale mothers and calves in Tonga
By Cassie Jensen

Moments with a Humpback Mother & Calf

Cassie Jensen
Story Behind the Shots of two special experiences swimming with humpback whale mothers and calves in Tonga

I had been dreaming of the day I would see a whale in the wild since I was a child. Something about their massive size, yet gentle nature always intrigued me. Upon arriving in Vava’u, Tonga, I was expecting a great performance from the whales, full of action and fast-paced swimming involved with a heat run (one female whale accompanied by a suitor, followed by several other male whales fighting to challenge him). While we did experience several heat runs on our journey, it was the calm, quiet moments with the mothers and calves that truly touched my soul.

Our skipper Cam received a call on the radio about the location of a mother and calf during our second day swimming with the whales. Traveling through the beautiful islands on the boat to get to their location seemed to take hours instead of the reality of 20 minutes, my pulse a constant reminder of my excitement as the adrenaline coursed through my body. Our boat consisted of six swimmers and our wonderfully talented guide and photographer, Darren Jew. We were separated into 2 groups, men and women for old time’s sake, alternating drops with the whales. Of course, it was the guys’ turn in the water first. Cam brought the boat a few hundred feet away from the whales, as Darren swam out quietly to their location before signaling the guys to get in the water. After an anxious 15 minutes of me sitting precariously on the edge of the boat with my mask, fins, snorkel, and camera at the ready, Darren signaled us to switch groups. 

 

This was one of my favorite moments. The image was taken just as we were about to leave the whales and I crossed in front of the pair. I sunk just a few more inches below the surface and waited for the calf to settle in this position, straight on like its mom, with its tail down. They both watched me as if to say goodbye. 
Camera Settings: ISO 1600, F11, 1/200

 

I quietly slipped into the cool water, heart racing out of my chest. I had to force myself to slow down and take a deep breath, knowing that they would still be there even if I took my time. Finally I saw them; appearing out of the milky blue water were two gigantic silhouettes, shadowed by a tiny speck (Darren) as he motioned for me to come to them. There they were, just resting on the surface together. Relaxed, calm, trusting. I was watching them through my viewfinder, taking as many pictures as I could: checking the settings to make sure they looked satisfactory, changing the aperture for a better shot. Was the shutter speed still at at least 1/200? What about the ISO? After a few minutes of taking pictures and checking settings, I realized I wasn’t in the moment with them yet. I put my camera by my side, and just watched them. I looked at Darren, hoping he would understand the emotion behind my mask. Pure admiration. 

My two friends were still making their way over, and I felt alone with the whales and my mentor by my side. Time stopped for once in my life and I just floated weightless, inches from this enormous creature that was so new to this world, yet so trusting of all around it. I turned parallel to the calf, looking deep into its eye; questioning how such beauty exists in the world. As my two buddies joined us, I backed away to let them see the two without my presence. I looked beyond the calf’s tail, trying to figure out how much bigger the mother was. She was so massive, I could barely make out the end of her tail that seemed to stretch on forever. We remained by their sides in awe for about 15 minutes before we switched groups again. The hardest thing for me to do was to swim away from that beautiful moment. Fortunately, we had several drops with the mother and calf, and occasionally they would swim around us, going down a few meters before coming up for air again. Luckily, the pair trusted us to be around them for almost two hours before we made a group decision to let them continue resting without the presence of humans.


Humpbacks Day 2

The excitement of the next day on the boat was even higher in anticipation of what we were going to encounter, but we did mention that even if we didn’t see a whale that day, we would be happy because of the previous day’s encounter with the gentle giants. Skipper Ali dropped us on several thrilling, heart pumping action moments of heat runs before we got wind of another mother and calf in the area. Without any doubt, we decided to introduce ourselves to this new pair, and anxiously sat on the edge of the boat for the ride over to meet them. When Darren signaled my group to enter the water, I embraced the cool hug as I swam quietly out to where he was. This time, I saw the mother and calf floating in blue water, about 3 meters below the surface. The mother was vertical, with her nose facing straight up, and her calf was rested just underneath her pectoral fin, almost in an embrace. Slowly, I approached and watched as the calf began to dance. It moved so elegantly, up to get a breath of air, swimming out and around to meet us. The mother began to move with the calf, and soon I found myself swimming directly parallel to two of the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen. Time stopped again and I felt one with nature.

 

This calf was very affectionate towards its mother. Oftentimes, it would rub against the mother and also appear to embrace her in a hug. Such beautiful tenderness displayed!
Camera Settings: ISO 1000, F7.1, 1/200.

 

We had several drops with this pair, and each time we got to experience the love they had for one another. It was so obvious, as the mother would swim underneath her calf, raise her up to the surface for a breath, and back down again. Every so often the calf would fold itself around the mother’s face, as if to embrace her in a hug. To witness such adoration and gentle affection from such incredibly large animals was unlike anything I have ever experienced, or will experience, until I am reunited again with them next year. 

Being new to underwater photography, I was a bit nervous that I wouldn’t get the right shot or really capture the emotion from the moment. I realized that I had to go with my gut, keeping my settings around F8, and my go-to fast shutter speed (I hate any movement in my images!). One thing I realized from photographing them was that I really had to relax my mind and focus on the dance of the whales. Watching their behavior and only then picking up the camera… waiting for a good shot to unfold through my lens.

 

 


Inside Cassie's Gear Bag:

Nikon D7200, Nauticam NA-D7200 housing, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens.


 

 

This calf was resting beneath the mother for ten minutes before waking and coming up for a breath right next to me, making direct eye contact.
Camera Settings: ISO 1600, F11, 1/200

 

I was able to float within inches of this calf, who was very friendly and trusting. Being so close, I could see that it was covered in whale “lice.” In reality, they are parasites that feed on algae on the whale’s skin and are found in skin lesions, skin folds, nostrils, and eyes.
Camera Settings: ISO 1600, F11, 1/200

 

This was by far my favorite moment out of my encounters with the whales. The three of us were swimming side by side for several moments. The mother realized it was time for the calf to breathe, and dipped below her young to raise her up to the surface. It was so beautiful to witness the loving touch a mother can bring to her newborn, even in the wild.
Camera Settings: ISO 900, F7.1, 1/200.

 

The mother and calf were resting several meters below. They went up for a breath of air together and began to swim directly towards me before turning in a beautiful display, as if to ask if I would join them in their dance.
Camera Settings: ISO 900, F7.1, 1/200

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cassie Jensen:  I bought my camera and got it in the water less than a year ago without having any photography experience. It has brought me to many incredible places, and captured countless, priceless encounters. My dream in taking underwater pictures is to raise awareness about the importance of our oceans and saving its inhabitants. Thanks to humans, many species are being destroyed; it is our duty now to preserve what we have left of this beautiful planet. My favorite things to photograph range from the gigantic whales, thrilling sharks, inquisitive turtles, to tiny, beautiful nudibranchs.

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Behind the scenes of Seaproof.tv's shipwreck minimentary featuring Jill Heinerth in a cold water explorer's paradise
By Russell Clark and Trisha Stovel

Video: The Wrecks of Bell Island

Russell Clark and Trisha Stovel
Behind the scenes of Seaproof.tv's shipwreck minimentary featuring Jill Heinerth in a cold water explorer's paradise

Bell Island is a little known explorer’s paradise, a short distance from the city of St Johns, Newfoundland, Canada. 

Our ‘Exploring Bell Island’ Minimentary came together after a week of diving as part of a group put together by Jill Heinerth on behalf of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, with the aim of documenting the historically significant shipwrecks. 

We were blown away at how incredible the wrecks are, and how unique the area is. We shot underwater video throughout the week, but only towards the end of the trip did we decide to interview Jill and make it a goal to share with others the importance of Bell Island through our Seaproof.tv Minimentary. It’s too much of an amazing place not to! 

Bell Island has everything an underwater explorer could want: historic shipwrecks covered in marine life, an underwater mine for certified cave divers, stunning shore dives, clear water, and a fantastic dive operation with photographer friendly boats - Ocean Quest Adventure Resort. 

 

The Camera Gear

For the shoot, we used a Canon 5D Mark II with Magic Lantern, Aquatica housing, and Light & Motion lights, all packed away in fabulous Nanuk hard cases. Above water, we used a mixture of the same 5D Mark II, GoPro Hero 4s, Sony AX100, and the occasional iPhone snippet. We left the Sony AX100 above water as it’s not wide enough to do these wrecks justice; nothing comes close to a 5D with a 16-35mm lens on. 

Ideally we would have shot this in 4K, but the 5D Mark II is the better tool for this job. Its full frame sensor takes in an enormous amount of light, even at depth, emphasizing the good visibility. The 5D’s video also has a nice cinematic softness to it that we wanted for this specific shoot. We wanted it to feel epic and more cinematic than what we normally shoot - which also lead to our decision to edit this in a 21:9 ratio. These wrecks deserve to be made to look as cool as possible!

 

Diving & Filming at Bell Island

We planned our dives so we could capture the more iconic areas of the wrecks: the bow, the stern guns, torpedo damage, anchor, and so on. We were using open circuit, so bottom time was fairly limiting, though the wrecks are in recreational limits. We always had a rough idea of where we were going, and to what end. Jill would give us a good idea of what to expect on the wrecks, and what could be of interest. One of the wrecks had an intact Marconi room, one had some old vinyl laying on the deck, some had ammunition boxes, one an old shoe. All great visuals for a video. 

An important part of the diving experience for us is what goes on above water; the people, the geography, and the history. It’s also very important for non-divers to see more than just a close up of a nudibranch. Exploration and adventure define us as a species, not just as divers. We want non-divers to watch this video and be amazed at what lies beneath them.

 

Editing & Sharing 'Exploring Bell Island'

We edit using Adobe Premiere Pro CC, on two MacBook Pros. It’s a collaborative process that we enjoy - it’s where the story really comes together. We have a pretty elaborate editing system and set up in an office crammed with hard drives, monitors, and a healthy supply of coffee and biscuits. We share our videos on Vimeo, YouTube, and Facebook - for us it’s all about sharing and getting people to see the cool things we’ve seen. Hopefully, a few people will look twice, and maybe think about exploring our seas for the first time. 

Seaproof.tv is a company that Trisha Stovel and myself, Russell Clark, formed 3 years ago as a way for us to make these Minimentaries to tell the world about all the amazing things out there. Seaproof.tv has now grown into a successful video business, providing content for Canon cameras, Performance Freediving International, Global TV, and a host of others. 

At our core is a love for telling a good story. As Walt Disney used to say, ‘”We don't make pictures just to make money. We make money to make more pictures." 

 

Exploring Bell Island by Seaproof.tv

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Seaproof.tv is an underwater video company based in British Columbia, Canada, a partnership between Trisha Stovel and Russell Clark. Trisha was originally from Ontario; a dive instructor, underwater videographer, and ocean lover through and through. Russell moved to Canada from England just over 6 years ago, started diving, and never looked back. 3 years ago we formed Seaproof.tv as a way for two video and ocean lovers to combine forces; it’s been non stop videos, endless camera gear, and lots of diving ever since. 

With a focus on underwater video, we produce unique content for small businesses, independent productions, and non-profits. But at the heart of what we do are our Minimentaries - and we’re just getting started. We have at least four more Minimentaries in the can, and an endless stream of ideas for new ones. 

Website     |      Facebook

 

ALSO BY RUSSELL CLARK AND TRISHA STOVEL

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Take an inside look at the camera and housing gear used by underwater photographer Ken Kiefer
By UWPG

What's in the Camera Bag: Ken Kiefer

UWPG
Take an inside look at the camera and housing gear used by underwater photographer Ken Kiefer

I always try to travel with as many of my important items in my carry-ons as possible, and keep them in sight at all times.  Airlines and TSA always treat all luggage with the most loving of care, but still…  

I start with my Canon 5Ds in my Ikelite housing.  I started using both Canon and Ikelite back in 2004 and have had no reason to try any of the other excellent options out there.  Ikelite has always been there with their wonderful customer service, either for servicing equipment, or answering any questions.  I like being able to see into the housing to assure myself of o-ring placement and it’s nice to see how each control lever/button is making contact in case of an issue.

I also take a pair of Ikelite DS161 strobes with extra battery packs.  I love the color and spread of these strobes, not to mention the great battery life. 

I travel with the Ikelite 8” dome and Canon 16-35f4.  I mostly use this dome for corner clarity and because I only shoot wide angle and large animals… including humans J   I also bring the 6” dome as a backup to use with my 8-15mm lens.  No dome shade so that I can shoot full circular at 8mm.

The AO cooler bag doesn’t fit in my carry-on, but it is an essential part of my photography gear.   It acts as a cushion on rough boat rides, plus keeps accidental bumps on a crowded boat to a minimum.  I usually keep some fresh water in the cooler as a personal rinse tank ;)

 

Some random accessories that I throw in my carry-ons always:

  • Lucky JAWS coin from my buddy Alex

  • Shark Speedo

  • Tons of memory cards

  • Mask

  • Chargers

  • Sealife flashlight – used for assembly and in case of power outage

  • Dice game – good for passing time during delays

  • Seasickness meds

  • Earphones – in case of overly talkative airplane neighbor

  • Bar of soap and toothbrush/toothpaste

  • Lots of snacks

  • Pen – for immigration forms

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ken Kiefer is an underwater photographer that specializes in big animals and fashion/fitness shoots.  He uses his images of sharks to educate children about the realities of sharks –vs- media portrayal.  

View more of Ken's work at: www.kenkiefer.com.

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Take an inside look at the camera and housing gear used by underwater photographer Ron Watkins
By UWPG

What's in the Camera Bag: Ron Watkins

UWPG
Take an inside look at the camera and housing gear used by underwater photographer Ron Watkins

Currently I shoot with my Nikon D800 full frame DSLR camera system in a Sea&Sea housing and utilize various wide and macro lenses and ports.  I also travel with a second Nikon D300 camera body and Sea&Sea housing as a backup.  I have been shooting with Sea&Sea housings, strobes and ports since my first DSLR Nikon D200 camera and found the reliability and ease of use very good.  Here are my Wide Angle and Macro setups.

 

Wide Angle Gear

 

 

This setup with the Zen mini dome and Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens is perfect for close focus wide angle shots and when you want a less bulky setup.  With a full frame DSLR, you can only shoot the Tokina in the 15-17mm range as it is meant for a cropped sensor but is still really crisp around the edges with this glass dome port.  Also notice the spare dive computer conveniently mounted on the Ultralight Control Systems arm which makes it easier to monitor your dive.

 

 

The 1.2X magnifying viewfinder is an essential addition if you want to better see your subject and all of the camera settings.  It also allows you to hold the camera away from your mask, is less stressful on your neck and much easier to see through than the stock housing viewfinders.  The 180 degree viewfinder is shown, but I also like using the 45 degree viewfinder, especially for macro photography because it allows you to get your camera lower and allows you to look down instead of straight.

 

 

The Nikon 16-35mm lens with the large 8” dome that I am using in this picture is excellent for sharks, sea lions and other fast moving subjects.  It focuses fast and the range allows you to shoot skittish sharks as well as ones that like to bump your camera.  The YS250 strobes are large and heavy to travel with, but the recycle rate and power on these big boys make them a secret weapon on fast moving subjects where you want to shoot in continuous mode.

 

Macro Gear

 

 

Shown here is my Nikon D300 Setup with 45 degree viewfinder, which if I am shooting a lot of both wide and macro on a trip, I leave setup for macro and dedicate the D800 to wide, which minimizes lens and port change overs.  A Sola light with amber light setting is a must if you want to get good shots of skittish macro subjects and keep their pupils open and dilated.  The YS250 strobes are overkill for this macro setup, but if I am traveling, I only bring one set of strobes and have gotten used to these bulky ones.  I even have snoots that go over the YS250 strobes.  I also have to use several floats to counter balance the density of this setup - and even then it is still negative.

 

 

The three lenses that are on my carry-on camera bag: Left to right Tokina 10-17m fisheye, Nikkor 105mm macro, Nikkor 16-35mm wide-angle.

I use zoom rings on the wide angle lenses and a manual focus clamshell gear on the 105 for total control.  Note the rubberband on the 10-17 below the gear.  I have had problems and know several others that have had an issue with the dial part of the lens that the gear rests on sliding off the lens, so this rubber band prevents that.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ron Watkins is an international award winning photographer and writer. He has been passionate about underwater photography since 1996 and his photography has appeared in magazines, websites, juried art displays, national aquariums, libraries and private collections. More of Ron’s photography may be viewed at www.scubarews.com.

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

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Take an inside look at the camera and housing gear used by underwater photographer Book Peterson
By UWPG

What's in the Camera Bag: Brook Peterson

UWPG
Take an inside look at the camera and housing gear used by underwater photographer Book Peterson

For an underwater photographer, having the right gear is essential to achieving your imaging goals.  My kit consists of many components, but the majority of it is made by Sea&Sea.

I have a Nikon D810 camera, and I use a Sea&Sea MDX-810 housing because it is ergonomically designed so that the gears are precise and easy to reach, even with one hand.  I also use Sea&Sea strobes.  The YS-D2 strobe is a powerful strobe in a lightweight package so I get the best lighting possible even when I travel.

I enjoy macro photography as much as wide angle, and find that it is important to have diopters for super-macro shots.  I use the Nauticam SMC, and Subsee’s +5 and +10 diopters.  I have two dome ports for wide angle photography: one that is compact for CFWA, and a large 9 inch dome for big animals and splits.  I also make use of two different flat ports for various lenses.

These are the most essential things in my kit, but other accessories such as a viewfinder, snoots, floats, extension rings, gears, and focus lights also play an important role in helping me get the shot I am after.

- Brook Peterson

 

 

Brook's Mini Portfolio - Nikon D810

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 won numerous awards and has been widely published.  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.comFacebookFlikr and instagram@waterdogphotography_brook.

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Take an inside look at a beautiful collection of dugong photos from Egypt
By Vaclav Krpelik

Dugong Photos on a Single Breath

Vaclav Krpelik
Take an inside look at a beautiful collection of dugong photos from Egypt

I have been photographing dugongs since 2012. My first encounter was very emotional, especially because I met this huge animal on New Year's day. It emerged out of nowhere, eating the sea grass and coming right at me. Being observed by snorkelers from the surface, we spent almost one hour swimming next to each other. As both of us were underwater on a single breath, it felt like having a new freedive buddy.

Since then, I have met 5 different dugongs. Some of them were young and shy, some of them old and nervous, but my favorite dugong is an adult specimen living in Marsa Mubarak (bay in the Red Sea). This bay is located close to a hotel with diving centre, so this individual is often observed by divers or snorkelers. Because of that, he lost his natural shyness.

Some divers complain that they spent 2 weeks diving in Marsa Mubarak and did not see any dugongs. But this is not my case. I know the spots with fresh grass that he likes and also the time he comes for breakfast and dinner. Because of this knowledge, on 90% of my dives in the bay I end up photographing this marine mammal.

My rules are: 1) don´t touch it, and 2) don´t stress it. When I see that my presence is not welcomed, I move back to give him some space. I also never touch any marine mammals, although the dugong touched me accidently on several occasions. I belive this is because he is used to me and sometimes he is just too big and too lazy. So it is easier to push me a little bit instead of swimming around.

A few times I also witnessed this dugong attacking grean sea turtles. At the beginning it looked like the encounter had some sexual context, but later on I realised that it is probably territorial behaviour related to fighting for the grass. In other words, the dugong probably believes that the bay and all grass in it belongs to him, and other grass eaters are not welcomed in his reach.

Anyways, freediving with dugongs is a great opportunity for wide-angle photographers. This 3 metre long, 500 kilo heavy, shalow water living, slow moving object is the perfect model for all cameras and fisheye lenses. Just wait for the best light, then possition the dugong between your dome port and sun rays, wait for the best moment, and the perfect image is yours.

 

 

About Dugongs

The dugong (Dugong dugon) is the only living representative of the once-diverse family Dugongidae. The dugong's current distribution is reduced and disjunct, and many populations are close to extinction.  Despite being listed among species vulnerable to extinction, most people are not even aware of its existence.

 

Vaclav's Photo Gear

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vaclav is the only UW photographer in the Czech Republic, who photographs the underwater world with a DSLR while freediving only. It means that all Vaclav´s underwater photographs are taken on a single breath of air.

These days Vaclav organizes photography workshops and expeditions, contributes to magazines and photography web sites, but most importantly, captures the beauty of mountains and the underwater world. Please visit his web site for more information: www.vaclavkrpelik.com

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How Drew Collins transformed his two passions, scuba and photography, into a business
By Drew Collins

Made in Puget Sound

Drew Collins
How Drew Collins transformed his two passions, scuba and photography, into a business

Seven years ago, if someone had asked me to discuss the relationship between aperture, shutter speed, ISO and metering, or wanted to know the difference between a Giant Pacific Octopus and a Red Octopus, I would not have had an intelligent answer on either subject. I have worked with diligence and persistence over the past few years on my two passions: photography and scuba diving. I have studied both and continue to learn about each subject. I aspire to discover and understand animal behaviors, habitats, food sources, mating behaviors, inclinations, and tendencies.  Fully understanding each of these helps to make me a better diver and photographer.

January 2009, I purchased my first DSLR, a Nikon D90 with a very basic 18-105mm lens.  Within a couple of weeks, I enrolled in a basic photography course at a local community college.  I read and absorbed every photography book and magazine I could acquire from the local libraries.  I submerged myself in the world of photography.  For that first year I practiced constantly.  Every day I would work on different skills, increasing my newly acquired knowledge of framing, lighting, creativity, etc.

In May 2009, I completed my Basic Open Water Scuba class, and within a couple of weeks had completed the Advanced Open Water Scuba course.  By the end of my first summer of diving, I successfully completed over 100 dives in the cold waters of Puget Sound.  That summer, I also purchased and was learning all about how to use my very first underwater photography camera, the Canon G10.

The Canon G10 is excellent for the beginner to intermediate photographer.  Although a basic camera, it is solid, feels good in your hands, shoots in RAW and allows video recording.  The latest iterations can shoot HD video.  It is very reasonably priced and is easy to get through TSA when travelling.  I believe that for the money it’s one of the best cameras on the market for land or underwater photography.

 

 

Upgrading to a DSLR

 Within a couple years I moved to a Canon T2i. Upgrading to a DSLR allowed me to expand to true macro and wide-angle photography. The T2i was a step up from my G10 with the primary advantage being the ability to shoot and learn underwater lighting with strobes. My first strobe lights were Inon z240’s. They are powerful, compact, and able to fire either with fiber optic or sync cables.  I found that although lighter and easier to connect, fiber optic cables were limiting.  For what, where and how I shoot underwater, sync cables offered me much more control over lighting.  As any photographer will tell you, lighting is everything.  This is especially true in the green, murky, cold waters of Puget Sound.

In the summer of 2012 I was going on my first international dive trip with world class professional photographers.  The trip, promoted as a photography clinic, had a spot available and I was off to La Paz, Mexico with Bluewater Photo.  By this time, I had completed a few hundred dives and my diving skills were at a sound level. I brought along my new Tokina 10-17mm and Canon 60mm Macro lenses.

Each day we would complete three or four dives.  Every evening most of the group would critique each other’s work and Scott Geitler conducted excellent lectures on different topics including lighting, strobe positioning, shot framing and focusing. My photography needed serious professional help, and this trip turned out to be the perfect solution.  The professionals were there to help me learn with each dive. Every bit of information was valuable and the following day I was able to practice each lesson from the previous evening.

Upon returning to Puget Sound from La Paz, I spent my next one hundred plus dives practicing and mastering the techniques I had learned.  The goal of every dive over the next six to eight months was to work on something I learned during that trip.  One of the most important lessons I learned from professional photographers is to get the shot in the camera, with the prominent concept being to take full advantage of the available technology when shooting with a high mega pixel DSLR.   I learned that I couldn’t merely take a lot of shots believing I can clean them up in PhotoShop or crop my way to a successful image in post-production.  I found this to be an extremely important lesson that I adhere to in my profession.

 

 

Upgrading to Full Frame

 By January 2013, I advanced to the Canon 5DMarkiii with a new Nauticam housing. With my new Canon 100mm macro lens and flat port, my Canon 17-40mm wide-angle lens with dome port, I quickly found that those many hours of work with the T2i were paying off. The quality of my images were rapidly becoming print worthy. I was willing and able to justify the cost of large-scale giclée prints.  By mid-2013, I was on another excellent Bluewater Photo dive trip and clinic, this time to the Socorro Islands. I was now honing and augmenting the skills I had learned in La Paz and learning to shoot big underwater animals. 



Drew's Gear Profile

Canon 5D Mark III, Various Lenses, Nauticam 5D MkIII Housing, dual Ikelite DS160 Strobes

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Building a Photo Business

 In the Fall of 2013, I decided it was time to take a huge step and put my work out in the public arena professionally.  I truly wanted to educate the people living in and around this area about the amazing flora and fauna we have existing and thriving just below the surface of Puget Sound. My artistic concept would be completely ‘Made In Puget Sound’.  All of my images must be shot in Puget Sound.  Everything must be printed locally. The paper must also be from local sustainable tree farms.  Making a statement about the health of our local environment was an important element to the overall concept.

I decided on the creation of a totally unique 12-month calendar. My first professional artistic project had a serious flaw. After shooting over 9000 images, from three different cameras, over four years, during well over 600 dives, I had nine images that were truly print worthy. I desperately needed at least three more images. Fortunately, the weather and dive conditions were both favorable and I was able to capture three more beautiful images to complete my first 12-month calendar.

The first ever ‘Made in Puget Sound’ calendar was to reflect my own photographic style and creativity. Each calendar month included valuable information about the shot, including the name of the plant or animal, its scientific name, the date and location of the shot, the ISO, shutter speed and aperture settings.  Most importantly, I wrote a short statement about the shot to engage the viewer. Each calendar month’s page included the generally accepted holidays, the moon phases, important dates, and events. Once I compiled all the information I was able to create an important piece of functional artwork.

I printed 100 calendars that retailed for about $15.00 each. With fingers crossed, I set an optimistic goal of selling about 50 of my 2014 ‘Made in Puget Sound’ calendars within a three-month period. I was fortunate that the Christmas season was approaching. If I failed to sell themall, I could give them away as gifts. Much to my surprise and amazement, the response was overwhelming. In less than three weeks, I had sold all but two! People were requesting more. My very first artistic attempt was a success! Puget Sound Photography Underwater was born and I decided to take my business to the next logical level.

 

The Business Today

Since that first artistic leap at the end of 2013, I have created and sold about 1500 2015 and 2016 ‘Made in Puget Sound’ 15 month calendars retailing at $18.95 and $19.95 respectively. It was important that all of my artwork remain local, from almost exclusively local materials and printers. Also, as with any business, it was imperative that my work be profitable thus allowing me the ability to grow my business and give back to the community. For the two years Puget Sound Photography Underwater has been in business, I have donated some of my art work to important local organizations (view my blogs to read about Giving Back Tuesday).

My business is flourishing. With almost 1000 dives completed, with new images added monthly, and my unique artwork exclusively from the Puget Sound, I have received tremendous reviews from individuals, organizations and professional photographers alike. Since my first ‘Market’ in March of 2014, my underwater frameless, ready-to-hang, giclée fine art images printed locally on metal, canvas, acrylic, mat prints, coasters and the incredibly successful 4”x6” note cards, have all been selling at an ever increasing rate. When I am approached and asked by budding artists for advice, I encourage them to take a leap. Put your work out there for people to see, critique and perhaps even enjoy. With the many major local art shows, festivals, and speaking engagements to local groups upcoming in 2016, I am looking forward to a fabulous year!

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Drew Collins also is made in and inspired by Puget Sound. He was born and raised around the beautiful mountains, valleys, lakes, rivers and streams that support life in this area. Growing up hiking, biking, swimming, traveling all over the region has made him an advocate for a cleaner and healthier environment. He volunteers much of his time supporting life sciences and environmentalist activities that directly benefit the Puget Sound region. He is working to educate, enlighten and inspire residents and visitors through his photography, videography, writings and talks.

Website: www.photographyunderwater.net

Facebook: facebook.com/drew.collins.5268

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Arek Mszyca shares a special story behind his Ocean Art category-winning image
By Arek Mszyca

Story Behind the Shot "Attention Seeker"

Arek Mszyca
Arek Mszyca shares a special story behind his Ocean Art category-winning image

 

My Story Behind the Shot is a little bit different. It's not just about planning and capturing the shot. It's more about how this picture became very special to me. Winning the Ocean Art Award (1st Place Wide-Angle) made it even more exceptional.

 

Let's start from the beginning...

I live in beautiful Cairns (Australia) and have a privilege to work on an overnight dive boat on Great Barrier Reef. It was the last day of our trip. We had perfect weather, great visibility and about 45 min to spare. I was keen to get in the water and it took me no time to convince Max to come with me for a short crew dive. Max was a perfect dive buddy – a very enthusiastic dive instructor, talented underwater photographer and not to mention, an amazing person.

During this dive we decided not to pay any attention to Wally – our local Maori Wrasse. Don't get me wrong – we all love Wally! He is the most adorable fish on Flynn Reef and interacting with him is an unforgettable experience for everyone. This time we just wanted to focus on something else. After all, how many pictures of the same fish can you take?

 

Wally the famous Maori Wrasse at Flynn Reef.

 

Wally didn't like this idea at all. He was following us closely through most of the dive. And here is the funny part – the more we ignored him, the closer he was approaching us. Wally was determined to get some attention. At some stage he got right behind Max. I had my wide wet lens ready and took few shots.

 

Wally poses for a portrait.

 

It took me a few weeks before I had a chance to look back at those pictures. After some basic post-editing I realised that some of them were actually not too bad. It was after midnight when I emailed one of them to Max. About 10 minutes later I got a message from him saying how much he loved it. He was also trying to convince me to put it into an underwater photo competition. I took it as a nice complement but Max was serious about it. Over the next few weeks he kept reminding me to submit this shot to the photo contest. Eventually the opportunity came up and I did it.

I can't even describe how happy I was to find out that my picture made it to the Grand Final! My first thought was that I need to share the news with Max. To thank him for all his advice but also to tell him that he is a great model and he should consider a career change! At the end, I decided to wait few more weeks for the final announcement.

I wish I didn't wait... Shortly before the announcement Max had a tragic accident during another dive expedition. He passed away. I never had a chance to share the great news with him. I can only imagine how happy Max would be to hear that we won. I can only imagine how big his smile would have been...

Thank you Max!

 

 

Max and Wally.

 

View the gear Arek used, settings and the Ocean Art prize he won

 

View all the Ocean Art winning images

 

 

About the Author, Arek Mszyca

 

Born and raised in Poland, I've been living in tropical Cairns (Australia) since 2000. I consider myself very lucky. Why? It's simple.. Cairns is a gateway to Great Barrier Reef and working here on the dive boats (first as an instructor and now as a skipper) gives me the opportunity to combine my multiple passions – traveling, diving and photography. Check out some of my travel and underwater images on Flickr @aarreekk and soon on 500px @aarreekk

 

Further Reading

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