Story Behind the Shot

Stories behind the shot, including viral underwater photos and videos, impressive contest winners and more.
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

 

Story Behind the Shot "Attention Seeker"


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

Text and Photos By Arek Mszyca

 

 

 
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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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SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

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View the Full Sequence of a Sea Snake Eating a Catfish, an Ocean Art winning shot by Jack Berthomier
By Jack Berthomier

Incredible Photo Sequence "Eyes Bigger than the Stomach"

Jack Berthomier
View the Full Sequence of a Sea Snake Eating a Catfish, an Ocean Art winning shot by Jack Berthomier

 

Incredible Photo Sequence "Eyes Bigger than the Stomach"


View the Full Sequence of a Sea Snake Eating a Catfish, an Ocean Art winning shot by Jack Berthomier

Text and Photos By Jack Berthomier

 

 

 
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21st July 2014:  It’s winter in New Caledonia. I’m diving at Ouemo, which I usually do at least three or four times a week. Ouemo is a bay in Noumea bordered by a road on one side and on the other side by a little mangrove swamp approximately 100m long – very contaminated but also very rich in juveniles of all species. Best of all, it’s only 10 minutes from home.

Sea: calm. Visibility: 3m. I’ve been swimming for almost two hours in Cannon Bay when I see a snake (Hydrophis major) around 60cm long near the surface. In its mouth it is holding a catfish (Plotosus lineatus) that it has just caught.

It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch this rare act of predation and even more so to be able to photograph it! In fact, this was the second time I’ve taken such photos – the first time, the snake was approximately 1.30m long and I was highly aware that these snakes can sometimes be very aggressive and their venom can be lethal (a small specimen has already bitten my fin twice). The snakes eat only live prey and the catfish is one of their favourites... So, for about 10 minutes, I shot almost 60 photos of the meal until the snake left, its belly full.

 

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

 

Full Photo Sequence: Hydrophis Major Attack

 

Photo #1 - Hydrophis Major Sequence

 

Photo #2 - Hydrophis Major Sequence

 

Photo #3 - Hydrophis Major Sequence

 

Photo #4 - Hydrophis Major Sequence

 

Photo #5 - Hydrophis Major Sequence

 

Photo #6 - Hydrophis Major Sequence

 

Photo #7 - Hydrophis Major Sequence

 

 

View all the Ocean Art winning images

 

 

About the Author

Jack Berthomier, 68 years old. Free diver since he was 15 years old. Skin diver and competitor for 30 years at the highest level. A fin swimming champion, he was seized by a passion for underwater photography in March 2010. Since then, he has won several prizes: 3rd and 7th in the World Festival Contest; 2nd and 1st in the Ocean Art Contest in the “Behaviour” category; and a few 1st and 2nd rankings in New Caledonian underwater photography festivals. Since January 2013, he has used a Sony RX100 with a Nauticam housing. He doesn’t use external flash lights as they are too bulky when free-diving.

www.flickr.com/photos/caledojack

 

 

 

Further Reading

 

 

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SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

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Giacomo Giovannini shares the story behind his Ocean Art category-winning image
By Giacomo Giovannini

Story Behind the Shot "Angry Sepiola"

Giacomo Giovannini
Giacomo Giovannini shares the story behind his Ocean Art category-winning image

 

Story Behind the Shot "Angry Sepiola"


Giacomo Giovannini shares the story behind his Ocean Art category-winning image

Text and Photos By Giacomo Giovannini

 

 

 
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This "angry" squid, Sepiola rondeleti (also known as the Dwarf Bobtail Squid) is a species of bobtail squid native to the Northern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, including the Adriatic Sea. Females grow to 60mm in mantle length (though usually from 40 to 50mm), while males are not known to exceed 25 mm. It is a nocturnal species, and lives mainly in areas with sandy or muddy bottoms where it can bury itself during the day.
 
This shot was taken in Trieste, Italy, in the northern Adriatic Sea. Shot in April on a night dive with friends, the water water temperature was 15 ∞C.
 
No sepiolas were seen during the day dives since they were likely hidden under the mud, but during the night dive I found 2 squids. Maybe they approached each other for mating or fighting, but maybe it was just circumstance - I don't know.
 
Few seconds later, now being illuminated, one of them quickly swam away. Luckily the second one did not and I started to follow it and take some shots, waiting for an interesting posture and good shot angle.
 
At the beginning, the squid was swimming on the bottom over the mud and between algae. Finally it detached from the mud, and I realized that the right moment was coming with the squid in the open water, looking right at the camera and tentacles collected and in a ready position. So I started to take more shots!

 

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

 

 

More Incredible Bobtail Squid Photos from Giacomo

 

Sepiola sequence 1

 

Sepiola sequence 2

 

Sepiola sequence 3

 

View all the Ocean Art winning images

 

 

About the Author

 
My name is Giacomo Giovannini. I was born in 1984 in Rimini, Italy - on the Adriatic Sea. I studied and graduated in Computer Engineering, but I found the "scuba world" in 2010 with sport club "Sub Rimini Gian Neri", where I've reached the certification level CMAS ***.
From my first dives, the desire to take photographs was powerful. I shoot underwater with a compact camera and housing, equipped with flashes and a macro lens, and recently starting also shooting with DSLR equipment. You can view my website at: www.giacomogiovannini.com
 

 

Further Reading

 

 

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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!

 


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.

 


Ilan Ben Tov shares the story behind his Ocean Art category-winning image
By Ilan Ben Tov

Story Behind the Shot "Lionfish Stares at its Lunch"

Ilan Ben Tov
Ilan Ben Tov shares the story behind his Ocean Art category-winning image

 

Story Behind the Shot "Lionfish Stares at its Lunch"


Ilan Ben Tov shares the story behind his Ocean Art category-winning image

Text and Photos By Ilan Ben Tov

 

 

 
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The wreck of the Sufa lies in the northern part of the Red Sea, on the shores of the city of Eilat, which hosts a yearly congregation of glass sweepers. For a few weeks every year, the glass sweepers take shelter in the bridge of the sunken ship, numbering in the thousands and swimming so tightly they resemble a pseudo living organism.

The glass sweepers keep moving to avoid the predatory Lionfish and are forming new and varied shapes constantly, and along with the Lionfish, create excellent photography opportunities.

When the stories about the congregation arrived, I started planning the photography session. I knew that I wanted to take wide and close shots, and planned to use my Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye lens with arms spread wide to have a large area lighted by the strobes.

My dive buddy and I planned to dive mid-week in order to have as few divers as possible at the site, and during the afternoon in order to have the sun located at the correct angle. When we arrived we were glad to see that we were the only divers on the wreck.

At first, we looked at the bridge and we were sure that we had missed the congregation and that the glass sweepers left, but when we turned to the other side of the bridge we saw the big cloud of fish.

 

Ilan Ben Tov

 

I spent several minutes just hovering in mid-water looking at the fish, trying to learn the pattern of their movement and trying to calculate the best place to be in order to take close shots. I finally made the decision and started shooting while following the Lionfish and finally I managed to shoot the photo that I wanted.

 

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

 

 

View all the Ocean Art winning images

 

 

About the Author, Ilan Ben Tov

I am 48 years old and live in Ashdod, Israel. I love nature and especially the sea, and I have been an enthusiastic diver and underwater photographer for a long time. Most vacations are dedicated to underwater photography, and I do most of this in the waters of Eilat in the northern Red sea.

My Underwater gallery:   www.pbase.com/ilanbt/underwater

 

 

Further Reading

 

Support the Underwater Photography Guide:


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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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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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Eduardo Acevedo shares the story behind his Ocean Art category-winning image
By Eduardo Acevedo

Story Behind the Shot "Glaucus Atlanticus"

Eduardo Acevedo
Eduardo Acevedo shares the story behind his Ocean Art category-winning image

 

Story Behind the Shot "Glaucus Atlanticus"

Eduardo Acevedo shares the story behind his Ocean Art category-winning image

Text and Photos By Eduardo Acevedo

 

 

 
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This photo was taken in the south of Tenerife (in the Canary Islands) but you can find these Glaucus Atlanticus nudibranchs all over the world in the open ocean.

This pelagic nudibranch is about 2 or 3 cm and lives on the ocean surface, normally just behind other pelagic organisms like the venomous Portuguese Man O' War (Physalia Physalis), wind sailor Velella velella or the blue button Porpita porpita.

March and April are the best months to see these strange and beautiful animals in the Canary Islands. When the ocean is in calm and we have good sun, we have the conditions necessary to get good photos of these nudibranchs. For this picture, I spent nearly 8 hours just trying to find the nudibranchs in the blue ocean and then another 2 hours to take the picture. It is a very difficult shot because macro photos taken in the open ocean require lots of patience and a very calm sea. Normally we can find 3 or 4 of the species behind or very near a Portugueses Man O´ War, either pairing or just fighting because they are a cannibal species.

 

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

 

 

More Incredible Nudibranch Photos from Eduardo

 

A single Glaucus atlanticus nudibranch in open water.

 

Seeking protection in the open ocean.

 

A different capture of the two glaucus atlanticus nudibranchs.

 

Blue water diving brings lots of pelagic surprises.

 

 

 

View all the Ocean Art winning images

 

 

About the Author

Eduardo

 

Further Reading

 

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!

 


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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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.

 


Lucie Drlikova shares the story behind her Ocean Art category-winning image
By Lucie Drlikova

Story Behind the Shot "Underwater Circus"

Lucie Drlikova
Lucie Drlikova shares the story behind her Ocean Art category-winning image

 

Story Behind the Shot "Underwater Circus"


Lucie Drlikova shares the story behind her Ocean Art category-winning image

Text and Photos By Lucie Drlikova

 

Lucie Drlikova Underwater Circus

 

 
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Underwater Circus was created as a series of 3 pictures in March 2014, Prague/ Czech republic.

My first idea was to create a walking ballerina on rope, but somehow I was still missing something, something different, special for me. One day I saw a yellow clown wig and at that moment I got the idea about the underwater circus. I love circus from my childhood, all the clowns and acrobats. Sad soul behind the happy face. So it was decided! I knew I needed experienced models, as it would be quite difficult to synchronize them all. The girl on the rope was clear for me from the first moment - my best friend Zela is always ready to help me with all my crazy ideas and she is a certified freediver, therefore comfortable underwater. I started to tailor the costumes on her.

Finding two male models was also not so difficult either. Laci and Robert voluntarily offered themselves. Actually, I am very lucky with underwater models in the Czech. As a certified scuba diver and freediver, we have a big community in Prague and everybody knows each other. I have shot the Czech Championship in freediving many times and I also support many free diving activities, so if I need something, the community is happy to help me ni return.

There are only a few swimming pools in Prague with a depth of around 13 feet. The Czech freediving team uses one of them for their training, and they were so kind as to offer me the use of this deep pool and to help with divers' safety for this picture. Safety is a very important part of a shoot like this. When I am shooting in such deep pool, I always use safety diver/ freedivers. 

 

Training and Setting Up the Pool

I always have to cover the swimming pool wall, as I do not want to have the tiles visible in the picture. First, I made a very big white fabric backdrop (I sewed 6 white blankets together), but then I figured out that it was a little transparent underwater and I could still see the tiles. So I prepared the same big fabric, just in a light blue color (for this I used 2 big photographic background fabrics sewed together). 

Next, I bought a 17 foot rope and we started to train and practice the position that I wanted to see in the picture in my living room. 

I always try to prepare the position with models on surface, before we go in the water. I believe that when everybody understands exactly what I want from them on the surface, they will also do it in the water. 

Approximately 2 hours before the shoot, I started to work on the makeup of the girl and to glue the mustaches on the men. I always do the makeup by myself. I use colors which are waterproof or creamy, and stay on in the water.

Then we started to cover the pool with the fabrics. The edges of the fabric were weighted with diving weights to tighten the fabric. 

When everything was ready, we went through all the details and position once more with all 3 models. 

 

The Pool Shoot

First, we needed to synchronize the two men with the rope. We tried for about 20 minutes, making them the same weight, which means taping some weights on the one floating to the surface first. We tested until we found exactly how much weight was required so that both men were on the same level. 

Next, we brought in the girl and started to synchronize all of them. It was definitively not done on the first shot, we just continued to try and try until the moment came when all were in the exact right position.

We did the same with the other 2 planned pictures, which were easier as it was only 2 people and then 1 person in the pictures.

All together it took us approximately 3 hours (including the work covering the pool).

Everybody was quite tired but happy! It was 11 pm and we were so hungry, so I invited everybody out for pizza :-)

The next day I started to work on post-production and prepared the final pictures for print. I was excited - the pictures turned exactly how I imagined them in my head. 

 

 

View the gear Lucie used, settings and the Ocean Art prize she won

 

 

"Underwater Circus" Companion Photos

 

Lucie Drlikova

Underwater Circus II

 

Lucie Drlikova

Underwater Circus III

 

 

View all the Ocean Art winning images

 

 

About the Author

Lucie Drlikova was born in the Czech Republic, is domicilied in Prague, and presently lives and creates her art in Miami, Florida.

She has spent many years in top managerial positions abroad, with photography being her hobby and escape from the reality. Her biggest passion has always been scuba diving, from which it was only a small step to underwater photography. Lucie starting shooting marine life and not long afterwards she added her desire to create her own scenes.

She studied at the Institute Of Digital Photography in Prague. Lucie has won a number of awards, at home and abroad, in the area of underwater photography. Her work has been published internationally.  www.luciedrlikova.com

 

 

Further Reading

 

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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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.

 


Ray Collins shares the story behind his Ocean Art winning image
By Ray Collins

Story Behind the Shot "Kirra Underwater"

Ray Collins
Ray Collins shares the story behind his Ocean Art winning image

 

Story Behind the Shot "Kirra Underwater"


Ray Collins shares the story behind his Ocean Art winning image

Text and Photos By Ray Collins

 

 

 
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Without getting too deep or philosophical, this image was the start of a new direction in my life. I was starting to look at the ocean, and the world for that matter, with a renewed perspective. You see, i had given up drinking alcohol a few weeks before, not because it was some crippling thing for me, but I just found I was dedicating the best parts of the day to it on weekends. Any photographer will tell you the most favourable light is the golden hour, which happens in the first and last hours of each day. So rather than going to the pub, or being hungover, I would go and make images instead. It started as a year-long experiment that I enjoyed so much it's been well over 2 years and counting.

 

Anyway, back to the shot...

My then fiancée (now wife) and I were on a road trip up north and the water clarity was amazing. You could see the sand through the backs of the waves as they broke along the beach. I used an 8" dome port, which I do a lot of my underwater work with, and swam around for about 20 minutes. I seen this wave break past me, captured it, and knew that was the shot. When I swam in Amber, my wife, had coffee and banana bread waiting on a beach blanket ready to start our day.

 

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

 

 

More Incredible Wave Photos from Ray Collins

 

Ray Collins wave photo

Beneath the Vortex

 

Ray Collins wave photo

 

Ray Collins wave photo

 

Ray Collins wave photo

 

 

View all the Ocean Art winning images

 

 

About the Author

Ray CollinsI bought my first camera in 2007 to shoot my  friends surfing around home, and within a few short years progressed to having companies such as Apple, Nikon, United Airlines, Isuzu, Qantas, Patagonia, National Geographic and Red Bull using my unique images across their international campaigns. I feel pretty lucky, as there were no plans it all just grew organically. Please check out more of my seascapes and moods of the ocean at www.raycollinsphoto.com or on instagram @raycollinsphoto

 

 

Further Reading

 

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.

 


 

 
 
SHARE THIS STORY

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.

 


Testing the Panasonic GH4 in Nauticam Housing for Underwater Video in 4K Resolution, Including Lens Tests
By Scott Gietler

4K Underwater Video with the Panasonic GH4

Scott Gietler
Testing the Panasonic GH4 in Nauticam Housing for Underwater Video in 4K Resolution, Including Lens Tests

The Panasonic GH4 has a reputation among underwater photographers as an affordable way to shoot video in 4K resolution. The mirrorless camera uses interchangeable lenses for composing the perfect shot, while the small size results in small housing options for divers - great for travel and maneuverability in the water.

Bluewater Photo recently tested the GH4 in the Nauticam Panasonic GH4 Housing in Southern California's rich kelp forests with the following lenses:

 

 

Panasonic GH4 Underwater Video in 4K

 

View all our camera and housing videos on the Bluewater Photo YouTube Page.

 

 

Tutorials for Underwater Video

 

Further Reading

  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Scott Gietler is the owner of Bluewater Photo, Bluewater Travel, and the Underwater Photography Guide. Bluewater Photo, based in Santa Monica, CA is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious underwater camera stores, serving many thousands of customers each year, where nothing is more important than customer service. The Underwater Photography Guide is the world’s first website to feature free tutorials on underwater photography, and has become the most trafficked resource on underwater photography worldwide. Bluewater Travel is a full-service dive travel wholesaler sending groups and individuals on the world’s best dive vacations. 

Scott is also an avid diver, underwater photographer, and budding marine biologist, having created the online guide to the underwater flora and fauna of Southern California. He is the past vice-president of the Los Angeles Underwater Photographic Society, has volunteered extensively at the Santa Monica aquarium, and is the creator of the Ocean Art underwater photo competition, one of the largest underwater international photo competitions ever held in terms of value of prizes. He lives in California with his wife, newborn girl and scuba-diving, photo taking 4 year old son.

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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