Story Behind the Shot

Stories behind the shot, including viral underwater photos and videos, impressive contest winners and more.
Photographer Ben Thouard captures a unique underwater perspective of surfer Anthony Walsh at Teahupoo
By Ben Thouard

Story Behind the Wave

Ben Thouard
Photographer Ben Thouard captures a unique underwater perspective of surfer Anthony Walsh at Teahupoo

Teahupoo is know for its surf break - a glassy and heavy wave with a lip that detonates across a shallow reef. Some of the best surfers in the world travel to Teahupoo (located on Tahiti in French Polynesia) to prove their big wave skills in the clear water, and naturally, surf photographers follow them there.

Shooting photos of surfers from the water at Teahupoo can be a challenge, as you want to be close to the action while remaining safe in ever-changing conditions, since finding yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time can have serious repercussions. Photographers who also surf have the advantage, as it allows them to swim into the best spot to shoot, using long-time experience with waves to capture perspectives that look great from the water. Shooting surfers and waves underwater goes beyond this.

We are very lucky to have some crystal clear water in Tahiti, and I took advantage of this many times to create some amazing images of surfers at Teahupoo... shot from below.

 

 

For this shot of Anthony Walsh at Teahupoo I used a Canon EOS 1DX with a 8-15mm fisheye lens inside an Aquatech 1D Delphin Housing with a medium fish eye dome. Aquatech housings are the best for surf and wave photography as they are light, functional and allow you to move fast compared to dive housings. They also have a trigger grip that allows you to shoot with one arm extended.

 

Additional Photos Behind the Scenes

 

 

 

 

Be sure to check out the rest of our surf and wave photography tutorials.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I’m Ben Thouard, a watersport photographer based in Tahiti for 8 years. I mostly shoot surfing, however I love spending time in the ocean shooting a bunch of different things. I now dedicate a lot of my time to shooting empty waves because I love it - it’s fascinating. All the waves are different and the light you can capture reflecting on the surface of the ocean is amazing. Check out more of my work here:

Website:  www.benthouard.com

Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/Ben.Thouard.Photography

Instagram:  www.instagram.com/benthouard

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Take an inside look at the underwater camera gear used by UWPG editor Brent Durand to lead two upcoming photo workshops in Sri Lanka.
By UWPG News

What's in the Camera Bag: Brent Durand

UWPG News
Take an inside look at the underwater camera gear used by UWPG editor Brent Durand to lead two upcoming photo workshops in Sri Lanka.

Our latest installment of What's in the Camera Bag looks at the gear used by UWPG editor Brent Durand.


I've been fortunate to shoot with quite a few different camera systems over the past few years. Long gone is the day when I had my own DSLR system, but I'm in a fortunate position to borrow gear when leading photo workshops. 

And after using various compacts, mirrorless and even DSLR cameras, plus leading a workshop last fall with just a GoPro, it has become apparent that the small, inexpensive systems hold their own against even the most expensive DSLR sytems. Why? Because those of us who aren't working pros shoot to share online - an arena where action cam images and video can collect just as many likes and can go just as viral, or even more viral, than imagery from mid and pro-level camera systems.

The simplicity of use in small cameras allows us to be more aware in the water and to engage more consciously with marine life. Small cameras allow us to pay more attention to dive buddies. They're more streamlined and easy to swim with. They cost far less and are easy to pack. They make prep and cleanup for local diving easy. Their affordability allows more of us to share our experiences underwater with divers all over the world. In short, small cameras are proving their place in the big camera world.

Over the last 5 months most of my dives have been without any sort of camera... although occassionally with a GoPro solely for the purpose of updating my Instagram story. It's proved a very healthy experience, and one that I highly suggest. That said, I do still miss all the days of experimenting underwater at night after work, and if someone on the street handed me a $10K check I'd have another big camera kit the next day! There's always room for both kits.

And without further ado, here's a look at my camera bag for leading Bluewater Photo's back-to-back Sri Lanka photo workshops.

 

The Cameras

Redundancy is very important on a dive trip and I always make sure to roll with two cameras. For Sri Lanka underwater photography and video, this will be my mobile phone and a GoPro.

iPhone 6s Plus

I plan to pop my mobile phone into the Kraken Sports smart phone housing, pump the vacuum and be ready to go. The 67mm ring adapter allows use of any 67mm wet lens (optics tests still to come). This housing retails for just $299 USD!

GoPro HERO5

GoPro's image quality is incredible for a $400 camera. If you don't believe me, just check out the still images in our GoPro HERO5 Review for Underwater. I plan to shoot the HERO5 a bit more during our second workshop snorkeling with whales and dolphins.

 

The Kraken Sports smart phone housing paired up with dual Kraken Hydra 5000 video lights, useful for both underwater video and constant lighting still images.

 

Lighting and Accessories

The rest of my camera kit pairs everything down to the essentials: Dual Kraken Hydra 5000 video/constant lights, Ultralight Control Systems tray/arms/clamps, homemade selfie stick (yes, tease away), the new Fantasea / AOI UCL-09 macro diopter, and the new Fantasea UWL-09F wide-angle wet lens.

 

This lightweight kit will deliver Full HD video and amazing images at a fraction of the cost of a camera/housing system and is much easier to travel with.

 

Extra Accessories

I always pack a mini tool kit for international dive travel (the box on the left in the shots below), which can help fix most basic housing problems in the field. The box is super light while the tools are the lightest versions of things found useful during underwater photo trips. Not pictured is the usual trip stuff like duct tape, aquaseal, superglue, microfiber cloths, topside camera rain cover, mini first aid kit, etc.

 

It's essential to be able to make basic gear repairs in the field, especially on dive trips where there likely aren't any other underwater photographers around.

 

Enjoy the rest of our What's in the Camera Bag series:

 Brook Peterson   |   Ken Kiefer   |   Mike Bartick   |   Ron Watkins   |   Serge Abourjeily

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Brent is managing editor of the Underwater Photography Guide and shoots underwater any time he can borrow 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!

 


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Take an inside look at the camera and housing gear used by underwater photographer Serge Abourjeily
By UWPG Editors

What's in the Camera Bag: Serge Abourjeily

UWPG Editors
Take an inside look at the camera and housing gear used by underwater photographer Serge Abourjeily

Our latest installment of What's in the Camera Bag looks at the gear used by photo pro Serge Abourjeily.


I switched to Nauticam housings in 2010 because of their spot-on ergonomics. The best example is how the cursor for changing focus points is located right on your fingertips, which is essential to me when shooting macro. Not having to take your eyes off the viewfinder to change settings is priceless, and I would not, at least at the moment, want to switch to another housing brand.

Another important important aspect of my camera system – besides housing ergonomics – is trim. I use 6 different float arms and some "normal" arms to achieve the desired buoyancy for each lens/port combination. I also use a carbon arm with quick disconnect for my INON LF-800N torch; I can take it off with one click and use it for lighting or backlighting.

I am currently using Sea&Sea YS-250 strobes and love them for their power, recycle time and reliability. I have used various INON and Sea&Sea models before but really appreciate the speed of battery packs over strobes that take AA batteries. I optically trigger them, which allows me to use rear curtain sync on Canon. It's a shame that Sea&Sea has discontinued these beautiful strobes. I'm now considering a switch to Seacam strobes.

 

 

The Camera Kit

Camera: Canon 7D Mark II

Lenses: EF 100mm 2.8L Macro, EF-S 60 mm Macro, Tokina 35mm Macro, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye

Housing: Nauticam NA-7DMK2

Strobes: Sea&Sea YS-250 Pro (optically triggered so i can use rear curtain sync)

Diopters: Nauticam SMC & Sea Gadget

Focus Light: INON LF-800N on a carbonarm quick disconnect

Arms: 2x INON Megafloats M, 2x INON Floatarms ML, 2x Ultralight Floatarms and various normal arms

 


My Little Field Repair Kit Contains:

  • Spare kit (fiber optic cables, c-clips for housing buttons, o-rings, clamps, ballmount o-rings etc)
  • Nauticam key-set, micro screwdrivers, pliers, cutting blade, duct tape, epoxy glue, super glue, alcohol, toothbrush, battery tester
  • Lens and port cleaning material

 

Serge's Mini Portfolio - Canon 7D Mark II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo left: A male cardinalfish shows us the eggs he is brooding. Photo: Serge Abourjeily

Photo right: Nudibranchs always make beautiful photo subjects. Photo: Serge Abourjeily

 

 

 

 

Enjoy the rest of our What's in the Camera Bag series:

 Brook Peterson   |   Ken Kiefer   |   Mike Bartick   |   Ron Watkins

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Serge Abourjeily has been a u/w photographer since 2005, living and working in Indonesia. He has spent the last 7 years in the famous Lembeh Strait (recently as Dive Manager at NAD-Lembeh) where he collected a lot of experience with critters and macro Photography. Beginning in 2017, Serge will be working on the Samambaia Liveaboard, cruising the Indonesian seas enjoying wide-angle AND macro. 

www.serge-mondial.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

 

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Divers off Baja California experience magic moments with passing orcas in these natural encounters
By Jerónimo Prieto

An Encounter with Orcas in Mexico

Jerónimo Prieto
Divers off Baja California experience magic moments with passing orcas in these natural encounters

We recently caught up with underwater photographer and Pelagic Life board director Jero Prieto after spotting his fantastic photo of two orcas under the surface, bathed in late afternoon light. In-water encounters with orcas (aka killer whales) are fairly rare, and natually, we wanted to share the photos and ask what went on behind the scenes. Below is our brief interview.

 

Where were you diving when you encountered the Orcas?

JP:  In Bahía Magdalena (Magbay) Baja California Sur, Mexico during one of the last Open Ocean Safari of the season led by Pelagic Life. 

 

 

Where you in a boat or already in the water?

We were returning from freediving with baitballs and marlins 50 nautical miles offshore. On the way back we spotted the pod, grabbed our gear and jumped in the water to freedive with them.

 

What was the encounter like?

The orca pod was on a clear path (heading south). To avoid any disturbance or risk the encounter, we would move the boat several meters in front of their trajectory. Once we were in a good location we would turn off the engine and silently jump in the water. Within 30 seconds the orca pod would encounter our divers. They usually looked at us and showed us their belly and remained in the surface; clear signs of a healthy interaction. All of the divers stayed at the surface and did not chase the animals. Once the pod passed we would repeat the exercise. We were fortunate enough to make 8 passes with the pod. On the last pass, the orcas (as soon as they saw us) became more compact as a pod and dived in front of us, passing several meters below the divers. This was when we decided to stop the interaction since we interpreted the behavior as non-inviting. The pod continued moving south.  

 

 

Is there anything that helped you capture these photos? Any tips to share?

I would suggest not forcing the encounter. Use common sense and try to cross path with the animals in the least invasive way possible. This allowed the orcas to swim straight towards us, at the surface and get as close as humanly possible. I would recommend checking your camera settings three times before jumping in the water because once you are in the water your entire attention will probably only focus on the encounter. Just remember to leave your finger pressing the trigger.

 

 

About the Author

Jerónimo Prieto, Pelagic Life  (pelagiclife.org)

 

 

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

 

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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

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!

 


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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.


Enjoy the rest of our What's in the Camera Bag series:

 Brook Peterson   |   Ken Kiefer   |   Ron Watkins   |   Serge Abourjeily

 

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.

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.

 


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.

Instagram     |       Facebook


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.

 


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 Editors

What's in the Camera Bag: Ken Kiefer

UWPG Editors
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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy the rest of our What's in the Camera Bag series:

 Brook Peterson   |   Mike Bartick   |   Ron Watkins   |   Serge Abourjeily

 

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.

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.

 


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

What's in the Camera Bag: Ron Watkins

UWPG Editors
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.

 

Enjoy the rest of our What's in the Camera Bag series:

 Brook Peterson   |   Ken Kiefer   |   Mike Bartick   |   Serge Abourjeily

 

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:

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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