Ocean Art 2023 - 1st Place Underwater Digital Art

1st Place Underwater Digital Art

Justin Lutsky

"Water Sprite"




Justin Lutsky won a cruise aboard the Duke of New York Liveaboard in Maldives


The Story: 

“Water Sprite” was captured in the crystal-clear waters of Florida’s natural springs. I’ve been traveling to Florida to shoot for years, as the springs' clarity and natural beauty create a breathtaking canvas for underwater portraits. For this image, I worked with professional mermaid and underwater performer, Abbey Blake.

Everything in this image was shot practically and captured in-camera. Abbey wore a mesh bodysuit to which we attached the fairy wings, and together we ventured out into the springs in early January.

We captured this shot in fairly shallow waters, late in the afternoon after the sun started to dip below the tree line. I used mostly natural light, using the sun as a backlight, and just a small amount of front fill light from my on-camera strobe.

Abbey and I would submerge simultaneously using a breath-hold technique, capturing multiple photos before resurfacing to review and discuss. To achieve a comfortable pose on the crevasse's edge, Abbey had to exhale most of her air to fully descend.

The water temperature was a brisk 72 degrees, giving us a narrow window to capture the shot before the risk of hypothermia set in. Additionally, this location presented another hurdle, being a favored spot for local cave divers. We frequently had to pause our attempts, waiting for divers to pass through the frame. This is where working with someone as talented as Abbey really helps. Her ability to perform under such demanding conditions and limiting time constraints made all the difference in our success in capturing the shot.

The majority of post-processing done was blending in the harsh, noticeable lines of the body suit as well as overall color toning and levels adjustments to bring focus to the subject and enhance the overall drama of the underwater landscape.


Ginnie Springs, Florida, USA

Equipment Used: 

Camera Settings: 

  • Aperture: F7.1
  • Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec
  • ISO: 100



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