Story Behind the Shot: Water Sprite

The 1st place photo for the Underwater Digital Art category in the Ocean Art 2023 Competition was taken at the Ginnie Springs, Florida, USA. See all Ocean Art 2023 Winners Here


Camera System

The camera that was used to take the photo is the Sony A7R III, which is an awesome mirrorless camera for both shooting on land or underwater. The camera was incased inside a Nauticam Sony A7R III Housing with a  Zen DP-230 Dome Port. As for the lens, a Sony 12-24mm Lens was used. For lighting the subject, a Inon Z330 Underwater Strobe was utilized to illuminate the subject.


The Shot

“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.


What Does Winning Ocean Art 2023 Mean to You?

Placing 1st in the Underwater Digital Art category of Ocean Art 2023 is a tremendous honor! This shared accolade celebrates my dedication to the craft of underwater portrait photography and the profound connection my collaborators and I feel with the underwater world. I am humbled and grateful to be part of a community that appreciates and values the artistry of capturing the enchanting allure of the aquatic realm.



Further Reading



Justin Lutsky is a published photographer, award winning filmmaker, and a seasoned dive professional with a passion and expertise in creating underwater imagery. Driven by a deep sense of adventure and exploration, Justin endeavors to tell stories, create stunning ocean-inspired art, and capture the most gorgeous aquatic environments imaginable through film and photography. Drawing from his combined experience in both film production and professional SCUBA diving, his work often features dramatic portraits of models and mythical creatures suspended in motion, weightless underwater. Justin currently resides in Southern California and travels world-wide for creative projects


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