Hocus! Pocus! Using Magic Filters for Underwater Photography


David Copperfield said, “The real secret of magic lies in the performance.”  It seems like that would be a fitting slogan for Magic Filters; filters created with a specific color formula for underwater digital photography using available light and no strobes.  Having been introduced to the filters by their creators, I got to experience their very contagious enthusiasm for the magic the filters create. I have to say it was refreshing and exciting to add this technique to my tool bag and hope the following images will spark your interest too!

Sea Urchin Shells in the Kelp Forest

Sea Urchin Shells in the Kelp Forest

The first thing you will notice about these images is that the color and light are consistent throughout the image.  That is because there is no strobe lighting the foreground.  Instead, ambient light is used and the image is evenly lit by the sun.  This subject is approximately 35 feet under water, so without a strobe, and without a filter, the image would be very blue.  Magic Filters are formulated for blue water or green water and have a specific color formula that adds the appropriate shades of red back into the image.  The photographer must take a manual white balance and exposure reading on the subject before shooting, and the filter does the rest.

Garibaldi in the Kelp Forest Nikon D810, ISO 500, f/8, 1/50th

Garibaldi in the Kelp Forest Nikon D810, ISO 500, f/8, 1/50th

One of the things that I liked about using the filters is that they show the scene underwater the same way my eyes see it.  The Garibaldi in the image above is a brightly colored fish and when lit with strobes it sometimes glows so bright it becomes a distraction.  It is also very hard to light kelp with a strobe because it absorbs the light and often comes out looking very yellow or very green. This image shows the kelp’s true color.

Selfie taken with a Nikon D810 ISO 250, f/8, 1/50th

Selfie taken with a Nikon D810 ISO 250, f/8, 1/50th

The color of my skin in this image is corrected by the filter almost to perfection.  The light you see on my face is from the sun and I am in 30 feet of water.  Without the filter, this image would be almost completely blue.

I wouldn’t shoot every image with the Magic Filters, but it sure is a great tool to have in some situations and it gives a bit of diversity to an underwater portfolio.  For more information on the filters visit http://www.magic-filters.com and enjoy the magic!

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog and please feel free to share on Facebook or other social media.

My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me
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You Win Some, You Lose Some


This post is completely self-indulgent, but I guess when you think about it, the whole idea of writing a blog about my own underwater photography is pretty egocentric.  I recently entered an underwater photography contest in which several of my images placed.  So just to drive the whole ego-related point home, You can see the winners and the losers below.

The contest is a local “shootout” in Southern California, known as the So Cal Shootout.  Underwater Photographers have three days to capture images and submit them for judgement.  There are lots of categories and lots of prizes and most people go home happy, even if they don’t have a winning image because it is always fun to scuba dive with friends.

I entered eight images in several different categories.  I believe all the images are good, but not every image takes a prize, so the losers get to go first:

Entered in Portrait:

Giant Kelpfish

Giant Kelpfish

Entered in Behavior:

Giant Kelpfish Guarding Eggs

Giant Kelpfish Guarding Eggs

Entered in Behavior:

Nudibranch laying eggs

Nudibranch laying eggs

Entered in Macro Open:

Tube Anemone

Tube Anemone

Entered in Wide Angle Open:

A Diver in the Kelp Forest

A Diver in the Kelp Forest

And now for the lucky winners:

Best In Show and First Place in Wide Angle Behavior

Sea Lion Blowing Bubbles

Sea Lion Blowing Bubbles

Third Place in Open Macro

Simnia Snail

Simnia Snail

Fourth Place in Open Behavior

Sheephead Eating a Sea Urchin

Sheephead Eating a Sea Urchin

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog and please feel free to share on Facebook or other social media.

My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

Kelp; The Magical Underwater Forest


Southern California is known for its beaches, Hollywood and Disneyland, but did you know the waters of the Southern California coast are also home to the giant kelp forests?  Kelp forests are areas in the temperate waters of the ocean with a high density of kelp.  When the kelp is anchored by a “holdfast,” it is called a kelp bed.  Most of my dives take place in the wonderful, temperate waters of California in the kelp beds.

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The image above was taken in the kelp beds outside of Santa Barbara Island, one of Southern California’s channel islands.  I was lucky enough to be diving with Alex Mustard while he photographed the kelp forest for an upcoming book he is working on.  Since this was his first time in the kelp beds of Southern California, he was very enthusiastic about what he was seeing and his enthusiasm was very contagious.  I had forgotten how beautiful the kelp beds are, but Alex’s perspective helped me regain the awe I first felt when I began scuba diving.  What a powerfully renewing experience!

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The kelp beds provide protection and a unique environment for many marine organisms.  The giant kelp fish is named for its incredible ability to blend in to the kelp.  It can be found waving back and forth with the surge among the kelp leaves looking exactly like a piece of kelp.  In the above image, the fish is orange in comparison to the greenish brown of the kelp, but when there is no outside light shining on the fish, it appears the same color as the kelp. This particular fish was guarding a nest of eggs.

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The fabulous kelp crab is another animal that lives in the camouflage habitat of the kelp forest.   It can be found scurrying high up in the kelp leaves as it tries to avoid being seen.

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Sea lions use the kelp to protect themselves from large predators such as sharks that normally do not venture into the kelp beds.

The King's Forest

When the kelp canopy reaches the surface, it continues to grow providing a beautiful shady environment for the critters below.  Scuba diving in Southern California is like no other diving on earth. The best time to visit the Southern California kelp forests is in the late Summer and Fall from August to November. The waters are generally a little warmer, and less likely to be turbulent, the kelp forest has had all Summer to grow, and the sea lion pups are grown enough to be playful with visiting scuba divers.  Bring a 7ml wetsuit or drysuit, and come enjoy the beautiful temperate waters of Southern California!

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog and please feel free to share on Facebook or other social media.

My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me

Underwater Photography 101: Lightroom’s Local Tools


Creative Cloud has announced their 2015 update to Adobe products and among them is a cool update to the local tools in Lightroom.  I’m talking about one of my favorite new tools, “Dehaze.”  For the past few months, this tool has been a global tool residing in the “Effects” module (where it can still be found).  But now, it can also be found under the “adjustment brush” in the local tools module.  For a video tutorial of how to use some of the local tools for underwater photography, click on the image below.

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If you have questions, or suggestions for underwater photography tips, please feel free to leave comments below.

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog!
My photographs are taken with a Nikon D7000 or D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me