Great Advice from a Master Underwater Photographer


I just came across this article and wanted to share this great advice with any other aspiring underwater photographers.  Please enjoy!

This coral head is one of my favorite images because of the diversity of life surrounding it.

Image by Brook Peterson

How to take the perfect underwater photo, according to a master Hawaii photographer

Hawaii Magazine

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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

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

Pinnipeds: The Puppies of the Sea


Fall is the right time of year to enjoy the company of playful young sea lions.  By August or September, these young pinnipeds have grown past infancy and are entering the playful “puppy” stage of their lives.  I have enjoyed several dives lately where the curious little guys came to pay me a visit.

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At first he is shy, keeping his distance and just watching the divers.  A group of sea lions see us from the surface and watch us jump into the water, then they stick their heads under the surface to see what we are doing under there.

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Pretty soon, curiosity gets the better of this little guy and he comes in for a closer look.

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After a while, the sea lion starts to think of you as one of it’s playmates.  It starts swimming in front of you and holds various poses, all the while keeping eye contact with you.

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Sometimes they start blowing bubbles as they swim past.  It seems they are mimicking the scuba divers.

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This sea lion began to get a little rambunctious in his play, displaying his teeth, much like young dogs when they wrestle with their siblings.

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  If this sea lion had been a large male, I would have felt threatened, but since he was just a few months old, it was hard to take him seriously.

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Eventually, it is time for us to surface and say goodbye.  The sea lions watch us until we are completely out of the water, as if they yearn for us to stay.  To tell the truth, I wish I could!

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

an Eco-Palooza!


Once a year, for a few weeks, there is a special underwater convention held under the oil rigs in Southern California.  All marine animals are invited and the event is consistently sold out.  I’m being facetious of course, but truthfully, there is an eco-palooza going on under the oil rigs along Southern California’s coast.  The “El-Nino” conditions have kept the west coast waters toasty warm and scuba divers get to see first hand the effect it has on marine life.

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The first thing a diver will notice when diving under one of the off-coast oil rigs, is the HUGE number of bait fish taking advantage of the cover and protection of the rigs.  Since the rigs are in open water (about 8 miles from shore), their support structures provide an artificial reef for marine life.

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Bonito patrol around the outside of the structure occasionally picking off one of the bait fish. This effectively encourages the bait fish to remain inside the confines of the oil rigs support columns.

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Suddenly the fish begin to move in a synchronized pattern as a sea lion comes down for his breakfast.

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Once the dinner-bell sounds, the cormorants come around looking for their next meal.

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Sometimes it is just fun to sit down and watch the show.

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Apparently, the sea lions like an interactive show.  This little pup came around for about 15 minutes and tried to feed us fish it caught, posed for the camera, and did acrobatics with the divers.

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It even played picaboo!

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Since the structure provides an artificial reef, there are Garibaldi, sea stars, anemones in vivid pinks, oranges and yellows, and many scallops, and invertebrates on the support columns.

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Unfortunately for us scuba divers, our time is limited under water and all too soon it is time to go back to the surface.

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

Diving in Fish Lake


I have many fond memories of Fish Lake, Utah.  My family has been going there to fish since 1945–Long before I arrived on the scene.  My dad remembers getting up at midnight and driving with his dad and brothers down to Fish Lake and arriving about 5:00 AM, just in time to start fishing.  This tradition continued on into his adulthood, until the 1970’s when my dad’s siblings and their children began making it a yearly occurrence. This is where I came in.  I remember as a child the long drive (probably just a couple of hours) to the lake.  My cousins and I would watch the horizon so that we could be the first to yell “I” when the lake came in to view.

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I was a very curious child, and my favorite thing about Fish Lake was fishing. I would anticipate arriving and taking my pole down to the bridge that spanned the small harbor and fishing with my salmon eggs and hooks for the “chubs” we could catch there.  My favorite fishing, though, was done from the boat, early in the morning with my dad.  We trolled for trout, and I don’t remember a time when we didn’t catch plenty for our dinner for the next several weeks.  I loved to look over the side of the boat at the seaweed that grew along the banks and see if I could see fish, or some other treasure that had fallen overboard.  Once I even went swimming in the lake, though it is only around 60 degrees F.  Family legend has it that the lake is “bottomless.”  However, the depth gauge on our boat puts the lake at around 110 feet deep all the way across.

This year’s trip was the first time I had gone to the lake in several years.  In that time, I have learned to scuba dive.  My new anticipation for this year’s reunion was to scuba dive in Fish Lake and take pictures of what I saw to show to all my relatives who are surely as curious as I am as to what lies beneath the surface of our beloved lake.

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On the first dive, I took my twenty-one-year-old son.  I am a scuba instructor, and I am certifying my son for his Advanced Open Water certification.  He was required to go to a depth of 60 feet.

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On our descent my first reaction was that the visibility was terrible.  I couldn’t see more than 10 feet.  The surface of the lake was 64 degrees F, but when we hit a depth of 35 feet, it dropped dramatically, to 54 degrees.  Brrrr.  The murky bottom finally came in to view and there was nothing to see except mud.  I hurriedly did the skills with my son that he required, and we made a bee-line for the warmer waters above 35 feet.  At this point, we decided to explore the seaweed, which began growing at about 25 feet deep.

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This was one of the more intriguing things about the dive.  The seaweed was full of fish and the visibility was slightly better.  I started to find the treasures left behind by other fishermen;  Fishing rods and reels, stringers, pop gear, lures and some other treasures such as a large metal bowl and lots of antique soda bottles and cans. These were the treasures that I wondered about as a child and was able to verify on my dive.

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At the end of my second dive, I decided to take some images of the lake and the mountain behind it. Although I enjoyed my dives immensely, I probably won’t need to dive in Fish Lake again.  It was fun to see the underside of the lake and solve the mystery of what it looks like down there, but now my curiosity is satisfied.

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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  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