Ornate Ghost Pipefish


In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Ornate.”

The Ornate Ghost Pipefish has the word “Ornate” in its name.  This one was found in Puerto Galera, Philippines.

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It is a beautiful fish, and even has an evil twin:

Ornate Ghost Pipefish (Solenostomidae)

To learn more about the weekly photo challenge, click HERE

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 at waterdogphotography@gmail.com
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Underwater Photography 101: The Beginning Beginner


People often ask what the best camera is for underwater photography.  Chase Jarvis said, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” I do believe that is true.  When I first started shooting images underwater, I had no idea what a good snapshot should look like, let alone how to get that image.  I started my underwater photographic journey with a compact camera, that was made for underwater photography.  It had a setting for blue water, and one for green water, and an on-board flash.

Fish over Hard Coral

The above image was taken with my new compact camera on its maiden voyage (or dive) which also happened to be my first dive after certifying.  It isn’t horrible, but I sure could have used some pointers back then.  Later I learned the importance of good lighting and I added a strobe to my compact camera.

Good lighting makes a big difference as you can see from the above photo in my first effort using a strobe.

After a year of experimenting with my compact camera and strobe, I began to master some of the basics and my desire for a DSLR camera became stronger. The next image was taken on my new DSLR’s maiden dive.  You can see that there is improvement in the clarity and composition of this image.

Blenny in hole

My point in showing off my first efforts with underwater photography is to demonstrate that I had a lot to learn in the beginning, and after a couple of years of practicing, I got better.  But I didn’t simply get better.  I studied other images by well known underwater photographers.  I read books on underwater photography and took both private and group classes with underwater photography instructors.  I found some mentors and I asked them a lot of questions and I asked them for critiques of my work. Eventually, I began to take images that I am now proud to put my name on.

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Fortunately for beginning underwater photographers, there is help!  I recently became acquainted with Matt Smith who has created a great info-graphic for beginning underwater photographers. You can read his blog here.  At the end of the info-graphic, there is a list of resources you can use to further your study in underwater photography.  Most of them were sources I used when I was learning. One of the most valuable of these was Underwater Photography Guide , an online resource center with lots of accomplished photographers who contribute articles on mastering underwater photography techniques. In addition to these, I joined some underwater photography groups on Facebook where I could see what other photographers were doing.  Wetpixel and Underwater Macro Photographers boast some wonderful photography on Facebook.

So as you progress through your journey in underwater photography, don’t get discouraged.  It is a lot to learn, but there is a lot of help out there.  Check out my “Underwater Photography 101” series and accompanying You Tube tutorials for more information.

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

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

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

 

Sex Change


In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Change.”

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The blue ribbon eel is one of the most fascinating creatures of change.  All of the ribbon eels are born male.  Toward the last year of their life, they may begin to turn yellow, and also turn into a female.  All yellow ribbon eels are female, and all blue ribbon eels are male.  A female ribbon eel will procreate after she has changed, and then die, so it is very rare to see a yellow ribbon eel.

Blue Ribbon Eel

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