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
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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

A Gap-toothed Smile


Just for fun last week, I posted a photograph of a fish that had moved too close to my camera and pressed it’s mouth up against the glass dome of my camera housing.  It wasn’t the most technically precise image, but it sure got a lot of attention.  Marinebio.org  an organization focused on marine conservation, shared the image to their facebook page.  Within a few hours I had an inbox full of messages (more than 250) from others who had shared the image.  In addition, there were over 4000 likes and 100 comments posted.  I was completely flabbergasted, and kicking myself for not putting my web address on the original post.

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Part of the reason I share this story is to point out that beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder and humor is all in our perspective.

Who Wore It Better

The fish seems to imitate the pose made famous by Georgia May Jagger.  I think he nailed it.  But there were lots of other comments that were quite humorous.  More than one person pointed out the resemblance to Disney’s Mater from CARS.  “It’s Fish-Mater!”  Many others mentioned his need for braces, a good dentist,  or the most popular, “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.”  In any case, it has been a very entertaining weekend for me and I learned that some images are worth keeping just for their entertainment value.  I might have sent it to the trash bin if not for that little feeling of whimsy that came over me.  So that being said; here is the image that I posted on my page as a more serious fish portrait:

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But now, I don’t think it is nearly as good as the somewhat blurry gap-toothed-pouty version!  Isn’t it funny how one’s perspective can change based on a few “likes?”

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

Monterey Bay, California’s Underwater Paradise


As a California scuba diver, I spend a lot of time in the coastal waters surrounding my home in Southern California.  But every once in a while, I get to explore the California coastal waters in Central California:  Monterey Bay.  The Northern California Underwater Photographic Society (NCUPS), and Backscatter Underwater Photo and Video sponsor a contest in Monterey called the Monterey Shootout.  This is what initially lured me into the colder waters up north.  Last year I attended and won a nice prize to Raja Ampat, Indonesia for my efforts.  This year I won a second place and an honorable mention in my division which earned me some new photography gear.  The contest is expertly managed and the atmosphere is friendly, making the whole experience very pleasurable.

As much as I love participating in the Monterey Shootout, it is not the anticipation of winning a prize that attracts me to Monterey as much as the great diving experience.  This year, the water was unusually blue and calm. There were many creatures and critters to be found and many that I have not seen or photographed before. In addition, I made new friends and sincerely enjoyed the company of old ones.

Top Snail

Top Snail

One of the common critters in Monterey is the beautiful Top Snail.  They can be found all over the kelp and reefs of Monterey.

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The image above is quintessential Monterey:  A beautiful anemone on the reef surrounded by the kelp forest and fish.  This image placed second in the Unrestricted Wide Angle category of the contest in the Intermediate division.

Kelp Crab

Kelp Crab

If you are observant, you might be able to find a kelp crab.  They are camouflaged by the kelp but can be seen skittering away if you get too close.

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In the crooks and crannies shrimp are abundant.  This image received an honorable mention in the Monterey Shootout.

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Did I mention all the beautiful anemones?

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Nudibranchs also abound on the Monterey reefs.  This one is called Dall’s Dendronotis and it is tiny and delicate.

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Decorator crabs and hermit crabs are everywhere.  I loved this one because he made his home inside a beautiful top snail shell.

Diving in Monterey may well become one of my guilty pleasures.  If you take a trip to Central California, be prepared to dive in a drysuit as the water temperatures are in the 50 degrees fahrenheit range.  You can dive by boat or by shore, and enjoy the playful harbor seals, sea lions, and the occasional sea otter as well.

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

Underwater Photography 101: Get Down and Boogie


Underwater photography has its own unique set of challenges and in response to the requests of several readers, I would like to post some tips for better underwater photography.  These will appear under the heading, “Underwater Photography 101.

The first challenge a new underwater photographer will face is how to take an image of a marine animal so that it “pops” out from its environment.  This is because as a scuba diver, we are swimming along horizontally in the water, looking down on the subjects below.  Many new photographers will snap images focused straight down because that is the perspective they have of the subject.

1.  Get Close.  For example:  Below is an image of an anemone full of various fish.  This can be an exciting thing to see, and something you may want to share with your topside friends.  However, from this perspective, the fish are too small, taking up only a fraction of the frame.  The black fish are hard to recognize as fish, and the photograph has too many subjects.

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 Get closer and adjust the angle of the camera so that it is more at eye level with your subject. Shoot with the lens pointed up at your subject, and you will have a much more pleasing result.  The image below has just the anemone fish as the subject, and the fish is looking at the camera.  The anemone itself becomes interesting background material without distracting our eye from the fish.

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 2.  Get Down.  Sometimes, this is much easier said than done, as some subjects are in a crevice or are very tiny and hard to separate from their environment.  Nudibranchs are a great example of this.  The image below is of a rarely seen Hypselodoris californiensis (California Chromodorid).  Shot from above, all the details of the nudibranch’s rhinophores and gills are lost.

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 But when I waited for the nudibranch to crawl up onto a rise, and got my lens down on it’s “eye” level, I got a much more interesting result:

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 3.  Change Perspective.  The same principle applies to wide angle photography.  In the following photograph, I wanted to show the thousands of fish on the reef.  I pointed my lens directly at them, but the reef in the background makes them hard to see.

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To make the fish “pop,” it is necessary to get right next to the reef leaving the water as the background for the fish, as in the image below:

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 With a few adjustments, it is easy to improve your underwater photography.  Remember to get close, get down, and change perspective!

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

If you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.
 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

Lion Around


This week I fell in love with sea lions.  These magnificent, playful, dog-like creatures are truly one of the wonders of the sea.  Curious as soon as they hear a diver’s splash into the water, they come over to investigate our weird fins, and huge camera equipment.  Since all of us have dome ports, the sea lions are extra curious. They can look at their reflections, and continually come down to gaze at themselves in front of the camera lens.  At times, I wonder if they are posing for me, or just checking out their poses of themselves.

Sea lion gazes at his reflection in the camera housing's dome port.

Sea lion gazes at his reflection in the camera housing’s dome port.

It takes a little while for them to get comfortable with us, but when they do, they start to dance and play in the water around us.

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Before long, they begin to interact with the divers.

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One of the things that I can’t help laughing about is their attempts to mimic the bubbles we blow through our regulators.

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This young lion was fascinated with either me or it’s reflection, and tried out several different poses in front of the lens.

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It was one of the funnest dives I have had in a long time.  Kind of like spending the day with your dog in the park.  In the end, I think all of us were satisfied.