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

 

Sea&Sea Alpha and Scuba H20 Adventure Magazine


I have been involved with Sea&Sea Underwater imaging for a little while as an Alpha in their ambassador program to promote Sea&Sea Underwater housings and strobes.  H20 Adventure Magazine has written this nice little article about the program.  Currently Sea&Sea is interested in expanding the Alpha program.  If you are interested in learning more about it, or becoming a Sea&Sea Alpha, this article sums up the details nicely.

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SCUBA & H2O Adventure (2015 06) SS Alpha (1)-2

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For more information, visit Seaandsea.com, or ScubaH20mag.com

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 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: “Azure Blue” Tips for achieving a beautiful blue background


Beautiful blue water behind a mesmerizing subject is one of the goals that every underwater photographer strives for.  It is not always easy, especially if the water you are diving in isn’t a beautiful blue!  This tutorial will address a few ways you can achieve great backgrounds in-camera, while giving your images a little creative punch.

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Underwater photographers shooting with a DSLR or compact camera with a manual mode, have several options when it comes to capturing the color of the water behind a subject.  These options include the ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and strobe use.  I always shoot in manual mode when I am under water.  It allows me to control how much light reaches my sensor.

In the photograph below, I used a higher ISO to boost the ambient light in the image.  In this case, I had the ISO set to 500.  This allowed more color and light saturation.  Historically, DSLR’s have a lot of “noise” when the ISO is higher.  However, the newer cameras are capable of getting a finer image with a higher ISO.  This can be a great advantage to the underwater photographer.

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Aperture is one of the tricky concepts when trying to control ambient light and get a bright blue background. Opening up the aperture does allow more light and may be necessary if you are using a high shutter speed. If for example, you are trying to freeze the sunbeams coming down through the water, you would want a high shutter speed to stop the light (1/250th or higher) and meter the background for aperture, so the sun isn’t too bright. This image has a shutter speed of 1/320th (the highest speed my strobes can sync with). The aperture is f/11.

A Hard and a soft coral bask in the sun

A Hard and a soft coral bask in the sun

If you are using strobes, (and sunbeams aren’t a factor) I advise using an aperture of f/8 or above, and metering into the blue water for the shutter speed.  The ISO may need to be a bit higher as well. The strobes fire at a fraction of the shutter speed and will freeze the subject so you can use shutter speeds as low as 1/13th, 1/25th, or 1/30th for close focus, wide angle shots, and macro shots.  The image below has an ISO of 200, high aperture at f/18, and very slow shutter speed at 1/13th.  The strobes fire at about 1/1000th of a second, so the movement of the subject is frozen because it is only lit up for a fraction of the time the shutter is open.

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Macro shots can be very interesting when they utilize ambient light.  This tiny nudibranch was created using a higher ISO (400) and shooting almost directly into the sun to get enough light to expose the blue background.  Because I wanted a sharp focus on the entire nudibranch, I stopped down the aperture to f/36, and the shutter speed was metered against the sun to 1/80th.

Placida cremoniana

Placida cremoniana

It has been very trendy lately to get a black background behind your subject.  To achieve this, you need to have nothing but water behind your subject, and a high shutter speed.  Here is the same nudibranch with drastically different settings:  ISO 100, f/36, 1/320th.  This lets in no ambient light.  Only the strobe lights the subject.  Which image do you like better?

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If you are new to underwater photography, you should spend some time experimenting with the aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings on your camera.  Light plays such a big part in creating images, that it is arguably the most important concept to master as a photographer.

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 atwaterdogphotographyblog!
My photographs are taken with a Nikon D7000 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

 

 

 

All Things Bright and Beautiful


It is no secret that I enjoy photographing the little things.  This hydro-sapien loves being able to see and share, the almost microscopic world that exists under water, with land dwellers.  I have a deep appreciation for all creatures, and so, as I have been contemplating how to share some of the tiny critters I recently encountered, Cecil Frances Alexander’s words keep coming to mind.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.–Cecil Frances Alexander

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“All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small” immediately brings to mind the fabulous nudibranchs that I search for on every dive.  Lately, in California, we have seen a scarcity of these critters.  In the past few weeks, however, I have seen lots of nudibranch eggs, and lots of tiny nudibranchs.  The image above is of a Hopkins Rose (Okenia rosacea, a nudibranch measuring about 1cm.  It is not the most common, but I definitely think it is one of the most beautiful.  Below is a Porter’s Chromodorid (Mexichromis porterae about 2cm long).

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Since there are many very small nudibranchs right now, I have mostly photographed critters less than 1cm. This tiny Three -lined Aeolid (Flabellina trilineata) was only 5 or 6 millimeters long.

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And its look-alike cousin, the Horned Aeolid (Hermissendra crassicornis,) was about the same size, although both species can get up to 36mm or larger.

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And on an even smaller scale, I have spent a good amount of time looking through the seaweed for isopods and larvae.  This tiny critter is just a few millimeters.

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Some of my favorites are the skeleton shrimp, isopods that aren’t really shrimp, but bear the nickname because of their hilarious antics and the way they move around. They look like animated skeletons.  This one is pregnant with eggs, and when they hatch, the babies will cling to her body until they are nearly half her size.

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You may have to look closely to see them in the image below;  Momma is covered with her offspring clinging to her antenea, back, jaw, and every other appendage.

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Another fun find for me this week was a family of decorator crabs.  They were very hard to photograph because of the movement of the water, and all the fish that were desperately trying to take a bite of them while I exposed them to the camera. They are covered in all kinds of growth such as sponges, anemones and hydroids.  You can see the one below if you look for it’s eye which is about a third of the way down and a third of the way over from the right.  It looks like it has a long nose made of a white flowering plant with a brown leaf.  This one was less than a square centimeter.

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With the exception of the skeleton shrimp with all her babies, all these images were taken in the last few weeks in California.  The ocean is coming alive again after several months of quiet time.  I am thrilled to see all the new life and awed by the creatures great and small living in the waters of the California coast.

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 atwaterdogphotographyblog!
My photographs are taken with a Nikon D7000 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: “Composition-All About That Base!”


When I was a new scuba diver, everything I saw under the water was new and exciting to me.  I wanted so much to share it with others, that I took a snapshot of every creature I saw.  In the beginning, my underwater photographs were like a travel log with a picture ID of each fish, snail and crab.  This is very common for new photographers, and if you fall in to this category, don’t be alarmed.  It will pass and as your skills improve, you will begin to think about the composition of your images more than the subject your are shooting.

The base of every good photograph is composition.  Composition is a broad subject to cover in just one post, so here, I will discuss five tips that are easy to learn and fun to practice.

Tip #1:  Rule of Thirds

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The “rule of thirds” is guideline that artists use to make their images pleasing to the human eye.  We like to see things off center, usually about a third of the way down or up or to the side.  If you divide your image into thirds, the places where the lines intersect are appropriate places for your subject.  In the image above, you can see that the diver is on one of those intersecting lines, and the fish are opposite, in the spaces surrounding the intersecting lines.  This makes the image well balanced from corner to corner.  It has the main subject (the fish and reef) taking up the bottom right third of the frame, with the secondary subject (the diver) on the top third.

Tip #2:  Diagonal

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This is one of my favorite compositions.  A diagonal composition simply has the subject running from corner to corner.  In the image above, the fish’s eyes are on the bottom and right intersecting third of the image, while the fish themselves are on a diagonal.  The image below is another example of using diagonal composition.

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Tip #3:  Fill the Frame

Some of the most interesting images are when the subject completely fills the space.  This scorpion fish has very interesting features on it’s face, and by isolating the face in the frame, those features become more prominent.

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Tip #4:  S Curve

This is a composition that can be a little harder to achieve, but it is something that appears in nature quite often.  Look for things that curve in the shape of an “S”, still keeping in mind the other composition rules.  In the image below, the pipefish is somewhat in the shape of an “s,”  It is on the diagonal, and the eyes fall on the bottom left intersecting third of the frame.

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fireworm

Many critters, such as this fireworm, some nudibranchs, and seahorses have a natural “s” shape to them.  You can use that to your advantage when composing your shots.

Tip #5  Space to Move

Whatever composition you choose for your subjects, if there is an animal in it, it should have space in the frame to move forward.  The pipefish above is a good example.  There is plenty of space in the frame in front of the fish’s head.  It’s tail has very little space behind it, giving the impression that the fish is moving toward the bottom left corner. The sea lion image below is an interesting composition because of the reflection, but the sea lion has no place to go and is really too close to the bottom of the frame.

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An important thing to remember, is that the tips outlined above are not hard and fast rules.  They are more like a base;  guidelines for things that please the human eye. Following them can help you achieve stunning results, but composition is subjective, and sometimes, breaking the rules yields the most interesting images. Use your imagination!  Let yourself be creative and you might just come up with an award winning photograph for thinking outside the box!

If you have suggestions for underwater photography tips, or questions, 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.
My photographs are taken with a Nikon D7000 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

Oh, I wish I were a (frog) fish!


One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.  Hog fish, dog fish, meet the Frog fish!

I have a good friend who has a fascination with frog fish.  And with good reason! Frog fish are one of the most interesting, and diverse creatures in the ocean.  I have learned a few things while visiting my friend at Crystal Blue Resort in Anilao, Philippines, about frog fish.  The first and most important thing is that frog fish are cool.

Besides being cryptically well camouflaged, the frog fish comes in sizes from the size of a pea to the size of a basketball.  It comes in various colors, textures and patterns too.

This was the first frog fish I ever saw.  It was in Hawaii, and only the size of my pinky fingernail.

This was the first frog fish I ever saw. It was in Hawaii, and only the size of my pinky fingernail.

Lest this sound like a clothing advertisement, let me tell you about it’s feeding habits.   A frogfish has a lure that it waves above it’s head, tempting other fish to come take a bite.

A large black frogfish waving it's lure above its head.

A large black frogfish waving it’s lure above its head.

But when that fish get’s close, the frog fish has a lightning quick strike.  Check out “One Little Speckled Frog” to  Watch a video, here.

A frog fish can open it’s mouth wide enough to eat a fish nearly the same size as itself.

Hairy Frogfish yawning

Hairy Frogfish yawning

If you watched the video, you can see that the frog fish stalked it’s prey like a cat, walking on its fins.  Frog fish don’t swim with their tails and fins like other fish.  Instead, they propel themselves through the water by pushing water through their mouths and out a valve behind their elbow-like fins.

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 Most of the time, they stay close to a sponge or rock which looks just like they do, and wait for their prey to come to them.  Look closely at the image below. There is a large frog fish front and center.  You can see it’s frowning mouth and it is tipping to the right.  Another brown frog fish is turned away from the camera behind the first.

There are two basketball sized frog fish camouflaged  in this image

There are two basketball sized frog fish camouflaged in this image

Some frog fish are brightly colored and don’t seem to be camouflaged at all.

A tiny frogfish  hunts for a meal

A tiny frogfish hunts for a meal

And the hairy frogfish has filaments all over it’s body that resemble the algae in it’s environment.

Hairy Frogfish

Hairy Frogfish

Only a few of these fascinating creatures are represented here, but you can check out the amazing portfolio and blog (click “critterhead) of my friend, Mike Bartick, to see an astonishing variety of frogfish including mating frogfish (click “What’s New”) at Saltwaterphoto.com.  If you are interested in seeing these critters for yourself, my favorite place to see them is at Crystal Blue Resort in Anilao, Philippines.

Parting Shot:

This cute freckled frog fish is multi-colored to help it blend in

This cute freckled frog fish is multi-colored to help it blend in

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

Cryptic! A Nudiphile Episode


The craziest things in the ocean turn out to be nudibranchs!  Some of these nudis are so cryptic that they have only recently been discovered.  Weirder still, some of these nudibranchs are solar-powered.  They store algae in their outer tissues and live off of the sugar produced by the algae’s photosynthesis.  These nudis are from the Phylodesmium family.

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In the images above and below, you can see the digestive glands (the brown clusters) through the translucent white body of these solar-powered nudibranchs.

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This nudibranch hides in the soft corals that it resembles.  Well, more than resembles.  It looks exactly like a soft coral.  You have to look closely to see it’s head and rhinophores.

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And perhaps the most cryptic of all, Allen’s Ceratosoma, or the Alleni.  This nudibranch is difficult to find and to some is known as the holy grail of nudibranchs. This particular specimen was about the size of my hand, but I have also seen them as small as my thumb.

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As a photographer, these are the finds that I hope for and the reason I love diving in the Philippines.  The nudibranchs are plentiful and lovely.

 

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