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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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

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

New Nudi’s! A Nudiphile Episode


After a somewhat disappointing week in the Caribbean (photographically speaking), I came home and did three days of diving along my beloved California Coast.  What a wonderful week it has been!  The ocean seems to be coming alive again after taking a break over the winter.  The warmer “El Nino” waters seemed to have been detrimental to our local small marine animals, but now they are making a comeback.  I found many species of nudibranchs and their eggs on my dives and even some I haven’t seen before.  Here are a few of my favorites:

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This nudibranch is actually a headshield slug called a Navanax.  It is carnivorous and will track it’s prey (other nudibranchs) by following their slime trail until it catches them and eats them.

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This Hopkin’s Rose is one of my favorite nudi’s.  It is very small (about the size of a fingernail).

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This was one of hundreds of Hermissendra crassicornis that were all over the rocks.  I haven’t seen any for a few years, so this was particularly exciting.

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Here is a Porter’s Chromodorid, which is only about an inch long and seems to be proliferating in the Laguna Beach area.

MacFarland's Chromodorid

MacFarland’s Chromodorid

Porter’s cousin, MacFarland was also present and accounted for.

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There were so many Hermissendra crassicornis at this site that they were crawling all over the other nudibranchs, including this Diaulula sandiegensis (San Diego Dorid).

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And to my great joy and satisfaction, I found this Polycera tricolor, a nudibranch I have never seen before.

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Lately, I haven’t seen the nudibranch in the above picture (which I discovered a year ago at Catalina Island, and which has not been defined yet), There have been reports that it is alive and well on the island and hopefully here to stay in 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!
These photographs are taken with a Nikon D810 or 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