2015 Year in Pictures


Please enjoy some of my favorite images from 2015 all taken underwater during my travels in the Philippines, Hawaii, California, Mexico, Lembeh, Raja Ampat, and Bunaken.

For You tube click HERE.

For Vimeo click HERE

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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 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: 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

Flashback Thursday- A Nudiphile Episode


It’s no secret that I have a serious slug crush on nudibranchs.  So for Flashback Thursday, I thought I would just share some of my favorite nudibranch images.

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The cryptic nudibranchs are the most interesting to me.  I love the translucence of this one.  For the full article see “Cryptic, A Nudiphile Episode

California has its share of beautiful nudibranchs.  This Hermissendra crassicornis was just a tiny juvenile about half an inch long.

Hermissendra crassicornus is one of the beautiful nudibranchs found in California

Hermissendra crassicornus is one of the beautiful nudibranchs found in California

Here is an adult Hermissendra crassicornis:  (See “Are you a Nudiphile?”)

Hermissendra crassicornis

Hermissendra crassicornis

My all-time favorite is Placida cremoniana, a nudibranch I discovered in Southern California last year, which has since disappeared from California waters.  (See “Love Affair, A Nudiphile Episode.”  And also  “Slug Bug! Another Nudiphile Episode “)

Placida cremoniana

Placida cremoniana

Some of the prettiest nudis come from Anilao, Philippines.  (See “Are you a Nudiphile 2?“)

Hypselodoris kangas

Hypselodoris kangas

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If you enjoy these images, you can get the full story by clicking on any of the “nudiphile” links above.

 

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

Underwater Photography 101: “Peak of the Action”


A great underwater action shot can be the most challenging objective a photographer faces. Not only does it require that the photographer be thoroughly prepared, but patience and a fair amount of luck are involved as well. Perhaps the easiest of these requirements is being prepared.

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#1  Be Prepared

The image above is what we call a “grab shot.” A fast moving animal swims by, and you quickly grab an image and hope for the best. Or do you? This image was taken at the end of my dive as I was completing my safety stop. Previous to this shot, I had been shooting images with a sun-ball and so had my aperture stopped down and shutter speed high. Before I started my ascent, I changed my camera settings to f/8 and 1/125th just in case something came by. The key here, is that I prepared ahead of time for the possibility of a grab shot. I had seen some sea lions playing near the surface, and I hoped I would be able to get an action shot of them. Being prepared means that you are aware of what the possibilities are, and before you move on looking for your next subject, you set up your camera for the possibility. A good rule of thumb to remember is “f/8 and be there,” and a shutter speed matching the conditions (i.e.  With our without strobes? Close to the surface or deeper?) In this case, I used ambient light, and so had my shutter speed down a little. I could have used a faster shutter speed to freeze the action, but that would have required strobes, and I would not have achieved the great reflections of the sun on the sea lion’s body.

#2  Patience

Wait for it….

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Wait for it….

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Not yet…

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 Okay, NOW!

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It’s great to get a frog fish yawning, but knowing when the mouth will be open at its widest is the key to getting a “peak of the action” shot here. Spend a bit of time observing your subject if it is something that will hang around for a while. This frog fish yawned several times during the thirty minutes or so that I spent with it. It took a lot of patience and a lot of shots to get a keeper.

#3 What Does Luck Have To Do With It?

Snake Pit small

Luck may have less to do with it than you think. And yet, it is a factor. You can increase your chances of being lucky by being prepared, and increase them even more by studying your subjects. Many subjects will hang around for a while or may even live permanently in a specific place or area of a reef. If you want to get an image of a cardinal fish with a mouth full of eggs, for example, take the time to study the fish. Find out which ones are carrying eggs and what their habits are. Watch them and see how often they aerate the eggs and what the signs are that they are about to spit them out, or move them around.

mandarin fish spawning, with eggs

mandarin fish spawning, with eggs

These Mandarin fish mate at dusk in a predictable pattern.  The only bit of “luck” needed here was snapping the shot the moment the eggs were released.

Comorant fishing

Cormorant fishing

This cormorant along with several others made a number of dives through the huge baitball they were feeding on.  All I had to do was wait for it to come close enough (that was the “luck” factor) for a shot. Once you can identify the patterns of your subjects, you are much more likely to get the money shot:  “The Peak of the Action!”

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.
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

Mushroom Coral Pipefish


“Mushroom.”  “Coral.”  “Pipefish.”  It sounds like three random words thrown out there in a Pictionary game.  As unprofessional as it sounds, it took me several days of repeating the name to remember what these unusual, snakelike, wormy thingies were called.  They are so named because they belong to the pipefish family and live in mushroom coral.  They are very small, but move very fast.  In fact, the following images are three of only a few I was able to salvage out of 126 images taken of the little beasts.  The second they come into focus, they are gone again from the frame.

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When I first saw these guys, they were happily swimming around their little mushroom coral home, dodging in and out of the tentacles, hoping to get a meal.  I spent about fifteen minutes photographing them, but it was toward the end of my dive, and I didn’t have enough air to stay longer.

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A few days later I returned to the same dive site and asked the guide to find that mushroom coral for me so I could spend my dive photographing the pipefish.  I spent another forty five minutes snapping away and leaving the scene hoping I got at least a few shots in focus.

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After spending so much time with one subject (well, two in this case,) I fell in love as I usually do.  They are so cute with their mad little old man frowns.  I hope to cross paths with them again someday.

 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.

40 hours of Friday


For some, traveling long distances can be very uncomfortable.  For me, traveling long distances is an adventure.  On Friday morning, I awoke in Puerta Galera, Philippines.  It was a beautiful sunny morning.  I ate a leisurely breakfast, strolled around the El Galleon Dive Resort and packed my bags for the trip back to the United States.

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At noon, I ate a delicious three course meal and then boarded a banca for an hour-and-a-half ferry ride to Batangas City.

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The ocean was smooth and the islands we passed were saturated with green coconut trees.  There were big white puffy clouds in the sky.

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Once in Batangas, I got in a van and rode three hours in to Manila. It is quite an experience to drive through the Philippines if you have never done it before.  Jeepneys and sidecars abound on the roads and it seems like the painted lines that separate the lanes are merely a suggestion.

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Once at the airport, I waited another five hours for the flight to leave at 9:00 PM.  Then a twelve hour flight back to Los Angeles completed the day.  And yet, upon arrival it was only 5:00 PM on Friday afternoon!  In fact, I arrived in Los Angeles before I left Manila.  I had already had thirty-three hours of Friday, and there were still seven hours left in the day.  It kind of brings a whole new meaning to TGIF.  I would do it again.  It was a lovely Friday and seemed to extend my trip just a little longer.

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.

Feeling Crabby?


To some, the mention of “crab” conjures up images of warm butter sauce and crab claw crackers.  I will admit, that I am fond of a good mouthwatering crab claw, but today I was feeling a little crabby, and not in a hungry, appetite sort of way.   The crabs I am thinking of are too small for human consumption, although I’ve seen a wrasse gobble them up without a second thought.  I have accumulated a good number of crab images in my underwater adventures.  It is remarkable that the crab family is as huge and diverse as it is.  There are hundreds and probably thousands of different crabs and they are all on a photographer’s “hit” list as far as shooting them goes.  One of the features I love the most about crabs is their eyes.  They have very interesting claws too, but their eyes are curious and colorful and seem to portray depth and intensity.  Many people may regard crabs as the spiders of the sea, but unlike spiders, I have no fear of crabs.  To me they are fascinating creatures who deserve to be acknowledged for their contributions to the balance of the marine environment.

Spotted Porcelain Crab
Spotted Porcelain Crab

This beautiful Spotted Porcelain Crab lives among the tentacles of anemones.  It has feather-like appendages that it uses to sift the water for plankton and other tiny nutritious micro algae.  The feather-like fans are like little hands that reach out and grab tiny meals out of the water and stuff them in the crabs mouth.  It makes you wonder why he has such big claws?

Spotted Reef Crab or Seven Eleven Crab

Spotted Reef Crab or Seven Eleven Crab

Big claws certainly belong to this Spotted Reef Crab.  Its carapace can get up to around 7 inches wide.  It is also known as a Seven Eleven crab in Hawaii because it has seven spots on the top of its shell, and four along it’s back side.  In Hawaii, there is a story of a hungry god who caught the crab and was pinched by it, drawing blood.  Although the hungry god got his meal, the crabs descendents still bear the god’s bloody fingerprints on it’s shell.

Mosaic Boxer Crab
Mosaic Boxer Crab

One of my favorites is this boxer crab.  It looks like a bruiser with it’s slitted eye pattern.  This one especially so as it has a tiny anemone growing over it’s eye that just resembles a black eye.  These crabs hold a tiny anemone in each claw that they use for defense.  The anemones get their side of the bargain, too.  They get transported around so that they can more easily grab nutrients from the water with their tentacles.

Orange Hermit Crab

Orange Hermit Crab

Hairy Hermit Crab

Hairy Hermit Crab

These hermit crabs represent a huge population of crabs that live inside a shell, coral, or any other object (even rocks) they can climb into.  It is their eyes that mesmerize me.  They can be virtually any color, but the blue-eyed ones are my favorite.  Up close, you can see into their depths.  Their iris bears an uncanny resemblance to human eyes, and their pupils follow you around like those creepy statues in the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland.

Hairy Squat Lobster
Hairy Squat Lobster

This image is actually a squat lobster, and not a crab, but it deserves mention anyway.  It is covered with tiny hairs and lives on huge barrel sponges.  It is also a bit flamboyant with it’s purple veins, pink body, and orange eyes.

Orangutan Crab

Orangutan Crab

The Orangutan crab is often found on bubble coral and has turned under claws at the end of its feet that resemble an orangutan.  They are sometimes orange or brown, and often red.  Their bodies are covered with tiny hairlike fibers which seem to accumulate debris.

Soft coral Crab or Candy Crab
Soft coral Crab or Candy Crab

Soft  coral crabs like to hide down in the coral and have to be coaxed up to the top to pose for the camera.  This one has a friend on it’s shoulder.  They have red, multidimensional eyes that seem to see everything at once.  Sometimes they accumulate “weeds” that begin to grow on their bodies making them resemble decorator crabs.

You can see more of my images on my flikr stream or at  waterdogphotography.com,
Also, I love to make new friends!  Please visit my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/waterdogphotographyunderthesea
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.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree


In the spirit of the Holidays, I thought I would dig out a few of the many images I have taken of Christmas tree worms.  As the lyrics of the carol suggest, these glorious creatures are blessed with an unusual beauty (for a worm).

“O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
Thou bidst us true and faithful be,
And trust in God unchangingly.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!”

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As you can see, these critters come in an amazing assortment of colors.  What you are looking at, is actually the plume (kind of like a butterfly’s antennae).  The rest of the worm lives in a burrow.  It can retract it’s plumes and they are very sensitive to the slightest disturbance in the water, even light.  The plumes sift nutrients from the water to feed the worm, as well as serve as a respiratory system.  They are found throughout the world and they are very common, yet they remain a favorite subject for photographers and divers.

“O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me;
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me;
How often has the Christmas tree
Afforded me the greatest glee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me.”

 

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.