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

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