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

Ornate Ghost Pipefish


In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Ornate.”

The Ornate Ghost Pipefish has the word “Ornate” in its name.  This one was found in Puerto Galera, Philippines.

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It is a beautiful fish, and even has an evil twin:

Ornate Ghost Pipefish (Solenostomidae)

To learn more about the weekly photo challenge, click HERE

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 at waterdogphotography@gmail.com

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

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

Diving in Fish Lake


I have many fond memories of Fish Lake, Utah.  My family has been going there to fish since 1945–Long before I arrived on the scene.  My dad remembers getting up at midnight and driving with his dad and brothers down to Fish Lake and arriving about 5:00 AM, just in time to start fishing.  This tradition continued on into his adulthood, until the 1970’s when my dad’s siblings and their children began making it a yearly occurrence. This is where I came in.  I remember as a child the long drive (probably just a couple of hours) to the lake.  My cousins and I would watch the horizon so that we could be the first to yell “I” when the lake came in to view.

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I was a very curious child, and my favorite thing about Fish Lake was fishing. I would anticipate arriving and taking my pole down to the bridge that spanned the small harbor and fishing with my salmon eggs and hooks for the “chubs” we could catch there.  My favorite fishing, though, was done from the boat, early in the morning with my dad.  We trolled for trout, and I don’t remember a time when we didn’t catch plenty for our dinner for the next several weeks.  I loved to look over the side of the boat at the seaweed that grew along the banks and see if I could see fish, or some other treasure that had fallen overboard.  Once I even went swimming in the lake, though it is only around 60 degrees F.  Family legend has it that the lake is “bottomless.”  However, the depth gauge on our boat puts the lake at around 110 feet deep all the way across.

This year’s trip was the first time I had gone to the lake in several years.  In that time, I have learned to scuba dive.  My new anticipation for this year’s reunion was to scuba dive in Fish Lake and take pictures of what I saw to show to all my relatives who are surely as curious as I am as to what lies beneath the surface of our beloved lake.

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On the first dive, I took my twenty-one-year-old son.  I am a scuba instructor, and I am certifying my son for his Advanced Open Water certification.  He was required to go to a depth of 60 feet.

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On our descent my first reaction was that the visibility was terrible.  I couldn’t see more than 10 feet.  The surface of the lake was 64 degrees F, but when we hit a depth of 35 feet, it dropped dramatically, to 54 degrees.  Brrrr.  The murky bottom finally came in to view and there was nothing to see except mud.  I hurriedly did the skills with my son that he required, and we made a bee-line for the warmer waters above 35 feet.  At this point, we decided to explore the seaweed, which began growing at about 25 feet deep.

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This was one of the more intriguing things about the dive.  The seaweed was full of fish and the visibility was slightly better.  I started to find the treasures left behind by other fishermen;  Fishing rods and reels, stringers, pop gear, lures and some other treasures such as a large metal bowl and lots of antique soda bottles and cans. These were the treasures that I wondered about as a child and was able to verify on my dive.

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At the end of my second dive, I decided to take some images of the lake and the mountain behind it. Although I enjoyed my dives immensely, I probably won’t need to dive in Fish Lake again.  It was fun to see the underside of the lake and solve the mystery of what it looks like down there, but now my curiosity is satisfied.

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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!
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: Cut your Fringe! Dealing with Chromatic Abberation


Have you ever had an image that could be great if only there wasn’t that weird blue/purple outline along your subject’s back?  Well I have. And to tell you the truth, until someone pointed it out to me, I didn’t really notice how distracting it was. Meet “Chromatic Abberation,” a sketchy friend of a friend who lurks in shadows and has blue hair. Also known as “Color Fringing.”

Chromatic abberation happens when a lens is unable to bring all the colors in a wavelength into the same focal plane.  The results are often a bluish or greenish outline around the subject or parts of the subject.

Below is an image of an Alleni nudibranch, a very uncommon creature.  You can see a bluish tint around the bottom of its protruding lobes.

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Fortunately, Adobe Lightroom has a fix for this!  It can be found in the DEVELOP module in the LENS CORRECTIONS toolbox.

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When you open this toolbox, you will see a menu across the top (Basic, Profile, Color, and Manual).  Click on the word COLOR.  From here you can try clicking in the box that says “Remove Chromatic Abberation.”  Lightroom can automatically find the color fringing and reduce it.  If this does not completely solve the problem, you can click on the eyedropper then click on the color that you want removed from your image.  This will reduce the fringing even further.

In the image below, you can see that the color fringing has been greatly reduced, but there is still a little bit that lingers.  Here is one more trick you can try:

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Click on the “HSL/COLOR/B&W” toolbox.  You will see the colors listed under Hue, Saturation, and Luminance.  Try desaturating the offensive color slightly.  In this case, the “blue” desaturation slider worked great.

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Sometimes making small corrections like this makes all the difference between a good image and a great image.

To watch a video of this tutorial, click HERE.

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

The Cenotes of Mexico


I love traveling and although I have been diving in the Caribbean several times, I could not resist the opportunity to return.  This time, our destination was Playa del Carmen, Mexico.  With plans to dive Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, the cenotes, and visit the whale sharks off Isla de la Mujeres, it should have been a week of fantastic photographic opportunities.  Not so.  We arrived late due to mechanical problems in our airplane, to a tropical storm that lasted for the next two days.  We ventured in to the water after the storm only to find 5 knot currents and 15 ft. viz.  Hmmm.  What to do?  Well, we decided on a visit to Chac Mool, one of the beautiful cenotes which was not affected by the weather.

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I was pleased with the beauty of the cenotes.  They were just what I expected. The calm, cool water was beautiful when the light from the surface peaked through and cast beams of light down into the caverns.

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The water was fresh and clear and yet in just this one spot, the light coming through had an eerie green cast to it.  The water there also had a distinct layer between the hazy salt water on the bottom, and the clear fresh water on top.  I have heard that when the two layers have not been disturbed you can see your reflection in the salt water layer while diving in the fresh water layer.

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At one time this cavern was not full of water, but was a cave.  With time, stalactites formed on the ceiling, and then the ceiling collapsed and the cavern filled with water.

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Diving through these caverns is a great experience.  It was as if you were exploring a cave by floating through the air.  No slipping or climbing involved.  Just serene floating and an occasional kick.

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 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