Sunday, December 13, 2009

Inside Disney's The Seas With Nemo and Friends

I was in Orlando recently to shoot an underwater portrait of Barry Olson, an administrator at the The Seas with Nemo and Friends (formerly the Living Seas aquarium) at Epcot Center. Barry is a strong supporter of the Divers Alert Network, and we are featuring an article about him in the next issue of Alert Diver.

People don't generally realize how very dark it is inside aquariums, when lit only by artificial light. Our eyes adjust better than most light meters and cameras, but, trust me, they are dark. Years ago I had a semi-failed assignment in the Monterrey Aquarium because my backgrounds were so dark. Of course, that was film and my first year as a pro shooter. I would hope I'd learned something by now, at least how to open up a dark background in a wide angle shot.

For this I used a Canon 5DMKII in a Seacam housing, Seaflash 150 with diffuser for foreground light (typically at 8% power. My shutter speed was 1/20th second and typically between F-5.6 and F-8. The ISO was 1,000. I used an Ikelite DS160 with a remote slave sensor for the background light. I hid the strobe behind a rock and snaked the slave sensor around to face my strobe, essentially relaying the light towards the back of the tank.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

White sharks - Where they aren't

I was doing some editing for a feature on great white sharks, to appear in our Quarter #1, 2010 copy of Alert Diver, and while perusing folders of images I found a couple of Photoshop composites of great white shark encounters. I both cases the sharks were there, and they are my shots of the sharks from that particular destination. But they just weren't exactly there at the time! Kind of fun to look at them again.

Diver with shark reflection - Guadalupe, composite created by Daniel Brown
Diver and cage - Guadalupe, composite created by Daniel Brown
Great white shark and polecam - South Australia, composite created by Rick Melvin

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Different Perspective_Humpback

Earlier this summer I led a photo tour to Tonga to photograph humpback whales. While on location, my good friend Bob Coakley got this shot of me snorkeling with a whale. I thought it was kind of interesting to see my shot, taken at the exact moment Bob got his, kind of a digital "Whisper Down The Wire".

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Canon 1DMKIV

I ordered my new MKIV yesterday, and am convinced it will work in my SEACAM MKIII housing. The combination of 1DsMKIII for high res (until 1DsMKIV is released) and the 1DMKIV for video, high ISO, rapid motor drive, and cropped sensor advantages with telephoto & some wide angle lenses ... all in the same housing ... is very compelling!

Plus, enhanced AF with MKIV is a significant advantage for shooting action, and I have no doubt that the 14-bit files @ 16MB will be very impressive. I expect this to be my go-to camera for many applications.

See for size comparisons relative to MKIII and MKIV for housing installations.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Shark bit (a little)

I was on a shoot in the Bahamas last week, actually two shoots. One was for a catalog for Aqua Lung, and one was to shoot elements for Photoshop composites for a a series of print ads for Atlantis resorts. Brett Ratner was the Director of Photography for that one. You may know his work as Director for X-Men and the Rush Hour movies.

Anyway, one of the shots required sharks, and so we went where the sharks definitely are ... Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas. We were chumming the sharks to the back of the boat, and the combination of bait in the water and competition for said bait ramped up the action for a while. I had a chainmail sleeve on my left hand, and curiously had a shark bite down on that hand.

I say "curiously" because it is the first time I actually was bitten by a decent sized shark (not counting nurse sharks, of course). What I noticed was:

1. The chainmail doesn't prevent the tooth from penetrating. It keeps the tooth from penetrating DEEP, and lacerating. For that it is ultra effective.
2. Sharks have a fair bit of pressure in their bite.
3. Sharks carry a fair bit of bacteria, for my hand swelled up almost immediately. Nothing a little antibiotic wouldn't cure.

It was pretty much a non-issue in terms of getting hurt, but intellectually interesting in terms of the efficiency of sharks, and how quickly/easily accidents can happen (even if they are kind of wimpy "accidents" to begin with).

I'll post some of the other things we shot on both shoots later in the week.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Frink Photo courses in Key Largo, 2010

Stephen Frink Digital Master Classes -

Digital Master Class 1 - June 12-19, 2010, Digital Master Class 2 - July 31-August 7, 2010

The digital revolution has obviously arrived for underwater imaging. No real surprise there, for the benefits are staggering. The ability to capture more images on a single dive, economy of not requiring film and processing, and the immediacy of review on the camera’s LCD are some of the obvious benefits of digital imaging. There is no reason not to embrace digital imaging, except for the uncertainty of the new paradigm. An immersive week on location with Stephen Frink can show the workflow shortcuts and creative techniques to make you a much more accomplished digital shooter.

These courses are held in Key Largo, Florida. Summer in Key Largo may offer the world’s best underwater classroom, with clear water and massive fish populations within the protected waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the special Sanctuary Preservations Areas (no-take zones) off Key Largo. The course template includes daily two tank dives and classroom sessions. There will be guest lectures by Photoshop guru Eddie Tapp ( as well. This course is optimized for those using digital SLR cameras, and laptop computers optimized for image processing. The course is limited to 14 students to assure personal attention and ample review time for the projected digital images.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I just had a photo request from a British newspaper content provider for dolphins I've shot over the years. I thought it was a nice collection to view again in this context as well.

These are all from either West End, Grand Bahama; the Dolphin Experience at UNEXSO (Freeport, Grand Bahama); or Anthony's Key Resort, Roatan, Honduras.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sharks and Dolphins_West End, Grand Bahama

On the water in the Bahamas in the summertime ... ahhh ... one of my favorite places to be! Last week I had the opportunity to do a 4 day shoot with Stuart Cove off his luxury sportfish yacht, Lyford Lure. A friend of mine and I flew to Freeport, and Stuart and crew met us at West End.

West End is the launch point for the spotted dolphins at White Sand Ridge, Caribbean Reef Sharks at Eldorado, the shallow Sugar Wreck, and of course the lemon and tiger sharks resident at Tiger Beach. The diversity and quality of the photo-ops here is amazing, and being there with friends who share the passion for UW photography makes it all the better.