I made a number of trips to the Bahamas to film Olympic champion swimmers and wild dolphins. While we were roasting in the Bahamian sun, waiting for dolphins to appear, we could swim as much as we wanted in the clear shallow waters of the Little Bahama Banks. I really enjoyed watching the sunlight move over the white sand bottom, and took many photos during those trips trying to capture the beauty of those patterns. Today’s abstract photo, #5 of 15:
A safety stop after a good dive in Galapagos is sort of like the aftermath of good sex: one drifts along lazily, quite relaxed, tuned out and somewhat befuddled, thinking “whoa, that was pretty good!” and wondering how long until one can do it again. On these safety stops I have at times nearly fallen asleep, in the zone watching a school of fish flit about in the water column picking particles of food, while the bubbles of the divers below me float idly upward and past me. One day the bubbles caught my eye. They form mushrooms, expanding as they rise due to changes in pressure, impossibly smooth on top and with a mirror-sheen, only to grow large enough that they become unstable and burst apart. Soon each of the broken pieces assumes its own mushroom shape and the cycle begins anew until the bubbles finally hit the surface. I shot some photos of these bubbles, including some with my friends and me reflected in the bubble-mirrors, but this is the one I found most appealing. Abstract #4 in a series of 15:
Today’s abstract photo was photographed at San Clemente Island. Early one overcast, dark morning at the south end of the island, I found myself drifting along the reef about 30′ deep, over a huge expanse of surf grass. Given the dim light the exposures were long and blurry, so I was looking for subjects that lend themselves to blur. The surf grass was swaying back and forth as swells passed overhead — why not shoot the grass? I had just started shooting digital underwater and had an epiphany (which are few and far between in these parts): if I just look at the photo after I’ve taken it, I can make adjustments and take it again, better. So I did just that, using the histogram and the little LCD display of the image I had just taken to adjust things until the exposure was dialed in, trying for the longest exposure the light would allow (probably about 1/2 second). I sprayed a few hundred shots around the surf grass bed. Upon returning to the boat I found I had a few keepers. Abstract #3 in a series of 15:
Surf grass on the rocky reef — appearing blurred in this time exposure — is tossed back and forth by powerful ocean waves passing by above. San Clemente Island.
Image ID: 10237
Species: Surfgrass, Phyllospadix
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA
Another abstract photo, sunlight piercing the ocean surface. I used to shoot a lot of this stuff when I was diving in the 90’s, killing time decompressing at the end of a dive. Note how elegantly the rays of the sun break apart and blend into the water. That is simply not attainable (yet) with digital cameras, which instead just blow the sun out into a ball with perhaps a few rough rays extending from the ball. This flaw, which I hope will be overcome in the next few generations of digital cameras, is one of the few weaknesses of digital cameras in underwater photography. Abstract #2 in a series of 15:
Image ID: 03181
I have had good luck selling abstract photos the last few years. I just had another last week. Which got me pondering and ruminating (not a sight for the faint of heart). So without further ado, today begins a series of posts highlighting some of my favorite abstract images. Abstract #1 in a series of 15:
Abstract colors and water patterns on the ocean surface.
Image ID: 20343
This was taken in La Jolla, before sunrise, with a 500mm lens, panning while keeping the shutter open.
Much of my time underwater is spent looking for simple, available light photographs. These are not sexy photos, but they tend to sell well and are typically used as backgrounds or screened back with text or inset photos laid over the top. The best part is they are simple to shoot, even for me.
Image ID: 03181