Tag Archives: Santa Barbara Channel

My Favorite Photos of 2017

A selection of my favorite photos from last year.
The first full year without
Brooks Institute of Photography
in the world since 1945.


The time we spend traveling in our “bubble” provides balance in our life.


Watched light do amazing things in the mountains and valleys of the Grand Tetons.


Spent time in the warmth of an ecolodge in the rainforests of Costa Rica.


One of my favorites from our travels this year. Sloths are so adapted to their environment.


Worked on my food and beverage photography. Many thanks to the master, Bill Robbins.


Had a lot of fun photographing this 8 year old.
I hope to photograph her every year and watch her change.


I wonder if seals and sea lions can tell if a human is male or female.


Found incredible beauty in the shapes of living things.

Light & Motion LED’s — part 2

The Light & Motion Stella LED lights are equally at home above and below the water. Most lights made for use underwater can’t be used above the water because of overheating but you can take the Stella’s from water to air and back without even thinking. This is one of the things that makes the Stella’s such a boon to creative lighting.


The over/under image (left) has a Stella 2000 above and a Stella 5000 below to create a very even lighting pattern in this portrait of a yoga instructor. One of my students, Ella DeGea, lit this great underwater portrait (right) with a Stella 5000 and put a Stella 2000 in the background to create that water “ceiling” reflection behind him.

Since the LED’s aren’t as powerful as flashes, I needed a pretty low ambient to ensure that you could see the effect of the Stella lights.










We did this pool shoot in the evening and hung a Stella 2000 down into the water from the diving board as a back light. The key light in both images was a Stella 5000 with a 50° Fresnel and I used a Stella 1000 for additional light. Unlike flash you can see the light so it’s easy to feather the beam to get exactly what you want. Yoga swimming image: ISO 800, f/6.3, 1/80th second with Sony A7R2, 16–35mm lens in a Sea & Sea housing.

Photographing in the ocean adds a lot more difficulty, especially in the cooler waters of southern California.


We lit the mermaid from camera right with 2 Stella 5000’s and back lit her with a Stella 2000. A foggy morning provided the low ambient lighting environment. Coordinating the positioning of two lighting assistants, getting the mermaid to pose while holding her breath, while I’m trying to stay neutrally buoyant and having to come to the surface every minute, makes these images really challenging. My mermaid had the hardest job, and she was amazing. Mermaid image: ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/320th sec with Sony A7R2, 16–35mm lens in a Sea & Sea housing.


Every time I go diving I notice people with amazing tattoos; sailing ships, pirate skulls, Indian gods, sharks and fish. I started photographing the tattoos and then realized part of the story is where we were; out at sea on a boat. So I decided to create images of their tattoos that showed not only the tattoo but also the place. It amazes me how talented the tattoo artists are and how willing people are to go through the pain and patience of getting their bodies turned into canvases.

TattoosAmanda and Gods, Anacapa Island
Philly in a tidepool, San Clemente Island
Under her bikini bottom & The sea on his back

Thanksgiving, Channel Islands National Park, CA

Every couple of years we’re able to accept an invitation from our friends, Glen and Dana Fritzler, to spend Thanksgiving with them and friends.  Spending time with friends and family over the holidays is pretty normal, what’s not normal is spending four days hanging out on one of the Fritzler’s custom live-aboard boats around the Channel Islands National Park.

The morning we left Santa Barbara was calm. The ocean was glass. Perfect for photographing dolphin and whales. Sometimes things just work out. Several hundred common dolphin, many with babies, overtook us as we made our way towards the top end of Santa Cruz Island. I was shooting with my Nikon 14–24mm and 70–200mm lenses at ISO 400.  I found that DMI switch on my camera.  You know, the decisive moment indicator button, and just fired off a burst every time the light lit up. Thinking about the timing, the “when” of taking the photo; nothing’s random, think ahead.

Common dolphin in the Santa Barbara Channel

We ate turkey, actually two of them. Whole ones, that Dana cooked in a tiny oven. With dressing and all the fixings, she was amazing. And the kids did the dishes, and had fun. Everybody helps out on these trips.

My job — carving turkeys.

The Vision is another one of Glen Fritzler’s fleet of dive boats from Truth Aquatics. It was sunrise on our first morning and gulls were flying around hoping for some handouts. A Nikon SB800 zoomed to 50mm on manual full power lights up the gull,  f/4 at 1/250 sec at ISO 200 captures the sunrise.  Nikon D2x, 14–24mm lens.

Captain Glen Fritzler and the “Vision” at sunrise