underwater

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Photography

In 'Two Worlds,' Split-View Photos Frame the Dual Environments Above and Below the Water's Surface

September 29, 2021

Grace Ebert

Father and Son, Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea, 2013. All images © David Doubilet, courtesy of Phaidon, shared with permission

From the coral-cloaked Kimbe Bay of Papua New Guinea to the icebergs of Antarctica’s Danco Island, the bisected photographs in David Doubilet’s forthcoming book Two Worlds: Above and Below the Sea unveil the diverse ecosystems on either side of the water’s surface. The 128-page volume published by Phaidon features 70 images from Doubilet’s 50-year career spent traveling the globe and pioneering the field of underwater photography.

The curated selection is wide-ranging in date and location, documenting a fuzzy seal pup lounging on a 2011 glacier in Canada, a school of bar jacks swimming in the Grand Caymans back in the 90s, and blacktip reef sharks under a French Polynesian sunset in 2018.  “I want to create a window into the sea that invites people to see how their world connects to another life-sustaining world hidden from their view,” Doubilet says.

Two Worlds: Above and Below the Sea will be released in early November and is available for pre-order from Bookshop and Phaidon.

 

Chinstrap and Gentoo Penguins, Danco Island, Antarctica, 2011

Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, Bonne Bay Fjord, Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, Canada, 2012

Bar Jacks, Grand Cayman Island, 1990

Harp Seal Pup, Gulf of St Lawrence, Canada, 2011

Blacktip Reef Sharks, South Pass, Fakarava Atoll, French Polynesia, 2018

Grounded Iceberg, Blanley Bay, Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada, 2018

 

 



Photography Science

Footage from a Blackwater Dive Off the Coast of Italy Frames the Striking Marine Creatures Found in Its Depths

September 22, 2021

Grace Ebert

For marine biologists and photographers, a nighttime dive into the ocean offers an austere backdrop for capturing the myriad creatures that live below the surface: entirely devoid of light, black water creates a stark visual contrast to the iridescent, translucent, and tentacled organisms that float in the dark expanses, making rare sightings of cusk eels and or billowing blanket octopuses all the more striking. An expedition by Alexander Semenov (previously) near Ponza Island unveiled an array of marine life off the western coast of Italy, framing their unique forms and movements. The footage is part of an ongoing documentary project for Aquatilis, and you can see more from Semenov on his site.

 

 

 



Science

A Rare Sighting of a Glass Octopus Reveals its Nearly Transparent Membrane in Extraordinary Detail

July 16, 2021

Grace Ebert

On a 34-day expedition around the Phoenix Islands Archipelago, marine scientists from the Schmidt Ocean Institute captured exceptionally rare footage of the elusive glass octopus. With a speckled, iridescent membrane, the aquatic animal is almost entirely transparent—only its optic nerve, eyes, and digestive tract are visible to humans—and sightings like these are so infrequent that scientists previously resorted to studying the species only after pulling it from the stomachs of its predators.

Along with successfully capturing this footage, the research team also identified new marine organisms and recorded the sought-after whale shark swimming through the Pacific Ocean during the expedition. For similar underwater reveals, check out a blanket octopus unveiling her membrane.

 

 

 



Photography

Underwater Photos Taken During Blackwater Dives Frame the Atlantic Ocean's Stunning Diversity

April 29, 2021

Grace Ebert

Female blanket octopus in Palm Beach, Florida. All images licensed, © BluePlanetArchive/Steven Kovacs

After sunset, self-taught photographer Steven Kovacs plunges into the open ocean around Palm Beach to shoot the minuscule, unassuming creatures floating in the depths. He’s spent the last eight years on blackwater dives about 730 feet off the eastern coast of Florida in a process that “entails drifting near the surface at night from 0 to 100 feet over very deep water.” Often framing species rarely seen by humans, Kovacs shoots the larval fish against the dark backdrop in a way that highlights the most striking aspects of their bodies, including wispy, translucent fins, iridescent features, and bulbous eyes.

Because Kovacs doesn’t have formal training in marine biology, he often enlists the help of scientists around the world to identify many of the rare fish he photographs. At the top of his list for future encounters are three cusk eel species and the female blanket octopus, a creature known for unveiling a billowing membrane that’s shown above.

Prints of Kovacs’s images are available from Blue Planet, and you can keep up with his underwater excursions on Instagram.

 

Male Paper Nautiluses, Argonauta species, in Palm Beach, Florida. © BluePlanetArchive/Steven Kovacs

Acanthonus armatus, the bethypelagic species of Cusk Eel, in Palm Beach, Florida. © BluePlanetArchive/Steven Kovacs

Left: Ribbonfish in Palm Beach, Florida. Right: Fish in the Ipnops family in Palm Beach, Florida. © BluePlanetArchive/Steven Kovacs

Brotulotaenia species of Cusk Eel in Palm Beach, Florida. © BluePlanetArchive/Steven Kovacs

Larval Wonderpus in Anilao, Philippines. © BluePlanetArchive/Steven Kovacs

Larval Pancake Batfish in Palm Beach, Florida. © BluePlanetArchive/Steven Kovacs

Tripodfish in Palm Beach, Flordia. © BluePlanetArchive/Steven Kovacs

Larval flounder in Palm Beach, Florida. © BluePlanetArchive/Steven Kovacs

 

 



Photography

A Stunning Shot of Sharks Cruising Under a French Polynesian Sunset Wins the 2021 Underwater Photographer of the Year

February 10, 2021

Grace Ebert

Category Winner. Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021 © Renee Capozzola (U.S.) /UPY2021. All images courtesy of UPY 2021, shared with permission

An exquisite shot of blacktip reef sharks circling underneath a jewel-toned sky in French Polynesia tops this year’s Underwater Photographer of the Year contest (previously). Captured by California-based Renee Capozzola, the winning entry frames a pair of the white-bellied fish and airborne seagulls, forming a serendipitous composition that combines air, land, and sea. “I dedicated several evenings to photographing in the shallows at sunset, and I was finally rewarded with this scene: glass-calm water, a rich sunset, sharks, and even birds,” she said.

This year’s competition received more than 4,500 entries from photographers in 68 countries, including images of wrecked barges, frogs peering out from a muddy pond, and two ornery blenny mid-tussle. Capozzola is the first woman to ever win the U.K.-based contest since its inception in 1965.

We’ve gathered some of our favorites below, but you can see all of the winning shots and watch interviews with the photographers on the contest’s site. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

Winner. British Waters Wide Angle, My Backyard © Mark Kirkland (U.K.)/UPY2021

Third Place. Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021. © Danny Lee (Australia)/UPY2021

Runner Up. Behavior. © Jing Gong Zhang (China)/UPY2021

Left: Winner. Portrait. © Ryohei Ito (Japan)/UPY202. Right: Runner Up. Portrait. © Keigo Kawamura (Japan)/UPY2021

Winner. Wrecks © Tobias Friedrich (Germany)/UPY2021

Runner Up. Macro © Steven Kovacs (U.S.)/UPY2021

Third Place. Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021 © Oleg Gaponyuk (Russian Federation)/UPY2021

Runner Up. Wide Angle © Martin Broen (U.S.)/UPY2021

Third Place. British Waters Wide Angle © Kirsty Andrews (U.K.)/UPY2021

 

 



Photography

A New Book Documents the Magnificent Experience of Swimming with Humpback Whales

November 10, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Jem Cresswell, shared with permission

Between 2014 and 2018, Jem Cresswell spent countless hours submerged in the depths of the southern Pacific Ocean surrounding Tonga. There he captured a group of humpback whales as they gracefully maneuvered around him, allowing the Sydney-based photographer to unveil the details of their grooved underbellies and barnacle-clad skin. The original project has culminated in a new book that documents the creatures’ movements and idiosyncrasies in striking black-and-white images.

Giants spans 220 pages detailing the humpbacks and their calves. To complete the massive book, Cresswell pared down more than 11,000 shots, the majority of which haven’t been published previously. The photographer shares memories and historical details about the massive creatures throughout, including the incredible awareness that comes from swimming with sentient beings so much larger than himself. “You never forget your first humpback experience,” he writes. “The sublime sense of insignificance that it instills in you. It has to be one of the most humbling experiences on Earth.”

Only 1,500 copies of Giants, which are signed and numbered, are available for purchase on the book’s site, which also offers glimpses into Cresswell’s process creating the compendium. To stay up to date with the photographer’s latest underwater projects, follow him on Instagram.