Shooting Under Water

I was never that interested in photography until I started SCUBA diving. The challenging combination of buoyancy control, balanced breathing, patience, and timed trigger finger added to the very zen experience of being submerged under the world’s oceans. In the dense environment of water, everything has to slow down. Your breathing. Your motions. Your mind.

The other unusual thing to keep in mind when taking photos while diving is where the light comes from, always above,  and that the water absorbs certain wavelengths (colors) of the light the deeper you dive. Red and orange are absorbed at about 20 feet, while blue, indigo, and violet stays with you. Those are not absorbed until depths well beyond safe diving limits. In order to get the reds and orange in your picture, carry a diving light or use a strong camera flash.

Although I’m hunting the perfect whale shark shot as eagerly as any underwater photographer, my favorite shots are of the microorganisms  that live in the ocean. Here are some of my favorite shots that I’ve taken over the years.

AMB_CB_BlueEyedHermitCrabThis little creature is called Frank Sinatra crab by the locals in the Cayman Islands and is extremely shy. I discovered this blue-eyed hermit crab in the waters outside Cayman Brac and had to wait a long time before it crawled out from under his house.



AMB_CB_BandedShrimp_BrittleThe Cayman dive sites I visited had an amazing amount of micro-life. I really worked on my buoyancy control while hovering to get the perfect shot. These banded shrimp and brittle star were hiding inside a huge pink sponge. The shrimps’ actual size are smaller than a paperclip.






This is not that great of a shot, but I wanted to include it to show what baby moray eels grow into. Compare this cute guy to the next photo. (This is also a great example of the red and orange colors being absorbed by the water.)









AMB_LaPazMorayLuckily these guys are pretty shy and only attack if provoked (like most animals). I found both of these eels while diving off La Paz on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.







AMB_CB_SaddledBlennyBack to Cayman Brac. This saddled blenny is about the lenght of my index finger. He darts around similar to a lizard’s movements, so getting the shot was another case of perfecting my buoyancy control.








AMB_CB_FeatherDusterWormsThese feather duster worms would retreat as soon as they detected any water movement. It felt like I held my breath for a good minute to get this shot.








AMB_CB_ChristmasTreeWormI’m going to end on the picture I’m the most proud of, my award winning shot of Christmas tree worms. I’ve only ever entered one photography contest and won the top prize: a free tank-top. 🙂



What’s your favorite picture or favorite contest?







About Asa Maria Bradley

2016 Double RITA finalist, romance author, news junkie, physics instructor, and diver. Loves Norse mythology, ranch dressing, and cop shows. Lives with husband and rescue dog of indeterminate breed in Pacific Northwest. Represented by Sarah E. Younger of the Nancy Yost Literary Agency. Writers about sexy modern-day Vikings. More at and @AsaMariaBradley.

Posted on July 20, 2015, in Auth: Asa Maria Bradley and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Wow! I have always wanted to go scuba diving but the closest I got was boogie boarding in CA when I was a kid. Thanks for sharing your awesome photos. the Christmas tree worms are awesome!


  2. Sharks are more dangerous for surfers than divers. 😉 They don’t like the bubbles from the tanks, while surfers look like big seals from below.


  3. Oh very cool! And you’re so brave. I’m leery of the ocean. I’m sure my first — and last — shot would be the shark that ate me. 😀


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