Selected by StudyWeb as a top (four apple)-rated featured site -- "one of the best educational resources on the Web" -- in the Fine Arts-Underwater Photography category.

A camera and swimming nut since childhood, I naturally evolved into UW photography. I began SCUBA diving in the early '70s, taking a course at Neptune Dive and Ski in North Augusta, SC, while I was in grad school. I joined the dive club, began "helping out" in the pool and classroom, and eventually got a provisional instructor certification and taught classes and helped run check-out dives. My grad school teaching stipend prohibited me from having a paid job, so I got "deep discounts" (pun intended) on tons of dive gear.

My soon to be wife came along on the check-out dives for our classes, mainly in the Florida Springs (home base was Branford). She finally realized she'd better learn to dive if she didn't want to get bored watching us have fun. My work at the dive shop helped get all the gear she needed too. Soon she was certified and came along on all our dive trips with the club and the dive shop; she became a safety diver helping with check-out dives for our students.

My wife became a great dive buddy: an eye on safety; we stuck together and could read each other's mind; we could always count on each other doing the right thing instinctively and instantaneously if something came up; and she could always spot something interesting that I'd miss.

I was looking for a post-doctoral position in '74 and lucked-out with a spot at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Not a bad place for a diving couple. We wound up in an apartment in Kendall, south of the city, and in no time we could hit the water in the Keys, where we tried to do as much diving as possible. We had a Chevy van with nothing but two bucket seats and a CB radio, and all the rest empty to hold lots of dive and photo gear, plus our two dogs, who always came along.

My wife had a superb eye for spotting lunch or dinner, and in waters where lobster and conch harvesting were allowed that's what we took. With lobster, it was left to me to stick my arm in the holes as far as I could reach to poke around, locate our meal while hoping for no moray eels, and bring the goodies up. We speared nothing and took nothing we didn't eat. She would also periodically crack open a sea urchin to feed the fish so I could get photos like the one at the right.

Although we moved up north in '77, we packed lots of fond memories of many dives into barely three years. Long ago I decided to start scanning my slides and sharing them. I hope you like at least some. For now: only a couple dozen out of hundreds I'm not ashamed to have others look at. But remember when you look: I'm just a rank amateur.

Many of the photos were shot in the Florida Keys (mainly Key Largo - Penneykamp, Marathon, and Looe Key). We routinely went with Capt. Steve Klem out of Key Largo; you old timers may remember him and his boat, Mary Metro as I recall. The rest were shot in Cozumel (the Galapago Inn was our favorite place to stay) or Grand Cayman (we usually stayed at the "old" Tortuga Club, when Cleo was the superb cook and Frank Connelly ran the place), usually on the East End and over to the Cayman Diving Lodge area.

We have hundreds of slides from the Florida Springs (Branford, Live Oak, and such places as Little River, Peacock, Pot Hole, the Jug, Jenny -- as it was once called, and Orange Grove), but I haven't gotten around to scanning them yet. Someday....

Cameras: Some photos were made with a Nikonos II and the old Nikonos flash -- the one that used flash bulbs(!), which put out tons of light. I used M3 bulbs via an adapter, and calculated exposures based on the topside Guide Number and guesstimates of distance. The rest were taken with a Nikonos II (exposure metered with a Sekonic topside meter in a housing) or Nikonos V, often with a CC10R - CC30R filter. I used either a Vivitar 283 strobe in an Ikelite housing with manual exposure calculation, or an Ikelite Substrobe 150 in TTL mode.

All the photos were taken with the standard Nikonos 35 mm lens. Macro photos, of which there are plenty, were usually taken with a Green Things macro attachment over the primary; a few were shot with Nikon extension tubes, but I liked the flexibility of a front-of-the-lens attachment that I could remove when I wanted without having to go topside.

Film: Ektachrome, daylight, various ASAs (ISOs), sometimes pushed one stop when needed. All the film was home-processed with either a Kodak or Unicolor (preferred) E-6 kit. Developing the film at home is a piece of cake, with just a bit of care to stabilize temperature (and a good thermometer), and with no expensive equipment. You can do it too, and if you have six or more rolls to process at a time, it's quite economical.

Computer stuff: Most slides were scanned with a Microtek 35t using a Mac clone. Later ones were done with a Macintosh G3 or G4 and a Nikon LS2000 scanner. Most of the photos were edited only slightly with Adobe Photoshop (aided by Extensis Photo Tools) to crop, adjust color balance, or remove minor blemishes. However some were tweaked rather playfully.

Copyright: I hold the copyright on all the photos, and they're watermarked (Digimarc).

If you'd like more great stuff on underwater photography, head to the Underwater Photo Ring for many links on the subject. Or, do a web search right here!


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Copyright 1997-2006, M. Shlafer