When the Water is Green...Shoot the Small Stuff

What to do when the visibility is less than ideal for shooting underwater? Shoot Macro of course!

On the recent Bluewater Photo 3-Day Channel Islands workshop, we were greeted with less than ideal conditions. The sun was shining bright, but the winds were howling, the water was green and visibility in some spots were only in the 10-12 foot range. Not great for shooting wide-angle images in the healthy kelp forests of the Channel Islands.

A Coonstripe Shrimp (Pandalus gurneyi), photograhped at Emerald Bay, Santa Cruz Island, CA.

Most of the divers opted to make the best of the situation so on went the macro lenses, focus lights and high power diopters.

Based on the surface conditions, the Conception was limited to taking shelter in a few of the more protected dive sites at Santa Cruz Island. One spot that really delivered was Emerald Garden which is located towards the west end of the island.

A second site that we spent an entire day at was Fry's Cove. It seemed as if there were limitless numbers of subjects within only a few dozen feet from the anchor. We counted upwards of 15 different species of nudibranchs, Yellowfin Fringeheads, Octopus, Simnia Snails, Garibaldi protecting their eggs, and the list goes on and on.

There were Yellowfin Fringeheads (Neoclinus stephensae) to be found in large numbers at Fry's Cover, Santa Cruz Island, CA.

Looking at the results of everyone's shots, it was impossible to tell that visibility was limited or that the overall color of the water was on the green side. Get up close and the water looked crystal clear.

So...when the conditions limit the ability to shoot wide-angle, put your head into the reef and find the small stuff.