While sailing aboard the Galapagos Aggressor, a dive at Fernandina Island’s Cabo Douglas provided the opportunity to photograph marine iguanas feeding on intertidal red algae. This fellow is taking a break between bites
No, you’re not having déjà vu. A couple weeks ago, we featured the work of a “Mike” from the Jim Church School of Digital Underwater Photography. And this week, we are featuring the work of a “Mike” from the Jim Church School of Digital Underwater Photography. Again.
Mike Haber is the yin to Mike Mesgleski’s yang as the tandem that conducts immersive underwater photo workshops aboard the Aggressor Fleet. Entertaining and informative,
Mikes the Mikes’ Mike’s teaching style is sure to engage even the most casual of underwater photography students.
You can see his passion for the art of balancing artificial and natural light in many of the images below. It’s a technique developed by the late Jim Church decades ago and espoused by Mike and Mike to this day. Why? Because it works. And while Mike’s professorial photography duties take him to nearly a dozen prized dive destinations each year, he is a man who believes in the simple pleasures, be it practicing your macro techniques for 90 minutes on a relatively common subject or being a fine connoisseur of bacon. Seriously, he loves bacon.
This pufferfish wandered in front of a moray eel and he was perfectly positioned to capture the action that followed. After a brief, intense struggle, the puffer managed to escape this predator. This is one of Mike’s favorite shots from night diving in Kona, Hawaii
After visiting Jellyfish Lake in Palau many times, Mike decided to isolate a single jellyfish and capture an image that included the tree line surrounding the lake. Since snorkeling is all that is permitted in the lake, this shot required a number of breath-hold attempts before he got the subject positioning and camera angle right
Taken during a “checkout dive” in the Galápagos, this image captures a female sea lion barking her disapproval of Mike’s presence just below the surface. Metering for the sky allowed the photographer to properly expose the clouds (ambient light) and the foreground (strobe light)
The saltwater crocodile was one of Mike’s most anticipated underwater photography subjects—one he had the chance to capture during a 2016 visit to Gardens of the Queen, Cuba
This beautiful chambered nautilus contrasts nicely against the brilliant red of a gorgonian on a dive in Palau. Positioning his strobes slightly behind the housing limited the amount of backscatter
There is a risk when photographing a colorful subject on a similarly colored background that the animal will get lost. In this case, the ornate ghost pipefish stands out enough to make the photo work, along with the shadows cast onto the hard coral
This is a prime example of balancing ambient exposure with strobe exposure. Mike starts by measuring the background blue water and then estimates the strobe-to-subject distance. Using his “Magic Strobe Table,” Mike can then determine the appropriate strobe output and aperture to properly expose the foreground without blowing out the school of fish
This female scalloped hammerhead shark clearly displays the markings of previous mating rituals. While they are formidable apex predators, the scalloped hammerheads of the Galápagos are extremely shy when it comes to human interaction—concealment tricks are needed to get a close-up shot
Photographed during a night dive in Gardens of the Queen, Cuba, this octopus spent a long time hunting along the reef—walking, swimming, and tenting over the rocks in search of food. When it finally jumped off the reef, so did Mike, shooting along the way as they both drifted downward
Mike captured this portrait of a juvenile mototi octopus in the Alor region of Indonesia, and he made sure to have the eye in focus to create a connection with the viewer. This is a cousin of the famed blue ring octopus, and while it only possesses two blue rings, it is equally deadly. In this photograph, you can see one of its rings just below its syphon
Mike (the man, the myth, the legend) Haber demonstrates proper strobe positioning
Learn more about Mike Haber’s work and workshops on the Jim Church School of Digital Underwater Photography website.
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