Green sea turtle at sunset, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral system in the world, comprised of over 3,000 individual reef systems teeming with marine life, making it an amazing dive destination for underwater photography. This week, we take a close look at the work of Queensland resident Gabriel Guzman, who has built an impressive following on Instagram with an extensive portfolio of images captured while working as a full-time photo pro at Calypso Reef Imagery in Cairns.
Gabriel often dives with his girlfriend Shannon, who is a dive instructor and underwater model for many of his shots, and some of the images they have taken together have gone viral, thanks to the friendly nature of the local marine life and Gabriel’s ability to capture each interaction at the perfect moment. He enjoys macro and wide-angle photography in equal measure, and an ongoing theme throughout all of his work is eye contact with the subject, whether that be a stingray, a big Napoleon wrasse or an inquisitive sea turtle. To have an animal staring down the camera lens ultimately makes the image more engaging for the viewer, and in my view is the obvious reason why many of his shots have been so popular.
To capture these portraits and seascapes, Gabriel uses a Canon EOS 5D inside an Aquatica housing, paired with Inon Z-330 strobes and a variety of different lenses and accessories. He sometimes uses a snoot to highlight a small part of the image for dramatic effect and also has a great eye for abstract patterns and composition that are especially prevalent in his macro work. I particularly like the close-up of the parrotfish beak, and the awesome composition of the juvenile ribbon eel in blackwater (the only image in the entire collection that wasn’t taken in Australia). His wide-angle photos are also impressive and include a couple of nice over-unders, plus some well-lit reef scenes and close-focus wide-angle work. Gabriel has clearly listened to the mantra in underwater photography that says when you think you are close enough to your subject, get closer! Many of the fish he has photographed will have almost touched the dome port, which gives them a unique perspective and also helps to show off their features and facial expressions.
While many have spent the last few years lamenting the demise of the Great Barrier Reef, Gabriel has instead chosen to remain positive, and to share the beautiful scenes and marine life that still very much exist there. He is a clearly a great ambassador for the region, and I, for one, am keener than ever to visit the planet’s biggest reef system after seeing this awesome portfolio.
Napoleon fish eye abstract, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Spangled emperors at the surface, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Parrotfish smile, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Pink anemonefish, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Titan triggerfish, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Sand anemone, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Cowtail ray, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Mangrove jack, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Napoleon wrasse portrait, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Ribbon eel larvae, Lembeh Strait, Indonesia
Australian sea lion, Jurien Bay, Western Australia
Flabellina nudibranch, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Coral bommie reef, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Snorkeling and filming a coral bommie, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
To see more of Gabriel’s images of marine life from the Great Barrier Reef, check out his fabulous Instagram page.
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