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Dive Photo Guide


Photographer of the Week – Lilian Koh
By Daniel Norwood, January 23, 2020 @ 06:00 AM (EST)

Flamboyant cuttlefish, Anilao, Philippines


Underwater photography can be challenging and it is often difficult to create unique images of animals that people have documented before, no matter how rare or elusive they may be. What separates the best photographers from the rest is an ability to combine both technical and artistic skills to showcase their chosen subjects in a new and unique way.

This week’s featured photographer Lilian Koh is an experienced macro shooter who understands these principles, and captures excellent images of the some of the ocean’s strangest underwater creatures as a result. Lilian became a scuba diver after a magical encounter with a manta ray while snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef back in 2000. Her first dedicated dive trip was to Sipidan in Malaysia, where she took along a small compact camera and quickly realized she loved to explore underwater and take pictures to document her experiences.

She now carries a much bigger rig—a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV in a Nauticam housing—but has moved on to smaller subjects and is addicted to black water and muck diving, where she uses snoots and other creative techniques to isolate weird and wonderful critters from their surrounding environment. If not using a snoot to black out the rest of the frame entirely, she will use extremely low apertures to achieve buttery smooth bokeh, or utilize camera motion to create pleasing blurred backgrounds.

As you can see from her portfolio here, it is often difficult to tell exactly where on the reef or in the sand these creatures can be found, so much so that non-divers may even find it hard to tell that some of the pictures were taken underwater at all! Living in Singapore, Lilian has easy access to some of the world’s best destinations for this type of photography. She holds workshops in Tulamben, Bali, as well as the Philippines, where she joins other well-known photo pros at the popular Anilao Photo Academy. Without doubt, these collaborative experiences inspire her to keep experimenting underwater, improve her own skills, and continue the search for ever more interesting subjects with which to create underwater art.

Whip coral shrimp, Anilao, Philippines

Tenellia nudibranch, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia

Skeleton shrimp, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia

Damselfish, Anilao, Philippines

Aegires villosus nudibranch, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia

Juvenile frogfish, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia

White-eyed moray eel, Anilao, Philippines

Hairy shrimp, Anilao, Philippines

Undulate triggerfish with cleaner shrimp, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia

Juvenile lionfish, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia

Favorinus tsuruganus nudibranch feeding on eggs, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia

Lilian Koh

Lilian’s collection of macro work far exceeds what we are able to show here. You can check out more of her images including lots of great black-water stuff on her Instagram or Facebook pages.


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