Even if you haven’t heard of Animal Ocean’s Steve Benjamin, you’ve probably seen his photographs. His is one of the most iconic of all humpback whale breach captures, and his seal imagery is legendary. (So are his seal snorkeling tours – a trip with Animal Ocean should be on every ocean lover’s to-do list!). We asked Steve to bring his camera to the Ocean Basket Kelp Forest Exhibit to work his magic and the results were just that … Magical. Steve was also kind enough to share some of his underwater photography secrets with us.

All photos by Steve Benjamin/Animal Ocean

By watching the behaviour of the free-swimming penguins in the exhibit, I positioned myself so they would swim close to the camera themselves. It is never a good idea to chase after wildlife underwater.

Capturing the light rays adds a beautiful element to any image, as long as you can fill in the shadows of the subject in the foreground. I used two strobes to add light to the swimming penguins.

It’s important to use the opportunities presented on a dive. I found the red stumpnose the most curious of the fish species in the Kelp Forest, and it peered into the lens. I was able to find a spot with beautiful kelp as a background and waited for a red stump to come have a look and provide a foreground subject.

With a very wide-angle lens you need to be very close to take a picture.

This means that there is very little water between the camera and the subject, allowing clean images even when there are lots of messy particles in the water.

Advanced scuba diver? You too can dive in the Ocean Basket Kelp Forest Exhibit

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