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Underwater Photography: Showcasing the Wonders of the Underwater World Through Black and White

Scuba diving has always been a normal activity for me. Swimming under water is second nature. Diving allow me to see marine animals and seascapes, which are far more varied and richer than those I see on land. Most people only think of the underwater world in color. From an artistic point of view, I think that this is an insufficient approach. I chose to use black and white photography to show another, more contemplative vision of a world which is largely unknown to those who dwell on land.

Underwater photo portfolio in black and white by Amar Guillen, photographer

Click on a thumbnail to enlarge it.

Using Black and White to Showcase the Underwater World

Black and white photography is a suitable photographic technique for many nature scenes. It requires a different way of thinking from color photography. A black and white photograph should be planned from the framing to the post-processing on a computer. Photography in black and white involves its own philosophy of photography, and black and white photos can convey certain emotions that cannot be expressed through color photos.

Black-and-white photographs immediately emphasize the point of interest. The viewer’s gaze is guided by geometric shapes, lines of flight, perspectives, and the contrast between light and dark. These are the elements which will enable the viewer to understand the message I want to convey. I could simplify this by saying that a black-and-white photograph goes straight to the point to deliver its essential message. Color photographs allow digressions and may lead the viewer to the message by secondary roads. Black and white is a more direct creative technique.

Black and white photography is an uncompromising creative art. Errors in the framing, composition, choice of points of interest, choice of lights, or choices during processing will result in an uninteresting photo. Color photography is more forgiving of mistakes. The way that colors attract the viewer’s eyes often masks mistakes in composition.

The underwater world is unique and magical. It inspires people to dream. In my photographs, I try to show the beauty of this world, because it needs our protection.

A Very Fragile World

I chose to use photography to demonstrate the fragility of this environment which so few people know about. One look at a photo is enough to convince an audience that a wide variety of species, beautiful sceneries and unique lights are found under the sea. Underwater photography allows me to capture moments of surprising beauty that I can share with others, whether they are divers or not, once I am back on land.

The large number of species is important in maintaining the ocean’s delicate ecological balance, and their population density is impressive. The scenery is breathtaking. It is impossible to say how many times I have hung suspended, contemplating coral colonies that had taken over a place. I always experience the same indescribable emotions whenever I dive.

A Truly Three-Dimensional World

Underwater, I can move in three dimensions in a way which is impossible on land. I can go in every possible direction. I can even comfortably stay upside down. But human physiology limits the amount of time I can spend underwater. A diver cannot stay underwater for more than one hour with a standard diving tank. I have always wanted to preserve the scenes which I see underwater so that I can enjoy them and share them with others on land.

Seascapes and underwater wildlife

In my underwater photographs, I always show marine animals as a part of their environments. This gives my audiences a better idea of what the underwater world is really like. As with wildlife photography on land, I have developed my own approach: environmental wildlife photography. When I take a picture, I emphasize both the subject and its environment. They are both important parts of the photograph.

Seascapes are often formed by corals, which are actually animals. They can colonize entire sections of an underwater drop-off. Their colors seem to sparkle and they give scenes a unique texture which is only found in the underwater world. In some cold or temperate regions, corals are replaced by kelp forests. The emotions which I feel when I swim in these underwater forests are comparable to those which I experience in the undergrowth of a forest on land.