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Iconic Underwater Images, Can you name them?

Best Underwater photos ever Iconic Images

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#1 Steve Williams

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 06:48 PM

Hi folks,
I’m putting together a talk for the LAUPS for April and in it I mention the iconic photographs we’ve seen. I got to wondering which images people here feel are really at that level. The absolute best of the best, there may only be twenty or even fewer ever made. When you think of the most memorable underwater photo you have ever seen, which ones come to mind?

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#2 Tom_Kline

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 08:39 PM

Two pix by Louis Boutan come to mind; his self portraits in diver dress and in a swimming suit.

Edited by Tom_Kline, 06 February 2013 - 08:49 PM.

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#3 Kevster

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 09:38 PM

Most iconic image must be the Nat Geo photo of the diver standing on the sandy sea floor next to a large whale.

Edited by Kevster, 06 February 2013 - 09:39 PM.

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#4 Steve Williams

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 10:36 PM

Two pix by Louis Boutan come to mind; his self portraits in diver dress and in a swimming suit.


Thanks Tom, a quick google search found this article on Mr Boutan.
I have to admit that I was not very knowledgable of his contribution, I'm really glad now that I ask the question.

Kevster, that is the first image that comes to my mind too. It's Brian Skerry's image of his assistant and a southern Right whale. That one is very special.

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#5 loftus

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 04:30 AM

Kevster, that is the first image that comes to my mind too. It's Brian Skerry's imageof his assistant and a southern Right whale. That one is very special.

Steve

I always like to put a shout out for my buddy Mauricio Handler, the 'assistant' in the image. He never gets any credit. A great photographer in his own right, and responsible for helping set up any number of the great Skerry and Doubilet images
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#6 elbuzo

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 04:50 AM

Hola Steve

Glad to see you back in to business !

As iconic images that came to my mind:

Sharks feeding on sardines that won the BWPOY some years ago by Doug Perrine

Winged angel - b&w photo of a sealion by Ernest Brooks III

Splitshot of a stingray and sailboat at Caymans by Doubilet

The leopard seal gaping mouth by Paul Nicklen

Graywhale with kelps at surface ( although not u/w ) by Howard Hall

The southern right whale by Brian Skerry with Mauricio Handler standing in the front

Barracuda school circling a diver by Doubilet

Two tiger sharks at sunset by Doug Perrine

Hope that helps

Regards

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#7 manatee19

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 07:07 AM

Steve, here is a link to a complete PDF of Boutan's book on u/w photography: http://gallica.bnf.f...8/bpt6k10250505

As for iconic images, they are too numerous. Lists should include pioneering work done by Luis Marden, Bates Littlehales and a host of others from all over the world.
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#8 Phil Rudin

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 08:04 AM

I agree with Michel that the number of iconic images over time and from around the world would far exceed twenty or thirty. I would also add that some of the images would be more iconic to the dive community while others would be well known outside the dive community as well.

One such image was taken by Flip Schulke who passed in 2008 at age 77. Schulke was best known for his civil rights photography but was also one of the pioneers of underwater photography. Schulke's book Underwater Photography for Everyone, first edition 1979 along with the Jim and Cathy Church books were the bibles for aspiring underwater photographers at the time.

Schulke worked for NASA photographing astronaut pool training for national and international magazines, was the first to photograph an orca in captivity and developed several custom W/A lenses.

The most iconic of Flip Schulke's photographs was of one of the most iconic athletes of our time, Muhammad Ali. At the time the photo was taken Ali, born Cassius Clay was 19 years old and still called Clay. The story of how he tricked Schulke into taking the photo to get it published in LIFE magazine is well worth reading. I have attached a link to the photo and story, see if you recall this iconic image.

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#9 manatee19

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 10:01 AM

I agree with Phil. Flip Schulke, Douglas Faulkner, Gerry Greenberg, Bates Littlehales, Bill Curtsigner and many others including David Doubilet, probably the best known one these days were pioneers and David is still pushing the envelope on a daily basis. Jim & Cathy Church taught us underwater photography, especially those like me who were living in remote "foreign" places where scuba divers were so few... let alone u/w photographers. They set the wheel in motion and inspired generations. All those who followed in their footsteps benefited from their innovative techniques or unique look on the u/w realm. Some tools may have seem primitive compared to contemporary imaging computers we carry in our housings. in the end, the only thing that matters, to paraphrase DD's book title: Water, Light, Time. Maybe Wetpixel could start a virtual gallery of iconic images... and the story behind them... food for thought.
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#10 DiverPam

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 03:17 PM

I agree with Phil. Flip Schulke, Douglas Faulkner, Gerry Greenberg, Bates Littlehales, Bill Curtsigner and many others including David Doubilet, probably the best known one these days were pioneers and David is still pushing the envelope on a daily basis. Jim & Cathy Church taught us underwater photography, especially those like me who were living in remote "foreign" places where scuba divers were so few... let alone u/w photographers. They set the wheel in motion and inspired generations. All those who followed in their footsteps benefited from their innovative techniques or unique look on the u/w realm. Some tools may have seem primitive compared to contemporary imaging computers we carry in our housings. in the end, the only thing that matters, to paraphrase DD's book title: Water, Light, Time. Maybe Wetpixel could start a virtual gallery of iconic images... and the story behind them... food for thought.


Michel - I really like your idea of a gallery of iconic images over the life of UW photography on wetpixel and their stories. And maybe even why we think they are iconic.

Let us know what you come up with Steve. Don't forget to consider images you consider iconic and why. - DiverPam

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#11 Steve Williams

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 04:53 AM

Gracias Jose, your list is close to mine with some additions I’m not familiar with and I’m going to have to track down.
The term Iconic photograph may be confusing. Lots of folks here on Wetpixel had a conversation on this thread a couple of years ago about what makes photos special. We made up some terms to rank images from snap shots to world class best of the best ever and came up with this chart as one way to talk about them. "Good" photos are a big step above normal snapshots and are not easy to make. Dive magazines are filled with Good photos. "Admired images are the ones we see winning competitions. They are those special images that make other underwater photographers go Wow! The special class of images we termed "Amazing" is reserved for those very special images that connect emotionally and tell stories. Bruce Yates Cheshire cat grin shark image that won the the Oceans category of Nature’s Best Photography is a good example. I don't want to get too hung up on the terminology. Is Awesome better than Astounding? Is Epic better than Amazing? It's the quality of the images that I'm interested in and what makes them special.

Photography Growth chart.jpg

The idea was to start to think about what makes great images great. It’s clearly more than luck. Thinking about photos this way which Iconic images come to mind?
If you ask people who aren't underwater photographers to name an outstanding underwater image that affected them personally which ones do you think would be on the list?

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#12 Steve Williams

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 05:02 AM

By the way I like the idea of a Gallery of Iconic images too. Maybe we can at least link to them in this thread for starters.

Cheers,
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#13 manatee19

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 07:33 AM

Steve, the link idea is a good start. Maybe Eric and/or others more involved in Wetpixel can look and see what could be done. Most of the contemporary photographers that all admires have online galleries and some major publications like NGM have their own iconic images galleries. Links could be interesting in this regard. What is most interesting is to add the story behind the image and read about the vision of the photographer. I couldn't care less about ISO/shutter speed/f/stop... What is important is the thinking behind the picture. I like the diagram, nice way of explaining what lies between snapshots (which can become iconic albeit accidentally) and images that show vision, innovation. Images that carry a message whatever it may be.
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#14 tdpriest

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 11:53 AM

One man's "iconic" is another woman's "ho, hum"...

... and the suggestions are rather North American.

I have found a number of Alex Mustard's http://www.amustard.com/ images inspiring, and, yes, iconic. He's particularly alert to the possibilities of digital photography, and has a distinctive style that isn't influenced by the National Geographic house style that's influenced so many.

Here he is, hiding behind some dolphins:


Shear Water 2010 247 dolphins b.jpg

#15 manatee19

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 02:40 PM

I agree that the names cited before are North-American centric. Similarly talented people are found in Europe, Asia and Australia. And there must be many other unknown photographers who have produced iconic images that have yet to be seen by many audiences. This is in part why a gallery would help.
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#16 Steve Williams

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 06:58 PM

Sorry for the confusion, I guess there are multiple definitions of the word iconic. The simplest and the one I was using was taking iconic to mean famous for being the best or most significant. I'm trying to discover what you folks think are the best underwater photographs you have ever seen. I realize it's subjective, all art is subjective. I'm not asking who you think is the best or most iconic photographer. (Tim, for the record I agree with you. If you ask me who the best underwater photographers are, Alex would be on my very short list).

Let's try again; Jose has listed some of his special images. He lives in North America so it's not a surprise that's his vision has that perspective. How is the list of special images different for our members and friends in other parts of the world? I'd really like to know. What do you believe are the best underwater photographs ever made?

Michel, I won't post others images here without their consent. I'm happy to link to their site and I love the idea of capturing the story behind the image. The fundamental goal here is to better understand how to make more creative, amazing images.

Cheers,
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#17 Drew

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 07:55 PM

Doug Perrines's sharks in bait balls.: Best action with natural shark predation EVER! Still can't understand how he had the balls to jump water with hundreds of feeding sharks alone, get bumped like silly candy and can come up with a shot like that!

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#18 Steve Williams

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 03:22 PM

Thanks Drew! I had the pleasure of spending a week on a boat with Doug in Dominica a couple of years ago and really admire what he's been able to accomplish. Do you have a favorite image you can link me too?

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#19 tdpriest

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 01:31 AM

Simple, but stunning: Alex' image of a lionfish against Snell's window.

#20 Steve Williams

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 05:49 AM

My favorite images from Alex are the lone shark on the sand and his multiple of the pygmy's, ........... or maybe the heart shaped pair of eels, or the pair of divers in the cave opening. I give up it's too hard to choose. I wonder what Alex thinks is his best image artistically?

Cheers,
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