I just finished the underwater photography class at Brooks Institute of Photography and it was incredible. While historically all of the underwater classes were reserved for scuba divers, this year teacher Ralph Clevenger opened the course to free divers as well. I saw the class as an opportunity, as I am not certified at scuba but I live my life in and around the water. The following images were shot during a seven-week period with a Canon 5d MarkII in an SPL water housing with nothing more than a pair of fins, a mask and a snorkel.

The first time I used my water housing was on a trip with Santa Barbara Adventure Company. I went to Santa Cruz Island to photograph one of their kayak tours for promotional material. This shot was taken inside Cavern Point Cave while the tour group was in one of the back chambers. If you haven’t been to the Channel Islands yet…you need to go.

The sea nettle is a beautiful jellyfish and while this particular jelly was dead, I thought the light and color were heavenly.

On this evening the sun set and the full moon rose. “Mr Clean III” is one of Santa Barbara’s oil spill response vessels – and while I normally see it up near Point Conception, it was moored outside Fool’s Anchorage this evening. I’ve photographed the boat before but never from this perspective.

I was really busy the last few months and I didn’t have as much time as I wanted to take the boat out. I was really limited to only a few evening runs. Here is a photo from one evening outside Santa Barbara Harbor.

Although my water housing was specifically designed to photograph in the surf zone, I had a hard time motivating in the small and lackluster conditions locally. On the eve of a new south swell I called my friend Kyle Albers and asked him if he wanted to head down to L.A. county to get a few waves.

Sliding in style.

As part of our class we went on a five-day sea voyage to the Southern Channel Islands aboard the Conception. When I first got off the boat at San Clemente Island I swam straight to the shallows to look for leopard sharks before all the scuba divers could go and scare them away. Once there, I slowed down my game and watched as they swam before me.

The view at Leopard Shark Shallows.

On my second dive I took my kayak and paddled further away from the boat to see a part of the ocean that no one on the trip had been to yet. While on my way back after the dive, I saw a school of barracuda below my boat and I immediately set anchor and went overboard to look for them. The barracuda would not let me get close and I headed back to the kayak. As I approached my anchor line, I saw a shark fin go into the kelp forest.  I swam over to investigate and was blown away to find a group of about 20 soup fin sharks swimming through the kelp forest. Having never seen one before I stayed close to the surface for a while.

Once I got a sense for their behavior I went down for a closer look.

Appropriately named Bat Ray Bay.

Here is a look at some of the other finds.



Inspired by David Doubilet and mother nature.

Jack mackerel.

Flying fish not flying.

Ochre sea star.


I like bubbles.

Catalina from underwater.

Iron Bound Cove.

Topside images…

god’s light (moon)

man’s light (oil rig)

San Clemente Island

A few shots of the Conception

Bald Eagle feeding on scraps from a sports fishing vessel.

California Sea Lion thermo-regulating on an autumn-like morning.

Risso’s Dolphin.

Risso’s spyhopping.

Common Dolphin.



Sister ship the Vision


In-water people photography.

Dylan Long.

Miles O’Sullivan.

Ali Olaes. Light provided by Louis Prezelin.

Anacapa Dive Center‘s Megan O’Meara

Danielle Sepanik.

Amie Currie.

Tasha Sobol.

Thanks to the boat crew.

2nd Captain Baron Kelly.

Deckhand Rhett Morgan.

Deckhand Taylor Fitts.

The best galley girls ever! Tasha Sobol and Erica Miller.

Finally thanks to Ralph Clevenger for making the class happen.

-Erin Feinblatt

6 Responses to “Water photography”

  1. Sandara Carey

    beautiful work erin, you are amazing! the other mother

  2. Faith See

    My friend at the EDC shared the link to your blog with me. Im so glad that she did! These are incredible! I have been lusting after a waterhousing for a lonnng time…and a 5D….right now I have a 50D and a wolf baggy in underwater housing sheeps clothing that I have been too scared to actually use just yet…I dont trust velcro THAT much…
    Thank you so much for sharing! Totally inspiring work!

  3. david baer schermerhorn


    Your incredibly talented and your water footage was beautiful, both above and below the sea.

  4. Channel Islands Kayaking

    Hey Erin,
    Great job on these photos. I found the crew members in the water to be very telling. The true character come through when wet. Also the Rissos spy hopping captured a special momment.
    Keep it up, you are a good photographer.
    Mike Cohen

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