Ethan Daniels, Underwater Photographer
As a child on Cape Cod, Ethan Daniels fell in love with water and the mysteries within it. He learned to swim and sail there, and later (in order to become an intern at the New England Aquarium) he learned to dive in its murky depths. “The study of life around the planet was the only subject that ever fascinated me enough to spend a good part of my life in school,” he recalls. Daniels followed his passion to Guam where he studied at the University of Guam Marine Laboratory and later worked as a biologist and dive tour leader in the Republic of Palau. Along the way, he began experimenting with underwater photography, first as a research tool, but then more and more as a documentary and artistic outlet. He now travels the world shooting aquatic ecosystems for several publications.
In 2004, Daniels returned to the United States and to his childhood waters off Cape Cod. With his now trained eye, he saw these familiar ecosystems in a new light. He began documenting all of the regions aquatic habitats, from kettle ponds to the depths off Chatham, and found in them a beauty that few stop to appreciate. His book Under Cape Cod Waters (see slideshow below) is a thoughtful and intriguing portrait of the life that thrives in our chilly and often harsh waters.
We caught up with Daniels before a book signing at the Boston Public Library and asked him to share some of the secrets of underwater photography, a discipline many of us dream about, but few get the chance to try.
How do you light a shot underwater? Daniels says that the waters of Cape Cod are the hardest he has ever worked in due to their murkiness. Click the link below to hear some of his tips for bringing light into the dark depths of the ocean.
[haiku url="http://blogs.yankeemagazine.com/behind-scenes-magazine/files/2011/08/ED-Lighting.mp3" title="ED Lighting"]
If you think keeping your children still long enough to take a photo of them is difficult, try capturing organisms that are genetically trained to believe that you might be trying to eat them! Click the link below to hear how Daniels overcomes his subjects’ natural skittishness and gets close enough to take their portraits.
[haiku url="http://blogs.yankeemagazine.com/behind-scenes-magazine/files/2011/08/ED-Approaching-Subjects.mp3" title="ED Approaching Subjects"]
Framing a Shot
What makes a good underwater photograph? With unwilling subjects, difficult lighting, and (most importantly!) a limited air supply, how do you bring your elements together into a compelling scene? Click the link below to hear what Daniels looks for in a good shot.
[haiku url="http://blogs.yankeemagazine.com/behind-scenes-magazine/files/2011/08/ED-Framing-Shots.mp3" title="ED Framing Shots"]
Daniels could shoot in any of the bright, warm, and tropical bodies of water he likes. Why come back to the cold waters of Cape Cod, an area often ignored by his peers? Click the link below to hear why Daniels has invested so much time on this project.
[haiku url="http://blogs.yankeemagazine.com/behind-scenes-magazine/files/2011/08/ED-Coming-Home.mp3" title="ED Coming Home"]
To purchase a copy of Daniels’ book, please follow this link.
Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.