I learned to dive in the mid-1970s and became interested in underwater photography. Since then, I have traveled to various dive spots in the Caribbean, Central America, and the Pacific.
Places I’ve been and photographed over the years.
Other spots I have dove but didn’t photograph:
- Hawaii 1985
- North Carolina 1999
- Cozumel 2004
- Grand Turk 2006
- Hawaii 2008
- Nevis 2010
- Cozumel 2013
A lot of these dives were taken on cruise ships or vacations where it wasn’t practical to lug a bunch of gear.
Florida – Learning to dive
I learned to dive while attending the local community college in 1974. The classes counted towards PE credits. Remember taking my first breath off a tank in the local pool here in Cocoa Beach where I spent my childhood. I was hooked 🤿!
We did a lot of our training in freshwater springs. My first dive in the ocean was at night in Delray Beach where I saw Manta Rays feeding!
Right before moving to California in May 1975, I took a trip with the local dive club to dive Looe Key near Key West in the Florida Keys. These were my first underwater photos with a borrowed Nikonos II camera. I shot a photo of a small Mola (aka Sunfish) – not knowing what it was until much later 🤣. I saw another much bigger one many years later laying in the sun on a fishing trip off of Cape Canaveral.
Interestingly enough, the camera was stolen on the dive boat but later anonymously recovered avoiding me having to pay for it! As a grand finale, I had a minor accident in the school van driving on the way back!
When I moved to California in 1975, I hooked up with the local dive shop and did a lot of diving. I helped teach their classes and in return, they would take me diving at the local spots. We dove the local waters near Pismo Beach for the classes. Morrow Bay was another favorite. I made several boat trips from the Santa Barbara area to the Channel Islands and a spectacular trip to San Nicholas Island off Los Angles. Diving in the kelp forest was enjoyable. Every once and a while I would encounter an Otter or Seal. A lot different than diving in warm tropical waters.
From the money I made working on the oil fields my last summer at college, I was able to buy my first camera – a used Nikonos II complete with a bulb flash attachment.
Crater Lake Oregon
In the summer of 1975, I took a trip with my girlfriend to Seattle. We stopped along the way at Crater Lake Oregon and met up with two of the guys from the dive shop. Hauling the equipment – a full wet suit with 40 lbs of lead – down the side of the lake was excruciating. The experience of diving in 36F crystal clear water was one for the history books!
Puget Sound Washington
I did some diving while living in the Seattle area. Try as I may, I just couldn’t hack the cold water – even after getting a dry suit.
I had so much crap to wear and deal with, hauling a camera would have been difficult. Besides, there was not a lot to see other than pretty interesting underwater terrain. I did a couple of dives to catch dungress crabs – that was fun!
Good news is that I started making money and could afford to travel to warmer waters!
My first trip overseas. I was shooting my Nikonos II with a Vivitar 285 strobe in an Ikelite housing. I remember being very impressed with drift diving into the deeper canyons like the Santa Rosa Wall. I’ve been back several times in more recent years – for a spot that gets thousands of divers a month it was in pretty good shape.
Roatan Honduras 1985
The trip to get there was almost as fun as the diving! I remember the last leg on a DC-3 propeller aircraft! Went with my brother Rick. We stayed at the fledgling CoCo View Resort. By this time I had a proper underwater strobe and managed to get some pretty good shots.
Belize Ambergris Caye 1988
The first time I went to Belize I stayed north in Ambergris Caye. The diving was fair but not great. I remember the place we stayed had great food and I played Pictionary for the first time 🤣.
Bonaire was an easy place to dive and was known as a good spot for macro photography. We did night dives right offshore. Best photo trip so far with my newly acquired Nikonos V camera and wide-angle lenses. Last dive trip I did with my brother Rick.
Great Barrier Reef Australia 1991
When I first started learning to dive I remember seeing ads for Mike Ball’s live aboard dive trips on the Great Barrier Reef. It was quickly added to my wish list. So when I did a month-long trip to Australia and New Zealand in 1991 it was the highlight of the trip.
The trip turned out to be a bust for taking photos. On my first day out I flooded both my Nikonos V and one of my lenses. I was able to get it to briefly work at some point after drying it out and managed very few photos. Other than that it was quite an adventure being so far offshore on the huge reef. We saw sharks on most dives.
Florida Keys 1991
On a trip home over Christmas, I did a couple of days of diving in Key Largo. The highlight was two sunken coast guard cutters – the Duane and the Bibb.
I returned to Belize in 1992 but this time on an Aggressor live aboard with new dive buddy Dan Matheson. We dove the barrier reef 25 miles offshore, including the famous blue hole there. Excellent diving and photo ops!
Grand Cayman 1993
We went on the Cayman Aggressor hoping to be able to dive the smaller islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. This didn’t work out so we just dove around Grand Cayman which was decent but not great. I remember the fish were aggressive due to being fed so often by divers. One of the fuckers bit me on my finger!
Dan and I dove Palau aboard an Aggressor boat. Our Captian happened to be the same one we had on the Cayman Aggressor! Incredible diving – especially Blue Corner. The highlight of the trip was an excursion to JellyFish Lake.
Cabo San Lucas 1994
I did a shorter land-based trip to Cabo San Lucas with some folks from High Plains Scuba in Fort Collins. The diving was better than I expected with some critters I had not seen before.
Papua New Guinea
Best place I’ve ever been by a long way. Took several days of traveling just to get there. Unbelievable pristine reefs teeming with animal and plant life. Go there now!
I moved back to Florida in the mid-2010s and bought a digital camera rig including an Olympus camera with housing and a Sea & Sea strobe. Here are some shots from dives off West Palm Beach and Panama City, Florida in the summer of 2015.