The photographer

Silver Seas Gallery

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  • Hardbound with dust jacket, 12'x12'
  • 128 pages
  • Black & White Quad Tone on Ultra Premium Paper
  • 50 Plates + Inset Images
  • Photographs by Ernest H. Brooks II
  • Foreword by Jean-Michel Cousteau
  • Introduction by Peter Skinner

plate 01   Luminous Bells
Santa Cruz Island, Diablo Anchorage, 1993
1/125 sec @ f~3-5 • T-Max ISO 400
On a foggy day offshore, a class of students attach strobe lights to their cameras and shoot macro on the sea floor. While they exhale through the dull water column below, I begin to ascend at the same rate as their expanding air bells—moments before they shatter into a thousand bits of light.

plate 02  Santa Cruz Island
Santa Rosa Passage
August 4,1997 1/125 sec @ fn • T-Max ISO 200
The weather in the Santa Barbara Channel is in constant flux. There is no such thing as a typical August day at sea. This exposure tells the story of an oncoming weather front after a superbly clear day.

plate 03   The Gathering
Santa Barbara Island, December 16,1983
1/125 sec @ f8 • Plus-X ISO 200
Light, shadow, shape and texture tell the story of The Gathering, a favorite moment at a truly favorite dive spot.

plate 04  School
Santa Cruz Island, August 3,1983
1/125 sec @ f8 • T-Max ISO 400
These smelt are being corralled by two harbor ials in the shallow water off the entrance Painted Cave. I sank to the bottom, ceased athing and waited until the stream passed ithin inches


plate 05  Sutil Island
Channel Islands, August 15,1997
1/250 sec @ f 8 • T-Max ISO 200 Just Love and Espiritu de Cortes are at anchor after the eight hour trip from our home port in Santa Barbara. The late afternoon light |   contours the island with a sea-state rarely his glassy.

plate 06  Abyss
Devil's Hole, Nevada, January 3,1962
Rolleiflex f2.8
1/60 sec @ f 5.6 • Plus-X IS0100
While experimenting with an early camera housing design, I captured this remarkable moment when a diver, Merle Dobry, descended into the Abyss of an underwater aquifer.

plate 07  California Cold
Santa Barbara Island, August 3,1993
1/125 sec @ f8 • T-Max ISO 200
Black and white photography requires distinct separation between foreground and background with a pleasing ratio between highlight and shadow. After creating thousands of kelp images, I still never tire of drifting in the shadows cast by these forests.

plate 08  Red Coral Sea Fans
South Tubbataha, Sulu Sea, Philippines, 1996
1/125 sec @ f8 • T-Max ISO 400
Rare are those moments when I wish my camera was loaded with color film—but this was one of them. Reds, yellows, blues and greens so vivid under the sun's lavender glow as it began setting. The subtle silhouette of this sea fan still makes for a pleasing composition.

plate 09 Jacks Descending
Cocos Island, Costa Rica, January 10,1990
1/125 sec @ f8 • Plus-X ISO 400
Under the right conditions, I prefer to include the sun as a subject in my work because it adds tremendous depth and drama. But being in the right place at the right time, to capture the stories as they unfold, is a photographer's driving force. Here, a male jack with his female entourage descend to feed elsewhere.

plate 10  Reaching for the Stars
Anacapa Island, October 18,1994
1/125 sec @ f8 • T-Max ISO 400
Many times during the undersea program at Brooks Institute, special "fun" dives would be earned by students completing assignments on time. In this image, our subject diver, Mike Harrison, was wired with lights and strapped with twenty-five pounds of batteries. He "flies" rapidly toward us as he descends much faster than anticipated

plate 11   Winged Angel
Santa Barbara Island, November 6,1993
1/125 sec @ f8 • T-Max ISO 400
Under the rays of the afternoon sun, she came toward me with innocent curiosity. Another favorite dive site is this sea lion rookery on the south-facing end of Santa Barbara Island. Over the years, I've spent countless hours here, studying their behavior and social patterns, but I still continue to be amazed by how easily they accept me into their midst.

plate 12  Pirouette
Santa Barbara Island, June 1993
1/125 sec @ f8 • T-Max ISO 400
"Light on center stage, she performs for me alone. I am transfixed."

plate 13  Clowns of the Sea
Santa Barbara Island
April 3,1993 1/125 sec @ f8 • T-Max ISO 200
These two female sea lions learned this trick by watching divers. Here they began exhaling at the same instant I did, matching my breathing pattern. Later that same dive, I discovered that other sea lions in the area were practicing the same routine.

plate 14  Spot
Anacapa Island, August 23,1990
1/125 sec @ f8 • T-Max ISO 400
While enjoying free diving, I set out to snorkel in the kelp forest. At fifteen feet below the surface, nestled in the kelp fronds, Spot appeared. A sweet shaft of early morning light graced her face; her expression, priceless

plate 15  Michael Meets Spot
Middle Anacapa Island
October 1994 1/125 sec @ f 8 • T-Max ISO 400
Light and Motion Industries came aboard Just Love during one of our underwater photography classes to demonstrate a video housing designed for Sony. This image later became a trademark for an international promotional campaign for LMI.

plate 16  Spot Meets Michael
Middle Anacapa Island
October 1994 1/125 sec @ f8 • T-Max ISO 400
Lights! Camera! Action! I laugh through my regulator as dive buddy, Michael Topolovac, attempts to direct his newfound talent.

plate 17 A Sitting with Spot
Anacapa Island
August 23,1990 1/125 sec @ f8 • Plus-X ISO 200
I first encountered Spot on a dive in 1983 when she suddenly dashed up to me, examined my camera, grabbed one of my fins and tugged on my regulator. When we meet, she stays close and we always play. Once she swam off with my snorkel—then she stole my heart. This day, she decided on her portrait.

plate 18  Magic Fingers
Anacapa Island
April 16,1990 Nikonos II, 35mm lens 1/60 sec @ f3«5 • Plus-X ISO 200
Sixty feet beneath the surface, one calm early April morning, I had barely enough light to emphasize the "fingers" of this simple subject. This brown gorgonian came to life later in my darkroom.

Plate 19 Daybreak
Santa Rosa Island, Johnson's Lee, August 18,1995
1/125 sec @ f8 • T-Max ISO 400
Diving is about being fluid and weightless. While fifteen feet below the glassy surface looking up into the sun, I slowly pass under this canopy. The sun's rays fan out, forming "needle-sharp" points where they converge.

plate 20  Curves
Catalina Island, September 11, 1995
1/125 sec @ f 8 • T-Max ISO 400
The southern island hides many calm and sheltered coves and is known for an abundance of California kelp forests. Another favorite dive spot.

plate 21  Sun and the Moon
Monterey Bay, September 18
1994 1/125 sec @ f 8 • T-Max ISO 400
The sea voyage from Santa Barbara to Monterey was rough and windy as we skirted around Point Conception and Point Sal on our way to Carmel Bay. Near a serene anchorage, we encountered hundreds of Moon jellyfish seeking shelter in a, quiet cove.

plate 22 Evidence of Man
Santa Cruz Island, Pelican Bay, November 1995
1/250 sec @ f3.5 • T-Max ISO 400
Since my career began, in 1956, I've continuously searched for subjects that aesthetically bespoke man's presence underwater. Air bells are a common sight during a dive, and at fifty feet below my position, another diver exhales. An air bell forms and expands rapidly during its ascent.

plate 23  Along for the Ride
Santa Barbara Channel, August 11, 1993
1/500 sec @ fs.5 • Plus-X ISO 200
Five good reasons to become a photographer. From the high bow of Just Love, I await the moment all five synchronize. The porpoise on the left rolls up, as if to acknowledge my presence, as they tear off to more important play elsewhere.

plate 24  Cousteau Diver
Santa Cruz Island, Smuggler's Cove, July 4,1988
1/125 sec @ f 8 • Plus-X ISO 400
This photograph never appeared in Calypso's Log because it was not in color. "But," I explained, "it is in color because the Cousteau Diver is wearing a silver suit...that's a color, the ocean background is gray, that's a color, and the stripe on the suit is black. So there are all my colors." The Captain's son replied, "You've got guts."

plate 25   Blue in Profile
Anacapa Passage, September 30,1981
1/125 sec @ f8 • Plus-X ISO 200
At a focal length of 38mm on a yomm format camera, this blue shark fills my frame. Big, sleek and beautiful, this ancient and quiet form closely glides past as I pan to match its speed.

Plate 26 The Last Centurion
Cocos Island, Costa Rica, January 8,1990
1/125 sec @ f 8 • T-Max ISO 200
My dive partner, Jim Beckett, and I are finishing our last deep dive of the day, hoping to spot a Scalloped hammerhead. At a depth of one hundred feet, and silhouetted by the sun, we look up to sight this dark shape silently making its way toward us. Because of relentless gill and ghost netting, today, hammerhead sharks are well protected around Cocos Island.

plate 27  Death of a Reef Bonvoran,
April 1, 1997 1/125 sec @ f8 • T-Max ISO 400
Diver and photographer Lynn Funkhouser inspects a blasted reef. My heart ached as I recorded this image. Throughout my career I have focused on the ocean's beauty. Witnessing the devastation of dynamite fishing made this, indeed, a dark day.

plate 28  Descending
Devil's Hole, Nevada, January 3,1962
Rolleimarine f"3.5
1/30 sec @ f3.5 • Plus-X ISO 200
At 120 feet below the opening of Devil's Hole, and with sunlight barely reaching the walls of the cave, I'm encased in total darkness. Unable to actually see Jim Howtz's silhouette, I expose for the shadow knowing I'll later bring out the diver's shape in the darkroom.

plate 29   Lions
Anacapa Island, Ralph's Ridge, August 15,1994
Nikonos V, 2omm lens
1/125 sec @ f 8 • T-Max ISO 400
There seems to be a time when the act of foraging by sea lions becomes a social event. They return to their rookery after feeding all evening.
"Exuberance! Written in the calligraphy of lions."

plate 30  Synchronicity
Santa Barbara Island, August 14,1993
Nikonos II, 35mm lens
1/125 sec @ f 8 • Plus-X ISO 400
Birds fly in formation, fish perform in unison, but rarely do you view sea lions exhibiting such Synchronicity.

plate 31 Kissin' Cousins
Santa Barbara Island, January 3,1994
1/125 sec @ f8 • T-Max ISO 400
Playfully alternating roles, these "puppies" of the sea spend their lives touching, clasping flippers, and even rubbing noses, as signs of affection. Their social behavior is truly fascinating.

plate 32   First Encounter
Santa Barbara Island, April 3,1993
Nikonos II, 35mm lens
1/125 sec @ f 8 • Plus-X ISO 400
On my back at a depth of forty feet and pointing the camera straight up, a curious juvenile sea lion suddenly decides to approach the outstretched hand of dive buddy, Ralph Clevenger.

plate 33  Passage
Santa Barbara Island, February 6,1973
1/125 sec @ f8 • Plus-X ISO 200
My first trip to Santa Barbara Island, my first dive at dawn, and the last shot on the first roll of film processed on board Just Love—a day filled with excitement.

plate 34  Freedom
North Tubbataha, Sulu Sea, Philippines, 1996
Nikonos V, 20mm lens
1/125 sec @ f8 • T-Max ISO 400
There are moments when enough falls into place; perfect early morning sunlight, crystal clear water and a fabulous coral garden. My model, diver and photographer Lynn Funkhouser, explores the coral setting.

plate 35  1996 (Year of the Coral Reef)
Sombrero Island, Philippines,
March 26,1996 1/125 sec @ f 8 • T-Max ISO 400
The Philippines, with its more than 7,000 islands, offer divers, photographers and naturalists diversity rarely found anywhere. Here, the delicate lacework of a Tabletop coral form the early stages of a coral-scape

plate 36   Tabletop Coral
South Tubbataha, Sulu Sea, Philippines, 1996
Nikonos V, 28mm lens
1/125 sec @ f 8 • T-Max ISO 400
This image illustrates how corals compete for space.

plate 37   Vase Coral
South Tubbataha, Sulu Sea, Philippines, 1996
Nikonos V, 28mm lens
1/125 sec @ f 8 • T-Max ISO 400
I could spend the rest of my life photographing the shapes, patterns and textures of hard coral in the Sulu Sea. Declared as a World Heritage Site in 1994, both North and South Tubbataha are closely monitored underwater preserves

plate 38   The Altar
Anilao, Philippines, March 30,1996
1/125 sec @ f 8 • T-Max ISO 400
A place of small things bound together in fragile beauty—a birthplace and refuge for life. Near day's end, as the sun touched this coral community and The Altar, with its coral garden in bloom, I remained underwater to observe a spectacular sunset.

plate 39 Symmetry
Sutil Island
April 6,1989 1/125 sec @ f 8 • Plus-X ISO 200
Anchored in seventy feet of water, the current at three knots kept the kelp horizontal and out of sight from the surface. As the current let up, andVust Love began swinging on her anchor, I glanced down at a play of light. In a matter of seconds I was submerged with camera in hand.

plate 40  Sea Pearls I
Santa Cruz Island, Scorpion Anchorage, 1998
Rolleiflex SLR, 5omm lens
1/125 sec @ f8 • T-Max ISO 200
While repositioning for another shot, I discover a Macrocystis fully backlit by the sun. These towering "redwoods" of the sea move in rhythm as one, their branches never touching.

plate 41 Sea Pearls II
Santa Cruz Island, Scorpion Anchorage, 1998
Rolleiflex SLR, 5omm lens
1/125 sec @ f 8 • T-Max ISO 200
I chose to explore a series of Sea Pearls when asked to evaluate a new Rolleiflex SLR in an aluminum dome housing that had never before been tested in an ocean environment. Distance from the subject is eight inches.

plate 42  Sea Pearls III
Santa Cruz Island, Scorpion Anchorage, 1998
Rolleiflex SLR, somrn lens
1/125 sec @ f8 • T-Max ISO 200
The German engineering group that makes the Rolleiflex SLRs, more than likely builds Porsches as well. The camera worked flawlessly and was a terrific match for this subject.

Plate 44 Storm Under the Sea
Cocos Island, Costa Rica, January 8,1990
1/500 sec @ f3-5 • T-Max ISO 800
The turbulent and violent wave activity of the Pacific swell is hammering the oceanic face of Cocos Island. I feel the pounding at eighty feet as the waves break and crash onto the surface. I patiently await each break to capture a series of underwater "clouds."

plate 45   The Sky Above
San Clemente Island, September 12,1997
1/125 sec @ f8 • T-Max ISO 400
Autumn day. A strong breeze is blowing aspen leaves across a nearby grassy meadow...actually, the clouds here are caused by the sea's stormy surface above, which is rebounding from a nearby reef. A small school offish, while trying to maintain its position, adds to the scene.

plate 46 School's Out
Santa Cruz Island, Albert's Anchorage, 1984
1/125 sec @ f8 • Plus-X ISO 200
Only a few decades ago, even in anchorages along California's shoreline, this was a common sight for divers. Anchovy and schooling mackerel are now rarely seen in such abundance.

plate 47  The Magnificent Blue
Anacapa Passage
September 30,1981 1/125 sec @ f8 • Plus-X ISO 200
Only vulnerable to the depredations of man, this powerful and truly magnificent creature, with its ancient, sleek design, easily survives all others in the sea.

plate 48 Homeward Bound
San Miguel Island
May 6,1975 1/125 sec @ f 8 • Plus-X ISO 200
Sea lions returning to Point Bennett at daylight's end. Hanging from the bow to get closer to the surface, my presence doesn't appear to interrupt their slow, steady journey home.

plate 49  Spill
Santa Barbara Channel, January 11,1969
1/125 sec @fn • Plus-X IS0100
Witnessing the ugliness of an oil Spill, it is nearly impossible to not recoil from such devastation. Somehow, this lone floating feather caught my eye and made for me a deeper, more poignant, statement about innocence lost.

plate 50 The Videographer
Anacapa Island,
October 2,1991 1/60 sec @ fs-5 • T-Max ISO 400
Near day's end, filmmaker Wes Skiles records the movement of small creatures on the ocean's floor. The Pacific swell and current were shifting towards northwest laying the kelp down as sunlight momentarily found its way through the canopy of kelp above.
plate 51 Constellations of Water
Somewhere on our water planet within the last forty years.
This frame is from a series exploring the reflective qualities of water. My lens is stopped down to its maximum to achieve a starburst effect.