Photos by Susannah H. Snowden-Smith
OK, so maybe not beyond the sea, but certainly in the sea, is where you’ll find award-winning photographer Susannah H. Snowden-Smith.
And what better place is there to showcase your talents than right here in Cayman.
“Every day in the water is exciting and different and challenging, and I’m so grateful,” she said.
“I’m always on the lookout for the next underwater adventure around the world, only these days, in addition to artifacts, I’m eagerly seeking everything from tiny macro critters to sharks. And, hopefully very soon, whales.
“I’m very fortunate to live my dream, and I have a loving and supportive family that has cheered me on to thank!” You can find her work on her website,
www.susannahphotography.com, on Facebook or Instagram, as well as Camana Bay Market.
“Turtle In The Sky (With Diamonds)” – A turtle cruises under a Snells window. Spotts Beach, Grand Cayman. Canon 40D in Sea & Sea MDX-40D housing, Tokina 10-17mm lens, ISO 400, f/20 1/125 sec. Digital adjustments: tone and contrast, burning, dodging, cropping and straightening, sharpening, dust spotting.
“Chase or Evade”
Jacks chase silversides in a swim through. The silversides race over, and blur under, the jacks as they’re chased. The linear, almost grainy effect in the bottom third of the frame is the result of silversides blurring. Photographed using a slow shutter speed to allow ambient light and motion into the image, while strobes highlight the action. Grand Cayman
Over-Under split shot of the Wreck of the Doc Polson, Grand Cayman.
If you look closely, you can see divers exploring the wreck.
Jacks and Diver on the ex-USS Kittiwake, Grand Cayman
“Flight School” – Schooling southern stingrays and sky in an over-under split shot. Photographed at The Sandbar, Grand Cayman. When left to their own devices, southern stingrays will school. However, this is not an oft-seen behavior at the sandbar as the stingrays come in for a handout of frozen squid and often come straight up to the boats in messy groups. This split-shot photo was taken after all the squid had been given out. We were on the only boat out at the sandbar at that time. Everyone else had already gotten back on the boat as I continued to wade in the shallow sandbar. Suddenly, the stingrays started schooling—called a fever—and racing around. I dipped my dome port half into the water and clicked this over-under shot.
Three beautiful, strong, sleek reef sharks spent the entire dive with us, circling. On a couple of occasions I was able to swim hard and get even closer. East Side, Grand Cayman.
Fluorescing Secretary Blenny – No color editing was done to this photo: To capture the fluorescence, I used Nightsea excitation filters fitted over my strobes, and a Nightsea barrier filter over my lens port. The filters “excite” the fluorescence in the blenny and coral. This is the result! I photographed this using a very shallow depth of field and macro lens, enabling me to focus solely on the blenny and let the coral blur out of focus. West side boat dive, Grand Cayman
“Pink Peppermint” – Peppermint shrimp in purple vase sponge photographed with shallow depth-of-field. On a dive, I looked in every purple sponge I came across to see what critters might be hiding inside. I was excited when I came across this peppermint shrimp, a creature I had rarely seen, and had no luck photographing before. As I set up my strobes–one to fire through the side of the sponge, and another pointed into the front of the sponge to provide a little bit of fill light–the peppermint shrimp scuttled forward to the lip of the sponge. I used a shallow depth of field to focus on just the eyes: as I floated, I carefully moved forward and back by millimeters, enabling me take very careful focus and get this portrait. Shortly after this shot, the peppermint shrimp receded back into the sponge to a section out of reach of a photograph.
A diver is framed through a porthole on the bridge of the USS-Kittiwake. The room this photo was taken in is painted, its bright colors coming out with my twin strobes.
“Expectant Parents” – A pair of two claw shrimp, including one with eggs, in the bottom of a purple vase sponge. Two claw shrimp are a rare find on Grand Cayman; these are the only ones I’ve seen in over 300 dives on the island! When diving, I have made a habit of looking into every purple vase sponge I come across. On this particular day, my husband and I went to a secret spot on Grand Cayman. We call it “Magicland” as we always find the most amazing creatures there. I had never seen these shrimp before–two claw shrimp as I would come to find out later. I placed one strobe along the side of the sponge to provide backlighting, and another pointing into the top of the sponge to provide fill light.
A slave strobe beams through a structure in the engine room of the ex-USS Kittiwake shipwreck. A diver holding a flashlight adds depth and scale. The slave strobe was triggered by my strobes firing on the engine block in the foreground. Grand Cayman
“Reflection On A Mangrove” –Starfish Point, Grand Cayman–When I first found this starfish, it was crawling over the low roots of this mangrove tree, something I’d never seen before. I immediately conceived an over-under photograph of the brightly-colored starfish and the tree. I framed a couple of images…all the while the starfish continued climbing over mangrove tree roots. Over-under photographs are one of my favorite types of images and I’ve been developing new ways to shoot them. As the starfish got closer to the surface, I realized I could shoot not only an over-under, but also capture the reflection of the starfish on the bottom on the water’s surface.
Amphitrite is backlit with a strobe while a fish pecks away at algae on the statue. The statue is also known as the “Mermaid”. She was sculpted by Simon Morris. Sunset House, Grand Cayman
“Liquid Mercury” –
Stormy day and diver, Grand Cayman
Grand Cayman – “Check Out My Grill!” – Roughhead blenny. Photographed on a coral reef on the west side of the island.