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Photographer Spotlight - Abbey Dias

I am excited to introduce you all to our October Underwater Photographer - Abbey Dias. I first found Abbey's photos while following Ocean Annie (Annie Crawley) who is a scuba celebrity in Washington. She teaches youth to scuba dive in the Northwest and Abbey was on her team! Abbey has since moved to California and shoots incredible photos of kelp forests and of course, Nudis. You can find her on instagram at @abbeydias or her website https://www.abbeyunderwater.com/
Keep reading to find out more about Abbey and her journey with Underwater Photography!
Scuba diver underwater
Tell the nudi community a little about you and where you are based out of.
My name is Abbey, I’m a marine scientist studying kelp forest ecology and restoration in northern California. I use underwater photography and film to communicate science and share the ocean. I find that there is a great intersection between science and photography, as photography challenges me to be more observant of the natural world and scientific questioning helps me develop stories with my subjects.
Sea Pen and Nudibranch underwater
When and why did you start diving? How did you get started with underwater photography and why?
I grew up in Washington and learned to dive just north of Seattle (in very cold water!), eventually earning my instructor rating. Always an ocean lover, I finally pursued diving while in college. My life changed the moment I took my first breath underwater! As I progressed through my training, I realized taking a camera would allow me to share my experience underwater with friends and family on land. This developed into a passion for revealing underwater life with folks who might not otherwise experience it.
Kelp forest
Tell us a little about your setup! Dive gear and photography must haves
I started with a GoPro and then was fortunate to borrow an Olympus TG-6 while learning. These cameras are great for macro photography—like shooting nudis!—which  is how I started. I spent a long time searching for the right system before landing on a craigslist offer for a used Canon 5d mark ii in Sea&Sea housing. I love it! I have Light in Motion video lights because I enjoy the flexibility of switching between photo and video. I primarily shoot close-up wide angle but hope to purchase a macro lens for my set up so I can shoot more nudis. I love macro photography because it allows me to slow down, observe, and interact more with the tiny world I otherwise might not notice.
Crab and Nudibranch
Your favorite nudibranchs and where you can find them
When diving in Seattle with my team of fellow ocean-loving kids and teens, we love to search for the elusive shaggy mouse nudibranchs (Aeolidia papillosa). Up north, some of our species can grow really big in the winter—including 10-inch sea lemons (Peltodoris nobilis) or white-lined dironas (Dirona albolineata). You can find these guys making great migrations across the sand as they look for mates.
White Lined Dirona nudibranch
Your favorite place to dive. And a few places at the top of your bucket list
My favorite place to dive is in the kelp forests in Carmel, California. No specific place—just anywhere I can find kelp! At the top of my bucket list is the Arctic, I think diving under sea ice would be really neat. That being said, Indonesia sounds warmer and equally as awesome… So much cool macro life there!
Fish in a kelp forest
Some tips and tricks for other underwater photographers and goals for underwater photography
Buoyancy is the key to underwater photography! Make sure you have solid dive skills before taking a camera, as multitasking can be difficult. Holding a camera will change your trim, and we want to avoid churning up the bottom and disturbing marine life.
My next tip would be to shoot with whatever you have—you don’t need an expensive system to create awesome photos. You can even practice your photography on land if you don’t have access to an underwater system yet. Likewise, if you aren’t a diver, you can still find awesome marine creatures in tidepools (including nudis!) to take photos of.
If you do have a camera, make sure it has a strap you can attach to yourself so you can clip it off quickly and free your hands. That way you don’t have to choose between safety and your camera.

My personal goals include diving deeper into shooting and editing. There is always so much to learn!

Clown Nudibranch
Scuba diver looking at sea star
Do you know someone who loves Nudibranchs and takes great photos? Let us know so we can reach out!

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