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steller-Richard-Salas News & Insight

Ocean Conservation | Under The Luminous Sea

By Ryan Filgas on July 5th 2014

Sea Life

Underwater photography isn’t something easily specialized, as often the underwater housings for cameras can be as expensive as the cameras themselves, and the training necessary to be a diver is a boundary of its own. Usually the term is reminiscent of national geographic documentaries at the deepest depths of the ocean, but it still seems distant like we aren’t connected to the land of the deep. Richard Salas is a photographer who would like to change that, and and he’s doing so by publishing a series of books to help foster that connection between human and sea life in an effort to help save it. The latest in this series is Luminous Sea, and you can see a few of its images below.


Hooded Nudi -Richard-Salas

Hooded Nudi

Richard Salas was first inspired by Ernie Brooks II, whom he describes as an underwater photography legend. He studied under the photographer the last year and a half of his education at Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara California. It was Brooks’ love of the ocean that inspired Salas to capture it with his photography. Later he saw books by Chris Newbert, a luminary in the field of underwater photography, and admired how Newbert’s books were able to make a difference. One of these books, “Within a Rainbowed Sea” is acclaimed as one of the most beautiful photographic books ever published.

Here’s what Richard Salas had to say about the photo below:

“One of my favorite photos is the bug eyed Steller sea lion who interacted with me on a rugby level.  These guys are 600-700 pounds of puppy dog.  They are very curious and not shy to check you out with their mouths and push you around with their massive bodies.  Not for the faint of heart or shy diver, but a whole lot of FUN!”



Cosmic Bloom-Richard-Salas

Cosmic Bloom

“One of my favorite places to shoot is God’s Pocket Resort up on Hurst Island in BC, Canada.  The underwater life there is so abundant that it makes me want to scream for joy.  Everywhere you look you cannot put your finger down on the reef without disturbing something.  I also for some strange reason like the cold water and the tougher diving.  I guess some things are harder to get to and they are usually worth the effort.”

War bonnet-Richard-Salas

War bonnet

Here’s a look at Richard’s artist statement:

While I realize that, as an individual, I have never been to more than a drop of water in the face of the vastness of the ocean, I have also seen that, as a species, humanity’s collective weight is having a profound impact on its watery resources.  So, with my lights and with patience, I create dimensionality in my photographs of these critters so that they leap off the page to greet the viewer.  I am committed to using my art and technique to spark in others both a reverence and a sense of responsibility for the ocean and its creatures.  Through photography I expose viewers to new ways of connecting to the underwater world and its inhabitants so that they, like me, may feel the heartbeat of our precious sea life.  ”

Bull Kelp frond-Richard-Salas

Bull Kelp Frond

irish lord-Richard-Salas

Irish Lord





In this video interview from The Intelligent Optimist on YouTube, you can get to know who Richard is as a photographer, and learn a little bit about where he’s headed with his work. Take a look:

The Indiegogo campaign to publish his third book is currently at about 10%, and hopefully he’ll make a nice dent in alleviating the harm we’ve caused the oceans already. You can find the Indiegogo campaign here.

If you’d like to see more of Richard’s work, you can find his underwater portfolio here, or the Facebook page for his newest project here.


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Ryan Filgas is an aspiring portrait photographer and studio arts major at Humboldt State University. His life consists of talking with friends, taking classes, and planning his next outdoor adventure. You can find his work on his website, Facebook, Google+, or connect with him via email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Michael Moe

    beautiful pictures!

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    i am so on his team

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  3. Tyler Friesen

    Thats amazing! So crisp for underwater shots.

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  4. Servando Miramontes

    It is not easy to get detailed, clean, awesome shots like this underwater…. Amazing stuff!

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  5. Michael Chapman

    Truly amazing article, video and photography … gives me the shakes … as in the “OH MY, I gotta do that” kinda shakes. :) Like Anthony above, where to find the time (and money!) to do all there is to do in this amazing/challenging/kickass art/science/life of photography???!!! Don’t have any idea, but it sure is fun giving it a go.

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  6. Andy O’Dowd

    The seal did it for me.

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  7. Kathy Newman

    These are stunning. I loved the Irish Lord.

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  8. Anthony McFarlane

    That Irish Lord is brilliant! There is not enough time in the day for the amount of things I want to photograph.

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