Garibaldi, Santa Catalina Island, California. It is hard to dive in Southern California without encountering garibaldi. Some creative strobe adjustments and small adjustments with post-processing software were used to create this image. Photo © Philip Bonds
Philip Bonds has been passionate about capturing images of wildlife for over forty years. Despite growing-up far from the ocean in Nebraska, underwater photography always had an addictive appeal. Following a school assembly presentation by two underwater photographers in the mid-1960s, Philip determined to become an underwater photographer. Publications like National Geographic Magazine and television programming like The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau fueled his interest.
Green Sea Turtle, Kona Coast, Hawaii. The Kona Coast is a great place to photograph green sea turtles. This one approached through a coral arch and getting the approach shot with an upward angle was relatively easy. Photo © Philip Bonds
Initially, underwater photography was a means of sharing moments with non-diving family members and friends. This perspective changed in 2016. Following a highly successful single artist exhibition of his underwater photographic work at the Casa Grande Art Museum in February 2016, Philip realized his photographs and the conversations his work generated could promote positive changes in attitudes and behaviors towards the conservation of marine ecosystems.
Exhibition attendees encouraged him to write a book to showcase his work and tell the stories associated with the images. His book, Dancing with Sea Lions was printed in December 2019. All of the underwater images in his book were captured with an Ikelite housed Nikon D7200, a 10-24mm Nikkor lens and DS161 strobes.
White Shark, Isle Guadalupe, Baja California Sur. There's little doubt that this 16' white shark, researchers have named The Legend, thought I was a food item. I was hanging off the outside of a shark cage at Guadalupe Island, Baja California Sur, when he attempted to grab me. I am sure I looked like a sea lion in my black wet suit. Photo © Philip Bonds
Yellow Fin Goatfish, Kona Coast, Hawaii. Photographing schools of reef fish can be a challenge. Often, there is at least one oddball that insists on presenting its butt when you would rather have the entire school facing you. This school of yellow fin goatfish cooperated with me. Photo © Philip Bonds
Octopus, San Carlos, Sonora. Octopus are amazing. At one point, this one left the rock wall it was traversing to join me by sitting on my lap. Eventually, it moved up and over my camera rig to return to the wall. Photo © Philip Bonds
California Sea Lion, Isla San Jorge, Sonora. California sea lions love to imitate divers by blowing bubbles underwater. This one dropped in to greet me at Isla San Jorge. Photo © Philip Bonds
Nurse Shark, Cozumel, Quintana Roo. This nurse shark approached me in Cozumel and it was on a mission. Some of the dive guides had been feeding it and the shark expected food from me. When I gave no food, it chomped on one of my strobes a couple of times before moving on to another diver. My strobe survived the encounter with no problems. Photo © Philip Bonds
Whitemouth Moray, Kona Coast, Hawaii. Generally, moray eels appear to be in a grumpy mood. I may be reaching a bit, but I think this one actually looks happy! Photo © Philip Bonds
California Sea Lion, Isla San Pedro Nolasco, Sonora. The Sea of Cortez is a great place to interact with California Sea Lions. The island is home to a small rookery and the sea lions there see lots of scuba divers. Photo © Philip Bonds
Green Sea Turtle, Cozumel, Quintana Roo. Hawksbill and green sea turtles are common on the Mezoamerican Barrier Reef in Cozumel. This one presented itself in a swim-by that rendered the reef as a dark shadow against the dark blue background of the water column. Photo © Philip Bonds
California Sea Lion, Isla San Pedro Nolasco, Sonora. This sea lion dropped directly into the correct position to be photographed without backscatter. The image became the cover for my book, Dancing with Sea Lions. Photo © Philip Bonds
White Shark, Isle Guadalupe, Baja California Sur. Several my friends absolutely love black & white images of white sharks. This one works nicely in black & white. Photo © Philip Bonds
Philip Bonds has been photographing wildlife for over forty years. In addition to his work as a photographer, Philip provides ocean literacy education in schools and with community groups. More samples of his work and information about Dancing with Sea Lions is available on his website, www.cortezbluephotography.com, and frequently appears on Facebook.