The Monterey Breakwater can often have hundreds of Sea lions lounging on the rocks, until a free diver comes by and they start sliding into the water. Photo © 2020 Ryuijie
My interest in diving began in 1962 when my parents moved to Hawaii. I grew up in a military family and in 1967 my father retired and we moved to Monterey, California. Still in high school I made a friend who shared my love of the ocean. We began free diving and spear fishing in the waters around Monterey and Carmel. Upon graduating from high school I enlisted in the Navy. I was stationed on Guam and gave up my speargun for a camera, a Nikonos II. I spent my off hours photographing the reefs around the island.
Over the last 4 or 5 years Giant Kelp has been disappearing, due in part to warming waters and sea urchins. There are still small patches of kelp and I loved photographing the delicate new growth. Photo © 2020 Ryuijie
Upon my return to the states I discovered I had developed a strong interest in photography. My interest however switched to large format landscape photography, in the tradition of Ansel Adams, and Edward Weston. A style I still practice today. I continued to dive, and in 2007 I met another diver photography. This renewed my interest in underwater photography. I started applying my darkroom skills to the underwater landscape. Working together we began a series called “Kanchi” (The Quiet Place). These are hand made platinum/palladium photographs captured on film and processed in a traditional darkroom. Recently I anded digital photography to my underwater work. The photographs are printed digitally on an Epson P8000.
Kelp can create very abstract forms, I am always looking for interesting imagery. Photo © 2020 Ryuijie
This is Point Pinos, once my favorite kelp forests. All the green and brown algae has disappeared. The dark areas are clusters of purple urchins. Photo © 2020 Ryuijie
Seals are very playful and not shy, showing off their diving skills. Photo © 2020 Ryuijie
My equipment has always remained very simple, both on land and underwater. For my film camera I am using a Nikon N90S in an Ikelite Matrix housing. My preferred lens is a Nikkor 20mm D. My digital camera is a Nikon D7200 also in an Ikelite housing with an 8 inch dome port. The two lenses I prefer are the 10-24mm zoom and the 10.5mm fisheye which I set up to manually focus. All the photographs are made using natural light, and all the photographs in this selection were taken in the Monterey Bay.
On one of the rare days Iʼm scuba diving a Harbor Seals decided I might be good company. He was my buddy for the last 10 minutes of the dive, following me to the surface. Harbor seals are abundant in the Monterey Bay and can be very playful. Photo © 2020 Ryuijie
Yearlings are playful and curious, but each year many die unable to take care of themselves. Especially in years when anchovies and squid are hard to find. Unlike the adults they cannot swim long distances or dive to great depths to find food. Photo © 2020 Ryuijie
Lovers Point, one of the few areas Giant Kelp can still be found. Diving in a kelp forrest can be a magical experience. Photo © 2020 Ryuijie
Iʼve been photographing Sea Nettles for years. Always one one of my favorite photographic subjects. Photo © 2020 Ryuijie
Nettles can be found in small groups or large swarms, some times itʼs impossible to keep clear of their stinging cells. Yes I have been stung many times. It burns but is not fatal, thank goodness. Photo © 2020 Ryuijie
When I was a young man large schools of Blue rockfish were common in the Monterey Bay, but their numbers started to decline. Fortunately since the establishment of no take zones their numbers are staring to come back. Photo © 2020 Ryuijie
There is still an abundance of Bull Kelp growing in the bay, most in deep water at the outside edge of the reefs. This photograph worked well as an abstraction. Photo © 2020 Ryuijie
Shark Bite. This photo was taken by a friend using an old film SLR housing that Ryuijie converted on his own to fit a Hydro Holga camera. Photo © 2020 Camille Lenore
Ryuijie has been photographing for over 40 years. He has had numerous solo and group shows. He is represented by major photographic galleries and his work can be found in private and public collections including the Getty in Los Angeles, and the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson Arizona. His work has appeared in numerous publications including, Camera and Darkroom, Rangefinder, B&W Magazine, View Camera, and Lens Work. You can find his photographs at www.ryuijie.com.
Portrait photo © 2020 Dida Kutz