Visi Eklektik dari Renee Capozzola

Snapper Sunset I took this half-and-half shot of a school of snappers sweeping over a shallow reef in 2019 in Rangiroa, French Polynesia. After surfacing from an afternoon dive inside the lagoon, I decided to return at sunset for some over-under shots. One of my strobes was not working when I arrived just before sunset. I thought it was a battery issue, so the boatman offered to return to the nearby dive shop to retrieve extra batteries from my bag. When he returned, I noticed this school of fish settling right under the boat as I quickly hopped back on board to change the strobe batteries. I didn’t have much time, and the sun was setting, so I asked the driver to move the boat to the mooring ball on the other side of the reef. The fish swam over the reef in front of me, allowing me to illuminate them with my then-working strobes.

RUTE MENUJU KEUNGGULAN DALAM FOTOGRAFI BAWAH AIR bervariasi dan terus berkembang. Untuk waktu yang lama, hal ini diukur terutama dalam buku atau artikel majalah yang diterbitkan atau katalog klien untuk ilustrasi produk bawah air. Dengan munculnya media digital, jumlah pengikut yang dimiliki seorang fotografer di platform media sosial semakin penting. 

Success in high-profile photo contests has also become an increasingly prestigious and credible pathway. There is validation in consistently being chosen number one by your peers, along with the extraordinarily wide viewership the winners’ portfolios enjoy on social media. No one has navigated that niche with greater aplomb than Renee Grinnell Capozzola. Her images being consistently recognized as the best of the best speaks to her strategic planning, vision, and technical execution.

Renee memilih spesialisasi yang disukainya, yaitu foto setengah-setengah (over-under), dan menggunakannya sebagai palu untuk menancapkan paku di kompetisi-kompetisi awal. Foto-fotonya telah memenangkan lebih dari 50 penghargaan internasional bergengsi, beberapa di antaranya termasuk juara pertama dalam Ocean Geographic Pictures of the Year 2022, 2020, dan 2017, juara pertama dalam Kompetisi Foto Hari Lautan Sedunia Perserikatan Bangsa-Bangsa tahun 2021 dan 2019, juara pertama dalam Big Picture 2018: Kompetisi Fotografi Dunia Alami, dan penghargaan Best in Show di 2017 Beneath the Sea. Dia adalah anggota tim nasional AS yang memenangkan kejuaraan global di World ShootOut 2016 dan 2019. 

Salah satu penghargaannya yang paling signifikan adalah pengakuan dari Blancpain pada tahun 2021 untuk penghargaan Female Fifty Fathoms (FFF) sebagai bagian dari Majalah Oseanografi Ocean Photography Awards. Also in 2021, she was chosen Underwater Photographer of the Year by the appropriately named Underwater Photographer of the Year (UPY) competition, honoring a single image of excellence: “Sharks’ Skylight” is an underwater Snell’s window shot of a pair of blacktip reef sharks at sunset with gulls visible through the water. The UPY’s head judge, Alex Mustard, reflected on what elevated this one image above the 4,500 other entries: “This is a photograph of hope, a glimpse of how the ocean can be when we give it a chance…. The photographer not only persevered until this serendipitous scene unfolded, but more important, Renee had the talent to capture this precise moment.”

Renee Capozzola di Pulau Catalina
Capozzola berpose dengan kameranya di Pulau Catalina dengan latar belakang Catalina Casino yang ikonik.
Andrea Caputo dari Blancpain mempersembahkan jam tangan Female Fifty Fathoms Award perdana kepada Renee
Andrea Caputo dari Blancpain mempersembahkan jam tangan Female Fifty Fathoms Award perdana untuk Renee, jam tangan pertama dari seri edisi terbatas khusus.
pemandangan yang semarak dari ekosistem laut yang sehat
Pemandangan Terumbu Karang Raja Tidak seperti kebanyakan foto-foto setengah-setengah yang sering saya rencanakan sebelumnya, foto ini merupakan foto yang muncul begitu saja yang dikombinasikan dengan keberuntungan. Saat mengunjungi Raja Ampat pada bulan Oktober 2018 sebagai bagian dari ekspedisi Ocean Geographic Elysium Heart of the Coral Triangle, kami beruntung dapat menyelam di Misool, yang merupakan pusat keanekaragaman hayati. Setelah turun dari kapal, saya bertemu dengan kepala karang yang berwarna-warni ini, tetapi saya berada di arus yang tidak terlalu kuat. Secara naluriah saya memutar kamera saya secara vertikal karena pemandangannya cukup tinggi dan mengklik rana hanya dua kali saat saya melayang. Saya berharap saya bisa berputar balik dan mengambil lebih banyak bingkai dari pemandangan ekosistem laut yang sehat ini.

For all the attention Renee’s photography has received in the past decade, her beginnings in underwater photography were inauspicious. She grew up in Southern California, and her father was an airline executive, so the short five-hour flight to Hawai‘i was their family’s island getaway. She recalls walking down Front Street in Lahaina, Maui, as a child and seeing the art galleries by Wyland and Christian Riese Lassen. 

Adegan fantasi dengan kehidupan laut di bawah dan pemandangan laut yang eksotis di atasnya sangat mempesona dan menginspirasinya untuk mulai melukis saat ia baru berusia 7 tahun. Ia menekuni keahliannya itu dengan sangat serius; bahkan pada masa kuliahnya, ia menghabiskan satu tahun penuh untuk bekerja dengan detail yang menyiksa pada adegan setengah-setengah di malam hari yang diterangi cahaya bulan dengan lumba-lumba.

The underwater world of scuba diving eluded her, even as she traveled with her husband, Damian, to destinations including Italy and Hawai‘i. She remembers sitting in a hotel room in Lahaina and reading a tourist booklet titled 101 Hal yang Dapat Dilakukan di Maui. One suggestion was SNUBA, an underwater breathing protocol where the air supply is in a support raft on the surface and connects to the diver’s regulator by a long hose. Getting an intimate view of the reef on SNUBA motivated the couple to try a PADI Discover Diving course. This initial exposure to diving permanently set the hook: Renee and Damian stopped snow skiing and going to Europe and instead began planning how and where to do their next dives.

bayi paus bungkuk naik
Playtime in Mom’s Bubbles This is not one of my favorite pictures in terms of its technicality, but it is one of my top in-water experiences. My good friend Ron Watkins and I were side by side on the surface in Mo‘orea in September 2017, waiting for a humpback whale to rise to the surface. We stayed put where our instructor told us, and a few moments later this baby humpback started to ascend. I could see all these bubbles coming up from below. As the baby came through the bubbles just underneath me, I fired off a few frames before it turned to my right and passed just in front of Ron. Moments later the mom came up, revealing the bubbles’ source, and the two whales moved forward. Although it was hard to ascertain if the baby was playing in the bubbles, practicing opening its mouth for feeding, or doing another behavior, I think it looks quite happy!

They couldn’t spend all their time traveling, however, because Renee had a full-time job that wasn’t underwater photography. She has a master’s of physical therapy degree and worked in sports medicine for five years, but the manipulations were hard on her wrists, so she started teaching Advanced Placement biology and anatomy/physiology at Palos Verdes High School in California. Family demands also grew with the 2007 and 2011 births of her children.

She began her journey into underwater photography around that time, but her equipment was limiting for the first decade of her pursuits. She had only a Sony Cyber-Shot point-and-shoot camera. With its digital lag, limited optics, and minimal strobe options, she couldn’t perform to the level of her aspirations. In 2013 she upgraded to a Canon PowerShot G10 for available light and added a pair of strobes the next year.  

While her gear was limiting, her imagination was unbridled. Renee read all the books she could find on underwater photography. Her favorite was David Doubilet’s pivotal Air, Cahaya, Waktu (although she might have added “and a good camera” to the title if she had written it). She learned more photo techniques from Martin Edge’s Fotografer Bawah Air. Pada seminar yang ditawarkan oleh Bluewater Photo di Culver City, California, ia berteman dengan para pemotret bawah air yang inspiratif, Ron Watkins, Andy dan Allison Sallmon, dan Mark Strickland.   

Hiu karang sirip hitam
Blacktips by Day Several blacktip reef sharks lined up just under the surface in this over-under shot from Mo‘orea, French Polynesia. The morning sea and sun conditions were pristine, probably the best I have seen there. My husband and I were on a dive boat that made a short stop at the sandbar before moving on to a morning dive. Because the conditions were absolutely perfect, we stayed at the sandbar while the boat went out for the dive. This decision paid off because I got some nice shots while photographing the blacktip reef sharks and stingrays uninterrupted for a couple of hours. My strobe batteries eventually died, but they were still working when I took this shot.
Seorang penyelam menjelajahi Dreamgate Cenote di Meksiko
Seorang penyelam menjelajahi Dreamgate Cenote di Meksiko

All her learning and practice laid the foundation for her career’s explosive growth in 2016, when she finally upgraded to the digital single-lens reflex (SLR) Canon EOS 5D Mark III, a Nauticam housing, and her go-to wide-angle lenses: the Canon 16-35mm and Tokina 10-17mm. The addition of a pair of Sea and Sea YS-D1 strobes brought her into the equipment mainstream. She continued to tweak her preferences and has recently evolved to using a Canon 5D Mark IV in a Seacam housing, and she is recognized as one of Seacam’s highly esteemed brand ambassadors. 

As an aside, I asked Renee why she preferred the digital SLR over the new mirrorless Canon R5. She pointed out that much of her work is from small boats in remote locations, and she sometimes spends five hours in the water working on one series of images. The DSLR’s longer battery life was the deciding factor for her.  

“I’m not a fan of the electronic viewfinder on the mirrorless systems, especially when shooting into the sun,” she added. “The battery life is about more than longevity — I prefer an 11-24mm lens for my half-and-half shots, which requires taking off the port and lens from the front and removing the camera from the housing to change batteries. This process is very cumbersome when I’m on a boat all day and the camera is wet.”  

tiga penyu hijau
Tiga Penyu Sunburst I captured this image of three green sea turtles circling beneath the sun in Maui, Hawai‘i, near a known cleaning station where turtles often congregate. The water was exceptionally clear that morning, and the sun’s rays were perfect at a shallow depth, so I set my camera to a low ISO, high shutter speed, and small aperture in hopes of obtaining a nice sunburst shot of a turtle. I uncharacteristically took only about a dozen images on this dive and spent most of my time watching the turtles, wanting to leave them undisturbed in hopes they would get into a nice formation or display an uncommon behavior. When I saw these three turtles start to come together, I slowly approached them from underneath, making sure not to exhale any bubbles, and waited for the exact moment to hit the shutter.
larva ikan panekuk pancake
Kejutan Ikan Kelelawar Ikan kelelawar pancake larva ini muncul pada penyelaman air hitam di Anilao pada akhir Desember 2019. Saya menyelam bersama fotografer air hitam yang luar biasa, Mike Bartick, yang menemukan ikan ini dengan cahayanya di suatu tempat di bawah 50 kaki. Setelah dia mengambil beberapa bidikan, saya bergerak, memotret empat atau lima bingkai, dan berakhir dengan potret ikan yang tampak terkejut ini. Meskipun saya menggunakan DSLR full-frame untuk gambar sudut lebar, saya mengambil foto ini dengan lensa 60mm dan kamera Canon 7D Mark II, yang memiliki sensor krop.

Renee now travels the world in pursuit of her underwater photos — she dived Raja Ampat last year with her son and just returned from Antarctica. In the early years though, she remained true to her West Coast getaway of Hawai‘i and became especially proficient at photographing the green sea turtles she encountered there. 

She became a master of light in the half-and-half discipline, blending the ambient light of dusk and the setting sun with the kiss of strobe light to add color and detail in the split frame’s underwater portion. As she continued to perfect the process, she expanded the subject portfolio to include stingrays and blacktip reef sharks in French Polynesia. These were the images that launched her success.

The one image that jump-started everything for her is the one she calls “Sharky Sunset.” It is the main image for which she received the Blancpain FFF award and the first to make a splash in international photo contests. It exemplifies her approach to working with a singular subject and executing a vision;  her talent and perseverance paid off in a big way.  

As her career continues to evolve, she has embraced new and creative genres of underwater photography. Recently in Anilao, Philippines, she recommitted herself to blackwater photography, expanding on the work she began in Kona, Hawai‘i, in 2018 and pursued further in Anilao and Lembeh over the next year. This dedication paid off with first place in the 2020 Beneath the Sea macro category. This past winter she went to Antarctica to expand her portfolio with coldwater subjects. 

Meskipun gambar setengah-setengah telah menjadi ciri khasnya, visinya terus berkembang menjadi lebih eklektik. AD

© Penyelam Siaga - Q2 2023



See more of Renee Capozzola’s work at