John and I met in 1994 in Palau, on the dayboat Splash. Since he and I were the only photographers on the boat (!), the dive master paired us up. He knew we would be the slowest! We shot at everything that moved with our Nikonos Vs and had dinner afterwards, then dinner again months later in Los Angeles to compare our photographs. And we’ve been diving and shooting together ever since.

The Nikonos is gone, but not forgotten. I’m shooting a Nikon D850 now in a Nauticam housing, and John has gone video, with a Canon cam-corder and Light and Motion housing. We’ve retired since those earlier days, and try to make as many dive trips as we can. Every time we think we’re running out of new places to see, we find somewhere brand new to visit and photograph. It’s a big world and we want to see it all!

I learned to dive in 2008 as I turned 50, a lifelong desire finally realized. I immediately began to create time to dive around my full-time career as a Physical Therapist and owner of Orthopedic and Spine Care Physical Therapy in Huntington Beach.

Within the first 2 years I became intrigued with underwater photography, starting with a wrist strap point and shoot.  Winning one of Barbara Jones’ photos at the scuba show introduced me to OCUPS. The mentorship and friendships within OCUPS has been priceless for me.

I now use an Olympus OMD EM5 mirrorless camera in a Nauticam housing. The small size makes it easier for me to travel with as I explore the world of Scuba.

Mexico is one of my favorite dive destinations from Cabo Pulmo and the Sea of Cortez, to the Yucatan and the Socorro Islands. California diving in the Channel Islands is my most frequent destination year-round. I have been able to travel to the South Pacific, Philippines, and Indonesia with some wonderful dive buddies and cherish those times.

I have placed several times in the SoCal Shootout and placed 1st in the San Diego County Fair 2017 Underwater photo division. I have placed 1st in Amateur and then 1st Advanced in the OCUPS annual mini competitions as well as 3rd in the Open category.

My newest photo adventure is

I studied Marine Biology at the University of Ghent, Belgium and got Scuba certified in 1977. As a biology student, I organized expeditions to the Red Sea and got stranded in 1982 in Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt) for 6 months, lived in the dessert on pita and cheese and dove Ras Mohamed before the tourists came. I have been back many times.

After flooding a few Nikonos cameras I bought a second hand Canon Marine Capsule A and modified it to hold the Nikon N2020, an auto-focus SLR. I still like to tinker with and build or modify UW photo equipment to better fit my needs.

Today I use a 13mm Nikonos RS fisheye modified for Nikon D800 on an Aquatica housing. I am an all-round UW photographer with a preference for portrait and wide-angle. My favorite dive sites include the Red Sea and Irian Jaya. For cold water I prefer the colors of California and British Columbia.

Roeland PapenMy trophies include medals at international and local UW photo competitions:

  • Monterey Shootout 2017: 1st place Advanced Wide Angle unrestricted
  • Nelos (Belgium) UW festival: 1986, 1994, 1996, 1998 (1st place diaporama)
  • Monterey Nikonos Shootout: 1997, 2002, 2003 (1st place and best of “Wide Angle”)
  • Turks & Caicos World Open: 1998 (image on postcard and stamp)
  • NCUPS SEA: 2002, 2003 1st and 2nd place (the prestigious “Bob Commer” Award)
  • Bluewater Photo SoCal shootout: 2011, 2012 (1st place Portrait)
  • OCUPS: 2012, 2013 (3rd and 2nd place open category)

Born and raised in Orange County, California I grew up going to the beach. Every summer I spent countless days in Huntington Beach body surfing, boogie boarding, ocean swimming, and baking in the sun. But it wasn’t until I visited Hawaii when I was 18 that I knew I wanted to learn to scuba dive. While snorkeling in Hawaii I was coming out of the water and saw two scuba divers exiting the water. I distinctly remember thinking, “that’s what I want to do”.

But life kinda got in the way, fast forward 26 years, and while on vacation in Key West Florida I completed my open water certification. I was so excited that I had learned to scuba dive, I told my instructor that I was going home to California and scuba dive off the California coast. He laughed long and hard, “No one dives in the that cold water!” Well, that was the wrong thing to say, because I was determined that I was going to dive in California. When I returned home I bought some scuba gear, became acquainted with the local dive community, and started diving on a regular basis. My enthusiasm grew and I spent the next two years acquiring my advanced open water certification, rescue certification and Nitrox certification. Those first two years diving without a camera really helped me become a competent diver and good dive buddy.

Confident in my diving skills, I knew I wanted to share with others the experiences I was having underwater. So I picked up a small point and shoot camera and began taking pictures. I was having some minimal success, but I couldn’t figure out why my photos were so green? That’s when I knew I had to learn more. Luckily I found OCUPS and through their support my photography has greatly improved. I currently shoot with a Canon 70D and Sea and Sea YSD1 strobes. My favorite lens is the Tokina 10-17 mm as I like wide angle photography best. Although I’ve been to a number of warm water destinations, cold water is my favorite kind of diving for underwater photography. I am grateful to the many skilled photographers who have mentored me and have openly shared their knowledge of underwater photography.  Hopefully, my knowledge and skill will continue to grow and I can share my experiences with others who enjoy the underwater world.

I grew up about as far from the ocean as you can get while still living in the United States. I saw the ocean once during college in Florida, again on a week cruise through the Caribbean. Eventually, through a chain of events, I would move to the other side of the country to Southern California.

Even then it took a few years more before I would randomly stumble across a Nat Geo article on nudibranchs. A quick google search led me to discover some local photographers, which led to more nudibranch photos, and eventually the realization that SoCal has good diving, and that it?s not just tropical destinations that have great marine life!

The rest of the story tells itself. A short online PADI course, an Amazon order for a cheap housing for my compact camera and an impressive number of blurry and out of focus pictures during my open water dives and I was hooked.

In the following couple years I've melted and flooded a camera, upgraded to a D90 and have added a range of other accessories from strobes, macro lenses, wide angle lenses, snoots, diopters and a variety of lights. I've dove from Monterrey to San Diego, glimpsed the Caribbean and explored a small handful of locations throughout Indonesia and the Philippines. Future trips include.... just about everywhere!

Brook Peterson is a relatively new member to OCUPS, but by her photos you might think she's been doing underwater photography her entire life. Not only does she share her images at the OCUPS meetings, but she enthusiastically helps other aspiring shooters by posting "how-to" video clips on her blog at Brook is a Sea&Sea Alpha helping to promote Sea&Sea underwater equipment. Her work and articles have been published in several magazines including California Diving, Scuba Diver Australasia, Dive Photo Guide and Underwater Photography Guide, as well as in advertisements for Sea&Sea Underwater Housings. She has traveled to Fiji, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, and throughout the Caribbean to obtain her images, but she spends the majority of her diving time in the unique and beautiful waters off the coast of California. You can see Brook's photos at