Patjane Floriuk began Underwater Realm in 2012 after observing the deterioration of diving spots around the world, and it’s a series he plans to continue as long as he can dive and explore life underwater. The images are incredible for their demonstration of how man and marine life interact, as well as the natural beauty of the surroundings. Fish form nebulous clouds that appear like contemporary sculpture, while reflections transform a shark into a living light projection.
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To this day, I carry within me that dream, and very gratefully realize it through my photography. For me, each image is a visualization of that sublime moment these fascinating marine creatures around me are frozen majestically in their natural environment. My intention is to capture the essence of being immersed in the experience and in the presence of the animal or habitat I am photographing, and to share with others their splendor and their soul.
Through his work, Patjane Floriuk hopes to inspire change and encourage others to be more mindful of how their actions can impact the ocean. “The ocean is usually presented as an aggressive and unpredictable place, either in movies, books, and even classical paintings, so there is a mostly negative historical construction in our minds of it. If us that know that there is another side of the story happening in the ocean—a peaceful one full of beauty—maybe that can make people wonder and care a little more about the species that inhabit it, and by doing so, begin to take rational actions to counteract our impact, specially in the way we consume plastics and generate CO2 If we don’t share it, who will?”
Light is the single most important aspect when it comes to creating appealing, inspiring, and poignant imagery. I try to apply and manipulate the available light using contrast and tonalities as a means of emphasizing form and structure. In this way, I seek that final shot that connects with the viewer and conveys all the emotional and dramatic impact and complexity of the experience felt while shooting the image.
Artistic B&W Photos Reveal the Hidden Beauty of What Lies Under the Sea
The USS Kittiwake with a diver at the bow, Grand Cayman, Caribbean
An over-under image of a sea turtle swimming off the coast of Ixtapa, Guerrero, Mexico
A sea turtle hides behind a coral head in the reefs of Cozumel, Mexico
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But not all images work well in monochrome. Many shots lose their power and meaning when converted to black and white. I take a lot of care when I’m shooting with black and white images in mind, taking into account such aspects as very clear backgrounds, defined lines, high contrast, and strong forms and shapes. In general, the fewer elements in the frame, the better.
A goliath grouper with its mouth open, surrounded by small fish, Jupiter, Florida, USA
Two silky sharks swimming among a school of fish in the open ocean, off Ixtapa, Guerrero, Mexico
As an avid diver, Patjane Floriuk has developed a love for the underwater world. Over time, his concern for that world has heightened. “It grows on you, the longer you dive the more you care; and this happens to every person that has been diving for many years,” he tells My Modern Met. “It is inevitable—the life underwater is so intense and energetic that it eventually gets you, grabs you, and won’t ever let you go.”
A threasher shark surveys its surroundings at Monad Shoal, Malapascua, Philippines
Exposure is another key element when creating black and white images. If I want the water in the final image to have a very light gray tone, I have to expose for a very light shade of blue, or vice versa. To create impactful photos, post-production is as important as taking the image itself, and is a highly creative process as well. To create the “high key” effect, I use Adobe Lightroom, creating contrast by darkening or lightening the blue tones, isolating my subjects from all distractions and bringing their natural beauty to center stage.
I have always loved black and white images. In my youth, I was fascinated by Ansel Adams’ intricate landscapes and the decisive moments captured by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Done well, black and white imagery creates an elegant and evocative mood that transcends naturalism. It encourages the photographer to arrive at a simplicity of expression, allowing the head and heart to be brought together in a single frame in which all the image-maker’s emotions are encapsulated and transmitted. Black and white offers a unique means to not only capture an intriguing subject, but to capture the photographer’s soul.
A giant manta surrounded by fish during a night dive, North Ari Atoll, Maldives
A dolphinfish swimming near some floating debris, off Ixtapa, Guerrero, Mexico
As far back as I can remember, I have been attracted to the sea, and as a kid, I dreamt about what lay beneath the waves. I imagined how it would look if all of the water suddenly vanished, leaving these strange and beautiful animals suspended in space. I could walk inside this surreal ocean and observe them, as if time stood still.
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Two jellyfish swimming in the open ocean, off Ixtapa, Guerrero, Mexico
Mexican social anthropologist and photographer Anuar Patjane Floriuk shares his unique perspective of the seas with his stunning series Underwater Realm. Shot in black and white, his photos expose the beauty that resides underwater. Through these photographs, he hopes that people will gain a greater appreciation for marine life.
A bull shark cruises the sandy bottom off Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
See more of Christian’s work on his website. You can also purchase prints of selected works here. Christian donates 15% of the proceeds of prints sold online to Mission Blue, the Sylvia Earle Alliance initiative to generate awareness and support for a network of marine protected areas around the world.
Award winning photo journalist Andre Crone started diving when he was 24 years old. He bought his first underwater camera as soon as he got his first diving license. He started his production company Elysia Productions four…
Anuar Patjane Floriuk is a photographer and avid diver whose black and white underwater photography reveals the beauty of marine life. Anuar Patjane Floriuk: Website | Facebook | Instagram My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Anuar Patjane Floriuk.
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