A Recap of Underwater Photography

Jess Newley is a graduate student in the Institute’s Graduate Program and will be receiving her Masters of Environmental Education in March 2013. She is an avid writer, photographer and scuba diver, routinely documenting her underwater adventures. This story was originally published in Adventures NW, Winter 2012.

Hot off the press: Jess won photograph of the year and will be featured in a Seattle Times article about her photography and diving adventures later this season!

The author, snorkeling

After last year’s successful mission to shoot Pink salmon, I’ve been eagerly waiting all summer for news of this year’s runs. When word came from our friends at the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group that the Coho had finally made it up the Cascade River, we started packing our bags and preparing for a weekend adventure. Coho have always been my prize target because I know their red color looks amazing in contrast with blue water.
The day was not without its lessons—winter storm Brutus was on its way to the North Cascades as we set out, and when we got to the river that morning there was very little natural light. Add to that the over-hanging trees and you have a challenging photographic situation. I started off shooting with underwater strobes, but the look was too “contrasty.” I then ventured into high ISO, natural light shooting, and ended up really enjoying the results. Having a DSLR camera for the trip made this possible. With the G10 that I shot the Pinks with last year, this situation would have been much more troubling. We are now thinking about further options, including lighting from out of the water with speed lights or studio lighting.
In the end though, it is the fish that do all the hard work. Following their long journey, their newly acquired vibrant colors and exhausted docile nature make them fantastic subjects for an afternoon of photography!
Thanks again for looking…

Photos by Jess Newley of Coho salmon in the Cascade River. Photo of Newley by John Scurlock.



  1. Cuseo

    Brrr! This looks like really cool stuff, Jess. Nice work!

  2. Ed Swanson

    I am interested in purchasing one of you coho Picts. Could you give me info to order a picture
    Ed swanson

Leave a Comment