PVD Photo Pro Andrea Whitaker conducted a multi-day Photo Workshop at Blue Heron Bridge with her long-time student, Janet. 

Over the course of four days, these ladies dived at the Blue Heron Bridge to learn new camera skills and capture some incredible macro shots of marine life.

Read all about this experience from Andrea herself, and check out some jaw-dropping photos!

point and shoot photography workshop


Janet started doing photo workshops with me in 2021.  At that time, she used an Olympus TG6 with backscatter mini flashes. She loves her TG6, but this year she was ready to make the jump from point-and-shoot to DSLR.

So, at the start of 2022, she purchased a Nikon D850 full-frame camera with Nauticam housing, which is quite the jump!  She called me to set up a workshop to introduce her to her new camera at the Blue Heron Bridge.

During the Photo Workshop at Blue Heron Bridge, Janet’s main photography goal was to capture “up-close and personal, high-quality macro portraits.”  

point and shoot photography workshop




Janet got in the water with “Koko” for the first time on day one.  She named her new underwater camera rig Koko after the famous gorilla who could speak using sign language.  She chose the name because, like the gorilla, her new camera rig was huge.

My goal for Janet today was getting her used to the camera buttons, settings, and buoyancy.  I had her focus on getting acquainted with her new rig. 

With enough on her plate, the objective for imagery was to make sure the settings and lighting were correct for decent first-time portraits. 

point and shoot photography workshop

Image by Janet Hale on day one.


On day two, Janet really geared out her new underwater camera rig!  She added a Nauticam diopter to up her macro game.

The main goal for day two was practicing to build muscle memory, and nailing the focus and decreased focal length of the 60mm lens with a diopter.  Luckily, I was able to find some incredibly beautiful, super macro subjects for her to practice with.

point and shoot photography workshop

Image by Janet Hale on day two.

During workshops, I like to give myself photographic goals too.  This allows students to learn from my positioning and technique, often on the same subject they also photograph. 

On day two, I worked on different lighting for the same subject.  For example, backlighting vs front lighting, snooting, and moving strobes around for different dramatic lighting.  Check out these shots of the Rough Shellback Crab and Frogfish to see what I’m talking about.

Image of a Rough Shellback Crab by Andrea Whitaker on day two.

Image of a Frogfish by Andrea Whitaker on day two.


Now that Janet had worked on getting familiar with Koko, I had her really focus on getting closer to the subjects and filling the frame on day three of the Photo Workshop at Blue Heron Bridge.

Images by Janet Hale on day three.


Our final day together. We began the day by covering post-production and cataloging images out of the water.  This helped keep Janet’s images organized and easily accessible for sharing or quick editing.

In the water, Janet tried out her new 105mm lens for the first time!  She was very nervous because her housing required the addition of an extension ring to fit the larger lens inside of the port.  But, she got the hang of the new lens right away!  Her final image, the very nicely framed Frogfish featured at the end of the blog, is one of my favorites. 

Images by Janet Hale on day four.

Instead of macro, I switched it up on our last day of the Photo Workshop at Blue Heron Bridge.  I changed from my 60 mm lens with a diopter to my Tokina Fisheye Wide Angle 10-17mm lens. 

I wanted to take some nice images of Janet and Koko’s first week together in the beautiful shallow water with light rays. 

For most of the dive, we were lucky to be completely engulfed by a large school of silver baitfish.


Janet started the Photo Workshop at Blue Heron Bridge quite nervous due to the big jump from an Olympus TG6 point-and-shoot camera to a full-frame Nikon D850 DSLR camera.  The new rig, Koko, is not only much larger than the previous rig but also heavier.

Working with a Photo Pro is not always about creating the best image possible.  Sometimes, you really need to nail getting comfortable with your underwater rig.  This means making sure your buoyancy is correct with the larger, heavier rig.  It also means getting muscle memory down with button placement.

Packing all of this into just four days was a lot!  But, a Photo Workshop at Blue Heron Bridge was very beneficial in Janet’s progress with Koko.

point and shoot photography workshop

On day one, Janet photographed a small eel peeking out of its hiding place in the sand, featured above.  By day four, Janet was handling her camera rig like a pro.  She had fine tuned her skills and captured the stunning frogfish image below. 

What a difference just four days can make!

Are you ready to start growing or finesse your photography skills?  Get started with the Peak Performance Buoyancy specialty.  Fine-tune your buoyancy so your photo skills are the only thing you need to focus on underwater.  

Already confident with your buoyancy?  Sign up for a Photo Workshop to learn from our talented professionals!

Contact us at 561-840-8720 or reservations@puravidadivers.com to learn more about Photo Workshops, Guided Photo Dives, or specialty classes.