12th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Photo Contest
Second Place, Manipulated Images


"Kelp Dreaming"
By Daren Beaumont

About Daren Beaumont

Click on photo for larger image.

Daren Beaumont looks poised to become the working man's Jacques Cousteau. Whether he was spearing fish at his childhood island home near Papua New Guinea or leading a diving class on the Great Barrier Reef, Beaumont has always been an aficionado of all things under the sea.

In August 2001, Beaumont enrolled in the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. A veteran dive guide in his native Australia, Beaumont joined other students in the school's underwater photography program on dive boat trips along the Channel Islands. While he has spotted formidable creatures such as the Orca whale and the Great White Shark, Beaumont was equally enthralled with kelp. Ten feet from the water's surface, he used his Nikon N90 camera along with twin Nikon strobes - flashes on bendable arms - to shoot the kelp.

"Most photos people see of kelp and their bulbs, the bulbs are quite yellow," stated Beaumont, via e-mail from Australia where he was vacationing. "What I did was to let more ambient light come through the green water to light the image rather than having my strobes at full power. This gave the yellow bulbs more of a green tinge."

After processing his photos into slides and scanning them, he noticed that the kelp somehow lost its vibrant hue. With Photo Shop, Beaumont enhanced the color contrasts with five separate "masks" on certain leaves, bulbs and the stems.
The Palo Alto resident, who moved here last year, credits his wife for encouraging him to submit "Kelp Dreaming." Prior to this, Starbucks on University Avenue was the only place that displayed his art. Although "fine art underwater photographer" is not a common request in the classifieds, Beaumont manages to make his full-time passion a full-time job.

"I want people to see the art of the underwater realm for what it is and be amazed by it," Beaumont said.

-- Terry Tang

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