Friday, December 25, 2009

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus (even in SINGAPORE)

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus (even in SINGAPORE - Pictures to Prove it)!  As I wrap up my first Christmas in Singapore, my family and friends back home in AZ are nestled all snug in their beds still sleeping with visions of sugar-plums dancing in their heads. Singapore is 15 hours ahead of Phoenix. It is also my first Christmas alone so I am a little nostalgic for anything Christmas so excuse my attempt at a Christmas story. Speaking of which, this is also the first Christmas without Ralphie and A Christmas Story. But never fear, Singapore does celebrate Christmas with over the top decorations on Orchard Road which is a cross between the Las Vegas Strip and Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Here are a few pics I took while roaming Orchard the two weeks proceeding Christmas. I hope you enjoy my gift to you from Singapore want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (which I will be celebrating both the December 31st New Year and the Christmas New later in February). Got to love this place!

Now that I will be spending a bit of time over here in Singapore, my Blog will also be where I share my experiences of living abroad in addition to photography (above and below the water) and my travel reports to the many areas in Asia I will be visiting. I currently have a trip to Beijing China in January so stay posted.

Monday, October 12, 2009

AquaSafe Swim School Underwater Portrait

AquaSafe Swim School is hosting All Wet Portraits and international award winning professional underwater photographer Ron Watkins for a special group portrait session on November 1, 2009 from 10:00 AM - 2:30 PM. This event will be held at their Scottsdale location at 9380 E. Bahia Drive Suite A104 (just NE of the 101 and Frank Lloyd Wright).

This is a great opportunity to get a truly unique portrait taken of your children in the pure joy and freedom of water. These portraits will be a family treasure and admired by everyone. In addition to a traditional image of your children underwater with a blue background, colorful backdrops and props will be used to add a bit of artistic flair. Feel free to bring in a costume for your child to pose in. There will also be some props available the day of the shoot that you may use.

A limited number of spaces are available for these sessions, so sign up today by visiting the AquaSafe Swim Center front desk or call 480-425-SWIM (7946) for more information.

Session Fee: $65 per Family

Underwater Photo Sessions: Sessions will be 15 minutes and will be shared between two families. Each family will have a minimum of three different sittings and the photographer will rotate between families in order to allow the children to rest in between and get ready for the next pose. If a family will have more than 4 members that will be in the photo, it is recommended that they book both spaces in the session to increase the quality of both individual and family shots. Families should plan to be there and ready to get in the pool at least 15 minutes prior to their scheduled session time. Parents are required to be in the pool even if they are not planning to be in the picture to help the child prepare for the each sitting.

Session images will be uploaded 5-10 days after the shoot to the All Wet Portraits’ password protected secure website for viewing. The session fee covers only the ‘sitting fee’ and photographers time, but you will have the opportunity to purchase both printed and digital images online from the site. Product price lists are available at AquaSafe. For more information about All Wet Portraits, to view their portfolio or to learn more about the products offered, visit their website at

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Batman Spotted in Scottsdale Neighborhood Last Night

Batman Spotted in Scottsdale Neighborhood Last Night
It was reported by several sources in Scottsdale last night that they saw Batman swimming in their pool. It was also reported that there is a new skateboarding super hero that Batman has partnered with that only goes by the name of Noah-Hawk. This crime fighting duo seem to defy gravity and possess many super powers. The following images were captured by professional underwater photographer Ron Watkins of All Wet Portraits who was called to the scene for a supposed 5 and 6 year old boys underwater photo shoot. "I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the Batman jump into the pool", Ron told reporters, "and Batman seemed to have picked up some of Aquaman's super powers because he could hold his breath forever." Seconds before the Batman sighting, a young Alex was nearby, but all he kept saying was, "I am Batman! I am Batman!". Although there is a striking resemblance, that claim could not be confirmed at the time of this press release.

The other superhero appeared to be showing his latest crime-fighting skateboarding tricks to Batman. "With moves like the ones he showed last night, I feel a lot safer sleeping at night knowing that Noah-Hawk is on our side", said Scottsdale Resident Karen. Ron Watkins snapped these images of the young Noah-Hawk as onlookers watched in amazement.

For additional information about the Batman and Noah-Hawk sightings in Scottsdale, you can contact Ron Watkins directly at or visit You never know what will happen at one of his photo shoots, but the kids and parents always have fun.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

All Wet Portraits Site is Live

I just realized I had not put a blog entry up for my latest adventure in underwater photography. With the launch of “All Wet Portraits,” I have been creating artistic images of people underwater at home pools, swim clubs, or community pools. The reactions to the images by the clients are so rewarding; it means a lot to me when I see the large framed or canvas prints hanging on their walls. Since most Arizona children spend much of their time in a pool, an underwater portrait is a unique and artistic way to naturally capture that moment in time. Visit the new website at to see some of my recent work. Here are a few of my favorites:

Summer of the Shark (continued)

In June, I wrote about my adventure swimming with an 18' whale shark off the Yucatan peninsula and teased that there would be more shark action to come. Tonight I watched the first night of Shark Week on the Discovery channel and I saw the boat and possibly some of the same sharks that I had just swam with in mid July aboard Jim Abernathy's boat the Shear Water in the Bahamas. There are a lot of great shows during Shark week, but it is always a little corny how they over dramatize the danger of shark attacks and how deadly sharks are to humans. The Discovery channel is responsible and between commercials run a nice piece on the Ocean Conservancy and how the viewer can help save sharks from over fishing and the dreadful practice of shark finning. I always look forward to Shark Week, but the purpose of this blog entry is to tell you about my very own Shark Week.
From July 13 to the 20th, I set out on a sponsored Photography Diving expedition in search of Sharks and Dolphins. 8 other underwater photographers from England, France, Australia and the US rounded out the participants we all got our fill of both dolphins and sharks. But since this blog is titled "Summer of the Shark", I will only share the shark stories and pictures with you for now. More on the Dolphins day and night on a future blog.
After a 7-8 hour crossing to the Bahamas, we started out on a couple of reefs diving with as many as 20 reef sharks at a time. The action was fast and furious and photo opps ample. It was great to have so many sharks coming in so close with a backdrop of such a nice reef. Here are a few pictures of reef sharks.

On Day two we had a Tiger shark show up, but he mostly swam around the perimeter of divers, so although we could all marvel at the site, it was difficult for pictures. Towards the end of the day, I was on the sandy bottom photographing the 6-7' lemon shark when the 10'+ Tiger shark came towards me for a closer look. He swam directly at me and then after getting within 3' of me broke off to the side of me and swam overhead. What a thrill and then he did it again. Although our trip was billed as a "tiger shark" trip, this lone shark turned out to be the only close encounter I had the whole week and I was fortunate to get some pictures of him. We did see a few others and one at night while snorkeling at night which was a little scary.

"We are going to need a bigger boat!"

The next sharks we dove with were the toothiest ones I had ever seen, lemon sharks. These 6-8' sharks are beautiful with catlike eyes and typically show their teeth. We were in the water with up to 20 at a time and you really had to keep your eyes on them because they were quite curious and would come very close if you weren't watching them. they swam very slow and methodical and were a lot of fun. I typically use a wide angle lens when photographing sharks like my 12-24mm, 10-17mm fisheye or 10.5 fisheye, but I was encouraged to try something different and photograph them with a macro 105mm lens. The results were some up close and personal shots. Here are a few of my favorites of the lemons.

I have saved the best for last! There is a very hard to get photo called a lemon snap. Sounds like a piece of candy that grandma would give you, but although very sweet, it has quite a bite. You dangle your camera off the back of the boat while the crew pulls bait through the water to bring the lemon sharks in close to you. the plan is for them to bite at the bait just as your camera snaps away. It is all about timing and a little luck to have the shark bite at just the right time. I hope you enjoy these parting shots and remember, "fish are friends, not food!"

Cave Creek Film and Arts Festival First Place

On the evening of July 18th as I slept in my little bunk aboard the Shear Water somewhere in the Bahamian waters in search of Tiger Sharks, my wife Heidi was accepting the Golden Coyote Award for my first place Photograph in the 4th annual Cave Creek Film and Arts Festival. I knew I was a finalist before setting sail, but unfortunately was unable to attend the Golden Coyote Awards Festival. I learned that I had won after we docked back in West Palm Beach and actually got my hands on the Golden Coyote a few days later. It is a great honor to win this award and I am very grateful to all of the long hours the volunteers put into this event. It was especially cool because a good friend of mine Gil actually hand makes each of the Golden Coyote statues and I had seen them in his studio weeks earlier midway through the process. You can read the entire press release by clicking here. This is my winning image.
"Raja Ampat Turtle"

ImagesAZ Magazine Runs Feature on Ron Watkins

The monthly publication Images AZ ( ran a nice feature story entitled "Underwater Artist – Photographer Ron Watkins". It was published in the July 15 issue written by Writer Paula Theotocatos it provides a look behind the scenes of how I came to be in Phoenix and learned to photograph underwater. Have a look at the online version of the article by clicking here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer of the Shark

Remember a couple of years ago when the media declared it the summer of the shark because a few people were bitten in Florida. We humans are the ones that the sharks should really worry about, not the other way around. Anyways, just a quick post from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Will post more later about this trip, but had to get these whale shark images out because they are the first ones I have every shot. A truly religious experience diving with these gentle giants. The shark was about 18’ long and one of the images has a person in it so you can see the perspective. They are fast swimmers and it was all I could do to keep up with it for a minute or two. We have had some great time in the water and I have photographed some incredible subjects from the cenotes (underground fresh water caves), three species of turtles and countless other marine life. Playa Del Carmen, Holbox and Cozumel have been great and we have had good weather. Today we saw a very rare batfish. Our dive master has only seen three in all of his years of diving. More to come later on my summer of the shark...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Top Honors at 2009 Digital Shootout in Bonaire

Each year, underwater photographers gather in a distant ocean location for an annual Digital Shootout. This year, the event took place June 6-13th, 2009 on the small Dutch Antilles island of Bonaire in the Caribbean. Approximately 50 underwater photographers participated in workshops with some of the best professional photographers in the business and had nightly critiques of the photography.

At the end of the week, each photographer is asked to enter their top images taken at the event for a “friendly” contest. This year there was well over $10,000 in prizes up for grabs including trips to exotic locations, photography equipment and gift certificates.

The top honor at this event is the Jim Watt Award of Excellence for the Best of Show. Jim was one of the earliest professional underwater photographers to adopt digital cameras and was always there to share his passion and tips to new photographers.

This year, I was honored to be presented the Jim Watt Award for my image of a 18” needlefish on the surface. I spent two afternoons stalking the needlefish which are only inches below the water’s surface waiting to launch a surprise attack on unsuspecting schools of minnows. I used both a 12-24mm lens and a 10.5mm fisheye lens to capture the images on my housed Nikon D300 camera. The winning image was taken with the fisheye lens at 1/250th of a second shutter speed and an aperture of F-11. These are fast moving fish and shooting in such shallow waters can be difficult. Because it is such a reflective subject, strobe positioning and power settings were also key to the shot.

Three other images I submitted also placed in different categories as well. All of the winning contest images may be seen at
Make sure you also watch the First Place video. It is hilarious and I actually make a couple of cameos in it.

Jim Watt Award of Excellence - Best of Show
Macro Unrestricted - Second Place

Macro Unrestricted - Honorable Mention

Wide Angle Unrestricted - Honorable Mention

Juried into Sonoran Arts League

I have been an active member of the Sonoran Arts League for three years now and finally submitted my work to the Jury Committee for review. The league is a great organization for the promotion of the arts and the support of local artists. They put on several art shows a year including the popular Hidden in the Hills Tour in November. The Juried Membership program was created to promote professionalism and excellence in the execution of the respective art forms. The committee was comprised of art professionals, instructors and gallery owners. We were asked to submit three pieces that represented our style and body of work. They were looking for different elements that lead or move the viewer. I was honored to find out that I had been juried in by the committee.

To learn more about the Sonoran Arts League, visit their website.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gil's Wild Humbug Creek Jeep Ride

Today I went out with a good friend and fellow photographer Gil Gustavsen ( off-roading in his boss Jeep North of Lake Pleasant to a slot canyon called Humbug Creek. Don't attempt to go out there unless you are an experienced off-roader and have nerves of steel. Some of the trails were so narrow we barely fit and there were several white knuckle accents/descents. In several areas, one false move and we would end up plunging into the canyon. I have been on many jeep tours in AZ, but this one produced the most adrenalin and fun. We also managed to stop the jeep during the trip and hike into the canyon, a tunnel and over an old dam for some photography. Here is a sample of my favorite shots. Thanks for a great day Gil and your landscape photography pointers.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

8th Annual Sonoran Festival of Fine Art

I will have a new exhibit on display at the Sonoran Festival of Fine Art this weekend. If you are in town, stop by and see the new exhibit and hear about my latest Trip to Raja Ampat.

8th Annual Sonoran Festival of Fine Art
April 3 - 5, 10AM - 5PM daily
Carefree Town Center
Carefree, AZ
More Information:

Come out and enjoy the great weather, exquisite art and charming streets of downtown Carefree. The Sonoran Arts League hosts the Event at Carefree Town Center Festival, featuring 100 local and nationally-acclaimed artists, food booths, entertainment, and exhibits dedicated to wildlife and desert preservation. In addition, Carefree Farmer's Market will take place in conjunction with the Festival in the Carefree Town Center Amphitheater. The easiest way to get there is to head North on Scottsdale Road (Which turns into Tom Darlington) to the town of Carefree and follow the signs. The Festival is located at the sundial in the center of town on Easy Street which is just south of the Tom Darlington and Cave Creek Rd. intersection. We hope to see you there.


New Peoria Sunrise Mountain Library Exhibit

Nine pieces of my underwater photography collection were selected by the Friends of Peoria Public Library for the newly opened Peoria Sunrise Mountain Library in Peoria, AZ. The permanent exhibit is on display in the children's section of the aquatic inspired building beneath a series of large porthole windows. The 22,000 square feet library is located at 21109 N 98th Avenue (Lake Pleasant Road and 98th Avenue). Heidi and I were invited to the VIP dedication ceremony with the mayor, city manager, library management, architects and the Friends of the Peroria Library. I am thrilled to have the exhibit in the library where community will be able to enjoy the art. As part of the exhibit, I am planning to make underwater presentations and workshops on marine life, conservation and underwater photography.

DEEP Indonesia International Underwater Photography Competition

This month, one of my photographs titled “Underwater Taggers” won a Bronze in the 2009 DEEP Indonesia international underwater photography & video competition, hosted by DivePhotoGuide & Wetpixel. The image, was one of a reef scene that I wished I had never seen and could not believe the senseless act of vandals. The image taken off of the coast of Bali was entered in the Environment and Conservation category which strives to make people aware of the damage that is being done to reefs and marine life as well as conservation acts around the globe. Unfortunately because of the depth of this sponge, it could have only been done by divers and that makes it even worse because the diving community is one of the reefs greatest advocates. I can't imagine what goes through someones mind to think that this act would actually be cool to do. I hope that next year I don't have any images of this type of scene to enter.