Back In Time

The “Florida” is a 270-foot long steamer that struck another even larger ship, in dense fog in 1897 off Presque Isle, Lake Huron, MI. At that time the Forida was one of the largest vessels working the Great Lakes. It rests in 206 feet of water, upright and was only discovered in 1994.

I took this image last July on a week-long technical dive trip targeting a handful of shipwrecks off Presque Isle, off the west shore of Lake Huron in Michigan. The divers are exploring the stern of the ship and the remains of its steam engine.

The photography was very challenging because we only did two dives per day due to the depths. Our bottom time was limited to 20 min which then required 40 minutes of decompression before surfacing. The water temperature at that depth was 38 degrees. Fortunately for our decompression at shallower depths, the water warmed to the low 50’s shallower than 15 feet.

My underwater camera is a 16-year-old, Canon 1Ds Mark II, the first full-frame DSLR! For this photo, I shot at 1/50th sec, f/5, ISO 1250 with a 15mm fisheye lens. This is about the top end of the ISO range for this camera! I had a tip from our trip leader and award-winning UW photographer, Beck Kagan Schott who told me to try and get off the wreck, in other words, swim away from the wreck, to take in the scale of the scene. This was invaluable advice!


An interesting photographic tidbit about Lake Huron. 30 years ago this image would not have been possible due to a lack of visibility. 30 years ago the visibility would have been less than 25 feet! Invasive non-native muscles have taken over Lake Huron and if you look closely at the image, they are completely covering the wreck. The muscles over the years have filtered the water to the point we had nearly 100 feet of visibility which is an underwater photographer’s dream!

That is some deep diving! Bummer about the muscles, but the visibility is a nice silver lining. Cool image of the wreck and diver.

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Great shot! Love how the lighting takes us thru the scene from the divers to the wreck thru to the background.

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Thank you. This is about as easy as UW lighting gets. Go with your highest decent ISO, expose for the ambient and the divers lights just add highlights, direction and a bit of drama.