Tag Archives: black and white

Bruce Mozert’s underwater geniality

Bruce Mozert’s underwater geniality

As I was looking back at my summer photographs, underwater GoPro for the most part, I began to realise how recent it is that underwater photography is common to everyday life. Practically anyone today can instagram and share a snap or two from the surfing vacation, snorkelling, wakeboarding or simply chilling in the pool, but I still remember my teenage me wanting a camera case to go dive with it, and then being still too expensive. This wasn’t, relatively, that long ago, and Bruce Mozert, 99 this year, already accomplished a self-made housing case in his twenties.

Bruce Mozert is considered to be a pioneer of underwater photography and his images of Silver Springs, Florida, were widely broadcast during the early and mid 20th century.


He graduated high school and took a job as a truck driver that brought coal to New Jersey, but quickly decided he was “too sensitive to be a truck driver” and moved to New York City to live with his sister, model and pin-up artist Zoë Mozert. By the age of 20 he was already an accomplished photographer in NYC. Born in Newark (1916) as Bruce Moser, Ohio, moved to Silver Springs in the fall of 1938 when they were making Tarzan films, and soon after arriving he built his first underwater camera case.

For some 45 years (except for service with the Army Air Forces during World War II), he created scenes of people —comely young women, for the most part— doing ordinary tasks that would be done on land, such as talking on the phone, cooking, playing golf, reading the newspaper…underwater, all the better to show off the wondrous clarity of Silver Springs’ waters. Most of the women were actually employees of Silver Springs and one of his most frequently shot models, Ginger Stanley, was an underwater stunt double for Creature from the Black Lagoon. He also took underwater movie stills for the many productions filmed in Silver Springs. Above the water, he took pictures of visitors going on glass bottom boat tours, developed the film while they were on the tour, and then had the photos ready to sell to visitors when they returned.

“My imagination runs away with me”


Some of the tricks used include some dry ice or Alka-Seltzer in the glass to create bubbles in a champagne flute; to simulate smoke rising from a grill, he used canned condensed milk. “The fat in the milk would cause it to rise, creating ‘smoke’ for a long time,” he says. With his meticulous production values and surreal vision, Mozert cast Silver Springs in a light perfectly suited to postwar America. His images anchored a national publicity campaign for the springs from the 1940s through the ’70s; competing against water-skiing shows, dancing porpoises, leaping whales and hungry alligators, Silver Springs remained one of Florida’s premier attractions, the Disney World of its day. Then, in 1971, came Disney World. The playful collection has recently come to light as several of the photographs are currently being exhibited at the Holden Luntz Gallery in Palm Beach, Florida.

The pictures he took were so clear that MGM took them to Hollywood, where Mozert continued to develop his ideas – including the first high-speed camera case and first underwater lighting. He then worked as an underwater motion picture cameraman for NBC, ABC, CBS and many Hollywood productions.


Mozert now works out of his studio in Ocala, Florida, where he mainly digitizes customers’ home movies. At 91 he was still piloting his own plane and accepting the occasional commission for aerial photographs.

You can acquire his book Silver Springs — The Underwater Photography of Bruce Mozert through his website and also separate prints. And if you’re interested in his story, he can also be reached at: mozertstudio@atlantic.net.

From B&W to Color

From B&W to Color

Portrait of James Clerk Maxwell
Portrait of James Clerk Maxwell

.The first color photograph was made in 1861 by James Clark Maxwell (the handsome dude you see to the right). Maxwell studied the human eye to find that our eyes were sensitive only to red, green, and blue light.

Before long, Maxwell had developed a method (now called the Harris Shutter effect) to mimic our eyesight and make color photographs by making three black & white pictures: One with a red filter over his lens, one with a green filter, and one with a blue filter.

When he combined them together, photo magic happened and the color photograph was born!

Let’s play with this!

So now T_Paul at RetouchPRO is proposing a fun challenge: to re-construct a color image from a film roll with 3 different black & white shots that clearly belong to each one of the three RGB channels.

Here’s the process I followed to obtain the following result:

From B&W to color
From B&W to color

If you would like to have your go, surf over to RetouchPRO’s site.

First, aligning

Aligning the three layers was a bit tricky, because as they are shot in turn they’re not exactly the same. Specially the guy in the middle couldn’t hold it and moved significantly. So I first attempted an automatic alignment (in Photoshop Edit>>Auto-Align Layers) cutting each one of them from the strip and placing them as 3 different layers in a new image.

To adjust minor alignment issues your can play around with opacity to visualise a layer and the one right below. At this point it is sufficient just to be sure the logs, that obviously didn’t move, are pretty straight. We’ll deal with the guys later on.

Rough color correction

I later saved each layer as a different image that would become my red, blue and green filters and loaded them as channels on a new RGB multichannel image (remember: in PS Mode>>RGB).


How to know which is which is merely intuitive. The higher the amount of white, the more of that color you will obtain in the final mix. Therefore faces should be pretty dark in the blue filter, and skies darker for the red filter… and so on. According to this theory, you can instantly recognise what’s going to happen. The red filter is so light that there is going to be far too much red component in the composition.

To roughly compensate the filters let’s apply a level correction to each one of them first:


Further color correct

Several adjustment tone and color calibration layers later, the image looks like this:


[one_half]For a more detailed, zone specific color correction, you can treat each channel separately. By following simple color rules you can manage to change a wrong color only altering 33% of the information in the area. This is a simple RGB color wheel where you can see the three primary colors, together with their secondary colors. If you want to remove a red blemish, you’ll need to go darker on the red, but also perhaps it is a good idea to go lighter on the green layer as it is magenta’s complementary color.[/one_half][one_half_last]



In this particular photograph I dealt with yellow spots due to small aberrations, which I solved by simply painting on the blue filter with white on “lighten” multiplicity mode.


Aberration adjustment

In optics, chromatic aberration is a type of distortion in which there is a failure of a lens to focus all colors to the same convergence point. It manifests itself as “fringes” of color along boundaries that separate dark and bright parts of the image. In our example it is due to movement. Not all three filters overlap exactly the same so you can get fringes of yellow, magenta or cian here and there. In this occasion I corrected it locally by manually adapting the alignment of only the channel that is off. See the results:


A mixture of both techniques, color correction by channel and chromatic aberration adjustment, were used in this guy’s face:


Artifacts correction

As for image restoration, I had to get rid of all artifacts on the image. Most of them would be due to weathering on either one of the filters, so instead of flattening out and working on a composite image, I preferred to go on and heal each one of them per filter.

As seen above:

  • CYAN imperfections are corrected in the RED filter
  • YELLOW imperfections are corrected in the BLUE filter, and
  • MAGENTA imperfections are corrected in the GREEN filter

General Retouching

And finally, general retouching. And by this I mean to flatten the image and apply levels, toning and, like I did in this case, frequency separation technique to increase definition on the main subject and obscure disturbing details.

Here’s the difference:

Closeup of the boys
Closeup of the boys’ faces

Have a go at it yourself and post it to RetouchPRO! Here’s the link: http://www.retouchpro.com/forums/contests/37935-aug-sep-2014-merge-channels-contest.html