Photo skills: How I took this image of plants underwater

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 winner Christian Vizl reveals how he took this amazing shot. 

Glimpse of the Underworld by Christian Vizl, Mexico
© Christian Vizl


Christian Vizl, from Mexico, was the winner of the Plants and Fungi category of Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 with his mesmerising photo ‘Glimpse of the Underworld’.

Christian travelled to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico to visit the beautiful underwater cave Aktun Ha – known locally as the ‘Car Wash’ as the site was formerly used to clean taxicabs.

To capture the image the dedicated photographer spent two hours diving at the bottom of the 7m-deep cenote – a huge sinkhole created when the limestone bedrock collapses.

The success of the shot, according to Christian, is attributed to achieving the correct balance between the natural and artificial light available. “I needed to position my strobes in a way that could portray the texture of the water lilies, but also ensure the skittish silvery fish were not overexposed,” says the photographer.

“You need to spend as much time as possible with your subject to discover subtle details and special moments. I wanted to shoot the plants with the fish, and because the fish are timid I had to be patient to allow them to get used to my presence,” he says. 

Equipment specification Canon EOS 5D Mark II + 15mm lens; 1/160 sec f14; ISO 200; 2 x Inon Z-240 strobes. 


  • Knowledge of local ecosystems and behaviour of species is really important for any photographer. 
  • Good diving skills are essential for underwater photography. If the sediment had been disturbed while I was taking this shot it would have ruined my visibility. 
  • Go out and take as many photos as you can while trying different techiques to achieve varied results. 

See more of Christian Vizl’s photography.

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