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Beneath the waves with Photographer Beth Mitchell

We have long admired Beth Mitchell’s incredible underwater photographs. So we asked her to give Affinity Photo a whirl and tell us what she thought of the award-winning software. Despite being a new experience for Beth, we think you’ll agree that the end result is stunning!

So let us introduce you to Beth—Beth is a fine art and fashion photographer who specialises in the art of underwater photography, particularly in feminine, figurative underwater work. She’s based in Brisbane, Australia and her passion and talent for capturing ethereal scenes underwater meant she was well prepared for the challenges of shooting underwater. She kindly documented her photoshoot so we can now take a look beneath the waves and behind the lens…

The photoshoot

The brief for the shoot was simple, we wanted Beth to use bold colours against a dark background, with flowing, mermaid inspired fabric in her signature theatrical style.

The shoot took place in a beautiful residential pool in Mermaid Beach on the Gold Coast in Queensland. Shot with a Nikon D810 with a 17-35mm lens. The camera was protected by an Ikelite underwater case.

The model Brooke Jamieson is no stranger to working with Beth, she has featured in several of her most recognisable pieces. Hair and makeup is by Kylie Eustace who has her own range of vegan makeup called Mineral Goddess. For underwater shoots she uses her custom underwater range of makeup. The gown was supplied by Begitta Bridal Couture.

Model Brooke and make up artist Kylie.

The shoot overall took approx six hours including hair and makeup. Brooke is wearing a wig, so time was taken in securing that thoroughly before going underwater.

“I chose this team because we have all worked together so well previously on multiple art works. Brooke is a true mermaid and knows how to move underwater elegantly. Kylie is a surfer so was inspired to develop her own mineral range of underwater makeup. Her attention to detail is immaculate. Begitta creates stunning gowns with such visual impact which works well in an underwater environment. The vibrancy is unbeatable with her pink gown.” Beth explains.

A black backdrop is added to the pool for Brooke to model against.
Beth and model Brooke in the pool during the shoot.

The editing process

A video showing behind the scenes and Beth’s editing process.

This was Beth’s first time using Affinity Photo, her editing style is subtle, enhancing the ethereal feel of the image and jewel-like colours.

  • First she enhances the flow of the image in Liquify Persona, adding movement to the dress and the hair. She then uses an Unsharp Mask Live Filter Layer and a Recolour Adjustment Layer to pick out the sparkling bubbles and adjust the colour levels, which adds to the magical look of the image. She then selects the background to create a layer mask and adjust the background colours further, blending this adjustment using the Paint Brush Tool and a soft brush.

  • She then uses High Pass sharpening filter set to the Blend Mode>Overlay to pick out more detail. Then with the Healing Brush Tool she removes bubbles that distract from the model’s face. To smooth the skin she duplicates the background layer and applies a Box Blur. She masks this layer and then paints it back in using the Paint Brush Tool and a soft brush with low opacity.

Before and after editing.
  • Using the Colour Picker she selects tones in the models skin to use to add shading around the face and eyes using a soft paint brush.

  • She then adds a Curves Adjustment Layer to tweak the curves and bring the colours and brightness of the image up—again she uses this as a mask and this time paints out parts of the Curves Adjustment Layer to maintain the darkness of the background. Next she applies a Shadows and Highlights Adjustment for more refinement.

  • Beth then goes to Library Panel and adds a custom ‘Bubbles’ Macro which adds extra lens flare to the image. She chooses to Rasterise this and then blends it into the image.

  • Next comes the process of dodge and burn, enhancing shading and lightening shadows that appear too dark. She uses a combination of the Clone Brush Tool, the Paint Brush Tool and a brush set to white to create highlights and the Burn Brush Tool to darken shadows. She also makes some final tweaks in Liquify Persona.

Beth’s verdict…

“Although I had to get used to the layout and functions of Affinity, I was surprised at how much I was able to find my way around and make use of the functions available. The software is very sophisticated and with more practice, something I can see myself beginning to master for future photographic scenes.” Beth talking about her experience using Affinity Photo.

The final photograph.

About the photographer

Beth Mitchell is a Brisbane-based fine art photographer specialising in feminine, figurative underwater work.

Her images explore and echo classic art themes and stories fantastical, as well as the impact of strong Australian female achievers. Her work has won numerous awards and can be purchased as fine art prints to adorn your walls.

Check out more of Beth’s work on her website, her store, Instagram and Facebook.

Artist relations

Charlotte is an illustrator and arts lecturer who is passionate about the creative industries and is now part of our artist relations team. Her interests include mid 20th century inspired design, comic books, board games, movie memorabilia, baking cakes, feminism and yoga. She shares her 1960’s home with her graphic designer husband and her toddler son who likes to hide her iPad. Get in touch with Charlotte if you have work you have made in Affinity apps to share with us, or tag your work with #madeinaffinity in the usual places.

Credits & Footnotes

Photography copyright © of Beth Mitchell 2019 and used with permission.