Time Capsules

By Tamara Collins

1980 Getting Crazy with Filtered Flash
The psychedelic '60s were long over and the disco decade of the '70s had come to an end, but in 1980, divers could still get a little wacky underwater with colored filters. In the August issue, Jim and Cathy Church (who started writing as a team for Skin Diver in 1970) described how to adapt the topside technique of filtered flash to the underwater world. They wrapped two layers of red acetate on one flash and green acetate on the other, estimated their exposure and then began to hunt for the perfect subject, something frilly with a highly textured surface. According to Jim and Cathy, the results were exciting! but the most rewarding part was trying something new. However, Jim and Cathy's enthusiasm over the funkadelic photos probably didn't match the excitement of seeing their picture on the cover.

1963 The Underwater Realm in Full Color
Skin Diver became a showcase for underwater photos in the early '50s, when it first began to reveal this new world to divers. Until 1963, most of the images it showed were in shades of gray. Even the underwater images on its covers were reproductions of paintings, not the brilliant four-color photographs you see today. But in September 1963, Skin Diver added a feature to its back page that would secure its place in the history of underwater photography and bring the full impact of the beauty of this watery realm to its readers. This first picture was of Ginger Stanley, a world record underwater distance swimmer, diving in Florida's Silver Springs. In the October issue, the magazine became The New Skin Diver, showcasing the four-color images of up-and-coming underwater photographers like Paul Tzimoulis and Jim Church.

1955 Dedicated to Photography
Skin Diver's first photographic special issue appeared in October 1955. It didn't feature the powerful images presented in this issue (the skill level of photographers and the power of their equipment has come a long way), but it did have an incredible article written by Hans Hass, subtitled Photographer & Underwater Explorer Extraordinary. Probably one of the most revered photographers and filmmakers of his time (and a living legend in ours), Hans' article described a ten-month photographic and scientific expedition to the Azores, the Caribbean, the Galapagos and Cocos Island. They dived with Sperm Whales in the Azores and sharks in the Galapagos and at Cocos, and when they brought lights underwater for the filming of Under the Caribbean they were stupefied by the colors that would come to life. According to Michael Jung's biography of Hans, these expeditions on the Xarifa and their scientific results went down in history as the most important event in oceanography and made Hans Hass famous all over the world.