DEEP DIVE

An Undersea Adventure

How VSCO helped us photograph this otherworldly deep-sea voyage.

VSCO: Photo & Video Editor

Where expression matters most

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Brooklyn photographer Sasha Arutyunova has shot all over the world, publishing her work in outlets from The New York Times to Wired to TIME.

But until recently, there was one place she hadn’t been: 600 meters under the sea.

In early February, Apple sent Arutyunova to the Bahamas with the OceanX exploration and storytelling initiative. There she spent several days aboard their ship the Alucia, documenting those whose lives are spent in (and under) the sea.

Her journey involved two separate submarine dives of three and five hours. “I’d always cared about the oceans and conservation,” she says. “But actually being able to go down there, it’s a cognitive shift that makes it so much more real.”

Arutyunova returned with the following breathtaking images, all taken with her iPhone XS and edited in VSCO.

Here’s the ocean and OceanX, seen through Arutyunova’s eyes (and lens). Read on to see her shots—and to learn exactly how she used the app to get them.

“This was taken during my first sunset. It was really peaceful in that moment, and I was thinking how we were all on this massive ship but still fairly small in the giant ocean. There’s a majesty to that.”

How she got the shot: “I used the U1/Bright Sun filter and only modified the exposure a little.”

“I was pretty close to the sub, and there was this amazing sunset. They already had the headlights on, which illuminated the sea in a beautiful blue. I was trying to keep this one true to life while giving the image the mood of a spaceship descending into the depths. Being on the sub definitely felt like exploring an alien landscape.”

How she got the shot: “This is the KP8—Kodak Porta 800 filter—in VSCO, which is one of my favorites.”

“This was from the first dive that I did. I’m normally pretty claustrophobic, but when we went down, it was so spacious and beautiful that all my worry went out the window. I felt this showed that first-descent moment. You really see the separation between the two worlds.”

How she got the shot: “I used the U1/Bright Sun filter here also and didn’t do a lot of extra editing. I wanted to make sure the color was mostly true to reality and created a kind of analog feeling.”

“This was also a lovely sunset moment. These orchids were in the captain’s bridge—but just for a second: They took them back to land because they figured that might be a better environment. I’m happy I photographed them when I did.”

How she got the shot: “The filter was KP3—Kodak Portra 160 VC. It’s a really vibrant-color filter. I adjusted the exposure, white balance, and temperature, and straightened it out a little bit.”

    VSCO: Photo & Video Editor

    Where expression matters most

    VIEW

Here’s the ocean and OceanX, seen through Arutyunova’s eyes (and lens). Read on to see her shots—and to learn exactly how she used the app to get them.

“This was taken during my first sunset. It was really peaceful in that moment, and I was thinking how we were all on this massive ship but still fairly small in the giant ocean. There’s a majesty to that.”

How she got the shot: “I used the U1/Bright Sun filter and only modified the exposure a little.”

“I was pretty close to the sub, and there was this amazing sunset. They already had the headlights on, which illuminated the sea in a beautiful blue. I was trying to keep this one true to life while giving the image the mood of a spaceship descending into the depths. Being on the sub definitely felt like exploring an alien landscape.”

How she got the shot: “This is the KP8—Kodak Porta 800 filter—in VSCO, which is one of my favorites.”

“This was from the first dive that I did. I’m normally pretty claustrophobic, but when we went down, it was so spacious and beautiful that all my worry went out the window. I felt this showed that first-descent moment. You really see the separation between the two worlds.”

How she got the shot: “I used the U1/Bright Sun filter here also and didn’t do a lot of extra editing. I wanted to make sure the color was mostly true to reality and created a kind of analog feeling.”

“This was also a lovely sunset moment. These orchids were in the captain’s bridge—but just for a second: They took them back to land because they figured that might be a better environment. I’m happy I photographed them when I did.”

How she got the shot: “The filter was KP3—Kodak Portra 160 VC. It’s a really vibrant-color filter. I adjusted the exposure, white balance, and temperature, and straightened it out a little bit.”

“This is Crashonda, a Bahamian high school senior who was selected to join the OceanX mission for two weeks. Whenever there’s a submarine launch, a motorboat guides the sub out of the ship and into the water. It’s a full-crew effort, and there’s immense precision with how they do that. This shot was taken when we went down to watch it.”

How she got the shot: “Typically, in my personal film work I tend to gravitate to VSCO’sKodak filters. But for this one, I accidentally clicked on FS16—Fuji Super 1600. There’s a nice warmth that I felt fit the image. I adjusted the exposure, contrast, white-balance temperature, and white-balance tint.”

“That’s a big starfish they brought up on one of the dives. The part in the photograph is maybe 5 inches wide. This was a good chance to get a macro shot from the iPhone, and it’s interesting how it’s able to read fine details like this.”

How she got the shot: “This wasKP8—Kodak Porta 800again. That filter tends to have blue-purple-ish fuzzy shadows, and I like the shadows to be a little contrast-ier, so I increased the contrast to account for that.”