Swimming with Sea Lions in Elliott Bay

UW Medicine just published a project I shot last December, which features one of their physicians, Dr. Stephen Dudley, who has an unusual exercise routine: he swims year-around in Elliott Bay.

When I landed this project, I knew right away that I wanted to take the camera under water with him. I’m licensed to dive, but I’ve only ever done that in warm tropical waters. I have neither the equipment or the inclination to get my feet wet in the frigid waters of Puget Sound in December.

Laura James, underwater cinematographer

Laura James, underwater cinematographer

So I started Googling for underwater camera people in Seattle, and I found a lot of guys and one woman named Laura James. She has a ton of experience shooting underwater, and was instantly excited about working on this project when I reached out to her. She was awesome to work with!

While she covered the action from under water, I shot from a boat above the water with a DJI Osmo Pro, which did a superb job of smoothing out the winter waves that we were riding.

Amazingly, two sea lions happened to swim by while we were filming, and became curious about what Laura and Dr. Dudley were doing in the water. They swam right underneath them, which is how we got that little quick second of footage in the film underwater, and also the clip I was able to capture above water.

Here’s a few frames from the film, which you can watch here on the UW Medicine website (scroll down to bottom of page to view).

Many thanks to Lara Feltin, who produced this project, and to location sound recordist Scott Waters.


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