Photographer Barbara Leon’s Lens Captures Underwater Mysteries | Visual Art | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

Barbara Leon's Lens Captures Mysteries Below the SurfaceWhat lurks beneath the lily pads? Underwater photographer Barbara Leon knows. The Gardiner resident grew up exploring nature and was certified in scuba diving at age 15. Escaping pandemic stress, she was drawn to the mystery of the aquatic underworld more recently.

"This all started when the pandemic hit. As many others experienced, I was feeling isolated and unconnected. Going beneath the water became my escape from the craziness of the world above. It was so much more than a new place to photograph. It was a sanctuary imbued with life and beauty and mysterious connections," she says. 

click to enlarge Photographer Barbara Leon’s Lens Captures Underwater Mysteries
Sprite, Barbara Leon, photograph, Dundas Bay, Alaska, 2021

Having worked as a podiatrist for 30 years, Leon seeks to merge science and art in her photography. "I have always been fascinated by photographing the natural world. The scientist in me wants to see the inner, nitty-gritty of things. The artist in me wants to see, and reveal, light, form, and connections that occur in nature. It's the hidden beauty in everyday things that captivates me," she says. 

Using a waterproof Olympus TG-6 camera to navigate challenging photographic conditions such as murky water and low light, she captures sights seldom seen by most humans. Leon's perspective looks up toward the surface, and often she's not alone. 

click to enlarge Photographer Barbara Leon’s Lens Captures Underwater Mysteries
Wayward, Barbara Leon, photograph, Round Lake, Rhinebeck, 2021

"While kayaking in the pristine waters of Alaska, I came upon this luminous jellyfish. As I got closer, it quickly plunged out of view. I had the photographer's adrenaline rush of wanting to capture this incredible creature, but realized the jellyfish surely perceived me as a threat. I sat quietly and saw it appear again right next to me. I started shooting and, miraculously, this creature started swimming and diving around me. I can't say why, but just as the jellyfish perceived I wasn't a threat, I also didn't feel threatened by it. We spent one mesmerizing hour together. I was not wearing a glove, and the water was frigid. I didn't get stung, and I didn't get frostbite!" she says. 

Leon's underwater photographs comprise her first solo show, "Sub-merged," at the Muse, a new multi-arts venue in Rosendale from June 12 through August 11. An opening reception will be held on July 12 from 5 to 9pm. 

Event Details


Through Aug. 11

The Muse
1 Madeline Lane, Rosendale

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