Clarity of vision
Dylan Silver’s interest in underwater photography began on a trip to Indonesia in 2010 when he was 24 years old. While swimming around the island of Sulawesi, Silver spent hours photographing the vibrant coral reefs with a camera he bought specifically for the trip.
Upon returning home to the United States, Silver unfortunately put his camera away and didn’t use it much after that. It wasn’t until 2014, when he decided to upgrade his camera and underwater housing to a Canon 5D Mark II, that he began documenting Lake Tahoe below the surface.
Silver spent the next three years photographing Lake Tahoe nonstop. He developed a massive archive of underwater photos, but at the time none of them were posted on social media, online or were sold anywhere.
According to Silver, he had always envisioned making a book with the photos, but he never really had a clear vision of what he wanted to do with them until he had to complete a course requirement at the University of Nevada, Reno, for his graduate degree.
“The opportunity at UNR presented itself, and through the graduate program I ended up making [the photos] into a project that satisfied the graduate program requirements,” said Silver.
In June 2016, he created tahoeclarity.com and his Instagram @tahoeclarity that showcase his stunning work of Tahoe’s waves, beaches, rocks and life under the surface. Silver also applied for The InNEVenture Fund, a source of funding established to help students determine if their technologies and business ideas have commercialization potential. He won money to invest into his photography project.
According to Silver, he took advantage of opportunities created by the fund like joining professional organizations and attending events for underwater photographers that helped him advance his career to the next level.
When it comes to shooting the photos themselves, Silver puts on a thick wetsuit and jumps in the water year-round, no matter the conditions. “Tahoe is kind of amazing because the conditions vary so much,” said Silver, “You can have massive storms that dump snow, and shooting in that type of weather is going to be much different than shooting on a glassy summer day.”
Silver noted that windy days make photographing the clarity of the water extremely difficult, so instead of trying to capture the shallows of Tahoe with debris and silt floating around, he decided to start photographing waves that form from the wind.
“That’s been a huge part of Tahoe Clarity, too, is photographing these intricate shapes that the waves make as they break over the shoreline,” he said.
According to Silver, there’s so much history to photograph below the water as well. He noted that one of his favorite areas to take pictures of is just south of Emerald Bay where Cascade Falls runs into the lake. Here is where he said he’s found old logging equipment and train tracks on a deserted shoreline making for mysterious photos. “It’s Tahoe at its purest with a neat amount of history,” said Silver.
Silver has also donated his work from Tahoe Clarity to The League to Save Lake Tahoe that they’ve used in promotional materials to help advance their mission of combating pollution.