This page contains some of my recent news, older items are in the news archive linked at the bottom of this page. Note that this is not a photographic blog, if you are interested in seeing some of my images as I take them, the best way is on Facebook or visit my gallery pages, where there are detailed write ups on each shoot.
October 2013 - European Wildlife Photographer Of The Year
I am thrilled to announced that I have been named European Wildlife Photographer Of The Year 2013 as the overall winner of the prestigious and long running GDT contest. The competition, known for showcasing the most creative and beautiful nature pictures, this year attracted 16,500+ photos and this was the first time an underwater photograph has won outright. I am particularly pleased that this image NIGHT MOVES was successful because not only it is visually fascinating, but it is also uses a very novel technique in underwater photography. I've never seen another underwater shot like it, as it was taken at night, using continuous lighting and a tripod. It is a long exposure showing bar jacks (predatory fish) hunting over a coral reef, the long exposure rendering the fish like swirling phantoms against the inky, black sea. On the right you can see the outline of one fish as it stops to feed, its trail showing how it swooped down, across the frame to catch its prey. Around the central reef sponge you can even see the trails of the smaller fish and zooplankton that the jacks were hunting. The longer you look, the more you see. As I said in my acceptance speech I was inspired to be more daring with my photographic approach after coming to the GDT's International Nature Photography Festival as a speaker two years ago and took this photo on the very next shoot I did. Daring to be different is not always an easy route. Everyone tends to like classic wildlife shots, more creative shots will divide opinions. Some people will hate this shot, but I also know that many people love it. It is much better to illicit these strong emotions if we want our images to resonate and stop viewers and intrigue them in the natural world. The award is also very special as the panel of judges included some of the world's finest nature photographers (plus it was great not to have to compete against them) and the collection as a whole is so strong and packed with original work. I took this photo with my Nikon D700, Nikon 16-35mm, Subal ND700 housing and Zen 230 dome. You can see the collection of images here.
October 2013 - Back From Lembeh
For much of October I was away in one of my favourite places, the wonderful Lembeh Strait, in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. This 10 mile stretch of water is packed with weird and wonderful marine critters and a real mecca for underwater photographers. I was there to run my Macro & Critter Photography Workshop for Wetpixel with Adam Hanlon and was joined by 31 underwater photographers from all over the world: they travelled from North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. We were based at the wonderful Lembeh Resort and dived with the amazing team at Critters@Lembeh. I have been coming to Lembeh since before Lembeh Resort was even opened (although this was also my fourth stay at Lembeh Resort) and I can honestly say this time was the best ever for critters. Every single classic Lembeh critter was in residence and there were endless rarities. We even had a rhinopias on the Lembeh Resort house reef! And the quality of images produced by the group greatly exceeded my expectations and I am sure we will see many picking up prizes in major underwater photography competitions over the next 12 months. I was very pleased with the images I was able to produce and also the teaching content of the course, which really inspired the group and was all new. Excerpts from these new lectures will undoubtedly appear in various forms in future workshops. I hope to have some images from this trip online soon.
October 2013 - Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Winner
I am very happy to have been successful again in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer Of The Year contest, where my whaleshark photo was commended in the Nature In Black and White Category. Especially as it was with an image taken with the Olympus OM-D, which is a great message for those that doubt the quality of the Micro Four Thirds format. A big thank you to Alex Tattersall (UW Visions) for lending me his Nauticam EM-5 housing and camera for my trip to Mexico where I took this shot! Personally, I prefer this photo as a colour image, but I have to admit it does look great in monochrome. In short I am very happy that this picture in particular caught the judges' eyes. I took this shot in open water in the Caribbean Sea, off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, while swimming among a huge aggregation of whale sharks and leading Wetpixel's trip there. I used my Olympus OM-D E-M5 and Panasonic 8mm fisheye lens; 1/250 sec at f8; ISO 200. Black and white conversion was done in Silver FX Pro Software.
October 2013 - New Column: Fisheye
I am very happy to be contributing a new column on my underwater photography to the new Wild Planet Photo Magazine, an e-magazine dedicated to wildlife and nature photographers, from the people that brought you the popular Landscape Photographer Magazine. The mag will be out each month and will be packed with refreshing content from many of the big names of nature photography, with exciting features and stunning imagery from around the world. I am contributing a column called Fisheye, about photographing marine wildlife. I kick off my series with a look at coral spawning, with tips on how to be in the right place at the the right time. The first three issues of Wild Planet Photo Magazine can be downloaded for free.
October 2013 - Cover: Diver Magazine
I am pleased to have another cover on October Issue of the UK's DIVER Magazine. It is an older image, but one I have always thought would make a good cover, so I am very happy it has finally been selected. It was taken with my Nikon D2x and Nikon 12-24mm, Subal ND2 housing, Subal FE3 dome, Subtronic Alpha strobes. The D2X was excellent at low ISO, so this was shot on ISO 100 at f/9, 1/40th. I don't have a problem with it showing a diver enjoying a tactile encounter with the trumpetfish, as it is clear that the trumpetfish could clearly swim away if it wasn't enjoying the encounter as much as the diver. It is moments like these, where marine life accepts you into their world that makes diving so special.
September 2013 - Back From Sardinia
In the second half of September, I headed to Sardinia for some Mediterranean diving. Despite only a handful of diving days we managed to fit in some diverse diving, mostly with my friend Miho Tsuruoka. We dived around Tavolara Island with Dive Aquarius, in the new underwater MuMart underwater exhibition in Golfo Aranci (although I can't show those photos yet) with Alpha Diving Centre and in Alghero with my friends from Capo Galera Dive Centre. All in all some diverse diving and actually a lot of very useful pictures. Although the trip coincided with the height of some problems I was having with my laptop, so I haven't done much with the shots yet, but I am looking forward to getting a gallery online soon.
September 2013 - British Wildlife Photography Awards
I am very pleased to announce that I once again picked up awards in the BWPA with a pair of Highly Commendeds this year. I've been fortunate to pick up something in each of the five editions of this contest. This is one of my winning shots, and although it was "just HC", I am particularly proud of it, because it is a critter that very few people have seen in the UK and producing an image like this is very difficult. They are hard to find, tiny and they move a lot. Of course, the judges wouldn't know this, so it is doubly nice for it to win just as an image. This is not a shot that will be easily copied! My other shot is of a john dory that can be seen in the online galleries (Portraits Category). You must click on the link, as the fantastic overall winner taken by George Karbus of a dolphin behind a breaking wave is a must see. I was very enjoyable to attend the awards at the Mall Gallery in Central London.
September 2013 - British Blue Sharks
Just a few days after returning from the Cayman Islands, I headed down to Cornwall for a very special day on the water. My friend, Charles Hood, has discovered a location where blue sharks can be encountered reliably for a couple of months each year, although only on the few days that the weather conditions are favourable for heading way offshore into the big blue. And I was so excited to see them for myself. I found the blues fascinating to watch. Their elegant bodies slice effortlessly through the water and they definitely have the same self-confidence as that other big-blue-specialist, the oceanic white tip shark. It was amazing to see this in British Waters. The European population has been hunted to the brink of extinction, but in the last few years there do seem to be the first green shoots of recovery. Let's hope they continue. This is a magnificent ocean hunter, for me one of Europe's iconic wild species, so much better encountered free and wild, than piled up on a slab in a fish market. I have only let these shots out with agents I really trusted and "forbid" them to be published with words like "brave diver" "man-eater" "dangerous" etc used with them. I know too many underwater photographers (who care deeply about sharks) who have had the British Press spin their shark story and perpetuate the man-eater myths, doing shark conservation no favours. I am very pleased that the Telegraph ran the story the way I wanted. The Guardian also recently used my basking shark image to illustrate another positive British Shark story.
August 2013 - Interview Alert Diver (USA)
I am very proud to be the subject of the Shooter Interview in the summer 2013 issue of the North American Alert Diver Magazine, especially as the interview was conducted by Stephen Frink someone I look up to greatly. I regularly get asked to interviews and I always try to approach them with something interesting to say, rather than just finding lots of different ways of phrasing "I am great, buy my stuff". So I hope there is some interesting stuff in there about camera choices, workflow, travel, projects and my approach to work. Here is an excerpt: "I think my scientific background makes me quite a technical shooter, interested in fully understanding how certain images are made and how the equipment works. That tends to spark my artistic creativity, giving me ideas for fresh images. The new capabilities that digital cameras brought (and continue to bring) to underwater photography were tailor-made for my style of working". You can read the full interview here.
August 2013 - Back from Grand Cayman
The main reason for my trip to Grand Cayman in August was to run back to back Digital Madness Workshops with Ocean Frontiers. I believe that my Cayman workshops are the best teaching event that I run, the quality and repeatability of the subject matter, the fantastic resort at Compass Point, the professionalism of the OF staff and the small group size make it ideal for really improving people's pictures. And this years workshops really did yield some amazing images for the groups, especially because we got excellent action with the silverside schools in the coral caverns around the island. We also did plenty of photography at other Cayman favourites, such as the iconic Babylon pinnacle, the popular Kittiwake shipwreck and, of course, with the friendly rays of stingray city. We even managed to catch one of the summer storms that I hoped would give interesting lighting conditions at a specific time of day. Another big plus was that Eagle Rays bar and grill was now open and that really added to our evening sessions on the pool deck. European OWUSS Rolex Scholar, Chloe Marechal joined us for the workshop and quickly developed from having zero photo knowledge into a demon shooter! Another treat was my friend Predrag Vuckovic giving a fantastic impromptu talk on his latest projects. A big thank you to both groups and all the gang at OF for making it such a great trip. I hope to have galleries of images online soon.
August 2013 - Snorkelling Grand Cayman
The main reason for heading to the Cayman Islands in the summer of 2013 was to run my Digital Madness Photo Workshops, but I headed out a few days early to shoot for a long running snorkelling project I have been working on with Stephen Broadbelt, with the aim of promoting snorkelling on the island. We packed in three days of model shooting around the island, both above and below the waves. It was very hard work and I am very grateful to Becca Nutsch, Mark Tilley, JB Mclean, Chloe Marechal and last, but certainly not least, Lindsay Japal, the current Miss Cayman Islands. Glamorous as it sounds, modelling for snorkelling shots is very hard work, although with Tilley and Becca being such good free divers, I was able to get some really excellent images. I was particularly impressed by Lindsay's work ethic, despite being the only one who isn't underwater most days, that is her in the thumbnail on the right.
July 2013 - Back from the Shetland Islands
In late July, I headed north for a short shoot in the Shetland Islands and a bit of rest and recuperation between my triple workshop weeks in the Red Sea and double workshops in Grand Cayman. I spent a most enjoyable week on MV Valkyrie liveaboard with a group of underwater photographers from the UK and the Netherlands. The MV Valkyrie is a characterful boat and excellently run boat and no other liveaboard skipper can know these waters as well as Hazel. Helen's fabulous cooking is also well known in British diving circles and does not disappoint, and Rob takes fantastic care of the dive deck. Highly recommended. I shot a variety of subjects ranging from shipwrecks, such as the E-49 submarine, Fraoch Ban, Pionersk and Lunokhods, scenery at Fetlar and Bressay, wildlife including common dolphins and spotted catsharks, and some great macro, with numerous nudibranch species, crustaceans, baby lumpsuckers and my first snailfish, which I was very pleased to find. I hope to have a gallery of these images online soon.
July 2013 - Cover: Diver Magazine
I am pleased to see this fun shot of a diver enjoying the Kittiwake wreck on the cover of DIVER Magazine, sometimes amongst all the arty photos of scuba divers in the beautiful big blue, it is important to remind people that diving is fun and people enjoy themselves underwater. I took this photo in December when I went to the Kittiwake with Ocean Frontiers. It was actually a little chilly in the water, but Colin was up for wearing his colourful shorts, to give the photo a nice holiday and fun feel. This shot was taken with the Nikon D4 and Nikon 16-35mm @ 16mm. Subal ND4 housing, Zen 230 dome, Seacam 150 strobes. 1/160th @ f/13. ISO 400. I used the rectilinear lens for this shot as the fisheye would have made the wreck all bendy.
July 2013 - Back from the Red Sea
I am back after very successful, triple workshops on MY Whirlwind, which attracted underwater photographers from 17 countries, which must be some sort of record. The start of summer elicits a frenzy of life in the Red Sea, particularly fish spawning, which tends not to be so concentrated in other coral ecosystems. As a diver the main attraction are the huge schools of the large reef predators (such as snappers and barracudas), which are usually solitary but are now found in big numbers. These turn already stunning dive sites into mind blowing ones. Of course all the other attractions are there as usual, the soft coral and anthers scenery, reef creatures and of course, the famous wrecks, like the Giannis D, Chrisoula K and Thistlegorm. A big thank you to Capt Mohammed and his crew, our guides Anna, Ahmed and Sameh, the person who made it all happen - Caroline, and to all at Scuba Travel, Tornado Fleet and Traveline. I gave 30+ technique talks, many image review sessions, made 3x 30 minute plus end of week films/slide shows, did 64 dives and have 4600 new pictures still on my computer demanding attention. I actually took many times that amount, if you include all the time-lapse sequences (UW and above) I shot. I have not yet had a chance to work through my own photos from the trip, but you can see some of the excellent images produced by the group in this short film.
June 2013 - Speaking at the Camel Bar
While I was in Egypt for my workshops, I was pleased to be invited to speak again at the popular Camel Bar in Naama Bay. I have spoken there a couple of times before and it is always good fun as lots of local dive staff come along in addition to diving tourists. So you tend to get a knowledgable and enthusiastic crowd. This year's talk was particularly well attended. I guess because my chose subject of shark photography is a bit of a crowd pleaser. I'll definitely be giving that talk again on my travels, it went down really well. Thanks to Cath, Ornella and everyone at Camel for making me and my group from the workshop feel so welcome.
June 2013 - Cover: Sport Diver
I am pleased to have another cover shot on Sport Diver Magazine, the official publication of PADI (North America) and as a result the largest circulation diving magazine in the world (well that's what I am told). I am proud to contribute regularly to this magazine and in the past have even managed to get two different British seals on the cover! Anyway, this picture was taken much closer to the States than the UK. It is from my trip to Mexico last summer and shows Eleonora posing in the beams of light of Taj Mahal Cenote, when we were diving with Mike and Suzy and Dive Aventuras. The photo was taken with my Nikon D4 camera and Sigma 15mm lens. Nauticam prototype housing and Sullivan 6" dome (as my other domes were being repaired) and tripod. 1/4 second at f/9 and ISO 2000.
May 2013 - 2020VISION Hits London
The 2020VISION Project is coming to London in May. Not only are we presenting the VISION show at the Royal Geographical Society, but our FREE outdoor exhibition is on display on the South Bank of the Thames for the whole month. The London street exhibition is supported by by Friends of the Earth and is available 24 hours a day until the end of the month. The exhibition provides a launch pad for Friends of the Earth's new initiative Picture the Earth which invites everyone to share the things in the natural world that matter most of them, by texting a photograph from their mobile phone. Images could feature in a big Picture the Earth event in London in September and there's the opportunity to win a signed copy of the 2020VISION book. The exhibition is near Tower Bridge and the closest tube stations are Tower Hill and London Bridge.
May 2013 - Join Me In The Philippines
This time next year I will be in the Philippines and you can be there with me. I am making a three centre trip, consisting of workshops on Anilao (for macro) and the oceanic atolls of Tubbataha (for wide angle), as well as a photographers trip to Dumaguete in between. You can join for the entire trip, some people already have, or one or two of the sections. I am leading the Anilao workshop for my friends at Reef Photo Video, Florida, USA at the highly rated, new Aiyanar Resort and I am being joined for this large event by Tanya Burnett, Kevin Palmer, Gutsy Tuason and Chris Parsons. After this I head up to Atlantis Resort Dumaguete for a photographers trip, with loads of productive diving, but no formal teaching. Then, saving the best to last, it is off to the remote reefs of Tubbataha for big animal and schools, in clear water with beautiful scenery. Oh, an the Atlantis Azores is a pretty special boat too. Both the Dumaguete leg and the Tubbataha leg are being organised by Scuba Travel in the UK. There is more information on the forthcoming workshops page of my website, with dates, prices etc here.
May 2013 - Back from Devon
In early May, I headed to devon, England for some diving with the boys (Dan Bolt, Terry Griffiths and Peter Rowlands). With Eleo still away Zena, our dog, came along too and had a great time on Peter's excellent boat Magic. As we all did, she really is an excellent platform for a small group of photographers to get on with the business of some serious photography. The aim was marine life photography and I was keen to try and get some colourful fish shots, focusing on rainbow and ballan wrasses. Then we did some macro dives, where once again nudibranchs dominated the agenda. Although I was very pleased to find a real rarity, an Okenia aspersa, a first record of this species in the south of England. Finally, I rigged up my fluorescence photography system and made some blue light fluorescence images of jewel anemones. You can see a gallery of images from this trip here.
April 2013 - My Kit Interview
I am always being asked how I manage to travel around the world with both heavy dive gear and heavy underwater camera gear, without incurring the wrath of of airlines and expensive excess baggage fees. Well finally, I have to chance to share my tips, in an interview with DIVER Magazine's editor, Steve Weinman. And it is something that starts with choosing the right dive gear. In the article I run through my dive gear equipment choices and preference, covering regulators, BCs, suits, under suits, masks, fins, gloves and hoods. I also dicuss camera gear and bags. The article was published in the May 2013 issue of DIVER, and I have now reproduced it here on my website too.
April 2013 - Nikon D600 Underwater Review
My recent trip to Norway also gave me the chance to put the new Nikon D600 through its paces as an underwater camera. This is smaller, lighter full frame digital camera, with a fantastic 24MP sensor. The main aim of the review was to answer the question everyone is asking, how does it compare with the 36MP D800. So I took a D800 along too, trying both side by side in Nauticam housing. Swapping between the cameras made the similarities and differences very quickly apparent. I preferred the D800 to the D600 for underwater photography, mainly because its superior autofocus, but I must stress that both are excellent underwater cameras, which feel and perform very similarly in the Nauticam housings. The price difference will probably determine the direction of a lot of sales. If you are buying a system from scratch, the total system price difference between D800 and D600 systems is much smaller. However, most people considering these cameras will probably own strobes, ports and Nikon lenses already. When considering just the camera and housing prices for the systems I used, the D800 costs $6600 USD and the D600 costs $5400 USD (source B&H and Reef Photo Video). This is about 20% cheaper, which is a considerable saving. The D800 is the better camera, but if you plump for the cheaper D600 you can be assured you have a great camera that does almost everything with the same excellence. And with the improvements that Nauticam have brought to the NA-D600 housing, you can feel a little smug that you have not just a cheaper housing, but a better one than the NA-D800. The review is available on Wetpixel and in Underwater Photography Magazine, Issue 72.
April 2013 - Back From Scotland
Eleonora was away at sea for three weeks in April for survey work on proposed sites for British Marine Protected Areas, so I was at home looking after our dog Zena! Well not exactly at home, Zena and I drove to the north of Scotland to join my Devon buddies (yes, that is a Devon flag) Dan Bolt and Terry Griffiths at one of favourite spots for British diving, Loch Carron. We like it there because the conditions are almost always good for dicing and photography and there is plentiful macro and wide angle subject matter, all easily accessible from the shore. It is also a great spot because we can easily get our cylinders refilled by Dave at Five Bells Diving, based in the village. We had fairly poor weather through the trip, which meant we focused mainly on macro and I have to admit I found it hard to shake off the nudibranch frame of mind from my recent trip to Norway. Zena loved Scotland and swam in three different sea lochs! You can see a gallery of images from this trip here.
April 2013 - I AM NIKON Image
I was pleased to see Nikon Europe using one of my photos from Iceland on their I AM NIKON Facebook page, recently. The image is currently the most popular one that they have posted, measured in the Facebook currency of likes! I took this photo with my Nikon D4 and Nikon 16mm fisheye at Silfra, Iceland. It is much darker here than you might imagine, and I shot at ISO 1000 and 1/80th at f/14. Thanks to Valdi for posing for me. I use both the Nikon 16mm and Sigma 15mm fisheyes for my photography and I am pleased that this shot was one taken with the Nikon lens!
April 2013 - Be The Champ, 1st Anniversary
I am thrilled to say that Be The Champ, my monthly column on underwater photography for DIVER Magazine, the UK's best selling and longest running diving magazine is now one year old. The thirteenth instalment is now in the May 2013 issue of the magazine and is the first part of a detailed look at shooting super macro. The format of the column is usually three pages, with three images, and I am writing to it to slowly cover all the import topics of underwater photography, to hopefully build up to a complete thesis on techniques. At present the columns are not reproduced on my website, but I will start to add them when I get a chance.
March 2013 - The VISION Theatre Shows
I am pleased to announce that I will be opening my big mouth soon for the 2020VISION Project as the outreach phase of the project really kicks into gear. The VISION show is a multimedia theatre show, featuring high resolution projection of still and moving images of British nature, AV shows and inspiring conservation stories from around the UK. But perhaps the biggest draw are the photographers themselves, sharing experiences, tales from the field and, of course, some breath-taking photographs. The show is hosted by Andy Rouse, with other photographers contributing their stories. I am presenting this spring at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire and the Royal Geographical Society in London. And I'll be on stage with Andy, Pete Cairns, Mark Hamblin and Bertie Gregory, who was the Young Champion I mentored for the project. I hope you'll come along, details of future shows are here.
March 2013 - Interview NPhoto Magazine
NPhoto Magazine, the independent UK Nikon Magazine has run an extensive interview with me in its April Issue, which is out now. The 210 page interview was conducted by Keith Wilson and covers my development as a photographer, my use of Nikon cameras, especially my views on the D4 and D800, my workshops, Magic Filters, reasons for the current popularity of underwater photography, and my encounters with an amorous dolphin and Queen Elizabeth II! It is an interesting magazine, packed with content and you certainly don't need to be a Nikon user to enjoy it.
March 2013 - Back from Norway
In March I headed north to the icy cold waters of Norway for the annual Nudibranch Safari, organised by my friend Christian Skauge, at the excellent Gulen Dive Resort, a little north of Bergen. OK, the water is cold, but the visibility is excellent and there are nudibranchs, or sea slugs, absolutely everywhere. The diving is limited to the house reef and the aim is for the group to find as many species as possible. This year we found 52 species on just this single dive site and some of these species were there in such numbers you could see hundreds in a single dive. Gulen is an excellent base, because not only is it sea slug central, but I can't think of an easier place to be able to dive so comfortably in the cold winter water. My photo here is a 77 frame composite of a nudibranch and star trails, shot while I was in Norway. Another highlight of the event was my friend Espen Rekdal visiting to film nudibranch expert Bernard Picton for Discovery Canada's Daily Planet show, you can watch the segment here. You can see a gallery of images from this trip here.
March 2013 - Speaking London Dive Show
I am pleased to announce that I am speaking at the London International Dive Show at the Excel Centre at the end of March. I am giving a talk called my Top 10 Shark Photos, and will explain the stories, ideas and techniques behind them. My talk is on both days in the popular PhotoZone on the London Stage. The talk is meant to compliment my recent columns in DIVER Magazine that have been examining how to take winning pictures of sharks in various situations. You can see a fun trailer for the talk here on YouTube. In the days before LIDS I am also presenting at BSoUP in London, giving my talks "Equation Free Domes" and "Two Legs Good: Three Legs Better". I hope you can make it. UPDATE: I am glad so many people came along to the talks. I think we set an attendance record for BSoUP! Photo shows my talk at LIDS.
February 2013 - Cover: Dive The World
Another cover! I don't post news items about the articles that I have published, I limit myself to covers, but I am very pleased that this cover gives me an excuse to mention my regular Nature Notes feature in this issue of Dive The World, which is on coral spawning. Check it out if you get a chance. Back on topic, I am also really pleased to have my silhouetted whale shark on the cover. The photo was taken in Mexico during the Isla Mujeres whaleshark trip in August. I used the Olympus OM-D E-M5 for this photo with the Panasonic 8mm fisheye inside a Nauticam housing, with a mini-dome. The small footprint of this housing was very important in enabling me to move swiftly through the water and frame the shark precisely against the morning sun. I was also wearing large free diving fins, which were important for getting into position for this shot, far enough away so as not to disturb the shark. Taken at 1/250th, f/8, ISO 200.
February 2013 - Cancellation Spaces Grand Cayman Workshop
UPDATE. BOTH CAYMAN 2013 WORKSHOPS ARE NOW FULL. I now have spaces on both weeks of my popular Digital Madness workshops at Ocean Frontiers in Grand Cayman in August this year. These workshops had been fully booked, but cancellations while I was away in Indonesia have opened up spots. The dates are: 3-10 August 2013 and 10-17 August 2013. And the price is from $2020 USD, plus flights. The summer workshop is slightly cheaper than the traditional January workshop because the accommodation is on the cheaper summer rates. This workshop is timed to hopefully catch impressive schools of silversides filling the caves and caverns on the East End of Grand Cayman, and also the calmest seas at Stingray City, ideal for shoot split level images. We'll also shoot the wreck of the Kittiwake and Grand Cayman's famous wall scenery, plus macro and big animals. For bookings and full info please contact Lesley(at)oceanfrontiers.com. I hope to see you there.
February 2013 - Back from Raja Ampat, Indonesia
The main reason for my trip to Indonesia was to return to Raja Ampat in West Papua and to Indo Siren, one of my absolute favourite liveaboards, to run the first of a series of four Raja Ampat Underwater Photography Workshops that I am doing over the next 18 months (the next two are fully booked, the fourth is not yet open for bookings). Indo Siren is a very luxurious and beautiful yacht, but the reason I like her so much is that she is also very practical, Worldwide Dive and Sail have really thought out how she is used and have all bases so well covered. She is style and substance. And on that topic, a big thank you to our cruise director Kassandra for providing such a brilliant itinerary for a geeky photography group. Thanks also to our guides Noak and (my favourite) Dince and also to all the guests and crew on board for making it a trip to remember for a long time. My passion for diving in Raja Ampat is not new, in fact one of my photos was used on the region's second marine protected area diver tag. I don't believe there are any more amazing reefs in the world, but the attraction for me is actually for the diversity of diving experiences. We did everything: stunning scenic reefs, fishy reefs, manta dives, mangroves, jetties, muck dives, and all in a really frontier feeling destination, with island after island of untouched perfection. I also celebrated my birthday on board, a big thank you to Peter, Corien, Jarret and Andy for such a great present. You can watch this short slideshow from our trip and see a gallery of images from this trip here.
February 2013 - Cover: Diver Magazine
My news seems to be all covers and travel at the moment. I think it was about this time last year I was complaining I hadn't had a cover in ages. Shows the fickle nature of stock sales. I am very pleased that this gurning oceanic white tip shark is on the cover of DIVER Magazine. I write my underwater photography column, Be The Champ for DIVER and at the moment I am in the middle of a three part mini-series of shark photography. I took this photo off Cat Island, in the Bahamas, from Jim Abernethy's Shearwater liveaboard, which I used at the background for this shot. I took this photo with my Nikon D700 and 17-35mm lens, Subal housing, Subtronic strobes, at f/11, 1/80th, ISO 200. The sharks mouth was open like this because its jaw had been damaged, presumably by fishing. Although this was very sad to see, I think it gives the pose a little quirkiness.
January 2013 - Back from Manado, Indonesia
In late January 2013 I stayed in North Sulawesi and crossed over to Manado, staying on the coast, south of the city in a beautiful room in Tasik Ria Resort. I am very grateful to Dan, Monica and everyone at the resort for making our stay so varied and enjoyable. Manado and Tasik Ria are a perfect choice for a first taste of SE Asian or Indonesian diving, because from a luxurious base you can sample a little of everything. The diving from Manado is either on the rich reefs of Bunaken National Park, where vertical walls are covered in both tiny treats and great creatures. Turtles were everywhere on our visit and we even saw a pod of orca. The diving along the Manado coast is dominated by sloping reefs and muck sites. I love the muck sites here, which have a slightly different mix of critters to Lembeh. We saw lots of frogfish, nudibranchs, stargazer and octopus. Thank you to our dive guides Simon and Alex. You can even do day trips to Lembeh. It is also a great place for day tours, such as into the highlands or to Tangkoko National Park, where we really enjoyed seeing the characterful black macaques. All in all a very diverse and fun and you can see a gallery of images from this trip here.
January 2013 - Cover: Scuba Magazine
I am pleased that start 2013 as 2012 ended, with one of my photos is on the cover of SCUBA, the official magazine of the UKs' biggest diving club, BSAC. It is my fourth cover on SCUBA in the magazine's short history and I am particularly pleased that all my shots have been of marine life, bucking the magazine's normal trend for drysuit clad divers! This photo was taken on the only night dive that I have done so far in the UK, with Dan Bolt down at Babbacombe. This photo of a backlit john dory would not have been possible without the assistance of Paul Sleep, who was carefully aiming my remote strobe to x-ray the fish. This shot was made all the more difficult because of the very low visibility of little more than 1 metre. This picture was taken with my Nikon D700 and 60mm lens, Subal housing, single Inon strobe on camera and single Subtronic Alpha off camera, at f/22, 1/250th, ISO 200.
January 2013 - Back from Lembeh, Indonesia
In early January 2013 I headed to the marvellous Lembeh Strait, in North Sulawesi, staying at NAD-Lembeh Resort. I have been to Lembeh many times, but this was my first time staying at NAD-Lembeh and now I can see why so many friends have been recommending it. It is only small, but you are made to feel like family and want for nothing. I really, really liked the place and will certainly be back. Lembeh is one the richest destinations in the diving universe for subjects, but I never go there with a wish list. Instead I arrive, ask what is common at the moment and focus my efforts on those species, because I am sure that next time I visit what is common this time will be rare next time. On this occasion I shot lots of octopuses, particularly veined octopus in shells and discarded coconuts and wonderpus and mimic, pontohi pygmy seahorses, mandarin fish, xeno crabs, harlequin shrimps, hairy shrimps, and all the normal nudis and frogfish. Technique-wise I did quite a lot of single strobe work (including some with the Retra optical snoot), backlighting, plenty of narrow depth of field pictures, high frame rate images of behaviour with the D4 and 3" mini dome WAM fisheye shots with my Olympus OM-D. I also tested a prototype of the new Subsee WAM lens, but can't say any more for now. January is the rainy season in North Sulawesi, so Lembeh was unusually quiet, with not many other dive boats around. We dove with dive guides Jonni and Paulus (thanks again, guys) and we're very grateful to Simon and Zee and all NAD-Lembeh for making us feel so welcome, you can see a gallery of images from this trip here.
January 2013 - Cover: Dykking Magazine
Dykking Magazine in Norway have run a version of Jesper and my freshwater Iceland story that appeared last year in Dive The World Magazine, and as a result I have scooped another cover shot, this one featuring Nina Olafsdottir exploring in Nes Canyon in the north of Iceland, which I took in April. The Nes Canyon dive is shallow, but it was hard work carrying all the gear from the car down to the fissure. I am ashamed to say that Nina was much tougher than I was. I am also very grateful for her posing for my pictures in very cold water for well over an hour. I took this photo with the Nikon D4 and 16-35mm lens at 16mm, Nauticam housing, Zen 230 dome, f/13 @ 1/50th, ISO 1000. Yes that is correct, ISO 1000 and it looks completely clean and free from noise like ISO 100 from my old D2X on the cover.
January 2013 - Cover: Scuba Magazine
I am pleased that one of my Red Sea photos is on the cover of the current issue of SCUBA, the official magazine of the UKs' biggest diving club, the British Sub-Aqua Club. While SCUBA usually features British images on the cover (I think this is the only non-British Isles picture used so far), the Red Sea is so popular with UK divers that it is as much a part of the British diving scene as Stony Cove. I never intended this photo of a rib (from another liveaboard) passing a coral reef at sunset as a cover shot, but I think it works and certainly it really says Red Sea to me. The photo was taken at Abu Nuhas and the rib was from the neighbouring liveaboard Mistral, where my buddy Duxy was hosting a workshop (I was running a workshop on Whirlwind). The evening brought calm seas, so I said to the group that we should snorkel for sunset splits after the final dive of the day. Many people got similar images. This was taken with a Nikon D800 and Nauticam housing (kindly lent by Adam Hanlon), with a Nikon 16mm fisheye and Zen 230 dome, f/11 @ 1/250th, ISO 320. This is my first cover taken with the Nikon D800.
January 2013 - Ocean Artists United For Sharks
I am proud to be a member of the Ocean Artists Society and was happy to make a small contribution (each member was asked to submit a single example of their work) for this short film about sharks and the importance of conserving them. The aim of OAS is to use ocean art to inspire people around the world to a greater awareness of our need to preserve our natural world. The society was formed by Wyland, Guy Harvey and Bob Talbot. The film is the first of a series of films that the society is producing to mark its 10 year anniversary. You can see it here on vimeo.
December 2012 - Back from Grand Cayman
In December I headed to the Cayman Islands, my third visit of 2012, which I admit is a bit greedy. The first trip was to run my Digital Madness workshops (as well producing a feature article in Alert Diver and a cover shot for Sport Diver), the second trip was to photograph coral spawning (for a feature article in Dive The World and also producing the cover shot of DIVER below) and the third time was to focused on fish stories. I shot images of fish spawning and also worked on a feature on the problem of invasive lionfish for the reefs. I enjoyed plenty of classic Cayman diving too, including getting my next images in my Kittiwake time series (2 years after sinking). Finally, as is always the case on my Cayman trips, I had quite a few new items of camera equipment to test and/or review, some of which I've already written about on my Facebook page. You can see a gallery of images from this trip here.
December 2012 - 2020VISION News
Although the photography phase of the 2020VISION project has been completed, the project seems busier than ever. The free outdoor exhibition has finished its stint in Edinburgh, but remains in Scotland, travelling on to Dundee. A must see if you are nearby. The multi-media, multi-presented THE VISION theatre show is now booking dates for 2013, it is hosted by the irrepressible Andy Rouse, but features several other members of the team, including me at a couple of the venues. Amazing imagery and fantastic entertainment can be taken as read. You can check out upcoming events here And with Christmas approaching I should give another plug for the the excellent 2020VISION book, launched just a couple of months ago. And there is even better news, because BBC Wildlife Magazine are giving it away free with a 6 month subscription. A perfect gift solution for Christmas. I leave it for you to decide whether you give away the book or the subscription or keep both for yourself!
November 2012 - Cover: Diver Magazine
Magazine covers are coming think and fast at the moment, but this is a special one for me, because it is my first cover for DIVER Magazine, where I write my popular Be The Champ column on underwater photography. I am the newbie at DIVER but I am slowly getting my feet under the table, last month saw my first feature (not counting the column) and this month I am also a talking head giving my selection for my dream Christmas dive trip (Raja Ampat on Indo-Siren, in case you were wondering). Anyway, this photo was taken in Cayman in September and is my first cover, I think, with my Nikon D4. It is not an artistic shot, particularly, but one shot with this type of use very much in mind. Taken with the Nikon D4 and 16mm fisheye lens at f/11, 1/80th. The aim with this photo was to photograph the model Kaitlin's face at a similar size in the frame that you would normally see a face on a magazine, just to make the shot in an obviously scuba setting. I am very pleased to have my first cover on DIVER, which also completes my set of British dive magazines.
November 2012 - Calendars
Its calendar time of the year again and I want to announce a couple that feature my photographs. The first is a free one, well free if you buy a copy of BBC Wildlife Magazine, and you were going to weren't you? It is there 2013 Wildlife calendar, with 13 stunning images (counting the cover) taken by leading nature photographers. My contribution is a bottlenosed dolphin from the Bahamas in July. The other calendar will require you to dig in your pocket, but I'd encourage you to do so, because it is for a very good cause. Plus it only costs £7.99. Once again I proud to be one of the contributing photographers to Oceans Twelve, the fundraising calendar for shark and marine conservation charity Bite-Back, Each photographer shares a personal and thoughtful message about the importance of conserving the oceans. My basking shark photo from Mull is featured in January.
October 2012 - New Housing: Subal ND4
It has been a long time since I had a new main camera housing, so it was very exciting to go to Austria to the Subal factory to collect my ND4, for my Nikon D4 camera. I got my Subal ND10 (for the Nikon D100) in November 2002, my Subal ND2 (for the Nikon D2X) in February 2005 and then my Subal ND700 (for the Nikon D700) in November 2008. Of course, I get to use lots of different cameras and housings on loan for reviews, in fact I have done almost all my underwater photography this year with the D4 and D800. But there is definitely something very special about picking up my own housing. I chose the D4 for its reliability, ISO, autofocus and frame rate. This is a camera to trust to get the shot and also one for pushing the limits. I was tempted by the D800 after trying a pre-announcement version of the camera back in January, but in short felt the D4 would get me shots that I couldn't with my current cameras. The D800 would just get the same shots I could already take, just in higher resolution (which honestly I didn't feel I needed). I also gave a lot of thought to housing choice, I did not choose Subal because I already owned one (although the incredible reliability record of my own Subal's was a major factor in my decision). The Subal ND4 is a truly excellent housing, a big step on for Subal housings, with several controls that I have never had on a housing before. I already love having a flash off lever under my index finger. And equally importantly it feels built to last, it is a housing that I expect to be able to still trust to get the shot when it matters. It is a formidable combination of excellent ergonomics, elegant engineering and build quality. You can read a review online at Wetpixel.com.
October 2012 - Cover: Dive The World
I am pleased to have my first cover shot on the lavishly illustrated Dive The World Magazine, which I have been contributing my Nature Notes series of articles since the first issue. This is actually quite an old photo, taken in 2004 in Sulawesi, Indonesia, with my Nikon D100 and Subal housing, 105mm lens and +4 dioptre and two Subtronic Alpha strobes, 1/180th, f/38, ISO200. It is better known as part of a composite image of mine of this pygmy seahorse dancing across the fan, but this is one of the unmanipulated original shots. My photographs accompany two features in the magazine, the first is the latest instalment of Nature Notes on cephalopods, called Who's Watching Who? The second is a feature on Iceland's freshwater diving, written by the Editor Jesper Kjoller. Dive The World Issue 4 is available in both English and German versions and is sold at selected outlets around the world (particularly airports) and also available by subscription.
October 2012 - Speaking at the UK Diveshow
I am pleased to announce that Martin Edge and I will be presenting our new two-man show on underwater photography at the UK Diveshow at Birmingham's NEC at the end of October. We are tackling one of the most important subjects in photography and giving a masterclass on Composition. Here is the official write up: Whichever camera system you use, good composition will make your pictures stand out. However, this talk goes way beyond the classic rules of composition. Alex and Martin, two of the UK's most influential underwater photographers, share examples of compositions that unlock the potential in common subjects, with real-world advice on how to achieve this under water. Composition is a personal perspective, so don't expect them always to agree. They'll finish their talk with a range of examples of breaking the rules, too - encouraging you to push boundaries.. You can see my trailer for the talk here. See you at the show.
September 2012 - BWPA 2012: Winner
I am very pleased to announce that my photo of a grey seal in an underwater cave won the Habitat Category in the 2012 British Wildlife Photography Awards. This is my second category win in this contest, having won the Coast And Marine Category previously. The photo was taken in Lundy Island in 2011 and my attempt was to take a more naturalistic seal photo, rather than the normal seal on the lens shots that we are forced to take in the limited visibility in the UK. I am pleased that the judges liked the photo, which needs to be seen much bigger than this thumbnail. The image was taken with my Nikon D700 and Sigma 15mm lens, in a Suba housing with Zen 230 dome and two Inon Z240 strobes, f/11, 1/160th, ISO 800. I am particularly pleased to have picked up this award this year, as we were asked not to enter key images from the 2020VISION portfolio (which represents all my UK underwater photography from the last few years) because both the 2020VISION book and the BWPA Collection 3 book are published by AA Publishing. So you can buy both for two very different looks at British Wildlife. I also had a photo of a shrimp taken in Loch Carron in Scotland highly commended in the same contest. I was unable to make the award ceremony as it coincided with my Sardinian Workshop.
September 2012 - Back from Sardinia Workshop
At the end of September I ran a photo workshop at Capo Galera Dive Center in Alghero, Sardinia, organised by Marine Expedition Services and kindly sponsored by Duiken Magazine and Seacam. I chose this location for several reasons, first if there is a more beautifully located dive centre and resort in the Mediterranean I don't know it. Out of the water you get to enjoy the food, the wine and scenery that make Sardinia such a popular holiday destination. Most importantly the diving provides excellent subject matter from typical Mediterranean marine life, including many seahorses on the resort's house reef, to a wide range of caves and caverns, that provide challenging subject matter for underwater photographers, but once they have learned the appropriate techniques provide some very fresh images for their portfolios. Unlike much Mediterranean diving, the caves mean that there are excellent subjects in shallow depths. The various caves all have different characters and allow different types of images to be taken. Favourites were the completely white Ghost Cave that feels like a freshwater cave deep underground and the massive Nereo Cave, which we only worked a small area of, but produced many photos. A big thank you to Fede, Diego, Luca and Roberto for working so hard for our group and to Laura for modelling for endless photos, especially with the tedious lighting setups in the caves that all the group shot. You can see a gallery of these images here.
September 2012 - Cover: Sport Diver Asia Pacific
I am pleased to announce that my photo of blackfoot anemone fish is on the cover of the inaugural issue of Sport Diver Asia Pacific, the new online magazine from Sport Diver USA, focused on diving in the Asia Pacific region. The magazine aims to be much more than a traditional magazine in digital format with interactive capabilities including: scrolling text, image galleries, bonus video, hot links, 360-degree panoramic photos and more. My photo was taken in Baa Atoll in the Maldives, with the Nikon D7000 and Tokina 10-17mm lens at 14mm, Nauticam housing and Zen 100 mini dome, two Subtronic Alpha Pro Strobes. It was taken at f/10 at 1/20th under rainy skies, at ISO 200. As more of the magazine industry goes online, I expect I'll see more of my horizontal photos being used on covers, even though they were never shot for that reason.
September 2012 - Back from Cayman Coral Spawning
At the start of September I travelled to the Cayman Islands to photograph coral spawning. Many of the coral species only spawn for a few seconds each year, so it is always a big challenge to be in the right place at the right time to get the shots. Oh, and it happens at night too. Fortunately, I have the inside track on the prediction because it was my calculations a decade ago that first allowed myself and Steve Broadbelt, the co-founder of Ocean Frontiers to first observe and record coral spawning in Cayman and we even presented our results at the Zoological Society of London. And since then, Ocean Frontiers have taken divers to observe the coral spawning successfully every year since and we continued that record in 2012. It was great to see it again and be back for the 10th Year Anniversary. I also used the trip to do some new diver shots (thanks Kaitlin and Brittainy) on the reefs and some marine life photography, as well as some very enjoyable dives with Ellen Cuylaerts and Michael Maes and less enjoyable encounters with Stinky The Dolphin. You can see a gallery of images from this trip here.
August 2012 - Magic Flip Filter For GoPro
I am pleased to announce that the much anticipated Backscatter and Magic Filters flip filter for the new GoPro Dive Housing is now on sale. I saw my first ones in Mexico, as people on the trip had them. It seems that despite most SLRs now capable of shooting video, most photographers prefer adding the tiny GoPro to the top of their main housing, rather than switching to their SLRs video mode. The filter is the standard Auto-Magic filter, that has proved so suited to the GoPro which does not have a manual white balance and produces very blue underwater footage without a filter. We have already been selling this filter for Backscatter's own GoPro housing and many users have been sharing their results on Youtube and Vimeo. This customer video is a good comparison of footage taken with and without the filter. Full details of the best options for underwater shooting with the GoPro can be seen on the Backscatter website.
August 2012 - 2020VISION Book Launched
I am excited to announce that the 2020VISION flagship book is now out. It is fabulous, not surprising really when you consider the photographers who are involved. I don't think it is arrogant to say it is the best of British wildlife, nature, landscape and underwater photography all in one volume. That said, the 2020VISION book is not just a pretty face. It is a book with a strong message about the importance of Britain's wild places, on land and sea, for both wildlife and the well-being of British people. I am so pleased that marine conservation is dealt with side by side with conservation on land. After all, species and ecosystems are inter-connected and it doesn't make sense to deal with them separately. Visually, I am also excited to see British Seas covered simultaneously in the book by both above water and under water images. Almost every other book has either covered one or the other. I am very proud to be part of this project. My contributions are mostly in the marine and freshwater chapters. The book is available from all good bookshops, but I'd suggest ordering from one of the photographers (such as Northshots), for the maximum benefit to the project.
August 2012 - Back from Mexico
At the start of August I travelled to Mexico to lead back to back whale shark trips for Wetpixel. Offshore from the tiny Isla Mujeres is the world's largest aggregation of the world's largest fish and for one of the weeks we hit the absolute peak of the season with a minimum of 200 and a maximum of maybe 400 sharks each day. We stayed at Playa Media Luna Hotel and went out on the excellent Keen M International boats, with their highly experienced captains and guides. It was an amazing experience. Before heading to the whalesharks I spent a few days further south in the Yucatan, photographing in the famous Cenotes, caverns and sink holes in the limestone that are filled with freshwater at the top and salt water at depth. The cenote visit was intended as a recce trip for a more extensive shoot in the future, but it turned out to be very productive. Key to the success was going with a dive operator who understood photographers and planned an itinerary that put us in the right Cenotes at the right time of day for specific photos. So a very big thank you to Karen Doody and all at Dive Aventuras.
July 2012 - Cover: Sport Diver USA
Covershots never seem to loose their thrill. Sometimes they are a case of shooting to a formula that you know will work for a particular magazine. And there is definitely in a challenge and satisfaction in pulling this off. Other times you just try and take a wow image and someone else spots the potential for cover, which is exactly what happened here with the cover of Sport Diver Magazine (USA), arguably the world's largest circulation dive magazine. This is a wide angle photo of a hawksbill turtle that I shot in January during my Cayman workshop, Digital Madness at Ocean Frontiers. I spotted this turtle cruising down the reef wall at Babylon and took my time to approach. Patience paid off. As so often happens with turtles, they don't like the approach, but once I was up close he was completely relax as I swam down the reef with him taking pictures. This picture was taken with my Nikon D700 + Nikon 16mm fisheye. Zen 230 dome, 2 x Subtronic Alpha Pro strobes. 1/160th @ f/14, ISO 320.
July 2012 - 2020VISION Exhibition Launch
The photography phase of the 2020VISION project has pretty much wound up now and all energies are being put towards the communication and out reach elements. For that reason all the photo team, who could make it, met up in Edinburgh recently for the launch of the free 2020VISION outdoor exhibition at the Royal Botanic Garden. One of my responsibilities was joining Andy Rouse, who is not just one of the world's best wildlife photographers but also a total madman, in dressing up in our work clothes (him a ghillie suit and me drysuit and fins) and welcoming the guests to the event (dressed as we were, we were even stopping traffic). The outdoor exhibition will be touring the country over the next few years, so please look out for it in a city, town or countryside location near you. And if you are near Edinburgh, that means now. The 2020VISION book is currently being printed, we had some advance copies in Edinburgh, and should be out in early August (I'll certainly announce that here). 2020VISION portfolio has also been published widely recently, such as in the newspapers and in BBC Wildlife Magazine. As you can imagine, the flagship book will be unmissable.
July 2012 - Back from the Farnes
At the start of July, after my trip to Mull, see below, I headed to the north east coast of England for several days photography, both underwater and on land, in the Farne Islands. The first aim was offshore and we took the speedy and excellent Ocean Explorer rib way out into the open North Sea, well out of sight of land, to search for pelagic species. Sadly our luck wasn't great and after a few hours out drawing a blank in the blue we headed back in to snorkel with the seals. The next day our plan was simply seals and we made the short journey out to the Farnes in search of visibility and friendly seals. The first dive wasn't particularly special, lots of seals on the surface, but no friendly ones beneath. Dive two was a complete contrast and we had seals interacting with us from the first minute of the dive. In fact the photo (right) was one of the first I took in 80 of the most memorable minutes I have spent underwater. For the next two days I switched my attention topside, as I was keen to build a better portfolio of British marine life above the waves, particularly birdlife. We travelled to the Farnes on Glad Tidings with Billy Shiel and had a very productive day shooting puffins, guillemots, razorbills, shags, kittiwakes, arctic terns and common terns. On our final day in the north east we crossed back in Scotland and took a boat trip to the amazing gannetry at Bass Rock, home to more than 150,000 Gannets and described famously by Sir David Attenborough as 'one of the wildlife wonders of the world'. Bass Rock even 00gives gannets part of their latin name. I hope to have a gallery of images from this trip available soon.
June 2012 - Interview in Amateur Photographer
The 23rd June issue of Amateur Photographer Magazine, widely regarded as the world's leading weekly photography magazine, features an illustrated interview with me by David Clark. The interview is titled What Lies Beneath and unsurprisingly focuses on my work as an underwater photographer as well as discussing the new Nikon D4 camera, which I have been using underwater this year. I haven't actually seen the published magazine yet, hopefully they will be sending me a copy soon, as I was away when it was in the shops. But I will include some more details here when I do see it. I was a proud AP reader for many years and won prizes in their competitions, so I am particularly pleased to be a featured professional photographer in the world's oldest photographic magazine, first published in 1884.
June 2012 - Nikon D800 Testing
Although the main aim of my Red Sea trip was teaching the workshop, the dives did give a chance to put the new Nikon D800 through its paces underwater, which was kindly lent to me by Wetpixel and Adam Hanlon. I used the Nauticam NA-D800, which really impressed me and gave me a chance to try many features that did not work on the NA-D4 prototype. Nauticam are adding so many improvements to their housings with each generation, even controls that you didn't think needed it, get updated. I was very impressed with the latest incarnation of all the primary controls, and their new multi-selector is excellent, no other housing manufacturer currently offers anything similar. The D800 experience is dominated by the incredibly high resolution 36MP files and I was pleased to see that with good technique I was easily able to realise this resolution underwater. The camera has impressive dynamic range too and produces great colour. People on board commented that the files were a bit noisy at 100%, but it is important to remember that the D800 has so much resolution that you don't need the 100% resolution, unless you want to crop a lot. But to focus too much on the sensor is to underplay how good the rest of the D800 is as a camera. It has excellent autofocus, a great screen for viewing images and is just a joy to use. The snappers, below left, were shot with the D800. I hope to have time to write up a full review soon. Despite I all the positives I was happy to get back to the D4 for my trip to Scotland.
June 2012 - Back from Red Sea Workshop
In the middle on June I headed off to Egypt to run my annual Red Sea workshop on board MY Whirlwind, recently named live aboard of the year in the Diver Awards. I only had time to run a single workshop week this year* and offered places first to those who joined me on last year's trip. With nearly all of them coming back, it was very nice to join a trip where so many people were already firm friends. We started the week with wreck photography, working on the Giannis D, Krisoula K and Thistlegorm, diving each wreck more than once so that everyone could work on shots. People used filters, tripods, and multiple off camera strobes etc to produce a great diversity of images. Then we headed to Ras Mohammed, our trip timed precisely on the tides, and we were rewarded with fantastic schools of snappers, batfish, barracuda, jack and unicorn fish. Ras Mohammed was on tremendous form during our trip and the group worked very well together to produce the schooling shots we all wanted. We did so much more too: night dives, sunset splits, underwater time-lapse etc. A big thank you to the Captain Mohammed, guides, crew and all the photographers on board for one of my best ever trips to the Red Sea. * I am running three consecutive Red Sea workshop weeks in June/July 2013 to make more spaces available, although please note these trips are already full.
June 2012 - Back from basking shark hunt
It is not easy to get pictures of basking sharks. It is not the photographic challenge, but first finding the sharks and second finding them in good conditions for photography. It can be a frustrating addiction and so it proved this June, which started badly before getting a whole lot better. Basking sharks are resident in the UK from the late spring through to the autumn, generally migrating up from the south, before summering off Scotland. So I started my hunt in early June in Cornwall with Charles Hood. There were sharks about, but the British summer mean that conditions dictated there was no point in going out to look for them. Charles is very good in that he won't run a charter unless he thinks there is a good chance of good photos, so while we didn't see sharks, it didn't cost anything, either. I tried again at the end of the month, when I travelled to Mull in Scotland and joined Capt James Fairbairns of SeaLife Surveys on a trip organised by Mark Harding of Acuatours for a week around Mull and Coll, where my luck really turned. We saw multiple sharks on every day of the trip and even saw a handful of breaches, which were all jaw dropping. My buddy Dan Bolt even managed to get a photo of a basker in mid-air. I was very pleased with my underwater pictures from this trip that greatly increase my coverage of this species. The location also provides other subjects: underwater I shot many jellies and schools of mackerel and above water I shot harbour seals and grey seal, as well as many seabirds and even eagles (badly). I hope to have a gallery of images from Mull up soon.
June 2012 - Wetpixel Hangout Number 1
I am pleased to be involved in a new initiative from Wetpixel, the Wetpixel Hangout. This is a video chat managed by Google Plus's hangout software that allows a number of people to come together and have an interactive discussion online. The live feed is viewable and viewers can ask questions etc. The resulting video is also achieved on YouTube for anyone to watch in the future. 2012 has seen lots of new cameras released, so the aim of this inaugural hangout was to discuss the latest and greatest gear on the underwater photo market. The panel for the first event was Eric Cheng and Adam Hanlon from Wetxpixel, Berkley White from Backscatter and Ryan Canon from Reef Photo Video and me. Having Ryan and Berkley on board gave fantastic insights into new and forthcoming gear, although I had a world exclusive of my own, showing off Inon's new strobe diffusers. Despite being on the subject of gear the informal discussion is filled with shooting tips. I am going to watch it again. And I look forward to more of these.
June 2012 - British Images In The Papers
As part of the 2020VISION project a story based on my underwater photography in British waters has appeared in several newspapers. As always with these stories the aim is to get nature images in front of people that might not normally look at them, and hopefully renew their curiosity for the natural world. That's a long way of saying that sometimes the text can be dumbed down too much. The image, right, shows a spread from the Daily Record in Scotland. You can see a gallery of underwater images featured in The Mirror online here. As always I enjoy seeing my photos reaching the large audiences possible this way. Hopefully they will change a few people's impression of British Waters.
June 2012 - Unterwasser Visions Jury
I am proud to have been asked to join the jury for the long running monthly Visions underwater photography contest run by Unterwasser Magazine. The other Jury members include Eckhardt Krumpholz (D), Doug Perrine (USA), Lars Brinkmann (D), Eric Cheng (USA) and David Pilosof (IL). The competition attracts many very accomplished photographers and each month's entries always show plenty of strength in depth. I particularly like this competition because they pride themselves in giving constructive feedback to entrants and as a result have seen many entrants from the early days improve to the point of winning many international competitions today. I look forward to making a useful contribution over the coming months.
June 2012 - Olympus OM-D E-M5 Review
I know I am normally known for reviewing Nikon SLRs, but the offer of trying the new Olympus was too tempting. The E-M5 is Olympus's latest micro four thirds, mirror-less camera. In short it offers performance to rival most DSLRs in a camera body that is a fraction of the size, yet still takes inter-changeable lenses. All the important lenses for underwater photography are there from fisheye to macro. If it can pull it off this could be one of the most important underwater cameras for many years. I really liked this camera and I was very impressed with the image quality, particularly its performance in low light where it combines high ISO image quality with an excellent in-body image stabiliser. It excelled in wide angle and macro, but fish photography was more of a challenge for the continuous autofocus and the TTL flash lag. The housing is light and inexpensive, but while it offers full control it would benefit from more ergonomic controls. You can read my full review here on Wetpixel.
June 2012 - Back from Malta
At the end of May and start of June I made a short trip to Malta for the Olympus camera review (see above), but really enjoyed the diving and I am looking forward to getting back. I shot loads of subjects from Mediterranean fish, to caves and the endangered bluefin tuna in the tuna pens. We stayed at the Ulysses Hotel in the heart of the diving hotspot of Xlendi in Gozo, and dived with the great gang at Moby Dives and made boat dives with Pete Allday of Ocean Dreams. Thank you also to Kristina for modeling for me, especially for the repetitive flashes for the ISO test shots. And thanks to Nige, Rob and Mario for making it such an enjoyable trip. I am also grateful to Olympus (UK, Europe and Japan) for making this event possible and to Malta Tourism for their support. But most of all I would like to thank Pete Bullen of Oceanfoto.co.uk. Pete offers photographer specific coaching and guiding in Gozo and his guidance made a big difference to the productivity of the trip.
May 2012 - 2020VISION at Nature Picture Library
The 2020VISION image collection is represented exclusively by Nature Picture Library and the ever growing set of images (7000+) is now online on their website. It is a truly impressive collection. All the images in the collection are available for licensed use through NPL. Rather than look at all 8000 online you can see a selection in this PDF from NPL. I am particular excited about the selection focus on British Seas as I have never seen such a strong collection of photography brought together, focusing on our coasts from both above and below the surface. It is fantastic to see pictures of coastlines, alongside underwater scenics and seabird portraits next to fish portraits. It is just one section of the project, but for me a really exciting one. The PDF is also a nice way to whet you appetite for the 2020VISION flagship book, which is currently at the printers and due for release on 1st August 2012. I am really excited to see that in the flesh.
May 2012 - Interview with UPDM
Underwater Picture Dimension have published a short interview with me (in both english and dutch/flemish) where I discuss my development as an underwater photographer and also the equipment choices I have made in the past and my plans for the future. This is an interview by underwater photographers for underwater photographers, so there is quite a lot of techy talk about gear etc. You can read the interview here and see a gallery of my photos here. The interview was done by underwater photographer Marc Vermeiren.
May 2012 - Nikon D4 Underwater Review
I have been in a privileged position for the last month as I have been shooting the first (and still only) underwater housing for the Nikon D4. The camera was only released in mid-March, but Nauticam had a pre-production version of their NA-D4 housing ready in double quick time and sent it to me to take on my trips to Iceland and Scotland (more info on the trips in news items below). A major aim of the trips was to give me a chance to shoot this new camera underwater and review it and the housing for Wetpixel.com and Underwater Photography Magazine. The photos are pretty much in chronological order with Iceland first and then Scotland. The D4 is an excellent underwater camera. For actually getting the shot, capturing that decisive moment, this is most capable camera I have ever used. The AF is deeply impressive and the frame rate and ISO performance are staggering. But I suspect that most underwater photographers will favour the new D800, which is considerably cheaper and the advantages of the D4 are not so important for most underwater photographers. I hope to try the D800 underwater soon too, but for my own photography I plan to use the D4. You can see a gallery of some of my Nikon D4 Underwater Photos here. The gallery or reviews do not contact any photos of cod (see below) as I am saving this story for publication.
May 2012 - New Column In DIVER Magazine
I am very pleased to announce the start of my new monthly series of articles on underwater photography in the UK's DIVER Magazine. The column has the title Be The Champ and intends to help readers take outstanding underwater photos, the type that could make them the champion in an underwater photography contest, although it is not compulsory to have to enter! The aim is to take the good aspects from a competition attitude, such as striving for excellence and originality, to improve your photography. But of course, not everything. I am sure you all know some overly competitive underwater photographers, I know I do! I was keen to make the column different from my, now finished, PhotoPro column, which I wrote the last edition of in December last year. So Be The Champ runs over three pages and is illustrated by at least three images. It also includes separate short tips in boxes, pulled out from the main text. This is my first time working with the guys from DIVER, away from the Dive Shows that is, and I look forward to seeing how this relationship develops. Month one is about diving as a photographer, month two covers macro and month 3 covers wide angle. We've agreed that the column will run for at least one year, but we all hope it will run much longer. Check it out and let me know what you think.
April 2012 - Back from Scotland
I raced straight from Iceland to the north west of Scotland to join my friends, underwater photographers and fellow Devonians Dan Bolt and Terry Griffiths up at Loch Carron for some British marine life photography. The trip was a chance for me to put some more miles on the Nikon D4 prior to writing the underwater review and also to pick up some final stock for the 2020VISION project. Dan and I had visited Loch Carron last year and loved it. It is a long way north, but the life there is incredibly rich and so different from the south coast of England. I think that they are the best shore dives in the UK. We got our fills from Dave Black at 5 Bells Diving (if you are planning a trip call him, don't email). You can see a time-lapse video of us kitting up here, if only getting ready for drysuit diving was so quick in reality. We were able to work a wide variety of subjects, although most of my photography concentrated on critters living in the soft corals (Dead Man's Fingers). I was particularly pleased with some of my super macro work of shrimps and amphipods. Another rarity for me was a pleasing sequence of photos of mating dragonets. I am not sure this has been photographed properly in the UK before.
April 2012 - Cover: SCUBA Magazine
I am pleased to say that I have my second cover shot on SCUBA Magazine on only the 5th issue of this new magazine. SCUBA is a new magazine of the British Sub Aqua Club. I am particularly pleased that both my SCUBA covers have been marine life pictures because it seems that British diving magazines believe that they always have to have a diver on the cover. All around the rest of the world diving magazines have as many marine life covers as divers, but in the UK it is always people. OK, so there is a diver on this cover, as the picture features my buddy JP Trenque's fin along with his furry friend. I took the photo at Lundy Island using my Nikon D700 and Sigma 15mm lens in a Subal housing with INON strobes, f/11 @ 1/200th, ISO 800. I am really pleased this image was used on a cover because it adds a real twist to the must have a diver argument.
April 2012 - Back from Iceland
I am back from an excellent trip to Iceland, the highlight of which was searching for cod off the north coast in rather chilly water. I know cod don't sound the most charismatic of wildlife subjects, but they are a species I am sure you have heard of and probably don't know what they look like (the picture is a clue) or how big they get (in a well managed fishery the answer is big). Finding them in dive able depths is not so easy, but on a trip organised by Dive The North we joined the beautiful wooden schooner Hildur, part of the North Sailing fleet for an unforgettable adventure off the north coast of Iceland. And in the end we found the cod. Lots of them. A big thank you to Gisli for organising the trip and Nina for modelling for my photos and both of them for their company. As well as the great cod hunt I also photographed in several locations in the north, including the gorgeous Nes Canyon and the hydrothermal chimneys near Akueryi. In the south of Iceland I dived at Gardur, which is a great marine life dive and the classic Silfra canyon (thanks to Nina, Erla and Valdi for modelling there). It was also great to catch up with other divers I've met on my previous trip. Iceland is a great destination. The trip also gave me a chance to use and review the new Nikon D4, more about that above.
April 2012 - Backscatter GoPro Housing
Backscatter have recently launched their new professional grade GoPro housing. Why is this news here? Well we have designed a special Magic filter specifically for Backscatter, which I was testing in Cayman back In January and I am pleased to say it really transforms what the GoPro Hero2 is capable of underwater. But don't take my word for it, watch the Backscatter show reel from this tiny, inexpensive system here, which even features some of my footage. The exciting features of this housing are the quality of build and the fact that it features removable filters (the Magic filter). If you are interested in taking a GoPro underwater you must look at this.
March 2012 - LIDS Presentation
At the end of the month I am giving a brand new underwater photography talk called How To Be The Champ at LIDS (the London International Dive Show). I am a regular speaker at the UK shows, with the likes of Monty and Paul, but this is a completely new presentation, so do come along. The talk focuses on how to take the types of photos that can win photo contests, whether you want to enter them or not! In the year of the London Olympics it is about improving your underwater from also ran to medalist. I both compete in and judge many of the leading underwater photography competitions (not at the same time) and will also provide some insight from the judges perspective on how to succeed. But most of the talk will cover tips and techniques to make your photos outstanding, wherever they are viewed. LIDS also have a dedicated PhotoZone, organised by my Saeed Rashid, so is a must for anyone interested in underwater images. The show will also be a great place to get me to sign those prints you have ordered with our special March discount (see below)! I am presenting at 11:15 on both Saturday 31st March and Sunday 1st April. Finally, the organisers asked me if I had some video footage to promote my talk. I didn't, so I knocked up this comedy trailer in iMovie! Check it out!
March 2012 - Scottish Basking Shark Space
UPDATE: now full. At the end of June I am returning to Mull with a very small group of experienced photographers to photograph basking sharks and more. It is an amazing destination and has the potential to produce some truly amazing British underwater images. Because of a cancellation I have one space available on this trip. That said, it is not for everyone. It is a focused wildlife shoot, not a dive trip. So if we can't find the critters we won't be getting in the water. We will also camp out on the islands, if weather allows, which is wonderful, but it will be camping on a deserted island. To get an idea watch Simon Spear's beautiful film Solstice, shot there last year, and also Jo Horrocks excellent documentary of our trip. The price of £800 GBP, which includes 7 nights accommodation (shared room in nice cottage in Mull and camping) and 5 days on the boat sharking. The dates are Sunday 24th to Sunday 1st July 2012 (on water Monday-Friday). Note this is a snorkelling trip only. Drysuit will be more comfortable, but it is do-able in a thick wetsuit (Mark used a wetsuit last year and we were all jealous of his manoeuvrability).
March 2012 - Fine Art Prints Are Back
Finally, after rather a long absence, I am pleased to say that Gerry Walden and I are relaunching my fine art print collection. The good news is that we will be offering both giclee fine art prints and, for the first time, canvas prints. Prices start from just £45 for Giclee Prints and £65 for canvas. These prices include postage and packing to anywhere in the world. For now we are not offering signed prints, as with all my travel it was causing too lengthy delays to orders. But I am happy to sign prints on any occasion you run into me (talks are a good bet). Another advantage of our new system is that we can pretty much offer any of my photographs as prints, although this might take a few extra days for delivery. We are still tweaking a few aspects of the print service and are in the process of adding some more images to the regular selection, and to reflect this there is more good news: until the end of March, while we are on a soft opening period, we are offering 10% off all prints across the board. The gallery of prints are hosted here on Gerry's website.
March 2012 - Freshwater In Sardinia
I have had a bit of a break from diving for the last month or so in an attempt to catch up with my ever expanding backlog of article writing and image processing. I am pleased to say I have made a decent dent in both, although I still have not got galleries processed from my January shoots in Grand Cayman. Hopefully I will have them done soon, I got so many exciting images on that trip. Although I have not been diving, I have been shooting both above water and in the freshwater streams and pools of Sardinia, working with species of fish, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles. Quite a menagerie. And I would like to especially thank Sardinian photographer Alessandro Spiga for sharing both his time and his considerable knowledge of Sardinia's wildlife and how and where to photograph it! It has made a huge difference to what I have been able to produce. Much of it I consider work in progress, but species I have been plugging away at include macrostigma trout (the Sardinian population is very pure with very little interbreeding with brown trout), the European pond turtle (I have always been fascinated by freshwater turtles) and the endemic Sardinian brook salamander. I will put up a gallery later in the year after I have completed more shoots.
March 2012 - 2020VISION In The Telegraph
The field work phase of the 2020VISION project is coming to a close and the focus is now shifting to the far more important part: engaging with the public. The main 2020VISION roadshow kicks off in the summer, but for now you can enjoy 2020VISION each day in a couple of ways. The Telegraph will run an image each day, and you can see a gallery of these here, including many of my underwater images. Also on the 2020VISION website there is the daily WOW Factor, featuring a new image each day from the favourites from the project (use the calendar on the bottom of that page to navigate through the previous photos). There is much. much more to come from this project as it now enters its most exciting phase. The best place to keep up to date with 2020VISION is on their Facebook Page.
March 2012 - Highly Commended In Asferico
I am excited to say that my photography has won awards again in the prestigious Asferico International Nature Photography Competition. I have picked up prizes in this competition back in 2010 and I am pleased to be awarded again (I missed the deadline, so didn't enter last year). My highly commended photo, left, is of a pair of sockeye salmon on their nest on Adams River, British Columbia, Canada, taken on my 2010 trip there with Todd Mintz. The photo was taken with the Nikon D700 + 15mm fisheye, Subal housing, Zen 230 dome and Inon Z240 strobes, which were out of the water for this shot. I am also pleased to have received a Special Mention in the results of Italy's other large nature photography contest, Oasis, for my photo of a sealion taken back in 2007. I hadn't entered that contest before so sent in some older images. Anyway I am very pleased with the double!
February 2012 - Suunto Dive Collection
I am pleased to announce that Suunto are using several of my photographs in their promotional materials this year, including this photograph taken in Iceland on the cover of their new Dive Collection catalogue. The photo shows Gisli of Dive The North diving in Silfra Canyon in Thingvillar. Since this collaboration, I have had a Suunto D6i computer, which I was using in the Cayman Islands, although this was not part of the payment! Hopefully you will see more of my images on their materials through the year.
February 2012 - Announcing Dive The World
I am pleased to announce that I have signed up to contribute a big feature to each quarterly issue of Dive The World, which is a new international magazine brought to you by some of the leading names in the underwater world (other photographers in issue 1 include Magnus Lungdren, Christian Skauge, Nuno Sa and Abi Smigel Mullens). The first issue is out now, and while you can subscribe here, hopefully you will find the magazine in a high profile outlet near you soon, such as major international airports. The magazine aims to promote diving in general focusing on extraordinary dive experiences, dive travel, exotic location and exciting marine life encounters. I'll let the editor, Jesper Kjoller explain more: In our opinion many dive magazines kill the underwater images by cramping too many and too small photographs together in too little space and then they suffocate the pages further with ugly advertising. Diving is visual activity and with DIVE THE WORLD we will let the images speak for themselves. Our goal is to take the reader along with us on a dive, even if they are relaxing in an armchair or airplane seat. Properly telling a story requires space, and we will gladly let an article fill 16 to 20 pages if that is what it takes to bring a story to life. True to his word my first feature is 14 pages. My take is that this is dive magazine for the internet age. A mag without all the stuff you can access more easily online (news, kit reviews etc), keeping the space for just the big, exciting features that you can to take time to enjoy, both in terms of the writing, images and design. Which is why I wanted to be part of it.
February 2012 - Nikon D800 Testing
While I was in Cayman in January I had the chance to test Nikon's forthcoming camera, the D800. I couldn't mention it at the time, but now the camera has been officially announced I can kiss and tell. The camera was lent by a friend. The camera is an almost identical size to the Nikon D700 and packs a whopping (there is no other word for it) 36 MP sensor as well as the latest autofocus system from the D4 and lots of other exciting specs, including in-camera time-lapse movies, such as this one here I shot of the dive boats loading up a dawn at Ocean Frontiers. Unfortunately this was just a dry-test because despite trying both Subal and Ikelite D700 housings, we couldn't easily squeeze the D800 in. So for my full opinion you will have to wait for me to try the camera underwater in the first half of 2012. Stay tuned for that.
February 2012 - Nature Picture Library
It is not really latest news, but since Nature Picture Library recently sent out an email about the Chinese Year Of The Dragon, it reminded me that I have never posted the news that my photographs are represented by them. I am slowly working through themes in my stock making submissions having so far covered sharks and rays, marine mammals, seahorses and their relatives and, of course, my British stock from the 2020VISION project. Their website is actually quite a good way to see some of the images that have been hidden in password protected galleries on my website, try search terms such as 'Mustard 2020VISION' or 'Alex Mustard', and set their pages to show 72 images per page. Hopefully there will be more of my images going up there soon. Back to the dragon, well apparently it is Chinese Year of the water dragon, so they featured one of my weedy sea dragon photos from Australia in an email welcoming the new year in.
January 2012 - Cover: SCUBA Magazine
I am pleased to reveal that my photo of a tompot blenny is on the cover of this month's SCUBA Magazine. SCUBA is a new magazine that replaces DIVE as the British Sub Aqua Club's official magazine. Two of my friends from DIVE Magazine, editor Simon Rogerson and chief equipment tester Charles Hood, went over to SCUBA with the BSAC contract, but the magazine is very different from DIVE in ethos, focusing on a friendly, club feel. This is the third issue, although I have made major contributions to all of the issues published so far. And this is the only cover so far that isn't a picture of a diver! The picture was taken under Swanage Pier, Dorset, with Nikon D7000 + Nikon 60mm and Inon bug eye lens (kindly lent by Alex Tattersall), light from two Inon Z240 strobes, one fitted with a Ken Sullivan fibre snoot. The bug eye lens does not have the highest optical acuity, but I am pleased that this unusual angle on a tompot made the cover, even if the image quality is not the best.
January 2012 - Gadget City In Grand Cayman
Each year my Cayman workshop seems to coincide with me having a lot of new photographic equipment and ideas to try out. I guess it the right length of time after DEMA for all the new stuff to be out and available. Interesting gadgets included five triggerfish, NightSea fluorescence filters (which I trialled back to back with GlowDive filters on the same dive), Backscatter's soon to be released GoPro Hero2 housing with custom Magic Filter (see clips here and here), a new type of SOLA light (not yet released) and the PM mount, which you can see me using (and doing a bit of self-modelling) in the picture during a pool test. The PM mount enables me to mount a strobe or GoPro camera onto scuba tanks. I also did a lot of super-macro tests using a variety of accessories including my favourite dioptres from Subsee and FIT, as well as extension tubes, teleconverters and even a reversed lens, which is the highest magnification I have shot underwater. Oh, and a few other toys I am not in a position to mention yet. More details on tests are bound to pop up in articles soon.
January 2012 - Back from Grand Cayman
I started the year with a couple of weeks away in Grand Cayman, running back to back Digital Madness Workshops with Ocean Frontiers. On both weeks we set a cracking pace, really making the most of every day to pack in as much underwater photography, lectures and image review sessions as we could. Oh and have plenty of laughs along the way (with thanks to Andy for bringing those fins and Peter for bringing his turtle repellent). As in previous years the workshop blends dives on Cayman's dramatics walls, the East End's atmospheric reef caverns, the 'ageing-nicely' Kittiwake wreck (see image, right, comparing the wreck right after sinking and one year on) and more marine life than you could shake a stick at: stingrays, sharks, turtles and tonnes of little stuff (you'll be able to see more when I upload a gallery of my pictures). I must mention our secret macro site that always blows people's minds: on one day of the workshop I logged 255 minutes underwater there and double night dived it on four different occasions during the trip. Finally I would like to say a big thank you to all at Ocean Frontiers and all the photographers who came along, bought into the philosophy of the workshops and made them such hugely productive weeks for all.
January 2012 - End Of PhotoPro :-(
Bad news for a change. I am sad to announce that as far as I know DIVE magazine is no longer publishing (a printed edition, at least) of their magazine and so my PhotoPro Column has come to an end after 35 instalments on all aspects of underwater photography. I am very proud of the column, which I think has always found a pleasing blend between informative photographic tips and entertaining writing. I am also particularly proud that I have more often than not I have been able to incorporate more than my own views in the column, by interviewing other interesting folks from the world of underwater photography. As such I felt it always had a strong community feel. I have now reproduced the entire run of PhotoPro, here, on my website. I hope you enjoy them.
December 2011 - Cover: DIVE Magazine
I wrote a post earlier in the year, that it had been a slow year for covers. That's certainly changed in the last few months. I am pleased to have added another to the collection with the current issue of DIVE Magazine. This photo was taken in May during my Red Sea workshop on MY Whirlwind, we'd spent most of the week photographing the Thistlegorm, but this image was taken on an evening dive at Ras Um Sid. It owes a very big thank you to Mike Seares, who spotted me photographing this school of Red Sea sweetlips and swam around behind them to pose, without me asking! It was taken with my Nikon D700 and Nikon 16mm fisheye, in a Subal housing with Zen 230 dome and two Subtronic Alpha strobes. The issue also contains my monthly PhotoPro column and a large feature on Sharm El Sheikh, written by Charlotte Boan and illustrated with more of my Red Sea images.
December 2011 - Speaking At LIDS
I am excited to announce that I will be speaking at the London International Dive Show (LIDS) at the end of March. Underwater photography is one of the major growth areas in the diving world at the moment and this is being reflected by an expanded PhotoZone at the 2012 LIDS show. Both myself and Saeed (Master) Rashid will be speaking on both days of the show. I have been asked to speak on the subject of how to win photo competitions, following on from my success in the BSoUP/Diver Print Competition at the Birmingham Dive Show. As I both judges and compete in competitions (not the same ones!) I have a pretty unique insight into the types of images that do well. I will share advice from my experience on both sides of the fence, with tips on how to shoot the sorts of pictures that will wow the jury and ideas for new and creative techniques to enhance your portfolio.
December 2011 - Nature Photo Blog
I was happy to accept an invitation to to join the Nature Photo Blog, a group of fifteen wildlife and nature photographers, who each day post a fresh nature photo. The photographers come from across Europe (Europe - Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, Italy) and the photos from Europe and the rest of the World. Most of the photographers are very familiar names, especially if you follow nature photography or the competition circuit. The aim of the blog is to share new work with a few comments and to provide a forum for discussion. There is a new picture each morning and I will make two contributions each month. You can see my images here (as and when they go live).
November 2011 - BSoUP/Diver Prints Winner
I am pleased to announce recent success in the BSoUP/Diver print competition, a contest for underwater photos held at the Dive Show at the NEC Birmingham, with an award ceremony at Imperial College in November. As a result of increased promotion, this competition received its highest number of entries for many year (possibly ever), so I was particularly pleased to be named the Overall winner with my photo of a sealion bursting through a baitfish, taken on my recent group trip to Mexico for Divequest. I also won the Advanced British Waters (Advanced is just the opposite of beginners!) with a photo of a basking shark. I had not entered this contest for a few years, but was keen to support the Society as they try to increase the profile of this contest and its ties with the UK Dive Shows. So it was nice to come back with a win.
November 2011 - PhotoPro For Free
Everyone likes something for nothing. Well, now you can read my PhotoPro column in DIVE Magazine for free as soon as it is published. DIVE Magazine is now available free to read online or download in iPad/android App versions. Simply fill in the form to subscribe and you will be able to read my column (and the rest of the magazine, if you must!) on the day of release. Click here for more. I will continue to publish the columns here on my website a few months after they have been in print (or now free-online). This month's column is about the high octane world of nudibranch photograph, with tips for finding and photographing these beauties of the deep.
November 2011 - 2020VISION News
Although I have been shooting overseas during the last few months, many of the 2020VISION team have been out working hard in the field and the project's image collection is getting ever more impressive. Which is not a surprise when you see the photographers who are involved. Although I have not been shooting, I have started to make some major image submissions. You can keep up with the latest 2020VISION news in the Lowdown newsletter, please sign up. One of the exciting things about the 2020VISION project are the number of innovative ways the project will reach out to the public with the image collection, including street gallery exhibitions, outdoor multi-screen AV shows and THE VISION show, which will be hosted by various members of the team (something I am looking forward to hosting). To get an ideas of how some of these multi-media outputs will look, you can see the movie about Uplands here. 2020VISION still have opportunities for corporate partners and sponsors, if you or your organisation might be interested, please get in touch with Pete!
November 2011 - DEMA Talk Online
One of the reasons I went to DEMA, the scuba industry trade show in Orlando, USA, was to give three talks, two mini-talks for the Cayman Islands and a third main presentation in the Image Resource Centre, sponsored by Reef Photo Video and Nauticam USA on the subject of dome ports, with a specific focus on mini-domes, which are one of the hot photo accessories at the moment. The aim of the talk was to give real world advice and not get too lost in the all optical theory. Adam Hanlon, off of Wetpixel was on hand with a radio mike and a D7000 to make quick recording, Adam them edited in my photos from the talk and has produced a very watchable piece. You can see it here.
November 2011 - Sport Diver Images Column
The redesign of the US Sport Diver Magazine has included a re-fresh of their Images column, which will now be written by different photographers each month. They asked me to get the ball rolling by writing the first instalment, on the subject of photographing behaviour underwater. The aim of the column is to provide tips on photography for all levels and the layout allows for beginners, intermediate and advanced advice, although when writing it one hopes the reader will benefit from all three, whatever their level. I am looking forward to contributing to their images column again in the future.
November 2011 - Cover: Sport Diver
This month is DEMA and so I am particularly pleased to have my photo on the cover of the edition of Sport Diver Magazine that will be at the show. I am doubly pleased because the cover photo is a grey seal I photographed in the Farne Islands (the Galapagos of the north as my buddy Ben Burville calls them) in England. It is very pleasing to get British marine life photos on the cover of overseas magazines. The photo was taken with my Nikon D7000 and 10-17mm lens in a Nauticam housing and my Sullivan 6" dome and 2x Inon Strobes. This young seal played in the kelp for quite a while and I got some nice behaviour photos of her scratching herself. Sport Diver the official publication of PADI (North America) and as a result the largest circulation diving magazine in the world.
November 2011 - Diving In Italy
Late October and Early November saw me squeeze in some diving in Italy. First I did a long weekend in Portofino with friends Peo Grossi and Alessia Agostini, diving in the Marine Protected Area of Portofino. I would like to extend a special thanks to the Marine Park Office for granting us permission to dive unaccompanied in the park. I really enjoyed the diving here, with clear water, attractive scenery and lots of schools of fish. Shows how the Mediterranean can be when the fishing pressure is lifted a little. The next weekend I was diving around Alghero in Sardinia with Capo Galera dive centre, enjoying some of the amazing sea caves. I intend to upload two separate galleries for these trips. The first covering Portofino and the second covering the marine photos I have taken in Sardinia through the summer until now. You can see the Portofino pictures here and the Sardinia photos here.
November 2011 - Wetpixel Ultimate Whaleshark Trips
THESE TRIPS ARE NOW FULL. As those who subscribe to my newsletter already know I am excited to announce that I am running two trips for Wetpixel next summer to photograph whalesharks off Cancun in Mexico. This location is amazing for two reasons. First the sharks are feeding on transparent fish eggs at the surface, so can be seen in beautiful clear Caribbean waters. And second, the sheer number of sharks it is possible to see. To quote Eric Cheng from the previous Wetpixel trip: There's no other way to put it: our first day was absolutely epic. Within an hour of leaving port, we found a group of over 300 whale sharks. This is the largest known aggregation of the largest fish in the world. And I am looking forward to going in a big way. I am hoping to take the mega-dome on this trip. More on this trip here.
November 2011 - Cover: DIVE Magazine
Another month and another cover. This time on DIVE Magazine, for the record, the final issue where the magazine is representing BSAC. The cover is a shot from my shoot in Iceland, taken in Silfra Canyon. This picture was from my final dive in the canyon and was taken specifically for editorial use in magazines, featuring the diver prominent in the frame, rather than in the background, as in the other images of mine you will have seen from the shoot. It was taken with my Nikon D700 and Sigma 15mm fisheye. Subal housing and Zen 230 dome with 2x Subtronic Alpha Pro strobes and features Gisli Gudmundsson from Dive The North. For those wondering what the changes at DIVE mean for my articles, well, my PhotoPro column will be continuing in DIVE, but I will now be contributing features to both DIVE and SCUBA (the new BSAC magazine) and of course many more titles. There will be more news on this later in the month when the magazines are released. You can find out where to see my articles in my article list.
October 2011 - Bite Back Calendar
I am proud to once again be supporting the marine conservation group, Bite Back, who specialise in shark conservation by contributing a photo to their 2012 calendar. My photo is featured alongside pictures from David Doubilet, Doug Perrine, Mark Carwardine, Brian Skerry, Amos Nachoum, Michael Aw and Jeff Rotman. The oceans are threatened widely by man's activities from global warming to overfishing. The calendar aims to show what's at stake. As David Doubilet eloquently says 'As photographers we are all on the front lines of a war to protect our oceans for future generations. Each of us professionally approaches our subjects differently, but the message we deliver to humanity is the same. As our oceans go, so do we.' You can buy a copy for just £7.99 here, great Christmas present.
October 2011 - GDT Interview
Ahead of my presentation and full day seminar at the International Nature Photography Festival organised by the GDT, I have been interviewed for their magazine Forum Naturfotografie. I was interviewed by the talented nature photographer Sandra Bartocha (category winner in this year's WPoTY) and therefore didn't want to give just the standard answers and tried to be a bit thought provoking with my responses, going deeper into some of the issues that I usually would. The interview and portfolio covers 16 pages, so hopefully they thought it was interesting too. I will share a copy of this german language interview on this website in the future.
October 2011 - Save Our Seas Foundation Calendar
I was pleased to be asked to contribute a photo to the Save Our Seas Foundation's 2012 calendar The Beauty Of Sharks. Save Our Seas fund so many conservation and research projects around the world, it seems that I am always bumping into their people on my travels. They are an excellent organisation and I am happy to support them in this small way. The calendar brings together one picture each from twelve of the world's leading shark photographers. My photo is featured alongside photos by Brandon Cole, Tom Peschak, Jim Abernethy, Charles Hood, Chris Fallows, Andy Murch, Phil Colla, Morne Hardenberg and Peter Verhoog. They chose to use my well known black and white image of a reef shark over sand ripples. I am sad to say that this beautiful calendar is not for sale, Save Our Seas use it as a gift to supporters, sponsors and partners and print them in small enough numbers that they become a collectors item. So try and get your hands on one if you can.
October 2011 - Cover: Sport Diver
As I commented recently, it has been a lean year for covers, so I am very happy that my stingray photo has been used on the front of Sport Diver Magazine, the official publication of PADI (North America) and as a result the largest circulation diving magazine in the world. I have taken quite a few pictures of stingrays down the years and this photo was an attempt to try something a little different, where I purposely placed the subject right at the bottom of the frame. I never thought of it as a cover, but think it works well. The photo was taken with my Nikon D700 and Nikon 16mm lens. Subal housing and Magic Filter during one of my photo workshops in the Cayman Islands.
October 2011 - Travel Newsletter 2
Finally, the second instalment of my travel newsletter is here. Sorry for the delay, I was hoping to announce a particularly workshop earlier in the year, but sadly the plans have been put on hold. The a very special trip came along and this newsletter is rushed out. This is actually part one as I have another trip under discussion, which I will announce in part two (of newsletter two). Confused? I am. Anyway, these newsletters are designed to be the first place I announce trips before the become public on my website and in other places. It gives you a chance to think about joining me on a trip, before everyone knows about the trip. I am actually doing less group trips next year, as I have other commitments. To get the newsletter, please email me and I will add your name to the email announcement list. The newsletter is actually a hidden page on this website, the email simply sends you a link to access it.
October 2011 - Two Awards at BWPA
I am pleased to announce that I made the winners circle at the British Wildlife Photography Awards for the third year in a row. This competition celebrates Britain's wildlife and wild places. I was Highly Commended in two categories. One in the Coast And Marine Category, for my photograph 'Grey Seal Beneath Cliffs', taken in 2010 at Lundy Island using my mega dome port to shoot the split level in the open sea. The dome was essential for getting this shot because wildlife photography competitions do not allow any Photoshop manipulation of any kind. My other award came in the Habitat Category for my photo Toad In The Hole, shot in April in the River Orchy in the Highlands of Scotland. Don't forget to check out all the winning images in the book of the competition.
September 2011 - Back from: Indonesia for Divequest
For much of September I was away in Indonesia, starting at Scuba Seraya resort in northern Bali before heading on to a specially extended tour of Komodo and Rinca aboard the new Indo Siren, part of the World Wide Dive and Sail fleet. The trip was a group photo tour for Divequest. It was over two years since I have been to Indonesia and it was fantastic to be back. I loved every dive on this trip, well save perhaps a particularly currenty dive at Batu Balong in Komodo, which we had to abort. OMG, that was crazy water. The trip was amazing on so many levels, from mating wonderpus and a beautiful pair of Rhinopias in Bali, to great critters throughout Komodo, too many to list, and lots of great pelagic, including mantas on more than 10 dives, guitarfish, electric ray, five species of sharks and some amazing schooling fish. Oh and we saw lots of dragons. You can see the Bali pictures here and the Komodo area photos here.
September 2011 - Speaking at DEMA
For those not able to make the International Nature Photography Festival in Germany I am also speaking this autumn at DEMA, the scuba industry show in Orlando, USA. I have been asked to talk about dome ports, specifically the advantages and disadvantages of the new hot item in underwater photography the mini-dome. I will also try and speak in plain english and show no equations. This is dome ports without the theory. It will also focus on choosing the right tools for the job and how to optimise your equipment setup to produce high quality images that will help them stand out. And I promise not to show any equations, calculations or graphs. The talk is about understand your dome port in the real world. I am speaking on Friday morning in the Image Resource Centre. I am also giving two short talks on the Cayman Islands. I will also be helping the Wetpixel team in their show coverage and hopefully doing some reviews on the latest underwater photo gear. I only go to DEMA every few years, so I am looking forward to catching up with many friends there. You can follow Wetpixel's DEMA coverage here.
September 2011 - Back from Vancouver Island, Canada
Just two days after returning from the Maldives I set off to Vancouver Island in Canada. In the Maldives I was diving in just a pair of shorts and a single KG of lead. Canada was rather different, but it was a fabulous trip. We were blessed with great weather (no rain at all, can you believe it?) and excellent diving. As well as the amazing underwater scenery (as colourful as any coral reef) and a super abundance of critters such as crabs, sculpins, nudibranchs and shrimps, I was pleased to get good encounters and photos of two species that had eluded me on previous trips: the huge, athletic Steller sealions and the enigmatic giant Pacific octopus. I travelled with Peter Rowlands and joined up with old buddies and excellent underwater photographers Todd Mintz, Rand McMeins and Jamie Morphy. We were once again on the liveaboard Mamro with Capt Dan Ferris, and has a really fantastic time. You can see images from this trip here (they are not password protected!).
September 2011 - Double Presentation At GDT
I have never spoken in Germany before, despite both Reefs Revealed and Art Of Diving having German language editions. So I am really pleased to have been invited to present at the International Nature Photography Festival of the GDT on the 29th and 30th of October. I am actually giving two presentations. In the main auditorium I am giving an overview talk of where underwater photography fits into nature photography as a whole, which is the closing talk on the Saturday afternoon. The day before on Friday I am giving an all day lecture on The Techniques Of Underwater Photography, which is aimed specifically at underwater photographers looking to improve their shots and diversify their portfolio, you can read more here. I will be speaking in English, but I think that my presentations will have simultaneous translation into German. I am really looking forward to attending this event because they are definitely some of the world's most interesting nature photographers presenting. Speaking myself is a great way to get a free ticket to all the other fabulous talks.
August 2011 - Back from Maldives
At the end of August I travelled to the Maldives, for a trip focused on manta ray photography at Hanifaru Bay and other divesites in Baa Atoll. It was a repeat of a trip I did last year for Scuba Travel and most of the same group were back on the same boat: the excellent MY Monsoon liveaboard with top guide Chris Trickey. As with last year we saw 100s of mantas, but didn't get a big feeding event. I really enjoyed the reef diving on this trip too and was very pleased with the portfolio of reef, fish and macro images I produced, in addition to the big animal action. My other goal for the trip was testing a range of external close up dioptres for a review I am doing with Adam Hanlon on Wetpixel. With so many large and exciting creatures about during the day I did many of these tests on night dives. Look out for this review soon. The group from this trip will presenting a selection of their images at the October BSoUP meeting. You can see images from this trip here.
August 2011 - Manatees On The Loose
Some of my manatee photographs have been doing the rounds recently. First I wrote a small feature on swimming with manatees for BBC Wildlife Magazine, see left. The issue also features one of my basking shark photos, with a piece written by wildlife TV presenter Nick Baker. Many more of my manatee pictures have been doing the rounds in the news papers, in a story from Barcroft, which in the UK was in both the Mail and the Telegraph. The article explains that manatees live life at a slow pace, so when you swim with them you are forced to chill down to their speed. They're just floating about in a sort of zen state. Then, when they come up to you and want you to scratch them, it is so exciting, you get a real connection. I am always really pleased about mainstream media exposure for underwater stories, it is a fantastic way to enthuse the unconverted about the wonders of the underwater world. This pictures come from the group trips I have led to the manatees for Divequest in 2010 and 2011. I am not doing a trip in 2012, but will definitely do some again in the future.
August 2011 - Diving in Sardinia
I had an enjoyable summer in Sardinia and while I spent most of the time on the computer (hence this website actually being quite up to date for once) I did manage a few dives. Eleonora and I went out with Franco of the Orosei Diving Center in the east and with Vincenzo of of Nautilus Diving Center in the North. In the east we dived on some shallow macro sites and in the north went to Lavezzi to photograph the groupers and then to the Angelika wreck. Although I only did a few dives I might upload a small gallery of these shots at some point, because I was particularly pleased with some of the groupers and the wreck, which I had not visited before. Both are great photography sites. Sadly time did not allow me the chance to dive closer to home in the caverns of Alghero.
August 2011 - Green Short Challenge at OF
Fame at last! I am pleased to say that I have been inducted into the highly prestigious Green Shorts Hall Of Fame at Ocean Frontiers on Cayman's East End. To give you a bit of background, Ocean Frontiers has set out a challenge for divers to visit each of the 55 dive sites within the East End dive zone in Grand Cayman. We consider The Green Short Challenge the equivalent of earning your stripes, or in this case, earning your shorts. Golfers aspire to wear the Green Jacket of the Masters Tournament, Cyclers dream about wearing the Yellow Jersey of the Tour De France, but in the dive world, it is all about your pair of Green Shorts. You get the shorts for diving on each of the East End's dive sites. I've been diving the East End for years and have done all the official dive site and a few more that are off the radar! And now I even have a plaque on the dock at OF to prove it. You can read more about the Challenge in this e-book or even visit Cayman and earn some green shorts of your own.
August 2011 - Wildlife Trusts Seals
I am pleased to see that the Wildlife Trusts have used one of my less well known grey seal images, taken in Lundy, in their 2012 calendar. If you are looking for an attractive wall calendar that celebrates Britain's wildlife and raises money for a good cause, click here. It costs only £8, great value for a year's entertainment. My photo is a split level taken with my super-sized dome. I also am pleased to say that the Wildlife Trusts are using four of my images, including another of my less well known seal photos on the cover of their latex Living Seas fact sheet, encouraging people to join the Trusts and help them, help get Britain's seas and marine wildlife better protection a only 0.001% of Britain's seas are protected from damaging activities. As Simon King says 'We're in the midst of the most crucial period in history for the UK's marine life. We have the opportunity to turn an environment filled with ravaged habitats into Living Seas, pulsating with life, supporting livelihoods, continuing to be a source of joy and wonder to us all'.
August 2011 - WPOTY 2012 Diaries
One of the great things about success in the Wildlife Photographer Of The Year competition is that the images live on and on and get the chance to be enjoyed and influence option again and again. Last month I visited the Wild Planet exhibition in Bath, and this month two 2012 Wildlife Photographer Of The Year diaries arrived in the post. They contain many superb images. My contribution is my photo of a ball of paddletail snappers, which was Highly Commended in Animal Behaviour. My photo was taken in the Maldives, with the Nikon D2x and 17-35mm lens in a Subal housing with Subtronic strobes. The diary contains a good mix of underwater and above water images. The diary is available as a larger desk diary and a smaller pocket diary. Get the larger desk version as the images look much better that bit bigger. The money raised by the sales helps 'support the Museum's research into understanding diseases like malaria and conserving the biodiversity of our planet'.
August 2011 - Cayman Workshop Jan 2012
I am very happy to announce that I will be running my popular Grand Cayman photo workshop, Digital Madness in association with Ocean Frontiers again in January 2012. This year the two weeks are different, with week two aimed at those who have been before or want to stay on from week one. The first week is the classic workshop, focused on wide angle photography. The second week is focused more on creative techniques, such as off-camera lighting and snoot photography. The diving will be similar on each week, photographing on classic Cayman walls, the East End's atmospheric caverns, the unique Kittiwake wreck and some special big animal dives, including the dawn stingray experience. For more information and to book your place contact Lesley at the diveshop (email@example.com).
August 2011 - PhotoPro 30th Edition
I am pleased to announce that PhotoPro is 30. PhotoPro is the monthly column that I write for the UK's DIVE magazine. I feel that the column has really found its style now, representing not just my views, but those of the wider underwater photography community. I know many people really enjoy the feeling that I bring up opinions from other photographers not always in agreement with my own. This month's column is a real back to basics: discussing the essential philosophy for success, whether you use a compact with accessories on an SLR with all the trimmings. Although I hope that the column will always be free of techie talk, and will be relevant to all underwater photographers, I also believe there is no need to dumb down underwater photography with a 'that will do' approach. The hard work of underwater photography is traveling to the destination and getting underwater with your camera. Why settle for an OK shot, when you've done 90% of the work. I hope PhotoPro continues to make the difference with that last 10% and turns images that come out into those that stand out. You can read an archive of old columns here.
August 2011 - 2020VISION Blog: Fluorescent Anemones
I have been taking fluorescent underwater images off and on for about 10 years now. I was first motivated to try the technique when I saw Dan Welsh Bon's shots, many years ago. There is actually a fluorescent coral shot in one the original galleries I put up on the website, when I launched it in 2003. As a technique it can get samey very quickly, but every now and again I run into a subject that really gets me excited by the technique again. And this time it was jewel anemones, and perhaps surprisingly, the image I was after was of them closed. I had the chance to take these images when I was out on Peter Rowlands' Magic Charters boat, which is a small dive boat that offers diving tailored to underwater photography in Plymouth. Anyway I have written up the adventure for the 2020VISION blog and you can see a gallery of these images here.
August 2011 - Cover: Your Big Backyard
When news of this cover arrived it made me realise that I haven't had many cover shots recently! Not really sure why, I guess these things naturally go in cycles. Anyway, I am very pleased to get this one as it uses one of my seahorse shots from my 2010 trip to Australia. This potbellied seahorse was shot in Manly, near Sydney. From the EXIF data I am pretty sure that this was taken with the Nauticam housing that I was reviewing on that trip, with a D700 and 60mm AFS lens and Inon strobes. Potbellied seahorses are quite large seahorses and there were two pairs living on these nets just off the beach. Your Big Backyard is a childrens' wildlife magazine published by the National Wildlife Federation in the USA and has now changed its name to Big Backyard.
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