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Grey Seals, Lundy, Devon, UK. July 2010

Split level of grey seal

The day after returning from Egypt I headed over to Lundy Island, off the north Devon coast, for a change in climate and a big change in underwater experience. The aim of the three day trip was to photograph grey seals and other wildlife found on Lundy Island. Eleonora didn't dive when we went last year, but this year, armed with a drysuit it was her first chance to get in with the seals and we had great encounters pretty much all day on all three days. She loved it: her best ever diving experience. The two of us were joined by my friends Peter Rowlands and Dan Bolt.

Seals are so different above and below the surface, if you have never dived with them, you must. On land they are pretty grumpy and can be dangerous to approach closely. Underwater they are like large puppy dogs and just want to play, tugging on your fins and gently mouthing your camera. And play we did, while taking the odd photo. Staying on Lundy is a highly valued part of the experience, so close to home, but truly a world away. Many thanks to Clive Pearson of Clovelly Charters and all at Lundy Island for such a great stay.

Having photographed grey seals a couple of times last year I went to Lundy to try and diversify my seal portfolio. I was keen to shoot lots of vertical images, which was something I failed to do last time I went to Lundy. I also wanted to try a few more lenses than just the straight fisheye. Which I did too. It was also a chance to try my big dome again, before it goes back to be built properly, this time, so that it does not leak. Annoyingly it leaked in Lundy, which combined with the lack of sun, limited my split level photography. Next year for that one. But I am not sad, every dive with seals is a joy and spending three days in the water with them was fabulous. After the trip I sent my photos to the warden on Lundy to help with their seal monitoring project. One individual (a female) is in both my images from 2010 and 2009 and she has been names Alex, after me!

Alex Mustard photographing grey seal

Seals weren't the only subjects, the weather had aggregated lots of jellyfish in the lee of Lundy Island, so it was a great chance to shoot several species of jellies. Plus the scenery and wildlife topside also provided some shooting opportunities.

I used the Nikon D700 on this shoot in my Subal housing with Subal's 45 degree viewfinder with Inon Strobes. I used the Sigma 15mm fisheye, sometimes with a 1.4x teleconverter, and the Nikon 60mm for a few shots. I also used the Nauticam D300s and Tokina 10-17mm combo, kindly lent by NauticamUK with the megadome. Topside I shot with the D2X and D300s with the Nikon 70-200 and 200-400mm lenses. Carrying my camera bag up the hill to our accommodation was tough work!

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Laughing seals

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