This page contains 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. I have also added a Facebook News Feed to this website, so you can browse my selected Facebook posts.
June 2014 - Cover: Lets Find Out
It is always nice to see your photo on the cover of books or magazine. This month I have this cheeky pose of a Mediterranean parrotfish (photographed in El Hierro, Canaries) on the cover of a children's magazine (Lets Find Out, June 2014). I would like to to stress that the other fish are not my photos! I have always liked this photo because of the funny smiling pose of the fish. Taken with Nikon D700 and Nikon 105mm macro lens. Subal ND700 housing. 2 x Subtronic strobes. 1/100th @ f/8. ISO 200. I have only been to El Hierro once, and not been to the Canaries for several years, time for a return visit, I think.
July 2014 - 2020VISION in Morecambe Bay
The 2020VISION outdoor exhibition keeps trucking around the country and is in the coastal tourist town of Morecambe for the summer. As a photographer it is easy to overlook the life that your images have after you take them, so this is a great reminder that this is where the pictures make a difference, make people care. With that in mind I am really excited about my British underwater images being in a free public street exhibition right by the sea. In fact, I can't think of a better place for them to be.
June 2014 - Red Sea Summer Workshops
In the second half of June I travelled to Egypt to run back to back workshops on my favourite Red Sea liveaboard MY Whirlwind. The onset of summer in the Red Sea kicks off the hot season, when large schools gather for spawning. But is also a great time to visit to shoot other subjects such as classic Red Sea reef scenery and the famous wrecks, like the Giannis D, Chrisoula K and Thistlegorm. This gave me a chance to complete my long running Thistlegorm story (more on that later in the year). The workshops also provided the chance to photograph a very rare underwater subject: a mermaid. One of our dive guides for this trip is professional underwater model, former Miss Germany and real-life Mermaid Kat. Her skills, dedication and professionalism provided the whole group with some really unusual photo opportunities, in addition to all the normal great subjects of the Red Sea. The first workshop week was my own workshop and the second I ran for my buddy Alex Tattersall and Nauticam UK. A big thank you to Capt Mohammed Annette from Tornado and Caroline at Scuba Travel. I hope to have some photos online soon, for now you can see me photographing a turtle on the Giannis D wreck in Suzy's video.
June 2014 - Winning Images by Paul Colley
My friend and fellow underwater photographer, Paul Colley has just launched his new book Winning Images with Any Underwater Camera on composition underwater. I was very happy to write the foreword to the book. Here in an excerpt that gives you a flavour of book's content "we're in an age where the photographer's vision is king. Everyone can produce decent looking images with any camera. It is the ideas you have, what you have to say about the subject and the way you compose your pictures that differentiates the average from the memorable. In short, composition has never been so important. This makes Paul's book incredibly timely. It is a book aimed squarely at helping underwater photographers excel in achieving their visions. But this is not a spoon fed education. Paul's intention is not to teach you to paint by numbers, but to educate you and to challenge you to be master of your photographic canvas." I was also pleased to work in a mention of our "talented" mutual friend Jarret into the foreword!
June 2014 - Back from the Sister Islands
At the start of June I travelled to the Cayman Islands, for assignments for Sport Diver Magazine (USA) shooting both Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. It was more than 22 years since I last stayed on the Brac and I was really excited to be back there, especially to photograph the Keith Tibbetts wreck, which definitely did not disappoint. In fact the diving on the Brac was superb and I am very grateful to all at Brac Reef Beach Resort for making my couple of days there so productive. Next stop was Little Cayman, often cited as the Caribbean's best diving, and it certainly did not disappoint. I have been to Little Cayman several times, but this was definitely my favourite visit, every single dive was so memorable and productive. From tiny nudibranchs to the amazing underwater scenery that Bloody Bay Wall is famous for. Although nassau groupers were a favourite subject. A big thank you to Captain Reggie and all at Little Cayman Beach Resort. I was shooting for several features in Sport Diver Magazine and Scuba Diving Magazine, so look out for my pictures there. I also hope to have galleries from the two Islands on my website soon.
May 2014 - Cover: Life
Life, The Science Of Biology is one of those classic text books, I guess it is Kennedy's Latin Primer to a certain type of student! So I am very proud to have one of my photos on the cover of the Tenth Edition. It is not a well known photograph from my back catalogue. In fact I am not sure if it has ever even been on this website before, such are the idiosyncrasies of stock sales. It is a photo of a very red lettuce leaf seaslug, taken on the west wall of Grand Cayman, many years ago. The photo was taken on film, around 15 years ago, using my Nikon F100 and 105mm lens, Subal housing and Sea & Sea strobes. Although it is not a particularly special image, I do remember taking it because I had never seen a lettuce leaf slug in quite this colour before. It is great that this slug is out there again, waiting to be grafittied by a generation of bored biology students!
May 2014 - Bahamas Underwater Photo Week
At the end of May I travelled to the Bahamas to be one of four still photographers photographing the underwater world of this extensive archipelago for a major feature to come in the fall issue of Alert Diver Magazine and will be subsequently syndicated in several other magazines. The other main photographers on the Bahamas Underwater Photo Week were Stephen Frink, Eric Cheng and Berkley White. We were each assigned to different islands, shooting them all simultaneously. I photographed on Long Island, Conception Island and San Salvador. We were also joined by Adam Hanlon and Abi Mullens who covered the shoot live for Wetpixel. Adam was with me for my entire shoot, so his coverage is a great example of what goes on behind the scenes on these sorts of assignments (it is certainly not a holiday). The final member of the team was film-maker Cristian Dimitrius, who travelled the most, visiting, diving with, filming and interviewing each team member in the course of one week. You can read the story in the Fall Issue of Alert Diver, see Cristian's video here, and see a gallery of my images here.
May 2014 - Iceland in the Huffington Post
I don't usually make news items about articles, as I do produce quite a few throughout the year. But I am always excited to see my images being used outside the specialist media I usually work with. My Iceland photos are a classic example, and have been published in so many newspapers and magazines around the world. It is nice to see them crop up again in this travel feature in the Huffington Post by Suzy Strutner. Despite having had so much success with this set of images, I remain keen to return to Iceland as I definitely have some unfinished business up there.
May 2014 - Scoones Tributes
The great BBC underwater cameraman, Peter Scoones, died last month. He is a massive loss for the world of underwater imaging and will be greatly missed by many. Peter Rowlands has published many tributes to Peter in the latest issue (number 78) of Underwater Photography Magazine. Despite being away in the Philippines I was able to make my own small contribution to this issue with my own memories of a man who had a huge influence on me. And someone I never believed I would meet, yet alone dive with in different parts of the world. At some point I will add my article about Peter to this website. Bravo Mr Rowlands for coordinating this effort.
May 2014 - Cover: Natural World
I am proud to have one of my photos on the cover of the 100th issue of Natural World, the magazine from the British Wildlife Trusts. The magazine celebrates the launch of Britain's first tranche of marine reserves with an image that shows what the future might hold. The subject is a male lumpsucker guarding his clutch of eggs and was taken in Norway, although this species does occur in British waters. The photo was taken with Nikon D700 and Nikon 16-35mm lens at 19mm. Subal ND700 housing, Zen 230 dome and Inon Z240 strobes. 1/15th @ f/16, ISO 800.
April 2014 - New Portfolio
Maintaining a website is hard work in addition to doing 350+ dives a year and writing 50+ articles! But finally, after a great deal of procrastination I have updated the main portfolio of my images on this website. My main portfolio is just 50 photographs. If you enjoy that portfolio, then there are a selection of themed portfolios of 50 images each to peruse too. My plan is to change the themed portfolios periodically to give a better impression of the variety of my underwater photography and to cover new projects (although how regularly I am not sure). Please note that all galleries require Flash to view. The themed portfolios currently include Red Sea life, British marine life, Caribbean reef life, sharks and rays, wrecks, people, freshwater and temperate seas.
April 2014 - Tubbataha Workshop
The final week of my Philippines trip was running a workshop in the remote Tubbataha Atolls, way out in the middle of the 4000m deep Sulu Sea. They are the only atolls in the Philippines. Rising precipitously up from great depths, the reefs are a true oasis of pristine reef life bathed in clear ocean waters. They were also celebrating 25 years as a Marine Protected Area. We were on the luxurious Atlantis Azores liveaboard. It was amazing to be at such a pristine location, but having been in Raja Ampat a few months previously, I was a little underwhelmed, although most of the group felt it was amazing (maybe so long on the road simply left me wishing to be home). Tubbataha is amazing, but don't go there after spending more than 3 weeks on the world's richest reefs. A gallery of my photos from this trip will be online here.
April 2014 - Dumaguete Photo Trip
Part two of my Philippine adventure was near Dumaguete on the island of Negros, staying at the very welcoming Atlantis Resort for a group from Scuba Travel. The resort is right on a beach and has a real holiday feel. They offer 5 dives a day, and rather than try and reinvent their system, we decided to go with it, doing 5 short (60 minute) dives each day rather than fewer longer ones. I found it such a productive location, especially as it with prime frogfish season, with 5 hairies in just 4m of water on one of the sites. We went back there again and again. We also spent a day enjoying the amazing green turtle dives out at Apo Island. Other shooting highlights were blue-ring octopus and banded sea snake. Most of the group were using this as a warm up week for the live aboard in Tubbataha, but this was no warm up, every dive was just packed with excellent subjects. I hope to have a gallery of images from this trip online soon.
April 2014 - Anilao Workshop with Reef
I greatly enjoyed my first visit to the marvellous Philippines, meeting so many photographers and experiencing a country with some of the world's best diving. First stop was marvellous Anilao, staying first at the fantastic Aiyanar Resort where I was teaching my macro masterclass for a Reef Photo Video event. It was a big event with 38 underwater photographers split across 8 boats. But the diving was hugely productive for images, the resort looked after us all splendidly and my lectures were very well received. Personally I enjoy the smaller workshop events because I get more time with photographers to discuss techniques 1:1, rather than just teaching by lecturing. But Anilao provided so much wonderful subject matter that everyone found it very productive. Nudibranch numbers were off the scale and frogfish were in ridiculous numbers. I am looking forward to going back. When completed, I will link a gallery from this trip here.
April 2014 - BTC is 25
I am pleased to say that my monthly column in DIVER Magazine is now 25 issues old. Or just over two years. I celebrated the anniversary by discussing one of my favourite subjects: pygmy seahorses. Actually there was so much to say that it actually became a two part column, covering both the 24th and 25th instalments of Be The Champ. It is a wide ranging column, including giving kudos to Gilbert and George (pygmy seahorse aficionados will know who they are) and giving a lot of very specific advice for these popular subjects. I even cover a few of the pygmy sayings we have, such as one minute pygmy, safety stop pygmy, pygmy rage and holy trinity site. You'll have to read the articles for the definitions.
April 2014 - Interview: Daily Echo
The Daily Echo have published an illustrated interview with me about my underwater photography and adventures. The interview was conducted by Tara Russell. The interview focused on my award winning whale shark silhouette from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition: As serene as it looks in the photograph, it was pretty frantic. Taking the photo is the easy part. I had waited for the shark to swim overhead and I was bursting for air. I wondered how much longer I could hold my breath for. The combination of excitement and awe did not help. But the result was definitely worth it. I also discuss some of my other well know images from the UK and overseas. It is always pleasing to see underwater photography and marine issues covered by mainstream media. The feature is online here.
March 2014 - Cover: Scuba Magazine
I am happy to see this photo from my snorkelling shoot in Grand Cayman popping up on the cover of the March issue of SCUBA Magazine, which came out on Valentine's Day. The photo features Becca Nutsch and JB McLean, who I'd just finished rubbing the sunscreen off (we used the wrong sunblock and they both went white and looked like corpses in the photo). Oh the glamour behind the scenes. The shot was taken at Starfish Highway at the East End of Grand Cayman with my Nikon D4 and Nikon 16mm lens. Subal housing, Zen 230 dome, 2 x Seacam 150 strobes. 1/320th @ f/13, ISO 250. Oh and that takes me to six in the Scuba all time list (see previous Scuba cover post below)!
March 2014 - Nudibranch Photo Competition
Running throughout March is the Nudibranch Photo Competition, an underwater photography competition open only to photographs of sea slugs. It is time to celebrate the beauty of these amazing creatures and so some friends roped me into helping them launch this contest. If it is popular we plan to expand it in future years. The contest is sponsored by Nauticam UK and has just two categories: British Nudibranchs and Nudibranchs of the Rest of the World. The prizes have been specially selected to appeal to nudibranch photographers. The winner of each category will receive the brand new Super Macro Converter from Nauticam. Photographers can enter up to 10 images in total, split between the categories. The other judges are Bernard Picton and Constantinos Petrinos. The deadline is 2nd April 2014. Please enter!
March 2014 - Cover: Diver Magazine
I am pleased to be on the cover of the UK's DIVER Magazine, this time the March 2014 issue. This photo shows Chloe Marechal, the current European Rolex diving scholar, swimming out from the decompression chambers on the wreck of the Kittiwake in Grand Cayman. I took the photo with a Nikon D4 and Nikon 16mm fisheye, Subal housing and 2 x Seacam strobes on camera and 1 x Subtronic strobe off camera with red filter. I wanted to use a blue strobe filter on the rear strobe, but was worried that people might think it mean you could swim right through these narrow chambers. Although I think I was worrying about nothing and will probably do some more shots in the future in this setup with blue backlighting. I am pleased to see Diver using a creative image, such as this on the cover.
February 2014 - Raja Ampat
In January and February 2014 I was lucky enough to spend more than three weeks diving around the amazing archipelago of Raja Ampat, off West Papua, Indonesia. It is an area I have visited several times before, but each visit wows you afresh about the richness of the oceans. The attraction of visiting Raja Ampat is the richness of the marine life, as it is a huge area with almost no sign of people, and that there is a such a variety of diving experiences, from tiny islands, to submerged reefs, to narrow channels between islands, mangroves, jetties and so much more. The place simply teams with great subjects from rich reefs to tiny treats like pygmy seahorses and larger creatures such as wobbegong sharks and manta rays, now protected by CITES and in Indonesia in the world's biggest manta ray sanctuary. The main aim of my trip was to lead back to back workshop charters on Indo Siren one of my favourite liveaboards in the world. Our cruise director Leeza was simply fantastic and we also had truly first class dive guides in Onko, Erol, Inyo and (my favourite guide) Dince, who I have dived with many time before and always look forward to the next time. You can see a gallery of images from this trip here.
February 2014 - 2020VISION In Russia
In partnership with Nature Picture Library, an exhibition of 2020VISION images, entitled Wildlife of the UK, was recently shown at The Undisturbed Russia festival in Moscow, as part of a cross culture year between Russia and the UK. It was great to see the 2020VISION collection, including some of my underwater images, being used in this way. The photo here show one of my basking sharks and one of my seal shots. Don't forget there are 2020VISION theatre shows in Bristol and Edinburgh in March 2014, see here for tickets and details.
January 2014 - Natural History Museum Public Talks
In mid-January I gave two public talks in the Attenborough Studio at the Natural History Museum in London, where I spoke about my underwater photography, my successes in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition and passed on advice for aspiring wildlife photographers. The talks were both oversubscribed, which was unsurprising, as I have never seen the museum so busy. The event was hosted by Charlotte Coales and they were kind enough to give me a video of the event, which I have uploaded onto Vimeo here. If asked for a password for the video, it is nhm. I was pleased to also have a chance to finally see this year's WPOTY exhibition, having been away in October for the prize giving.
January 2014 - Nauticam SMC Review
I had the chance to try a prototype of Nauticam's Super Macro Converter (SMC) back in October in Lembeh and in December was able to borrow the forthcoming Multiplier lens for it too. So I thought I pull together my thought on this exciting new product for an article in UWP Magazine issue 76, on super macro in general and include a mini review of the SMC. Here is the conclusion: The SMC is an exciting new product for underwater photographers, both increasing our reach into super macro shooting and improving the quality of our images. If you are new to supermacro I strongly suggest starting with a weaker close up lens than the SMC. Indeed, I suggest most people follow a progression from a +5, only buying the next one when you feel limited by your current setup. Furthermore, there are cheaper ways to find out if you like super macro than with the SMC. However, if you are already like supermacro then, like me, you will love the SMC.
January 2014 - Cover: SCUBA Magazine
I am pleased to see another of my photos on the cover of SCUBA Magazine. This one is particularly cool, since the subject is a nudibranch and it is very rare that a magazine would allow one on the cover. In this case we had the excuse of an article about my friend and nudi guru Terry Griffiths. The photo was taken around the island of Coll and shows a Polycera quadrilineata, one of the UK's most recognisable sea slugs. Taken with Nikon D7000, Nikon 105mm VR, Nauticam housing, Subsee +5 and Inon Z240 strobes. 1/320th @ f/32, ISO 200. This cover also maintains my position at the top of the 'fun' leaderboard amongst British photographers for the number of covers so far on the British Sub Aqua Club new magazine. This shot take my tally to five, there is one other photographer on three and nobody else has more than two. They are all my friends, so I won't mention any names!
December 2013 - Nikon D7100 Underwater Review
While in Bali, in December, I made a detailed underwater review of the Nikon D7100. It is an impressive underwater camera and the conclusion of the review was simply in short the D7100 is the best DX camera Nikon have ever made. It produces comparable results and offers a very similar shooting experience to its big brother, the Nikon D800, without the expense and bulk of shooting FX underwater. This is high praise indeed.. You can read the extensive field review of the Nikon D7100 in a Subal housing on Wetpixel, which I think is particularly interesting in its coverage of ISO and diffraction.
December 2013 - Bali
In December 2013 I travelled to the beautiful island of Bali to judge the richest underwater photography contest ever held: The Indonesia World Underwater Photo Contest 2013. It was free to enter and gave away over 200,000 USD in cash prizes, which were split between the photographers and the Indonesia guides who they were diving with. To be eligible to enter you simply had to have taken images in Indonesia, with a participating dive operator during that year. Unsurprisingly we got thousands of entries and the best of them were some of the finest underwater images I have seen. The other judges were Stephen Wong, Burt Jones, David Espinosa, Keri Wilk, Yoshi Hirata and Matt Weiss who all got together in Bali to select the winners. I used the event as an opportunity to extend my stay in Bali and arrived a few days early to get some extra dives in, staying at the lovely Scuba Seraya Resort, a place that I first visited 10 years ago when it was on soft opening. You can see a gallery of images from this trip here.
November 2013 - Red Sea
In November 2013 I travelled to Egypt to run a workshop to the southern Egyptian Red Sea for Scuba Travel in the UK. A major aim of the trip was to photographic oceanic whitecap sharks, but despite searching high and low we couldn't find a single one all week. For all those who look at my photos and think I always get the luck, even the most diligent research can get let down sometimes. Local opinion was that fishing was to blame and this was supported by the fact that the one oceanic that any boat saw during our week was a youngster with a big hook in its mouth. I suspect there was a bit of inter annual variability at play too, and I plan to head back and try again in 2014. The trip always planned to mix a couple of days of shark searching with the wonders of southern Egypt, particularly shooting in the atmospheric cavern systems that cut through most of the reefs in this area. It is always sunny in Egypt and this means beautiful beams of light spear down into the caverns offering excellent wide angle opportunities. The workshop was on the excellent live aboard MY Grand Sea Serpent, and I was very happy to have the chance to dive and learn from Gabriel and Maria, two of the Red Sea's most experienced dive guides, in one of their final weeks in the Red Sea. I got so many ideas for future trips from them. You can see a gallery of images from this trip here.
November 2013 - Edge and Mustard At The Dive Show
I greatly enjoyed teaming up again with underwater photography guru Martin Edge to present our newest two-man show on underwater photography at the UK Diveshow at Birmingham's NEC. The focus of our talk was subject selection, with a specific emphasis on making the most of that limited time we have beneath the waves, shooting images. Oh, and teasing each other a little along the way. Thank you for everyone who packed out the stage on both days of the show. We're already looking forward to the next time we can present together again. Perhaps putting on a big event again. Watch this space.
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. You can see a gallery of these images online here.
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, you can now see a gallery of these images online here.
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. You can see a gallery of these images online here.
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. You can see a gallery of these images online here.
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. You can see a gallery of these images online here.
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. You can see a gallery of these images online here.
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. You can see some of the excellent images produced by the group in this short film and also my Red Sea Wreck images here and reef images here.
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.
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