I have stopped adding news items to my website. I was too difficult to keep them up to date. This page contains my website’s news between April 2004 and January 2015. I have replaced this page with news items from Facebook, which are much easier to add and are interactive, these can be viewed here.
January 2015 - Cover Underwater Photography Mag
I am pleased to start 2015 with a cover. Underwater Photography Magazine is published on the 1st January and features my spinner dolphins taken in November, in the Red Sea. The dolphins were part of the image selection of my review of the Nikon D750 (see below). I have lots of shots of these dolphins in November, but this is the only one I have had time to process so far, so you may have seen it before, as it has already been published a few times. Taken with Nikon D750 and Sigma 15mm. Nauticam housing and Nauticam 140 dome. No strobes. 1/400th @ f/6.3. ISO 1800 (Auto-ISO). Auto-ISO manual shooting is widely used by land photographers, particularly sports and wildlife shooters, as it allows you to set the shutter speed and aperture and the camera varies the ISO to give the correct exposure. It is a great technique with modern cameras because so many perform so well over a really wide range of ISO values. We don’t get to use it much underwater though, because the auto-shifting ISO is a pain when shooting with (manual) strobes. But it is well suited to action shooting without strobes, allowing me to set a high shutter speed to freeze the action and keep the aperture reasonably closed to maintain corner sharpness with the dome port.
December 2014 - Raja Ampat
Call me greedy, but in November I returned to Raja Ampat for my third liveaboard workshop there in 2014 and my third on SY Indo Siren. All of them were totally amazing trips and I am left a little sad I won't be back in Raja Ampat in 2015 (although I am going to some pretty nice places). Raja Ampat is viewed by most who have been there as the ultimate in coral reef diving. When I booked this trip, the reason for the timing was to try and catch schools of sardines, anchovies and silversides on the reefs of Misool and I am pleased to say that they were there! They make these reefs that are already incredibly rich, almost impossible to believe. It was a fantastic trip and hugely productive. One of my goals for the first quarter of 2015 is to get on top of the 20,000 images I took in Raja in 2014. A big thank you to World Wide Dive and Sail, the captains, crew, guides and cruise directors of Indo Siren and all the photographers who joined me on these unforgettable shoots.
December 2014 - Cover Diver Magazine
DIVER Magazine called me asking for a Christmas cover, but not one with divers wearing costumes, or any other silly stuff! And this winter wonderland feeling image came out top. The white isn't snow, of course, it is limestone inside a cave in Alghero, Sardinia. The model is the excellent Laura Morcillo of Capo Galera Diving. The photo is actually quite a complex one with four strobes, two on arms and two on tripods for backlighting the model and lighting the cave. Taken with a Nikon D700 and Sigma 15mm. Subal ND700 housing, Zen 230 dome. 2 x Inon Z240 strobes, 1 x Nikonos SB104 and 1 x Nikonos SB102 strobes. 1/80th @ f/10, ISO 400. I am happy to see this image on a magazine cover as I was very happy with this series when I took them, as it was a tough location to work, easily silted up when setting up the lighting.
December 2014 - WPY Masterclass Talk
I know that March is a long way off, but I want to give advance warning that I am giving a special Wildlife Photographer of the Year Masterclass presentation at the Natural History Museum in London. I will be speaking about my underwater photography and sharing my views on being successful in the competition both as an entrant and in 2015, a judge. I will also talk about the power of great images to change perceptions and promote conservation causes. WPY is one of the best platforms for this. As a reward for having to suffer hearing me speak, the evening also includes a private, after hours viewing of the WPY 50 exhibition! This is such a fantastic way of seeing the stunning gallery of images. I am sure I will be signing copies of the WPY Portfolio 24 and also the splendid 50 Years Of The Wildlife Photographer of the Year book. This is a ticket only event (and ticket price includes, well is mainly made up of, the after-hours viewing of the exhibition). Tickets are on sale here.
December 2014 - Friedrich Underwater Photography
Over the last decade or so, I am proud to have been asked to contribute to almost all of the important books published on the techniques of underwater photography. The most recent is simply called Underwater Photography by German photographer Tobias Friedrich, which filled with top quality images and useful information. The official blurb says Underwater photography is a fascinating pursuit for those who aspire to capture the magical world found within our oceans and bring it to the surface. In this book, award-winning photographer Tobias Friedrich teaches us how to create stunning underwater images, covering everything from the equipment needed, to creating powerful compositions, to processing the final image. My contribution are a selection of images taken in low visibility conditions, all coming from British waters. Underwater Photography is published by Rocky Nook.
November 2014 - Nikon D750 Review
In November I had the chance to be the be the first person to shoot the new full frame Nikon D750 SLR underwater, when I took the camera on my Whitetips and Wonders of the South Red Sea Workshop aboard MY Hurricane. I was lent the camera and first Nauticam NA-D750 housing for a review for Wetpixel. In short, the Nikon D750 is a highly specified, highly capable camera, which is most definitely suited to underwater photography. It is far more of a tempting prospect in respect of the D810, than the D600 was compared with the D800. Unlike the previous generation, the cheaper option now has marginally better autofocus (and higher frame rate) meaning it is now arguably better at getting the shot. It is exciting times to be a Nikon shooter. Update, a shorter, more focused, version of the review is in the January 2015 issue of the free online Underwater Photography Magazine.
November 2014 - Cover Alert Diver
As a photographer, seeing your photos on the cover of magazines is a fact of working life, yet it never looses its thrill. I am particularly pleased this month to have my yawning grouper on the cover of Alert Diver Magazine. First, it is the big issue that features the stories from the Bahamas Underwater Photo Week, that I shot back in May with Stephen Frink, Eric Cheng and Berkley White. It is also my first cover on the North American edition of Alert Diver and completes my set of the major North American dive publications (Alert Diver, Sport Diver, Scuba Diving and Diver, Canada). The photo was taken in San Sal, Bahamas of a Nassau grouper, shot with my Nikon D4 and Sigma 15mm lens. Subal ND4 housing, Zen 230 dome. 2 x Seacam 150 strobes. 1/200th @ f/16, ISO 400. You can read the current issue online here
November 2014 - Interview Digital Photographer
I have done a lot of interviews in general photography magazines this year and the latest is one of the best. The current issue of Digital Photographer magazine contains an interview about my underwater photography. We discuss the different challenges and opportunities that shooting beneath the waves allows. I also talk in detail about the equipment choices in underwater photography, the brands, cameras, lenses and lighting solutions that I favour. I pass on advice for photographers who are new to shooting underwater and I also talk about working as a professional photographers and give advice on how aspiring underwater photographers can develop their careers.
November 2014 - Underwater Photographer of the Year
I am very excited to finally announce that I am part of the team behind the new Underwater Photographer of the Year competition. Fifty years after the original Brighton Underwater Film Festival, a major underwater photography competition is returning to Britain to celebrate the world's best underwater images. We are also bringing back sought-after titles from the era of Diver Magazine's Brighton Festival. UPY will name an Underwater Photographer of the Year, a British Underwater Photographer of the Year and a Most Promising British Underwater Photographer, 2015. A glittering selection of more than 30 prizes from leading brands Nauticam, Scuba Travel, Apeks, Fourth Element will reward category winners and more. Winning images will be exhibited at LIDS and prizes will be presented on the PhotoZone stage. We're also trying to get the details right, with the judging taking place face to face (not online) by well-known and respected underwater photographers: Martin Edge, Peter Rowlands and me. Judges will even be on hand at LIDS and happy to discuss entries and pass on personal tips for success in future editions. Hopefully this is the competition the underwater community has been waiting for.
November 2014 - Bite-Back Calendar 2015
I think that this is the 8th year that I have been supporting the charity Bite Back through their annual fundraising calendar. This outstanding collection of images feature underwater encounters from around the world including great white, blue, blacktip, whale, hammerhead and whitetip sharks plus spiny dogfish, crocodile, humpback whales, sea lion, jellyfish, stingray and manta. Each image has been donated by award-winning photographers including Adriana Basques, Amanda Cotton, Andy Murch, Alex Tattersall, Carlos Villoch, Chris Fallows, Christian Vizl, Doug Perrine, Ellen Cuylaerts, Imran Ahmad, Lia Barrett, Steve Jones and me. I am very happy that I was able to contribute one of my British blue shark images. The high quality, limited edition calendar costs just £8.99 (plus postage) and sales help raise funds for Bite-Back's shark conservation work. You can buy the calendar here and see coverage in the Mirror newspaper here.
November 2014 - Back from the Red Sea
In early November I travelled to southern Egypt for a Red Sea workshop focused on the offshore reefs of the Red Sea. We hoped to photograph oceanic whitetip sharks, as well as spinner dolphins and photogenic Red Sea reefs and marine life. And I am pleased to say that it all turned up in the force. We tried for oceanic whitetips on 7 dives and got them on all 7. We also had a very nice encounter with playful spinner dolphins and some great reef and coral cavern photography. It was a very productive week, to say the least. The trip also gave me the chance to test the new Nikon D750 underwater. More about that above. A big thank you to Scuba Travel, Tornado Marine Fleet and the guides, captain and crew of MY Hurricane. Very much looking forward to being back in 2015.
October 2014 - Giant Nudibranch On Sky News
During the same weekend as WildPhotos and the EWPOTY I was also whisked out to the Sky News studios in West London to do a live interview about the Wildlife Photographer of the Year and my winning entry. Yes, that slug again. We did the interview in front of Sky's huge wall of screens, which meant that the nudibranch could be seen 3 metres high, which was pretty cool. The interview lasted about 10 minutes and I was able to tell some of the stories behind the other winning images and to speak a little about my work as an underwater photographer.
October 2014 - European Wildlife Photographer
Last year I was named the overall winner of the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, and while my chances of repeat that feat were almost zero, I still wanted to put my latest images into the competition. And I was thrilled to have two images Highly Commended in the Underwater Category. Both images were taken in the Cayman Islands with my Nikon D4, both capture behaviour (hunting and spawning) and both employ creative techniques (long exposure and backlighting), which I am sure contributed to their success. The German based EWPOTY runs concurrently with the WPOTY, and particularly promotes creativity and innovation. I am particularly pleased to see my coral spawning image pick up a award as it was one of the most challenging images I have taken. You can see the winning collection here.
October 2014 - WildPhotos 2014
I was thrilled to be invited back to speak at WildPhotos, the photography festival of WildScreen, held at the Royal Geographical Society in South Kensington, London. It is such an inspirational couple of days, and I think I got ideas and motivation from every single talk. I spoke on both days, speaking about making a living as a nature photographer on the first day and then a more light hearted talk on shooting without looking on day two, covering pole camera work, selfies and long exposures. I look forward to attending in the future, even when not speaking.
October 2014 - Telegraph Features Critters
As a marine photography you quickly learn it is easy to generate interest in big animal stories, but less easy with the small stuff. There are even some professional underwater photographers who refuse to shoot macro because there is no money in it. An attitude I strongly disagree with, not least because so many of the oceans most exciting stories are on the smallest scale. So that makes me particularly pleased that the Telegraph newspaper is running a story about some of the weird macro cutters that I have encountered in the seven seas. You can see a gallery of these images on the Telegraph Website.
October 2014 - Wildlife Photography Books
The books from both the the Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the British Wildlife Photography Awards are now both on sale. And I am pleased to have images in both of them again. My nudibranch is actually the first image you see inside the WPY book. Both are excellent collections and with the BWPA one focused on British wildlife and the WPY one with images from around the world there is very little overlap. If I had to buy one, I think this year, controversially, I would pick the BWPA book, which I think has some truly stunning photographs and is a great reminder of the richness of wildlife in Britain.
October 2014 - Wildlife Photographer Awards 2014
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year award ceremony is always a special event, having dinner beneath the dinosaur in the great hall of the Natural History Museum, London. Meeting the other award winning photographers and seeing the exhibition for the first time. But this year it was extra special for me as I was asked to speak about my winning image with Kate, or the Duchess of Cambridge as we are supposed to call her. She clearly has a genuine interest in nature and photography and even told me how much she enjoys night diving, while I told her all about seaslugs. I was very impressed. The photo from the BBC News shows me meeting her with Bruno D'Amicis and Tim Laman.
October 2014 - Galapagos Honeymoon
In October I travelled to Galapagos with Eleonora for our honeymoon. This was a non-diving trip, but since we both love photography we did travel with our cameras. And since the wildlife was so amazing there, I did get a large number of images of marine life, both above and below the waves, which I will add to this website as a gallery, so I wanted to add a news item here. The main subjects I photographed were Galapagos sealions, Galapags turtles, marine iguanas and even a penguin! I hope to have a gallery of images online soon.
October 2014 - 50 Years of Wildlife Photographer book
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year is 50 years old this year and has grown from humble beginnings into the world's premiere competition of its kind. To celebrate its anniversary a special book has been produced that features some of the most iconic and memorable images from down the years. The book is a total who's who of wildlife photography and I am very proud to have two images in the collection. The book is written by Rosamund Kidman Cox and examines how the competition has influenced the style of wildlife imagery while raising public awareness of global environment issues. The book 50 Years of Wildlife Photographer of the Year: How Wildlife Photography became Art is an essential purchase for anyone with an interest in photography, nature or wildlife photography. Do note that the cover varies around the world, it is available on Amazon (UK) here.
October 2014 - Interview Wild Planet Magazine
I write a monthly column Fisheye: Photographing the Marvels Beneath The Waves each month for the online magazine Wild Planet Photo Magazine. The magazine is highly valued by the wildlife photography community being the only one entirely dedicated to the subject. This month I am the subject of the big interview, following on from my recent success in the BWPA. The wide ranging interview covers my background, the equipment and techniques of underwater photography, inspiration and ideas, challenges, competition successes and more.
September 2014 - Thistlegorm Revealed
The Second World War wreck of the British supply ship, the Thistlegorm in the Red Sea has arguably been the world's most popular dive site since its rediscovery 20 years ago. It has been the subject of countless articles, books and even TV documentaries. Surely there is nothing new to say? Well that was certainly my view until I set out, in collaboration with the Tony Edge and Keith Francis, to properly identify and map all the vehicles in the holds. What we discovered didn't just debunk a whole load of myths and add a whole host of new types of vehicles to see as part of the diving experience, it actually raises questions about the role of the Thistlegorm. This is one of the biggest projects I have been involved with and it was fantastic to see my underwater photographs being used in this way. I have become a total military vehicle geek! The story is finally out in this month's DIVER Magazine and I really want to spread the world, so look out for the story in many publications over the next 18 months. I am even scheduled to speak about it at next years London International Dive Show.
September 2014 - WPOTY Preview
I am very pleased to announce that I have a winner in next month's Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Normally these things are under a strict NDA until the award ceremony in October, but each year a few images are plucked out of the selection early to aid in promotion. My photo of a nudibranch, titled You Have Been Warned, is one of the selection and it is printed across two pages in this month's BBC Wildlife Magazine, so I am quite relaxed about breaking the NDA and posting this news here! The photo was taken with my Nikon D4 and 105mm lens. Subal ND4 housing. 2 x Inon Z240 strobes and Nauticam SMC lens. 1/250th @ f/40, ISO 200. The photo was taken last October during my workshop at Lembeh Resort.
September 2014 - Nature Publication
When I worked as a scientist having your work published in the prestigious journal Nature was cause for major celebration. And you had to pay for the privilege. Well one of the good things of being a photographer is they pay you! At the end of 2012 I travelled to Grand Cayman to shoot a story on invasive lionfish. It has been published in Diver Magazine, amongst others. The images are now available for stock sales from Nature Picture Library and were used to illustrate this article Bounty Hunters on the lionfish invasion in Nature.
September 2014 - Cover Diver Magazine
My wife is on the cover of DIVER Magazine this month. Eleonora has been on magazine covers plenty of times, but this is the first time as my wife. This is actually quite an old photo, although reprocessed here for the cover. This photo is part of one of the biggest projects I have been working on this year, the Thistlegorm vehicles, see above. The photo was taken on my final trip with my Nikon D2X with Tokina 10-17mm lens. Subal ND2 housing and Subal FE3 dome. 2 x Subtronic strobes. 1/5th Sec at f/8, ISO 100. It was actually this visit to the Thistlegorm in 2008 that reinvigorated my interest in the cargo of the wreck and ultimately led to this project.
September 2014 - Interview WWF UK
WWF UK do some excellent conservation work in Britain and more importantly for me, in British Seas. I was interviewed by Kate Foreshew about my success in the recent British Wildlife Photography Awards and it was a great chance to speak about British marine life and shark conservation. Quite often in interviews you get the same questions again and again, but I enjoyed being asked for one wish that could help UK Wildlife. A wish, right? I wish that for just one day all the seas around Britain were as clear as air. So all British people could see the wonders we have here. But also the damage we do, such as when fishing is not properly regulated and the destruction that is caused by a few fishing practices. If our wild places and wildlife on land were ravaged in the same way, people would be very upset and would be much more discerning consumers.
September 2014 - Cayman Digital Madness
I stayed on in Grand Cayman the week after coral spawning to run my regular Digital Madness Workshop 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. The syllabus of these workshops is on understanding, controlling and exploiting light underwater, which sounds quite specific, but it is actually an all-encompassing reprogramming of the way you think about underwater pictures and has helped so many photographers turn their average shots, into the stunning images they had always hoped to get. Once again it was a great week, with amazing reef scenery, the photogenic Kittiwake shipwreck, tarpon, turtles, stingrays and sharks. The next Digital Madness is in January, and since it is coming around so soon, I am only running one workshop week. It is currently fully booked.
September 2014 - Cayman Coral Spawning
Straight after our wedding I travelled to Cayman because coral spawning just can't be rearranged. There is not a lot I can do about the phases of the moon! Seeing coral spawning is always a treat and despite my 100% record with Ocean Frontiers which we've held for more than the last 10 years, it is still something that makes me nervous. Especially when taking out a group of keen photographers late at night and hoping it will happen. I am pleased to say it did again and all the group got excellent photos of this rarely seen phenomenon. This is not a trip that I will run very regularly, so keep an eye on my travel newsletter for the next one.
September 2014 - New Housing. Subal ND4S
The Nikon D4 has been my main underwater camera since April 2012 and I have probably made 500 dives with my Subal ND4 housing. Subal have been working on a new design style for their housings, with a more distinctive angular design their demonstrates their design skills and the quality of their housings. The first housing to showcase this style in their new ND4S housing (which can accept both the Nikon D4 and D4S). Subal asked me to take it to Grand Cayman in September and pass back any feedback on its performance. And try as I could, I struggled to find anything important to moan about, I am not sure they are going to ask me for feedback in the future! I like the housing so much, that after the trip I asked if we could come up with a deal, so I could exchange the "Angler", to give it its nickname, with my ND4. So I have a new frontline housing and I am excited to be putting it through its paces.
September 2014 - British Wildlife Photography Awards
The same week as the wedding, I also landed my best ever result in the important British Wildlife Photography Awards, winning two categories and being highly commended in another with my photos of blue sharks, taken in Cornwall almost exactly a year ago. For obvious reasons I wasn't able to attend the ceremony, although Chris Packham, who was presenting the awards, was therefore the first person to officially announce our wedding! The photos were all taken on Charles Hood's boat, out of Penzance in Cornwall. I was very pleased to win the Coast And Marine Category for a second time especially with a shot carefully timed to get two blue sharks in the frame. I won the Black and White Category with a top down view of the sinusoidal blue shark swimming beneath me. I was also highly commended in the portraits category, with my favourite shot of the three, a vertical portrait of a blue shark swimming at the camera. All three photos were taken with my Nikon D4 and Subal housing and Inon Strobes. I now have four category wins in the BWPA.
September 2014 - Married!
September was a huge month for me and it started in the biggest possible way as Eleonora and I got married. Our wedding was in Sardinia, Italy, and we were so happy to be joined by so many of our family and friends. Since we both work in the ocean, as do so many of our friends, it was nice to have a wedding that had no marine themes (well apart from getting married within 50m of the Mediterranean!). It was a wonderful week and an unforgettable day. That's all I will write here. Our honeymoon will be in October.
August 2014 - BBC Wildlife British Seas Portfolio
BBC Wildlife Magazine have run my work in their portfolio section on several occasions before, but it is nice to see a selection of my photographs from British Seas featured this month. The portfolio contains both wide angle and macro pictures, both from the 2020VISION project and my own photography. Great to see so much coverage for British marine life these days. All the images are part of my collection within Nature Picture Library.
August 2014 - My Life In Cameras
I have read Amateur Photographer Magazine since I was in shorts (although since I spend a lot of the year in the tropics, I am still regularly in shorts) and I am pleased that I am able to make contributions from time to time. This week I am the subject of the magazine's regular feature my life in cameras, which leading photographers are asked to select their five landmark cameras. It is quite hard to limit it to just 5, not least because I currently shoot 3 models of camera and have many more have been crucial to my photography in the past. The ones I selected were Nikonos V (my first pro-level camera), Nikonos RS (the only UW SLR), Nikon D100 (my first digital SLR), Nikon D700 (high ISO underwater) and Nikon D4 (current). Big omissions were my Hasselblad, F100, D2X, D3, D7000, OM-D and D7100.
August 2014 - 2020V Edinburgh Fringe
It was fun to present the 2020VISION theatre show The Vision as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, rather appropriately at the Fringe By The Sea event in North Berwick. I've done the road show quite a few times now, but it is always enjoyable to see another audience react so enthusiastically to this impressive show, projected on the big screen with a state of the art projector. I do find it quite strange to talk about images that are a few years old now, it feels like you are pretending that you've not done anything since. I think it is natural for a photographer to be most excited about their latest work. It is also nice to regularly have the chance to catch up with other photographers from the team. Roll on the next one.
August 2014 - Farne Islands, UK
Finally I am having a break from travel (having been away pretty much solidly from April to August), but there was still time to squeeze in a couple of days of seal diving in the Farne Islands with Alan of Ocean Explorer. We went with a group of friends from the JNCC and also our friend from Sardinia Miho Tsuruoka. It was a great few days, we didn't get lucky with conditions or super playful seals, but they were impressively playful and yielded a nice set of images. I also shot some wide angle scenery of the colourful life in the Farnes, something that I had always regretted overlooking on previous trip. I hope to have a gallery of these pictures online soon.
August 2014 - Lembeh Faces
I don't usually put up news items for standard magazine features, since I write about 60-75 per year and it would get a bit dull. But I am really pleased to see my Lembeh Faces article printed in Sport Diver Magazine (USA) as it showcases some of my favourite images from Lembeh, a dive destination that is very close to my heart. All the images come from my Lembeh Workshop from October, which I have to say was my best ever trip to the Strait. I've been going there since the 1990s and I've never seen so much on a single visit. I am slightly embarrassed to say that the stargazer (pictured) was one I discovered lying in the sand when I accidentally disturbed it with my knee. But that meant I was able to also share it with my workshop students, including Jenny Stock, whose photo of this fish made the WPOTY People's Choice awards (see below).
August 2014 - Marine Conservation with Callum Roberts
Prof Callum Roberts has long been a hero of mine. There are few people who speak with more authority and passion for conserving the oceans and suggesting practical solutions that really would make a difference. I have never really met Callum properly, we've crossed paths a couple of times (in the UK and overseas), but I have never had the chance to speak to him. But I am very excited to have worked together virtually on this piece for BBC Wildlife Magazine on the wonders of British Seas and their challenges and solutions for conserving this important ecosystem.
July 2014 - Aqaba Jordan
In July I travelled to Jordan with Eleonora on assignment for DIVER Magazine to cover the Red Sea diving from Aqaba. It was a fascinating trip, the coastal diving is easy and full of great marine life subjects. A great location for photography. There are also two fantastic wrecks: the incredibly photogenic Cedar Pride and the unusual tank wreck (pictured). Visiting Aqaba also opens up the chance of visiting the Wadi Rum national park and the magnificent ancient city of Petra, cu into the mountains. The first feature from this shoot will be in the winter Travel Special edition of Diver Magazine.
July 2014 - Interview: Practical Photography
This month I am the subject of an 8 page feature in the popular Practical Photography Magazine and I am pleased that more that half the images they selected to use come from British Seas. They bill the article as he's one of the world's most acclaimed underwater photographers and star of this issue's big interview. He's been shooting underwater images for over 30 years and has an unrivalled body of work. The opening spread is of a lemon shark surfacing, which also appears this month as a double page spread in BBC Wildlife Magazine. One amusing aspect to this feature was that the magazine is based close to where I live, so I surprised the editor by asking to drive the images round - he had no idea where in the world I was based. The interview discusses a range of topics from techniques for underwater photography to career development in the modern photography market.
July 2014 - WPOTY People's Choice
I am very pleased to announce that my photo Barracuda Swirl has been selected for the People's Choice in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. This is a new initiative in 2014, where 50 favourites from the entered pictures are selected and put forward for a public vote in the run up to the main winners being announced. Taken at Ras Mohammed in the Red Sea with Nikon D4 and Nikon 16mm lens, Subal ND4 housing and Zen 230 dome. 2 x Seacam 150 strobes. 1/100th @ f/10. ISO 400. UPDATE: Voting is now closed. Although my photo didn't win the people's choice award, it was selected to be on display in the exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London.
July 2014 - Underwater Mermaid Fashion
Having professional underwater model and mermaid Kat Felton on my Red Sea workshop this summer provided some very unusual photo opportunities. Each evening I organised a special mermaid photography or underwater modelling shoot, where I would set up several different shots each evening for different people on the workshop, so that everyone went home with shots that varied from everyone else's. The Red Sea in June is still pretty cold, and it is very hard work modelling, so time is always limited, especially when a lot of photographers want to shoot. In each case we'd plan the shot, set up the lighting etc, before Kat got in the water, and for the most part the group operated with military precision and all the shoots were highly productive. It is hard enough to do these types of shoots, where there is just one photographer, so I am very proud I was able to devise opportunities where the whole group was able to get great shots. You can get a glimpse behind the scenes with this video of what went into a mermaid shoot on the wreck of the Giannis D and also an underwater fashion shoot.
July 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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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.
July 2011 - Crab Aggregation 2011
Last year I was very excited when I photographed an aggregation of spider crabs in Dorset and was keen to get some more photos this year. The aggregations aren't really for mating, they seem to be defensive, formed of young crabs moulting their shells as they grow. So with my buddy Dan Bolt, who joined me last year, we tried again at Burton Bradstock, but were probably a bit early, but luckily thanks to Terry Griffith we knew of another aggregation in Devon so headed west. We found the crabs, but the conditions were not as good as in Burton Bradstock the previous year (partly because the crabs were busy stirring up the sediment themselves). However, I took two cameras (towing one on a little rubber boat above us) and was able to get a wider range of images than last year. I did get told off by the harbour master for diving without a surface marker buoy in the area when I was surfacing by the little boat to change cameras (and attached my 'diver below' SMB to it). He actually had a film crew on his boat, so somewhere there must be footage of all this! Anyway, I am pleased with the pictures and was able to add some crab portraits to the wide angle shots of last year. You can see a gallery of these images here.
July 2011 - Wild Planet Exhibition
I am pleased to say that I finally made it to see the Wild Planet exhibition, which is currently in the streets of Bath until the 23rd September, between the Abbey and Roman baths, before it moves on. The exhibition celebrates some of the most memorable images from the Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Competition down the years, including many overall winners and category winners. And better still the exhibition is free and on the streets. It is a wonderful showcase for both the natural world and wildlife photography, allowing it to reach a massive audience. Bath was so busy on the day we were there. Wildlife expert Chris Packham calls it The greatest photographic celebration of life ever assembled. My contribution is my snapper portrait, taken in the Red Sea. I was too self conscious to stand next to my own picture, but Eleonora was happy to pose and she looks better than me anyway!
July 2011 - Back to Mull
It was great to return to wonderful Mull again, this time on very official 2020VISION business for an iWitness Assignment focused on ecotourism. The team was wildlife photographer Chris Gomersall, and wildlife filmmaker Raymond Besant and myself and we had several days out on Sea Life Surveys' boats. A big thank you to Jimbo, Ruth and the rest of the crew up there. We even managed a night camping out on Coll, although it was a day cursed with poor luck and as we were setting up camp Chris realised he'd forgotten his tent poles. At least it was cosy. But more importantly, at least it was the most stunning location. With sharks proving illusive I focused on images that incorporated the amazing underwater scenery and relied on Chris to bag the money shot, which he duly did of bottlenose dolphins on the bow of one of the ecotourism boats. However, iWitness assignments are about more than shooting and Chris and I did a short presentation about the project and Raymond recorded lots of interviews with people enjoying the wildlife and also with us, explaining why we're in 2020V and what we hope it will achieve. I have combined the gallery of images with the other Mull trip and you can see them both here..
July 2011 - South Coast Tour
No sooner was I back from the Farnes, but I was off down to the south coast of England for an extended shoot. I wasn't just after warmer water, following almost a month in the north, but I also wanted to shoot some of the species we have in abundance on the south coast that are rare in the north, to broaden the coverage of my 2020VISION portfolio. I had also put this time down to focus on photographing people benefiting from health, clean British Seas, because 2020VISION is as much about people benefitting from wild places as wildlife. I was joined on this trip by 2020VISION Young Champion Bertie Gregory. Actually, this wasn't the most productive few days underwater, as we didn't have that much luck with the conditions, but I was able to add some useful coverage including fishery species like sea bass in Dorset, and took some nice pictures of the Scylla artificial reef that benefits diving tourism and wildlife. The people photography went much better and we shot surfers in Newquay and children rockpooling in Falmouth, although I have to say 6 year olds on a sugar rush and let loose on the beach are a more challenging subject than any of the wildlife. You can see a gallery of these images here.
July 2011 - Seabirds In The Farnes
Each year 1000s of people head to the Farne Islands to see the amazing seabird colonies there. And in early July, I was one of them. However the difference was that I would be trying to photograph the diving birds underwater for 2020VISION. I had always felt it was really important to get photos of diving birds for the project, as there are many bird loving Brits and I thought these images would be a good way to get these people fascinated by the underwater world too. I headed to the Farnes with other members of the 2020VISION team, Ben Burville and Rob Jordan and we headed out to the islands on one of William Sheil's boats. The birds were a very challenging subject, being difficult to approach and also really fast in the water. But with slice of Ben's local knowledges and some patience we got some very pleasing material. Which I have to keep under wraps for now. We even found time for some excellent seal encounters. You can read more about the trip here.
July 2011 - Fotografia Subacquea In Digitale
I am pleased to have made a small contribution to Alessia Comini and Cristian Umili's new book La Fotografia Subacquea in Digitale (Italian language only). My section is in the form of an interview, where I answer questions on techniques I have developed and my approach to underwater photography. The book is a comprehensive introduction to underwater photography covering basics, equipment, composition, macro, wide angle and post processing of images. The book is 183 pages, published by Magenes and is available here.
June 2011 - Back from Mull
After my trip to Shetland (see below) I headed to the west coast of Scotland and to the island of Mull in the inner Hebrides to get a head start on my iWitness assignment there for 2020VISION in July. I was very keen to have two windows for seeing the basking sharks. The destination was Tobermory for a trip organised by Acuatours and run by the fine folk of Sea Life Surveys. If you are interested in wildlife and every happen to be in west Scotland then you must go on one of their trips. In the summer basking sharks, minke whales, porposes, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, grey and common seals can all be seen, plus a host of seabirds. I was joined in Mull by friends and underwater photographers Keith Lyall, Jo Horrocks, JP Trenque and Helene Caillaud, and after quite a lot of searching we got are reward: loads of sharks. We were most pleasantly surprised to find an excellent seal snorkel up there and I even found time to shoot some macro critters in the clear water. We even camped out on the remote islands for a couple of nights. A very enjoyable trip. You can see a gallery of these images here.
June 2011 - Back from Shetland
The Shetland Isles proved a brilliant adventure, such a haven for wildlife and packed with impressive shipwrecks. It was my first diving trip there and I joined a group of photographers from Digigreen and buddied up with Alex Tattersall. The main aim of my shoot was to cover this destination for DIVE Magazine although I hoped to bag a few extra wildlife images, while I was at it. We stayed on the excellent MV Valkyrie, which I cannot recommend more highly. The visibility was amazing around Unst in the north, but sadly there was a thick plankton bloom around the picturesque sites closer to Lerwick. But we were rewarded with many macro subjects and I particularly enjoyed shooting juvenile lumpsuckers, nudibranchs by the thousand and skeleton shrimps. There was also fantastic birdlife and I photographed many puffins, fulmars and skuas, as well as the obligatory (and tiny) Shetland ponies. You can see a gallery of these images here.
June 2011 - Back from Scotland
In June I headed north for a long trip to Scotland, spending most of the time out in the islands (see above) but I still clocked up a large number of photos on dive sites around the mainland coast. I dived in Loch Long, Loch Creran, Loch Fyne and at Rosehearty on the Moray Firth. All the sites were really productive and they allowed me to shoot a large number of subjects, particularly invertebrate life, for the 2020VISION project. I mainly shot macro, although shot wide angle at Loch Long and in beautiful conditions in Rosehearty. I also used the wide angle macro Inon bugeye lens, which is well suited to crabs, squat lobsters and benthic fishes. I dived alone for almost all the time, and therefore kept to relatively shallow depths and avoided high energy sites. Although I did enjoy finally getting in the water with my old friend Dr Dan Mayor, who kindly posed for me as a spear fishermen. You can see a gallery of these images here.
June 2011 - 2020VISION Blog on BBC Wildlife
By total coincidence, while I was away on Lundy, BBC Wildlife Magazine published a blog about a previous trip to Lundy for the 2020VISION project. The blog talks about the fun of diving with seals and why the offer such a memorable experience. It was a simple plan on paper: head to Lundy, find seals, play with seals, take photos, claim plaudits. As always the devil was in the detail. And the first detail was very obvious as I stood on the pebbles of Clovelly beach in Devon, cowering from the wind and staring across an angry-looking, brown Bristol Channel. Just as a quick correction, I did not select the images for the blog entry and one of them was taken in the Farne Islands, rather than Lundy. You can read this blog entry here.
June 2011 - Back from Lundy and Penzance
In early June I headed out to two of my favourite places for underwater life in the UK, Lundy Island and Lands End. The trip was very focused on two species, grey seals in Lundy and basking sharks, with the hope of adding some fresh images to my portfolio for these species for the 2020VISION project. And it was very much a trip of two halves. In Lundy we had sun every day, great visibility and plentiful seals. We also got to dive with seals on the west side of the island, which I had not done before. This gave me the chance to photograph the seals in quite different terrain on this exposed coastline. In Cornwall we got skunked and we couldn't find any sharks, although we still have great fun looking. Such is the nature of wildlife photography. A big thank you to all at Lundy Island, Clive at Clovelly Charters and Charles Hood. I am hoping for another shot at sharks in Scotland later in the summer. Fingers crossed. You can see some images from this trip here.
May 2011 - BSoUP Talk On YouTube
While I was in the UK I seemed to be constantly talking, including presentations at BSoUP (the British Society of Underwater Photographers) and giving both public and student lectures at the University College Falmouth. The BSoUP talk was recorded and edited together by Jo Horrocks and you can see it here on YouTube. BSoUP talks are by their nature informal chats with your peers, with lots of getting side tracked. So don't expect a slick presentation style! For this talk I wanted to address subject matter and taking underwater images that will resonate with as large an audience as possible. It is quite a departure for me, as I tend to be happiest giving quite technical talks. The talk starts almost immediately with a digression as I race through some of my images from my recent trip to Iceland (which I still have not processed for this website, so you can see them first in the talk). You can see Part 1 of the talk here, the other 3 parts are linked from there.
May 2011 - Back from Red Sea Workshop
During the final week of May I headed out to run my Red Sea Photo Workshop on board the liveaboard dive boat Whirlwind for Scuba Travel. The aim of the workshop was to spend half the week shooting the Thistlegorm wreck, which worked really well. I timed the trip to neap tides, which meant we had very benign conditions on the wreck. In addition, tourism is a little quieter this year in Egypt, so we were often the only divers on the wreck. Multiple dives on the wreck really allowed us all to find and share great locations. We even gave all the photographic features nicknames, so others could go and find them and make images. Many people used off-camera strobes for their images too. The second half of the week was spent shooting the reefs around Tiran and Ras Mohammed and we were rewarded with excellent conditions. I was particularly pleased to finally get some images of brown surgeonfish spawning in a large aggregation. A big thank you to the Captain, crew, dive guides and al the photographers for making this such successful week. I have not processed my images yet, but I am very proud of the images that the group produced, which you can see here, the names of the photographers are on each picture. You can see some images from this trip here.
May 2011 - Iceland Diving Images Published Widely
I am very happy to report that a selection of my underwater photos from Iceland have already been published in more than 30 newspapers around the world following a press story about my trip. They have also appeared in 100s of newsblogs and even been shown on TV (Discovery Channel in USA). What was particularly pleasing is that the images were being published while I was still in Iceland on the shoot, as I had sent them out during the trip. It is always very gratifying when my photos are seen by such a large audience and thank you to all those who have contacted me saying how much they enjoyed them. I am not going to list all the publications, but here in the UK they have been reproduced in a number of UK newspapers, including Daily Mail, Guardian, Telegraph, Mirror and Independent. These pictures actually all come from just three days of shooting and I have many more stories (and images) to share from Iceland, so keep an eye out in dive magazines in the coming months.
May 2011 - Back from Iceland
In May I headed to Iceland for a 12 day diving trip, mainly around the remote north coast, and a further 6 days of topside photography. The diving was amazing. Mind blowing. And very diverse. I was diving extensively in both freshwater and the North Atlantic Ocean and experienced such a variety of scenery it is almost impossible to summarise. I dived in the famous Silfra Canyon and three other canyons, which have rarely if ever been photographed before. I also dived on the hydrothermal chimney at Arnarnes Strytur in Eyjafjordur, where hot mineral rich water pumps into the sea and has built a chimney more than 60m tall. I dived in a number of freshwater lagoons, some icey cold, others heated to a variety of temperatures by geothermal activity. And in a range of marine habitats. I dived with Dive The North, Scuba Island and Iceland Arctic Diving and I cannot reccommend visiting Iceland and diving with these guys enough. If you think you have seen it all in the underwater world, think again. You can see some images from this trip here.
April 2011 - Into The Deep Exhibition
I have written about the Into The Deep Exhibition in Edinburgh, presented by Steve Bloom Images and the Edinburgh International Science Festival, curated Kathy Bloom. Anyway, my Scotland shoot finally gave me the chance to visit and even though the exhibition was closing for the day as I arrived, I managed to rattle off a few photos of some of my images on display. My images include many sharks (hammerhead, basking, lemon, tiger, reef) seadragons and much more, including quite a few that are not well known shots of mine and people may be surprised that I haven't shouted about them before. You can see a gallery of photos from the exhibition here. The exhibition is still running and is free to visit in St Andrews Square.
April 2011 - Back from Scottish Sea Lochs
In late April I headed up to Scotland for a week of underwater photography. The shoot was mainly for the 2020VISION project and I hope I have produced an innovate portfolio of some typical British marine life. The plan was to use some creative techniques to take images that the British public really cannot ignore. I travelled with my good friend and award winning underwater photographer, Dan Bolt, who has actually joined me on most of my 2020VISION shoots so far, including the seals, cuttles and crabs. In addition to the sea lochs we also dived at St Abbs on the east coast with Elaine Whiteford, Simon and Hamish and also in the River Orchy. You see more on the 2020V blog and on my website here.
April 2011 - Newsletter Launched
I am pleased, or should that be relieved, to finally be able to say that I have launched my newsletter about my workshops and photo trips. I run two types of trips for underwater photographers: the workshops are teaching trips and tend to be only to locations that I know inside out. These trips are filled with great photo diving, talks, image review sessions, and when possible one to one sessions in the pool. Traditionally I run these in Cayman and the Red Sea, both locations with reliable conditions and predictable subject matter, which really improve the quality of the teaching. Also, I usually do one cold water workshop each year in addition. The photo trips are dedicated travel for underwater photographers. These tend to be to more exotic locations than the workshops. I always pass on lots of underwater photography advice on these trip, but there is no formal teaching or image review. I work with several different travel agents and/or directly with resorts for some of these trips, which is why it makes sense to combine them all in one newsletter. Newsletters will probably be quarterly, depending on when I have something new to tell you about. If you want to receive the newsletter please email me and I will add you to the list.
April 2011 - External mount Magic Filters Launched
I am excited to say that today Magic Filters can proudly announce a new version of their Auto-Magic filter designed for external mounting on digital underwater cameras. The new filter uses their proprietary formula making it available for the first time in a solid filter that can be added or removed from the lens underwater. The filter is suitable for both still and video shooting in blue waters. They are currently on sale in a variety of screw thread filters, with more shapes and sizes planned. It has been a long time coming so I am really pleased that it is now available. For more info visit www.magic-filters.com.
April 2011 - Italian Road Trip
In the first half of April I set out from the UK by car (and ferry) to do some early season dives in Italy. The main site I wanted to photograph was the unique Capodacqua lake, where historic mills are now submerged in cold, clear spring water. It is a unique spot and one I was very keen to shoot for my freshwater portfolio. The lake is in the Abruzzo region of Italy and is about two hours drive from Rome. Diving there is organised by the very nice people at the Atlantide dive school. Then I travelled on to the island of Sardinia and dove in the sea, photographing a range of marine life including conger eel, clawed lobster and nudibranchs in the caverns around Alghero, diving with Capo Galera dive centre, which is on a beautiful headland overlooking Alghero and a few minutes boat ride from the sites. These were my first dives in Sardinia for almost two years. These sea dives were mainly about equipment testing for forthcoming shoots in Scotland and Iceland and for underwater photography equipment reviews, including Dyron's modular external macro lenses and Ken Sullivan's fibre snoot. You can see some of these images here.
March 2011 - Accessories On My Camera For Review
As is well known in the underwater photography world, I regularly test new cameras, housings, lenses, strobes and other accessories and write reviews on them, which usually appear in UWP Magazine and on Wetpixel. Currently I am trying out a new fibre snoot (a fibre optic snoot designed for the Inon Z240 strobe) built by Ken Sullivan, with field testing by Martin Edge. It is a funky thing and certainly guaranteed to start conversations on the dive boat. I am also testing some new close up dioptres from Dyron, which have a very neat attachment solution for Subal ports. You can see them both fitted to my camera in the image above.
March 2011 - Website Portfolio Updated
After two years, I have finally updated the portfolio on my website. My portfolio is meant to represent my photography long term, so it is supposed to be a mix of older and newer images. As a photographer you tend to be fondest of your newest images, and it is always a challenge to resist the temptation of putting too many in! There are also some older images that really feel dated, but it is important to include them too, to show the variety of my work. And finally, I had to consider that they will only be seen small at 500 pixels, so I couldn't choose pictures with details that need to be seen big and instead chose images that work big or small. Anyway, I managed to setting on a selection of 100, with a mix of old and new.You can view the updated portfolio here.
March 2011 - Edge and Mustard at LIDS
I am excited to announce that our unique underwater photography two man show, featuring Martin Edge and myself will be making its second appearance at LIDS (the London International Dive Show). We're not speaking for the whole day this time, just an hour each morning of the show between 11:15 and 12:15. And the talk is focused on just one topic although there are many aspects to it. We've already planned our presentation, but we're keeping the subject will be a surprise until the day. But it is something that is relevant to all underwater photographers, whatever system you shoot, whether you dive in the UK, abroad or both. Please arrive early for our talk as we expect it to be popular. It will be a talk full of practical advice and Martin has even planned some homework for you all, as you walk around the rest of the show. In addition to our talk in the main speaker seminars, there are many other underwater photography presentations at the show, most of which are taking place in the Photozone through the day, including the Digital Clinic and talks from INON UK, Cameras Underwater and BSoUP.
March 2011 - Red Sea Workshop Spaces
NOW FULL. As a result of cancellations I have spaces on my Red Sea workshop at the end of May. These have been hard to fill over the last month or so, with the political situation in Egypt, but now everything is back to normal, I am keen to fill this trip as soon as possible. So if you are interested in coming along, please email me. The dates are 22nd-29th May 2011, timed for neap tides on the wreck and the cost is £1150 (inc. flights) or £950 (not inc. flights). The workshop is running on the liveaboard Whirlwind, which is my stand out choice on Red Sea boats for the combination of accommodation, captain and crew. The workshop will spend three days shooting the Thistlegorm wreck and three days shooting reefs. The reason for spending an extended time on the wreck is to have time to set up complex shots, like off-camera strobe setups etc and to work round the wide variety of subject matter on this wreck. There is more info here.
March 2011 - 2020VISION Trailer
The 2020VISION project is really picking up pace now, with several of the key iWitness assignments already well underwater. I have yet to get properly stuck in, despite dedicating a few days to the project last summer (with cuttlefish and seals). I have more extensive plans in 2011, but many of the team have already produced some outstanding images. BBC Wildlife Magazine have already published an initial online gallery of some of the early images. Anyway the main reason for this news item is to say that the grandiose 2020VISION Trailer is now available to watch - click on the link below the slideshow on the 2020VISION homepage. And remember we are always looking for partners, so if you, or the company you work for would like to support the project please get in touch and sign up for our newsletter on the 2020VISION site.
March 2011 - Speaking at SITA's Evolution
I am proud to be the keynote speaker for Evolution, the UK's Scuba Industries Trade Association one day seminar, taking place on 6th March in Bristol. SITA are a body set up to represent the Manufacturers, Distributors, Retailers, Training Organisations, Registered Dive Schools, Dive Boat Charter Operators, Journals Travel Organisations and recognised, approved Marine Charities relating to the Scuba Industry in the UK. Since I am on early on Sunday morning, I will be showing plenty of pretty pictures from the underwater world, while explaining the importance of representing the Scuba Industry with the best possible images as it faces ever increasing competition from other recreational sports. And sharing a little of how I go about producing such images. You can download the full program here
February 2011 - Into The Deep Exhibition
I am proud to be one of the photographers involved in the Into The Deep Exhibition in Edinburgh, presented by Steve Bloom Images and the Edinburgh International Science Festival, curated Kathy Bloom. The exhibition consists of 60 giant prints (17 of which are my photos) and is free to visit in St Andrews Square. My images include many sharks (hammerhead, basking, lemon, tiger, reef) seadragons and more. The exhibition has generated lots of media coverage and the images have been everywhere from The Sun to The Telegraph to Life Magazine. You can get a good feel for the exhibition with this STV report. The exhibition aims to bring the wonders of the ocean to the general public and highlight the importance of life in the sea. There seems to be real mainstream momentum behind marine conservation issues at the moment. Shark finning, tuna fisheries, wasteful fishing practice are all big issues and I feel in the last few years have really started to pick up mainstream following. Which is really exciting, but we have to keep pushing. Public exhibitions, like Into The Deep, give us the chance to keep marine life on everyone's minds. I hope to visit it at some point during the run and take some snaps.
February 2011 - Kittiwake in the News
On my return to the UK, I was pleased to see my recent wreck images of the Kittiwake picked up by several national newspapers. It is really exciting to see my images reach such a large audience. Both the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph, ran stories about the Kittiwake taking her place amongst the world's great wreck dives. As often with this type of article, the text is aimed at the general public. But this quote from the Mail pretty much sums up my feelings Being purposely sunk for divers gives a wreck a totally different atmosphere to one tinged with tragedy. Despite only being down for a few days, marine life was already moving in from the nearby reefs. Right now the Kittiwake looks brand new and in some photos it is not even clear she is underwater but soon she'll be broken by the sea and covered in marine life. It will be fascinating to see her evolve. One of the greatest things about wrecks is the sinking, whether accidental or on purpose, because this is only the start of their journey. The story has subsequently been picked up by a number of other news outlets around the world.
February 2011 - Manatees in Crystal River
In early February I spent a five days in Crystal River, in Florida swimming with and photographing the manatees which over winter there. I took a group of underwater photographers there for UK travel agent Divequest and we went out to the springs with the excellent Birds Underwater. If you are planning a trip to Crystal River look no further than Birds. Manatees are one of my favourite creatures to spend time with, although, for some, it is hard to see the appeal until you have done it yourself. Manatees aren't the most attractive creatures, but once you get to know them, their intelligence and their funny ways makes them adorable. They clearly love human encounters and you regularly have one come up to you and nudge you wanting a tummy rub. Everyones life is not complete until they have rubbed a manatees tummy. The manatees were really playful during our trip and we did lots of tummy rubbing and took a lot of photos. Photographically, I had an amazing manatee trip in 2010, so I approached this year's shoot with the aim of filling the gaps. I am very happy with my manatee collection now. You can see some of these images here.
February 2011 - Freshwater in Florida
While I was in Florida I didn't just photograph manatees, but was able to shoot a little in the sea and also, more importantly for me, in freshwater. As I have said before, I want to have a strong freshwater chapter in my next book and I am pleased how that collection of images is progressing. Florida freshwater is thriving with life and I particularly enjoyed shooting the freshwater terrapins/turtles there. They are so different from marine turtles, it was fantastic to see several species. Another exciting subject were the largemouth bass, such as the one pictured left, which I was able to shoot spawning and guarding fry. This species is perhaps better known as the singing toy Billy the Big Mouth Bass, which was popular at least a decade ago. It was cool to shoot them in the wild and while they do not sing they are certainly characters. In general freshwater fish are much more timid than marine fish, so the project has been a good education in field craft, in allowing me to get close enough to get the images I want. As an aside, while diving in the sea in West Palm Beach, I got a very nasty sting right across my face from a Portuguese Man-O-War. It was at night and I didn't know they were about. Anyway, it really hurt and I had to abort the dive. Clearly it was revenge for my years formaldehyding plankton. You can see these images here
February 2011 - Little Cayman
I hadn't dived in Little Cayman for 19 years, so I thought it was about time I returned. So at the start of February I signed off my time in the Cayman Islands in style by spending four days shooting on the amazing Bloody Bay Wall in Little Cayman. The wall is phenomenal and the diving there is breath-taking. I was also impressed by the vitality of life on the reefs and the abundance of larger creatures like turtles, rays and, of course, the friendly Nassau groupers, which are on every dive site. The sponges are awesome too and I was really pleased to have a great encounter with a massive goliath grouper. That said, rather controversially perhaps, if I had to choose, I would rather spend two weeks on Grand Cayman, than Little Cayman. If you know where to dive on Grand Cayman there is just more diversity in diving experience (but then, maybe I am spoiled by having complete control of the dive boat every year during my workshop!). But I would qualify that by saying I would be back on Little Cayman in a heartbeat and intend to get back there much more regularly from now on. I also made an ultra-violet night dive and produced a pleasing collection of fluorescent coral images using Glowdive's filters. And I must add that I really loved the island on land. My visit also provided the chance to visit the Little Cayman Research Centre and hear about some of the work that goes on there. A big thank you to the excellent Little Cayman Beach Resort and barefoot elegance of the Southern Cross Club for making our stay so enjoyable. You can see my fluorescent images here and my main Little Cayman images here.
January 2011 - Dive Egypt Billboards
While I was enjoying the sun in the Cayman Islands, my Red Sea images were on display on billboards in the streets of many European cities where diveshows were running. My photos made into massive prints to promote diving in Egypt and were on display on the streets, outside and inside the venues. So far they have appears at the Salon De Plongee in Paris, the Boot Show in Dusseldorf, the Big Scuba Show in London and the Golden Dolphin in Moscow. A big thank you to the CDWS, Chamber of Diving Water Sports and Blue Magazine for making this happen. And thanks to Mary for sending me the pictures of my pictures, the one on the left is from Paris. I haven't seen them myself yet, I hope to catch them at a show sometime soon.
January 2011 - Kittiwake Shoot
While I was in Cayman I had the chance to dive repeatedly on the brand new Kittiwake wreck, which was sunk only a week before I arrived. At the beginning of my trip everyone was telling me I was the first overseas photographer to dive on her. Far more important than that, I was thrilled to produce a particularly strong portfolio of images of this wreck as she begins her new journey constantly evolving, as marine life moves in, she rusts and is broken up by storms. My goal from this trip was to shoot a number of classic views of the wrecks and the features inside and to return each January (when I run my Cayman workshops) and shoot the same scenes as they evolve. That said, I hope to get my images from this first year into a number of publications as soon as I can. The Kittiwake is a great wreck, and while not massive, she is big and with so much superstructure she takes several dives to fully explore. Equally, impressive is how much marine life is already colonising her, my favourite being the big school of horse eye jacks, which were a real favourite on the workshop. You can see a short video of the wreck here, shot mainly by my friend Elly Wray with a little contribution by me. It was filmed with the D7000 and 10-17mm with a Magic filter. UPDATE: in addition to all the press coverage about the wreck (see above), Underwater Photography Magazine published my article on wreck photography, illustrated with images taken by the workshop groups, click here. You can see my images here.
January 2011 - Back from Grand Cayman
During January I was away in Grand Cayman, staying at the East End of the island to run the 9th and 10th installments of my popular underwater photography workshop, focused on understanding and controlling light underwater, called Digital Madness. The event is based at Ocean Frontiers. A major focus of the workshop is improving wide angle lighting and the course blends theoretical and practical approaches. We start the week working on understanding and controlling strobe lighting, focusing on producing the desired quality of light and learning to produce different lighting effects. In the middle of the week we focus on available light photography including with the stingrays, the East End's famous caverns and with the new addition of the Kittiwake wreck. Then at the end of the week, we combine what we've learned shooting available light with our foreground lighting to produce finely crafted wide angle images. I shot all the sites so many times, I am well placed to advise the group of any mistakes to avoid (having made them myself). The photo (left) is of Babylon's ears, a pair of sponges I have been shooting for years, one of many classic views we work during Digital Madness. Before it all sounds a big structured, actually the week is much more diverse than it sounds above, because there are so many other subjects to shoot, from the tiny tube blennies at our secret macro site, to close encounters with Caribbean reef sharks. I hope to upload a selection of the groups' shots, soon. You can see my images here.
December 2010 - Dive and photograph with me in 2011
With other projects on, I am leading less photo trips in 2011 than I did this year, when more than 100 different photographers came on my trips (and some more than once). That said, I still have some fantastic diving and travel planned for 2011 and a few trips still have some spaces. If any take your fancy, click on the links and consider joining us. All my trips are for underwater photographers but are differentiated into workshops (with a strong teaching emphasis) and photo trips (emphasis purely on the experience and the images, although I am always pass on plenty of advice). I kick off 2011 with back to back workshops in Cayman (where we'll be some of the first people to shoot the new Kittiwake wreck, plus all the usual attractions). The Cayman workshops are full already (and people are already contacting Ocean Frontiers to get on the list for 2012)! Then I'm going up to the US to take a group of photographers to shoot manatees and more in Florida's freshwater. Also full. Next is my Red Sea workshop at the end of May. Because of cancellations I have three spaces available, please contact me if you want to join us in Egypt. Great boat, great locations, great group. Then at the end of August I am pleased to announce that I running another photo trip to Maldives and the mantas of Hanifaru. I have four spaces on this trip, the remainder of the boat being taken by those who came last year. Please contact me if you want to join us in the Maldives. Finally, there are a few spots left on my big trip for the year: in the second half of September I am off to Komodo and more in Indonesia. Please contact Divequest direct for places on that one. And I hope to share some wonderful underwater moments with you.
December 2010 - SNH Celebrating Scotland's Seas
I am happy to say that two of my images, one of a grey seal and one of a basking sharks, appear in Scottish Natural Heritage's 2011 calendar Celebrating Scotland's Seas. I am really pleased to see the SNH giving such high profile coverage to the marine environment, I find it very encouraging to see marine issues getting more and more coverage in UK conservation initiatives. The calendar also contains images from Paul Kay, Lorne Gill, Charlie Philips and Sue Scott. It is also rather prophetic for me, because my photographic plans for 2011 will see me spending a lot of time up in Scotland, mainly for the 2020VISION project, with luck I'll come back with images for next year's calendar too.
December 2010 - BBC Radio Interviews
I am not sure its a complement, but apparently I have great photos for radio! A couple of pictures from recent trip to photograph the biggest run of sockeye salmon for 100 years in Canada have been doing the rounds in papers around the world courtesy of the Solent Press Agency and after seeing a piece in the Telegraph, the Outlook program on the BBC World Service invited me to come on the show and talk to Matthew Bannister about the experience. For a short time you can listen to the show again or download the podcast. I am on third after about 17:35 minutes. I did the interview from the BBC studios in Southampton and while I was there I was also invited onto Alex Dyke's entertaining and diverse morning show on BBC Radio Solent to talk, in a much lighter way, about my life and experiences as an underwater photographer. This is also available on listen again listen to the show again, UK only. I am on about 1 hour 55 into the show. Thanks to both programs for having me on as a guest. Both were very enjoyable.
December 2010 - BBC Knowledge Portfolio
I am pleased to say that a 10 page portfolio of my coral reef images is featured in the current issue of BBC Knowledge Magazine. It is not a magazine I had come across before, but I really like the mix of articles, which include selected articles from other BBC specialist magazines, such as BBC Focus, BBC History and BBC Wildlife, which is where my portfolio came from. Since I have rather a lot of coral reef images, we decided than rather just repeating the same shots selected by BBC Wildlife, that we'd selected a new portfolio. And I rather enjoyed the fact that half of the images they chose have not been published before. Anyway, it is really interesting magazine and I will certainly be looking up future issues, even when my images aren't in there.
December 2010 - Back from the Red Sea
At the end of November I travelled to the Red Sea for a long weekend with my buddy Peter Rowlands to test the new Nikon D7000 underwater and to enjoy some quality Egyptian diving. We dived several of my favourite spots around Sharm El Sheikh and also tried some excellent sites that were new to me (as they are not on the typical liveaboard itineraries we normally follow). We only went for three full days of diving, but it was an excellent reminder of how lucky we are in Europe to have such an excellent destination so close and how much diving you can squeeze into a long weekend there. A special thanks to the CDWS, Cath Bates and Charlotte Boan for their help both above and below the water with the trip. When I have a chance, I will share pictures from this trip here. The image is a double exposure (in camera) of a fluorescing coral, photographed with Glowdive filters.
December 2010 - Talk At Camel Bar
While I was away in Egypt I was invited to give a talk about my motivation and techniques in underwater photography at the Camel Bar in Sharm El Sheikh. It was a great excuse to show a variety of my favourite underwater photographs from Egypt and all over the world. The Bar is a perennial favourite with divers and I have spent plenty of enjoyable off duty evening in there with a few beers and mates. This is the second time I have spoken there and I was really pleased to see some many people turn up. Thanks to Cath Bates for the invite to speak, pictured here with me and Peter Rowlands. Hopefully, I'll have the chance to speak there again in the future.
December 2010 - Nikon D7000 Reviewed
I am really pleased to be able to share my detailed underwater review of the Nikon D7000 and Nauticam NA-D7000 housing so soon after the camera was released. Normally I have to wait ages for housings to be made so I can evaluate the newest cameras in the underwater world. But this time Nauticam had their housing ready so early, I was able to publish a review of the camera at the same time as DPReview posted their topside review. Kudos Nauticam. Not only that, but I had managed to give the system a thorough workout both in chilly UK waters and in the bright, tropical Red Sea. It almost goes without saying that this is the first underwater review of this camera, as this was the only housing for it in the world. You can read the detailed review, covering the camera, the housing, cold water, warm water, wide angle, macro, close up, portraits, stills and video here.
November 2010 - Wendy's Book
Not my news, but I thought I'd publicise Wendy Hoevenaars new book EYE2EYE, a collection of photographs of the eyes of marine life, for which I wrote the foreword. To give you a flavour here is an excerpt from my bit: Eye contact is an essential element in a portrait, if we are to glimpse the character of the subject. This is especially true in an underwater photograph, where our subjects are at best unfamiliar, and often completely alien, to the audience. They eyes provide a window into their personality, elevating them from a scaley slimy smelly fish or creepy crawly crustacean, to individuals. Personalities we can relate to, connect with, care about. Threatened with overfishing, pollution and climate change, these inhabitants of the seas need our friendship more than ever.. Check the book out here
November 2010 - Talk at SUPS
I am speaking again. About underwater photography at SUPS, Stevenage Underwater Photographic Society, which serves the counties north of London. The talk is on 9th November at 7:30pm for an 8:00pm start. I am fairly certain that this talk is open to all, but you have to call for a ticket (cost £4), as space is limited. This talk will use different material from what Martin and I covered at the weekend (see below). At present I am thinking about talking about the motivation behind my underwater photography in the first half and then sharing my recent adventures photographing salmon. This was definitely one of the most unusual experiences I have had as an underwater photographer and was very educational from a techniques perspective too. Although I have not written the talks yet - so this might change! You can see a PDF about the talk here
November 2010 - Bite Back Calendar 2011
Bite-Back, the UK based shark and marine conservation organisation has just launched its 2011 calendar and I am happy to say that I was one of the 12 photographer's who donated an image and commentary for it. This year my image focuses on UK issues. In the words of Monty Halls 'Bite-Back is at the very forefront of shark conservation. By purchasing this calendar you will be supporting its work to end the trade and consumption of shark products and other threatened marine life.' The other photographers featured in the calendar include Doug Perrine, Eric Cheng, David Doubilet, Brian Skerry, Amos Nachoum and Michael Aw, so some fairly decent snappers. You can read more and buy the calendar here for less than £8.
November 2010 - Edge and Mustard 06/Nov/10 London
I am thrilled to report that our Martin Edge and Alex Mustard On Underwater Photography, presented by Cameras Underwater was a fantastic success. A big thank you to all who came, the guys at Cameras Underwater and all who have taken time to email and thank us for the event. The encouragement is most gratefully received at this end. We'd love to do it again, so spread the word, tell Cameras Underwater you enjoyed it and if we can fill the lecture theatre again, Martin and I are up for a repeat. We were really pleased with the turnout, we reached our limit of 250 tickets, and sold a few more on the day (we didn't want to turn anyone away). With the CUW staff and guests we were closer to 300 than 250 underwater photographers, probably the largest gathering of underwater photographers ever in the UK. Here is some of the feedback, I'll leave these anonymous: What a fantastic day yesterday. ALL presentations were great and totally inspiring... and now can't wait to get back in the water... The feedback I have heard has been nothing short of amazing ... from my perspective easily by a long long way one of the best u/w photo days I have ever attended., Inspirational in its content, funny, interesting and most of all, how incredibly fantastic to have all that knowledge and experience shared with such generosity of spirit. Loved it all., A huge thank you for such an inspired and informative day on Saturday. I'm fired up... It seriously rocked!, Fantastic day - really inspiring. I've come away with my head buzzing with new ideas! Thank you both for all the hard effort you put in and Great day and I hope it's repeated. You two really complemented each other and was good to see you disagree!.
November 2010 - Cover: Blue Magazine
I am pleased to see my photo on the cover of Blue, the magazine of the Egyptian diving industry, published by the Chamber of Diving and Watersports (CDWS) in Sharm. The CDWS was founded by Egyptian Ministry of Tourism in 2007 with a goal to improve quality, safety and standard of services in the diving and watersports industry, as well as to preserve unique environment of the Red Sea. They are doing a great job and I try and support them whenever I get the chance. The magazine contains a 12 page article I have written called Wonders Of The Red Sea. You can read the magazine online, or pick up a free printed copy in Egypt or at many of the International diveshows this autumn, including DEMA and the UK Dive Show. I hope you enjoy my article and the magazine.
October 2010 - Back from Sockeye Salmon in Canada
Each year about a million sockeye salmon return from the Pacific Ocean in the rivers of the Canadian Rockies to spawn. But this year, the numbers rocketed and 34 million fish returned, the largest migration for 100 years. And I was there to photograph them. You can read more about the reasons for this bumper year in my friend Kate's (Dr Larkin) article in Nature. There are quite a few species of salmon, but sockeyes are the prettiest, with mating colours consisting of a red body and green heads and tails. It was an amazing experience seeing the rivers running red in places with the salmon, one of the great wildlife experiences of my life. I travelled with my good friend, and multi-award winning photographer Todd Mintz. That said it was tough work, with long walks to our chosen locations, carrying lots of kit, before long days in the frigid water, bracing ourselves against the currents. We were so knackered by the end of each day. But the trip was hugely productive and I am very excited about the images I have produced, which I feel capture both the beauty and scale of the migration. I am very grateful to both Fisheries And Oceans Canada and British Columbia Parks for granting us licences to photograph the salmon underwater.
October 2010 - Ele Is The Champ
I am very proud to announce that while we were both away, Eleonora won BSoUP's Best Of British Portfolio competition. This is a great achievement as she joins a illustrious list of previous winners that includes Peter Rowlands, Charles Hood, Martin Edge and, ahem, Alex Mustard! She also beat many of the UK's best underwater photographers on the night (by a large margin in the public vote), all of whom have logged many, many more dives than the five she has done in the UK. Ele's three images were taken on dives we have done together, including on trips to Lundy and Cornwall this year to photograph seals and basking sharks, respectively. The third image was a tompot blenny that she took last summer at Swanage Pier. Imagine what shots she would have if she dived regularly in the UK! As everyone has reminded me, I had better keep an eye over my shoulder! Congratulations Ele!
October 2010 - Interview: Shoot Magazine
Shoot Magazine (both the Dutch and Belgian editions) are running a six page interview about me and my photography in their current issue. British readers should not get this confused with the UK mag of the same day which covers football, I am not about to sign for Man Utd. The interview by Bart Goossens is entitled Light In The Fridge, a reference to the fact that much of my photography is driven by a desire that people see that there is more to fish than tartar sauce. I hope that my images help people to get to know the oceans and their inhabitants a little better, see that they are wildlife with complex behaviour, characters, individuals and so when they do eat fish, they do so with a little bit more respect. Anyway the article presents a wide portfolio of my images and and you can download it here.
October 2010 - British Wildlife Photography Awards
I am very pleased that one of my photos is a winner again in the British Wildlife Photography Awards, it is a photo showing two male cuttlefish competing for a smaller female, taken in Torquay in May. I am also very proud to say that Eleonora has a photo of a tompot blenny in the book of the competition, and I have another photo of a freshwater perch. This competition is an excellent initiative to celebrate and raise awareness of the richness of Britain's wildlife. My award was in the Coast and Marine Category, which I won in last year's competition and it is in an interesting category to enter because it combines underwater photographic subjects with all the seabirds and above water images of our coastline. So it is a very diverse category and it is great to see underwater wildlife mixing it with the terrestrial species. Unsurprisingly, many of the 2020VISION team were amongst the winners, including Andy Rouse, Chris Gomersall, Andy Parkinson, Mark Hamblin, Danny Green, Peter Cairns, Terry Whittaker and Ben Hall. Two of my favourite photos in the competition are Danny's seal and Mark's hare. Check out the winners here.
October 2010 - Back from La Paz, Mexico
In early October I travelled to La Paz in Mexico to run a trip for underwater photographers for the travel agent Divequest, with the aim of photographing sealions, mainly, as well as other large creatures in the Sea of Cortez. We were rewarded with wonderful sealion encounters, timing our trip perfectly with the pups first adventures into the sea. Full of energy from their monther's milk (think of children who have drunk too much fizzy drinks) the pups were on overdrive and want to play with anything they could find. Usually us. They would gently chew on our cameras, dive gear, anything. They would also bring their own toys, and I was particularly pleased to record many behaviour sequences with the babies playing with starfish! I took a wide variety of images of both the pups and adults, this shot shows an adult female in a cave, photographed with fisheye and Magic filter. La Paz is an excellent destination for underwater photography and often mistakenly overlooked by European divers (it is a firm favourite in North America) and the sealions are 100% adorable. Even after a week with our lenses focussed on them, we would have still loved to have stayed on for more. The area provided a wide range of subjects from huge schools of fish, great critters like the signal blenny, batrays and whale sharks, all in good conditions for images. We dived with the excellent Cortez Club, who even arranged a spotter plane for our final afternoon looking for whalesharks, delivering 10+ encounters for the group. Pictures will be up at the end of the month, when I finally will have a break from travel.
October 2010 - Shoot with me - baskers and seals
Some of the subjects I photograph don't fit well with the standard underwater photography workshops or group trips. Yet these subjects can provide the most memorable encounters and fabulous photos. To get the highest quality images they require dedicated shoots, with just 2 to 4 photographers, chartering an entire boat and spending several days dedicated to a single species. That is the plan with this new type of trip, to offer you the chance to come and join me on these types of shoots. I am kicking things off with a week in England in early June, working with subjects I love, in places I have known all my life, with the best operators for the species in question. If the trip is popular, I will be putting together a few more. The trip runs from 3rd to 10th June 2011 and will dedicate three days to grey seals and three days to basking sharks. The trip is limited to just three guests to ensure the best encounter and photo opportunities. It is a shoot, not a teaching trip, however I will be happy to pass on advice on photographic techniques and the wildlife throughout. The trip is aimed at providing non-Brits with the chance to get world class images of these two species, the UK offering the best location to photograph both. Just get yourself to London. I am not running this trip for profit, simply to share the costs of a week of England's finest underwater wildlife photography with like minded photographers. If you are seriously interested please email me for more information and if I haven't already met you, please include a link to your work. It is important that we have a group who all get on. NOW FULL.
October 2010 - Interview: Duiken Magazine
This month's Duiken Magazine, the diving magazine of the Netherlands, features a interview with me by Judith Rietveld, made during the photo workshop I ran in Zeeland, entitled Alex Mustard goes Dutch, back in August. To be honest that is the only part of the interview I can understand! But at least my pictures look pretty. I think the interview covers some photographic techniques and my thoughts in general about underwater photography. In some ways I am quite happy not knowing, so please do not send me a translation! You can see the interview and pictures printed in all their glory in the current issue of Duiken. I really enjoyed my trip to the Netherlands and I look forward to returning in 2011 for another weekend workshop. You can see a PDF of this interview here.
October 2010 - Announcing Red Sea Workshop 2011
In May 2011, I am running a special underwater photography workshop in the Red Sea without the aim of dedicating a large part of the week photographing the famous wreck of the Thistlegorm. We have visited the Thistlegorm on my last two Red Sea workshops, but a few dives are not enough to do photographic justice to this large ship and all the historic military equipment she was carrying. So by popular demand we will spend much of the week diving only on the wreck, working different aspects of it. Any experienced photographer, in any discipline, will tell you this the key to great images of any subject. The remainder of the week will be spent shooting on a variety of the Red Sea's classic dive sites including the reefs of Tiran. The dates are 22nd-29th May 2011, timed for neap tides on the wreck and the cost is £1150 (inc. flights) or £950 (not inc. flights) on the liveaboard Whirlwind, which I have been using for a number of years for my Red Sea workshops. You can read more here. If you want to come on this trip please get in touch, more than half the spaces are gone on pre-bookings.
October 2010 - Cover: DIVE Magazine
I am pleased to see that one of my moray eel photos is on the cover of the October issue of DIVE Magazine. I took this photo on my Red Sea photo workshop in June, directly under our liveaboard on the wreck of the barge at Gubal Island. It was taken with the D700 and a 15mm fisheye on a 1.4x teleconverter. As usual, the issue has my PhotoPro column, which is rapidly approaching its 2nd birthday and 24th instalment. This month PhotoPro considers double exposures and whether we need another 80s revival. As it often does, PhotoPro doesn't just cover the techniques, but places them in the wider context of the underwater photography community. This month relating stories of both Peter Scoones and Warren Williams exploits with this technique in the past. Scoonesy, the godfather of British underwater photography, comes up in PhotoPro regularly, but it was nice to be able to mention Warren. I have the BSAC dive magazine from the month I was born and Warren is all over it, cleaning up in another underwater photography competition in the mid 1970s.
September 2010 - Back from Nordic Photo Event
At the end of September I travelled to Gulen in Norway, which is a couple of hours drive north of Bergen, for the Nordic Underwater Photo Event 2010, organised by Fotografit. The event is based at the excellent Gulen Dive Resort, and the workshop concentrates on the historic wrecks, local marine life diving and the excellent house reef which is full of critters. The flat water of the fjords and the good visibility makes it a very productive cold water photographic destination. I shot mostly wide angle during the week, often focused on taking the variety of invertebrate life (from echinoderms to jellyfish) in the dark waters and often against atmospheric sun beams (we were blessed with good weather). My workshop consisted on five main lectures and one to one image review sessions and a couple of group image critique sessions. In addition, Christian Skauge gave a talk on the critters of the house reef, with an emphasis on not just finding great subjects, but finding excellent backgrounds. And then on the last night of the workshop, Espen Rekdal joined us and gave an inspirational talk showcasing some of the best of his Norwegian portfolio. For the group photo we dressed in traditional viking clothes, click here to see a larger version of this picture (it is very funny). Thanks to all for such an excellent week.
September 2010 - Cover: Scuba Diving Magazine
I am pleased to say that one of my less well known seadragon photos is on the cover of the September issue of Scuba Diving Magazine (USA), it is always nice to see my pictures used on the cover of overseas magazines. I think that the image looks great on the cover, probably because it is a fairy plane image as a stand alone, so the cover lines really help complete the composition. The photo was taken on my 2007 trip to South Australia with Shannon Conway and I am very grateful to Carey Harmer for his help in guiding us to the dragon's lair. I must also thank the art director Monica Alberta for putting the cover together and really making the image work. Anyway, the dragon looks fabulous on the cover, it is well worth picking up a copy to see it!
September 2010 - UW Photo Kit Reviews
I have been reviewing underwater photography gear for a number of years now. It is something I enjoy. I think I bring interesting perspectives to the reviews because I am a very technical shooter, plus I am diving so regularly in very different conditions. I don't usually post news items about the articles I write each month, although I do keep a list online for my own records, but I thought it might be useful to post some links to some of the kit reviews I have written. For example: Light & Motion's SOLA600 focus light, mini-domes, Leak Insure, Nauticam's D700 housing, Subal's D700 housing, Subal's D3 housing. These links are all to reviews on Wetpixel, there are also quite a few of my review style articles reproduced on amustard.com and many more in the pages of Peter Rowlands' Underwater Photography Magazine uwpmag.com etc.
September 2010 - Back from Maldives
MY Monsoon liveaboard and the whole group was very grateful to dive guide Chris Trickey and all on board for making our trip so successful. We saw mantas on every dive and 100s during our week, but still left a little disappointed not to see a really big feeding event happen in Hanifaru. Everyone told us our timing was spot on, but a swell picked up during our week that turned off the lagoon. Hanifaru lagoon acts quite like a massive plankton net, aggregating large amounts of zooplankton when the tides push water through it. Creating ideal feeding conditions for the mantas. But the tidal streams need be exactly right. We still saw some impressive manta aggregations (10-20 individuals, still the most I have ever seen together), but not the 50-100+ that are possible at this site. I am also really grateful to Guy Stevens and the other scientists from Save Our Seas for taking time out to come over and say hi and tell the group more about their research. You can see a gallery of topside images from the trip here, taken by Predrag Vuckovic, my underwater photos will be coming at some point...
August 2010 - Scottish Nature Photography Fair
On the weekend of the 4th and 5th September I am presenting at the 20th Scottish Nature Photography Fair. I am really proud to be part of this event this year, that has such a illustrious history in wildlife photography. My talk aims to encourages wildlife photographers to think about the opportunities underwater photography offers for their portfolios. You may feel that you have photographed all your local wildlife and long for more exotic subjects, but have you considered the creatures that live in the wet bits? My talk will discuss the similarities and differences with terrestrial wildlife photography and will discuss the options for those keen to dip their toe into underwater photography without burning their fingers! The other speakers include some of my favourites: Niall Benvie, Ian Cameron, Fergus Gill and Danny Green and the cost is just £25 or £21 with concessions, which is incredible value compared with similar events. You can download the booking form here and see the full program here.
August 2010 - Edge and Mustard Workshop
I wanted to give this another plug as it is a bit buried further down the page! On saturday 6th November 2010, Martin Edge and I will be presenting a special day long event in London On Underwater Photography. We are the only speakers allowing us to precisely craft the content for the day, to create talks that neatly dovetail into each other and have time to discuss important points in detail and answer your questions. Basically do what we can to improve your photos. We plan to present both singly and in a unique two-man show, bouncing ideas of each other and not always agreeing! You can read more about the event in this PDF. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of hosts Cameras Underwater this event costs just £20 and therefore we expect it to be popular, in fact we have sold more than half the places as I post this. I know that it is 6 months away, but please book early to avoid disappointment, capacity is limited. And once you have got your ticket, please tell your friends/dive buddies about the event. We want an audience of people who are really enthusiastic about their underwater photography. BUY TICKET NOW.
August 2010 - British Seahorses
Every time I think I have finished with 2020VISION shoots for a while, another idea jumps out at me. Seahorses are one of my favourite creatures and definitely one I want to cover for 2020VISION. I think the public are always surprised to hear we have them in the UK and I have already been working photographing some captive breeding efforts. Anyway, with summer in full swing, I had the chance to pop out and photograph some wild ones in the UK. I wanted to get a habitat shot, showing the seahorse as part of its environment and was pleased to be able to shoot this pretty female spiny seahorse in the seagrass (the picture looks great big)! I have photographed an almost identical individual in the captive breeding program, so it will be great to show both side by side. Seahorses are protected species in the UK and you need a licence to photograph them. The licences used to be granted by Natural England, but that responsibility has recently been taken over by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). I covered what this licensing situation means for British underwater photographers in my PhotoPro Column in DIVE Magazine last year, you can read that article here. I hope to have a small gallery of these images up soon.
August 2010 - Back from Netherlands Workshop
I am back from the Netherlands after a highly enjoyable photo workshop on the liveaboard Panda. The workshop was organised by Marine Expedition Services, with support from Duiken Magazine and Subal underwater housings. The aim of the workshop was to focus on low visibility underwater photography, working through the solutions for producing stunning images in these conditions from both a technical and artistic perspective. It was an intense weekend: lecture, dive, eat, lecture, dive, eat, lecture, nightdive, drink, sleep, repeat. But one that everyone thoroughly enjoyed. The diving in Grevelingenmeer was fascinating: the species are the same as in the UK, but the diving experience is totally different. The visibility was not great, but the density of marine life was incredible, particularly the number of lobsters, 100s on each dive. The Dutch deserve a lot of credit for enforcing their marine protection to effectively. You can watch a short video of the workshop here (best at 720). Being in Holland also gave me the chance to do a number of interviews with diving and photography magazines and websites. You can see a gallery of my images from the trip here.
August 2010 - Spider Crab Aggregation
Sometimes I travel to the other side of the world to photograph the wonders of the natural world. Other days I wake up in my own bed and just head to the English coast. Which has been happening more and more, since I signed up as part of the 2020VISION project. The target this time was a massive spider crab aggregation, which can have as many as 50,000 individuals. It was also a nice chance to meet up with some of my ex-colleagues from the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, who started studying this aggregation almost 15 years ago. They estimated that the aggregation was probably about 10,000 crabs this year, but still a very impressive sight, the whole seabed seemingly a moving mass of pincers and legs. Due to intensive travel and other work commitments I just do not have time to process these images for my website at the moment. I hope to have a gallery up from this trip during the first part of September. You can see more here.
July 2010 - Back from Florida and Bahamas
During the second half of July I travelled to Florida and then on to the Bahamas to lead the Wetpixel Sharks and Dolphins Exhibition with Jim Abernethy Scuba Adventures. I have run this trip several times and it is always excellent. This year tropical storm Bonnie messed up our diving conditions a little, but it was still seven days of either a shark or a dolphin in front of my lens. It was hugely productive. It was a great trip and you can read an informal diary from the trip on Wetpixel, here. Due to intensive travel and other work commitments I just do not have time to process these images for my website at the moment. I hope to have the three galleries from this trip online during the first part of September. You can see more here.
July 2010 - Announcing Cayman workshops 2010
UPDATE: both weeks FULL. My Cayman photo workshops, Digital Madness, are now open for bookings. In January 2011 I am running two, weeklong workshops at Ocean Frontiers, East End, Grand Cayman. This workshop is themed on lighting, titled Understanding, capturing and controlling both strobe and available light underwater and is limited to 12 photographers. We will dive on Grand Cayman s dramatic walls, the East End's atmospheric caverns, fishy shallow reefs and at Stingray City. There will be the traditional dawn stingray shoot to photograph the unique stingray schooling behaviour in the perfect light for both colour and black and white images. We will also aim for encounters with Cayman's larger creatures such as turtles, tarpon and reef sharks. Plus there will be the new Kittiwake wreck. You can read an unofficial report on this workshop, from one of last year's group, here. This trip is now open for reservations, which are taken directly by Ocean Frontiers. The is more information at the bottom of this page here, please contact me with any questions, but please contact Ocean Frontiers for reservations (telling me can't hold you place) they have the official attendance list. Hope to see you in Cayman.
July 2010 - Portfolio BBC Wildlife Magazine
I am pleased to have my coral reef photography featured in BBC Wildlife magazine. I have not contributed to the magazine for a few years and I am very happy with how the portfolio is laid out and printed. They chose the images and the layout, although I steered them towards some of my better known classic images, and I had to write the captions to fit. It is a diverse selection, which certainly includes many of my favourites from coral reefs. The magazine is an ideal platform to enthuse people about the wonders of the underwater world and to ensure that while it might be out of sight, it should not be out of mind, when it comes to conservation. The photos in the feature come from Egypt, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cayman Islands and Bahamas. Some are from my book Reefs Revealed and some are more recent. Check out the magazine which has loads of great underwater content this month. You can see a gallery of the images here.
July 2010 - Back from Lundy
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. 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. I am planning on organising a return trip in 2011, drop me an email if interested. You can see a gallery of my images here.
July 2010 - Interview SOES News
Although it is more than 5 years since I worked at the University of Southampton, I am still proud to keep an association with my friends and ex-colleagues at the National Oceanography Centre. There are many of my underwater photographs on display throughout the centre. I also like to help out with their alumni activities and do things for them when I can. I recently did an interview for the University magazine The Voice, which has actually been reworked for the School of Ocean and Earth Sciences newsletter too. You can read that version of the interview here.
June 2010 - Snappers with Blue Eye FX
The first week of my Red Sea trip was spent with Debbie Metcalfe and her team at Blue Eye FX making a film about trying to be the first people to see the bohar snappers spawning at Ras Mohammed. The spawning aggregations of boyar snappers are very impressive, with 1000s of fish, which can grow to 80cm long and live up to 50 years (see the picture). It was great fun and very educational experience, although I wasn't particularly keen having my every move followed by three cameras. Particularly slumping in and out of the rib in my trunks! When the film is finished, I will be sure to write all about it. And yes, we managed to record the snappers spawning, but didn't get to see the whole school involved in a massive spawn this time. On a negative note, I was disappointed to see the number of fishing boats targeting the schools within the marine park each night. That said, the spawning schools at Ras Mohammed really are a wonder of natural world and perhaps what is best is that they are so accessible to 1000s of divers each year. Hopefully with a bit more information on their spawning season the authorities could target their enforcement of the marine park rules to this sensitive season. Anyway, it was a fabulous week and thanks to Debbie, Adam, Barry, GeGe, Rafal, Ahmed and all the crew for a great experience.
June 2010 - Back from the Red Sea Workshop
The second week of my trip to Egypt was to run my Red Sea photography workshop. The event was highly productive, with a great group on board who came armed with lots of innovative ideas to try. My workshops are about learning from each other, not just from me. The trip follows a fairly standard Sharm-northern itinerary, although we do less dive sites and spend more times on them, repeating the best locations to work on images and dives sites at the right time for the light or species we want. We did 22 dives on only 7 dive sites, a strategy which makes a big difference to the photographic productivity. You can see a gallery of the groups images here (supposed to be 2 each, but some couldn't decide). Thanks to all the group for buying into the spirit of my workshops, which I know is different to many others. I am also very grateful to our guides, the Captain and crew of Whirlwind and Tornado Marine Fleet and Scuba Travel for their help in making this such a successful trip. Finally, the trip was a chance for Peter Rowlands (mainly) and I to test a new Magic filters product and for Peter to shoot some video to demonstrate the suitability of Magic filters for DSLR video. Magic filters they are the only underwater filters that can fit on fisheye lenses. Thanks to Alex Tattersall of Nauticam UK and Edward Lai Mr Nauticam for making that possible. You will be able to see a gallery of my images here soon.
June 2010 - COVER: Global Ecology & Biogeography
Bit of a different cover this, being on the front of the Journal Global Ecology and Biogeography and one I was not paid for! I have been in touch with Dr Ben Holt of the University Of East Anglia since the early days of his PhD. Us hamlet fans need to stick together! And throughout I have been fascinated by his research on the evolution of this group (and very happy to donate my images where they can help raise the profile of hamlets). I am pleased to say his latest paper has been published in GEB and has generated quite a lot of media attention too, such as here in UK and Irish newspapers. It had previously been believed that the different species of hamlets evolved because of geographical separation. For example, it was thought that falling sea levels in the past could have divided the original species. Then, when levels increased, the differently evolved species were thrown back together. The new study suggests that hamlet colour varieties could have evolved regardless of any physical separation. The paper has now been physically published and I am pleased that my images have helped it get cover page billing on the Journal.
June 2010 - Back from Basking Sharks
I am back from a few days of basking shark photography in Cornwall, UK. They are one of the few truly a-list marine creatures that are best seen in the UK and I am pleased to have finally got some very pleasing images of them. One of the main aims was to shoot a split level of a shark against the Cornish coastline. I was also amazed to see a basking shark breach, leaping completely clear of the water. No photos, but Peter Rowlands did record some very amusing audio of all the expletives uttered when it happened. I am very grateful to the expertise of Charles Hood, and benefitted greatly from his many years experience with the basking sharks. He is also a hugely talented underwater photographer, so he knows exactly how to help you get the best photographic encounter, look no further. I also really enjoyed sharing the charter with Hawaii based underwater wildlife photographer Doug Perrine, which gave the trip an international flavour. I also learned plenty from his approach, honed with so many years at the top of underwater photography. I am very pleased with the images (there are a lot) and I am sure that some will be seen widely in the 2020VISION project. It is likely to be my last photography for that project until the end of the year as I am mainly working overseas after this trip. I also hope to photograph basking sharks up in Scotland in 2011 for the same project. You can see pictures from Cornwall here.
May 2010 - Cuttlefish Reproduction Portfolio
I have been trying to get photographs of cuttlefish mating behaviour in the UK for many years now and finally I have cracked it. The challenge is not just catching this seasonal behaviour, but since it tends to occur at the same time as the spring plankton bloom, it is seeing it in reasonable conditions for photography. Many people don't realise that there are cuttlefish in the UK, so it is great subject to surprise and impress the public with the wonders of British Seas. I really see the 2020VISION project as my chance to help connect the British public with our waters, where wildlife is often overlooked compared with the more obvious stories on land. The photo on the left shows me photographing the cuttlefish (photo by Dan Bolt). I am very excited by this set of images, which cover a range of behaviours associated with mating. The images were taken for 2020VISION and there is more information about them here
May 2010 - Edge & Mustard On Underwater Photography
On Saturday 6th November 2010, Martin Edge and I will be presenting a special day long event in London On Underwater Photography. We are the only speakers allowing us to precisely craft the content for the day, to create talks that neatly dovetail into each other and have time to discuss important points in detail and answer your questions. Basically do what we can to improve your photos. We plan to present both singly and in a unique two-man show, bouncing ideas of each other and not always agreeing! You can read more about the event in this PDF. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of hosts Cameras Underwater this event costs just £20 and therefore we expect it to be popular, in fact we have sold more than half the places as I post this. I know that it is 6 months away, but please book early to avoid disappointment, capacity is limited. And once you have got your ticket, please tell your friends/dive buddies about the event. We want an audience of people who are really enthusiastic about their underwater photography. BUY TICKET NOW.
May 2010 - Domestic Waters
Domestic Waters, AKA what I do on Thursdays! If you are reading this website then you have probably gathered that I photograph fish for a living. Fish are an amazing group of animals. There are more species of fish than all the other vertebrates put together, they live from the highest mountains (5200m in Tibet) to the deepest ocean floor and I have travelled all over the world photographing various species, from the 12m whale shark to the 0.001m pygmy seahorse. But recently in occurred to me that there are many types of fish I have not photographed, and these are the ones that, perhaps, have the strongest link with humans. The fish that live with us in our homes (in aquariums and ponds). These are the fish that people know individually and indeed any aquarium owner will tell you that their fish can tell them from other humans. Some species of fish have been domesticated for more than 1000 years and many have been bred into ornamental varieties that do not even exist in the wild. So Domestic Waters was born, to celebrate the fish in our lives. For me, this is a purely artistic project, the example image (above, left) is not that typical of the collection, this is not an ID project. I have chosen a white background, studio look, predominantly to accentuate that they are not in the wild. To date I have shot several thousand images, but have not had a chance to get the Domestic Waters website up and running. The images will be kept on that website to avoid confusion with the photos I take underwater, in the wild. Check back soon.
May 2010 - Cover: Scuba Diving Magazine
I am very pleased to see that my photograph of a seal with an orange face is on the cover of this month's Scuba Diving Magazine. It is a rare event to get on the cover of a non-UK diving magazine with a photo taken in British waters. This young grey seal has a bright orange nose from foraging for food on the many rusting wrecks around the Farne Islands in Northumberland. Although, after a running joke on last year's trip to Canada, there has been a suggestion from Todd Mintz that it has been eating Cheetos. Thanks to Adam Hanlon for organising this day trip to the Farnes and to Capt. Paul of Farne Island Divers for such a productive day.
May 2010 - 2020VISION Macro Photography
Unusually I am not travelling much until June, so it has given me a chance to get stuck into some British diving and to build up some coverage of the UK's underwater macro life along the south coast. Much of this material is destined for the 2020VISION project. It has been a great spring for nudibranchs and I have also worked with a range of fabulous subjects such as sticklebacks, pipefish, cowries, crabs, and the scorpionfish, see here. Predominantly I have shot with single strobe, fitted with a snoot (to restrict the coverage of the beam). Snoots are popular for creating spotlight effects, like the scorpionfish here, but they are perhaps more powerful when used subtly to create very precise lighting, and almost no backscatter despite very low visibility. Thanks to various buddies too may to list. You can see a gallery of these images here.
May 2010 - Magic Filters in Alert Diver
If you are interested in underwater photography I strongly recommend downloading the current Spring 2010 issue of DAN's Alter Diver (North American Edition), which has an excellent article called Pushing The Envelope on new techniques in underwater photography by Berkley White, Eric Cheng and me. Berkley covers super macro, Eric covers Inon's fisheye relay lens and I discuss shooting available light with filters. In fact the whole magazine is well worth a read and I must congratulate Stephen Frink and Keith Philips on producing such a quality magazine. I also have a mini-article on off camera strobes as the final frame at the back of the mag. There is a page turning online version of the magazine available free here.
April 2010 - 2020VISION Kicks Off
2020VISION is not supposed to start until the autumn, but the team got together for a meeting in Edinburgh, which left all of us very enthused. Peter Cairns gave a fabulous presentation about the event at the IUCN UK meeting getting the message out that this project is not about photography: it is all about communication, it is about getting people like Steve the plumber to understand the value of Britain's wild places. As photographers we will be trying our best to produce images that promote this message. There are a great bunch of people involved and the project is still looking for partners, so if you work in a company or organisation that would like to get involved, please contact me, or any of the 2020V team. We'd love to talk to you. To find out more about the project you can download this PDF.
April 2010 - Cover: DIVE Magazine
I am please to say that my photograph of a diver and cuttlefish is on the cover of this month's DIVE magazine. It is my first diving magazine cover with a British underwater photo. The picture was taken at Babbacombe in Devon, last spring, and was unplanned. I had gone there to photograph cuttlefish mating, but a thick soup of phytoplankton below 5m made photography impossible. So we stayed in the shallows and luckily found this lone cuttlefish and thanks to Dan Bolt's posing I was able to produce a whole series of images like this. Anyway, getting this image on the cover was a bit of a cheat as there can't be a better way to make the case for your image than writing an article on how to shoot a covershot, listing all the virtues displayed by your image! Actually the article points out plenty of points that this image doesn't demonstrate, and Simon, the editor, always made it clear that it wouldn't necessarily make the cover if there was a better shot this month. Anyway, I think it is a good column this month, so check it out in the latest DIVE!
April 2010 - 3 Awards at Asferico 2010
I am pleased to announce that I picked up three awards in the Underwater Category of the Asferico 2010 international nature photography competition based in Italy. I am particularly pleased as two of the images were taken in Europe and one of them was taken in the UK. Not exotic travel required. Also it is rare that the UK's murky waters produce images that can compete at this level. The volcano in Iceland stopped me being able to attend the award ceremony and photo festival. When I look at the galleries of the other winning images it is certain very gratifying to be part of such a fabulous collection. All the winning and commended entries will be reproduced in a book of the competition, which I can't wait to see. You can see the online gallery of winners here.
April 2010 - New project 2020VISION
I am very proud to be part of a team, which includes 20 of Britain's top nature and landscape photographers, for the forthcoming 2020VISION nature and conservation photographic project. 2020VISION is a multimedia project broadcasting the connection between human wellbeing: physical, economic and spiritual, and healthy ecosystems. It is a vision of a wilder Britain where it is recognised that healthy ecosystems are actually good for us too. 2020VISION will inspire, inform and motivate. It's message is simple: if we want to take care of ourselves and our families, we must first take care of the eco-system services provided by the wild places that we take for granted and abuse at our peril. 2020VISION launches this month, you will hear a lot more about it from now on. The list of photographers reads like a who's who of British nature photography promising that 2020V. Join up on Facebook to follow the project.
March 2010 - Wild Planet Book
On my return from Australia I was excited to see the new Wild Planet book waiting for me. This beautiful new book includes 80 specially selected photographs from Wildlife Photographer of the Year, with extended captions that explain where and how each image was taken. The images include previous winning entries and other highly commended photographs and they feature a wide range of natural subjects, from vivid scenes of animal behaviour to breathtaking landscapes, that show just how wonderful, dramatic and awe-inspiring wildlife on Earth is. The book is excellent value, costing just £15. You can order a copy here. The book ties in with the major new touring exhibition (see below) which also showcases these images. This outdoor exhibition will tour major cities in the UK, and is currently on Brighton seafront.
March 2010 - How To Win UW Photo Competitions
Each year I am asked to judge many underwater photography competitions. I don't say yes to them all, but I still end up doing a lot of judging (at least 10 national or international ones in 2009). And unlike many of the people I judge alongside, I still enter competitions (not the same ones, obviously), which I believe gives me an interesting perspective on the issue. So, for my PhotoPro column in the February edition ofDIVE Magazine I decided to write an article with my top 10 tips for success. The article of focused on the British Underwater Image Festival, but it relevant to all underwater photography competitions. The article is no online on the DIVE website and is well worth a read if competitions are you thing. You can see it here.
March 2010 - Back from Australia
In late February and on into March I travelled to Australia to photograph the rich and diverse marine life found in Australia's temperate waters - The Kingdom Of The Seadragon. I travelled with underwater photographer Shannon Conway and we also enjoyed meeting and benefitted hugely from the local knowledge of many Australia underwater photographers. This three week trip focused on three areas: 1. New South Wales, particularly Sydney area. 2. Victoria, specifically the Mornington Peninsular, SE of Melbourne. 3. Tasmania, specifically the Tasman peninsular on the east coast. It was a diverse and hugely productive trip, which is impossible to summarise in a few lines here. The photo (left) shows a draughtboard shark swimming through a forest of giant kelp in Tasmania. You can read more about each section of the trip on the gallery pages of this website.
March 2010 - Nauticam Review on Wetpixel
If you are interested in underwater photography, you would have had to have been living under a rock not to have heard of Nauticam. Nauticam is a new line of underwater housings with a winning combination of build quality, design innovation, ergonomics and price, which immediately mark them out as a major player in the housings market. I am grateful to Edward Lai at Nauticam, Alex Tattersall at Underwater Visions (Nauticam UK) and Peter Mooney at Scubapix (Nauticam Australia) for arranging for me to try their D700 housing on my trip to Australia and to put together the first detailed and critical review of what this new system is really like underwater. You can read the review on Wetpixel.com. The review concludes that across its range Nauticam has set a new standard for high quality and innovations at an affordable price. It has thrown down the gauntlet to other manufacturers to match it. This can only be good news for all underwater photographers, whether we become a Nauticam users or not.
March 2010 - Wild Planet Exhibition
I am excited to be one of the photographers involved in the new Wild Planet exhibition, which celebrates some of the most memorable images from the Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Competitions. And better still the exhibition is free and will be touring cities across the UK. It will be a wonderful showcase for both the natural world and wildlife photography, allowing it to reach a massive audience. Wildlife expert Chris Packham calls it The greatest photographic celebration of life ever assembled. Wild Planet opens on 12 March 2010 on Brighton seafront, travelling to other UK cities after September 2010. I'll reveal more about my contribution when the exhibition opens and also about the book that accompanies the tour.
February 2010 - Join us in Alaska
In June 2011, Eric Cheng and myself are leading a Wetpixel photographic exhibition to the virgin diving territory of Alaska. This 13 day diving expedition starts in Sitka and ends in Ketchikan. The trip offers some fantastic and unusual photographic subjects including underwater kelp forests, white plume anemone forests, Steller's sea lions, rockfish, anemones, crabs, shrimp, amphipods, ratfish, and much more. Reef walls are nearly 100% covered in bright orange, red and yellow invertebrates! And between the dives there is the chance to enjoy and photograph the fabulous Alaskan topside scenery. This trip is filling fast, so if you are interested in joining us in the fantastic destination, please have a look at the Wetpixel Travel section.
February 2010 - Diving Brighton Sealife Centre
In February I headed back to the , the world's oldest operating aquarium to dive with sharks, turtles and more. Brighton, on the south coast of England, has a famous history in underwater photography, but it is not a location where you expect to find a tropical shark dive! But I was excited to join my friends Rob and Jonny, who run the Brighton Shark Dive, and try and improve on the images I took on my last visit. It is a great fun dive, however it is quite a photographic challenge because the aquarium does not allow you to use flash or strobes for lighting. But having learned a lot on my last visit I was keen to return and was pleased with what I produced. It is also great fun diving with sharks, turtles and tropical marine fish on the south coast of England. The dive costs from £80, with £60 of this being donated to the TAMAR Project and Shark Trust charities. I hope to have a gallery of these images up soon here.
February 2010 - OWU/WP/DPG Photo Competition Winners
I am very excited to announce the winners of the 5th Annual Our World Underwater International Photographic Competition, hosted by Wetpixel and Dive Photo Guide. I have been a judge of this competition since it launched and it has become widely recognised as the showcase for the finest underwater photographs of any competition. This year was no acceptation, with Spain's David Barrio collecting the award of Best In Show, for the image shown here. But please look through all the winning and commending images as they are all fabulous. You can see the winners here. I judged the still images alongside Eric Cheng, David Doubilet, Ric Frazier and Berkley White. Also check out the interview I made with David Barrio in October, while I was in the Canary Islands, where you will see that this major award could not have gone to a nicer chap!
February 2010 - Back from the manatees
At the beginning of February I travelled to Florida for a week to lead a manatee trip for Divequest. This year has been a record cold winter in Florida, which meant that the springs were packed with more manatees than we could count each time we visited. In short it was a fantastic trip. We went out to the springs with Birds Underwater, who were excellent in every respect and I thoroughly recommend them if you are planning your own trip. However, I am planning on running this trip again in 2011, so if you are interested get in touch with me or Divequest. As well as photographing the manatees in Crystal River, we also photographed in Rainbow River, with its clear waters and lush vegetation. At both locations there is a wealth of photographic opportunity for shallow water wide angle photography, reflections, split levels and Snell's window images. But there is no doubt who the stars of the show are, the manatees. Manatees offer a really unique underwater encounter, they remember you and will come up and nudge you for another tummy rub. It makes diving with them thoroughly rewarding and completely addictive. A big thank you to Valerie Reid for the photo of me and a manatee (left). You can see a gallery of these images here.
February 2010 - The Underwater Photographer Published
I am excited to say that one of the most eagerly awaited publications in underwater photography is out this month. Martin Edge's encyclopaedic guide to imaging beneath the waves, The Underwater Photographer is published. Martin is widely regarded as the world's finest teacher of underwater photography and he has poured all his knowledge into this book. I can't wait to read it. I interviewed Martin recently for my A Conversation With series, where he talked about it, saying "We cover all the big topics, but it is also packed full of little tips and tricks that I do all the time, almost sub-consciously, that I have never written or seen anyone else mention. I actually carried a pen and piece of paper with me twenty-four-seven for the last year, and every time something came into my head about underwater photography I wrote it down. I am sure that everything I know, can think of and do is in this bloody book! And it is going to be a big book." There is also a short chapter in the book that I have written, on the subject of developing a photographic style or vision. It is a very different type of chapter, but hopefully people find it thought provoking and useful. I will update this entry when I get my copy of the book and pass on a few of my impressions.
January 2010 - Happy Birthday PhotoPro
PhotoPro is one year old this month, celebrated by a special double length column in the February edition of DIVE Magazine on the subject on succeeding in competitions. And strangely I feel as thought I have just started, I have so much planned for the coming year. I think that the first year has laid a good foundation for the future. We have covered a variety of in water techniques and discussed some of the innovative techniques I have been trying. I have also talked about post processing and introduced the opinions and advice of other photographers, such as Peter Scoones and Peter Rowlands. UK diving has also featured prominently, this was important to me because I know that previous Photo columns in British dive magazines had focussed overseas. Encouraged by the column, I have greatly enjoyed diving in the UK. My favourite column was the British Seahorse Photography edition, dealing with an unusual and important issue and being able to pass on advice and information direct from Natural England, the Seahorse Trust and seahorse researchers. You can read older columns, and much more, in the Writing section of this website.
January 2010 - Back from Cayman Photo Workshops
I am back from Digital Madness, my Cayman underwater photography workshops on the theme of understanding and controlling light underwater that I run from Ocean Frontiers at the East End of Grand Cayman. As in 2009 I ran two back to back and they really provided a great chance for all to produce some excellent images and improve on those underwater photography skills. This year we really worked on concentrating on the quality of light on subjects as well as the quantity, while shooting CFWA on the reefs, wide angle in the caverns, stingrays, sharks and macro too. I learned plenty, tried lots of new ideas and kit. I am pleased to report that my new remote strobe sensors worked very well and I am excited by the image possibilities. Both groups has a chance to use them too, with one of the model setups we worked in the caverns. Some of the other kit tests were equally exciting, but I am not ready to write about them yet! You can see a gallery of my photographs here. Anyway, I am planning to run the workshop again in 2011, if you are interested in coming please get in touch.
January 2010 - Sharks In Danger Exhibition, Spain
I was proud to be a part of the select exhibition and charity auction of shark photographs Sharks In Danger, organised by underwater photographer Jordi Chias, that took place at the Dive Travel Show in Madrid. Ten leading underwater photographers, including Manu Sanfelix, Felipe Barrio, Brian Skerry, Tom Peschak and Laurent Ballesta donated their shark photographs, which were displayed during the show and auctioned off in support of shark conservation NGO OCEANA. I contributed a copy of my well known image, Lone Shark, showing a single Caribbean reef shark swimming over sand. I was particularly pleased to be involved in an event like this with Spanish photographers, as Spain's fishing fleet is one of the largest in Europe and is heavily involved in shark fishing. You can see some photos of the event and a write up here.
December 2009 - Hanifaru Mega Manta trip
In August I have been asked to lead a very special photo trip. Earlier this year, National Geographic magazine ran a story about a new discovery: the world's most incredible manta dive. This trip aims to experience it. The trip costs £1995 pp, full board, London-London. The trip has been precisely scheduled to coincide with the peak of this aggregation, going at the same (lunar) time as Tom Peschak, who photographed the event for Nat Geo, visited the site in 2008 and 2009. The site reliably attracts large numbers of mantas, but our trip aims to experience the mega-aggregation where up to 200 manta rays are feeding simultaneously is the small lagoon. It is also common for multiple whale sharks to join the melee. Note that my manta photo here is from the Maldives, but not from Hanifaru. To get a idea of what to expect at Hanifaru check out this video of Tom talking about his shoot for Nat Geo. This trip is already open for bookings and will be advertised widely after the Christmas break, so if your are interested please get in touch soon. If you have been a good boy or girl in 2009, you know you deserve it!
December 2009 - Seasons Greetings
This is just a post to wish you all Seasons Greetings, a Merry Christmas and a happy 2010. The Christmas break is traditionally a time to reflect on the year and make plans for the next. 2009 has been an exciting year for me, armed with a new camera, the Nikon D700, I have travelled widely and photographed many subjects new to me. Here is a gallery of some of the images I have shot with the D700 in its first year of service. I am very excited about my current portfolio and only have a few more boxes to tick before I am ready to move forward with my next book project. Another big difference in 2009 was it was the first year where I clocked up a good number of British dives, and I was proud to win the Coast and Marine category in the British Wildlife Photography Awards, in my first serious year of British diving. On the writing side, I was also pleased to complete my first 12 instalments of my PhotoPro column for Dive Magazine, the first 5 articles in my A Conversation With series and wrote the Chapter on underwater photography for The Diving Almanac. With many plans already in place for 2010, it looks like being even more exciting. But more about that next year! Finally, I have some great photo trips and workshops lined up for 2010, hopefully you will be joining me on one of them. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
December 2009 - PhotoPro 1 Year Old
I am very proud that the first twelve instalments of my column PhotoPro have been published in DIVE Magazine. It is great to have got the first year under my belt. The magazine tells me that the feedback from readers has been very positive and I am happy that I have managed to cover such a diversity of topics. We have discussed everything from backscatter removal in Photoshop to what the protected status of British seahorses means for underwater photographers. I am also pleased that I have incorporated opinions other than my own into the column, with quotes and advice from the likes of Peter Scoones and Peter Rowlands as well as several others featuring. The column has also given British diving its fair share of coverage, with a quarter of the columns being focused on the UK. If you miss an issue, you can always catch up with the column here on my website. Hopefully PhotoPro will run for many more years.
December 2009 - Scuba Santas
I recently took part in one of the most unusual dives I have done for a while, the Scuba Santas World record dive, when on the 20th December in a chilly quarry in England, 153 of us dressed as Santa and dived at the same time. It really was a surreal experience, all these folks dressed up and bearded swimming about the place. The event was co-ordinated by the good guys and gals of Yorkshire Divers and has so far raised over £7000, and counting, for the RNLI. The link above has details for donations. Myself and Eleonora shot a load of pictures of the event and I will get a gallery of them up on line, when I have a chance. The timing wasn't the best with so much else going on in the run up to Christmas. I promise the images will be up as soon as possible! More in Dive Magazine.
December 2009 - Prints for Christmas
Christmas is often a busy time for dealing with orders for my fine art prints. If you are considering ordering a print this year please let us know as early as possible as orders often take a few days to turn around because myself or Gerry (my printer) are often busy with other projects. This is especially true for any non-standard orders, like the one shown in the image, which have to be out sourced for printing. I do not usually print many of my own photographs, so I actually get quite a buzz from seeing these orders, with my pictures reproduced really large or on unusual materials. For more info on fine art prints, click here.
December 2009 - Photo Workshops 2010
I am excited to announce two underwater photography workshops for the summer of 2010. First in June I am running my popular Red Sea Workshop, where we focus on wrecks, reefs and the schools of fish that gather at Ras Mohammed at that time of year. The trip is specifically timed to catch the schooling bohar snappers, which come there to spawn. Trip dates 27th June to 4th July 2010. £1125. All in London to London. The second event is the second Nordic photoworkshop in Gulen in Norway, photographing the rich macro life, spectacular scenery and historic shipwrecks found there. This is some of the most spectacular diving found anywhere, but note that it is cold water diving, although not that cold in September. Trip dates: 21st September to 26th September 2010, I don't have the actual price yet. Both trips are already filling, so if you are interested please contact me soon. I will post more information on my Workshops page, but please do not wait for that, before contacting me.
December 2009 - Cover: Photographer magazine
I am pleased to say that my photo is on the cover of a very special edition of Photographer Magazine, which is billed as the best underwater photographers in the world. And from what I have seen (online) it must be one of the strongest collections of underwater images ever published. There are contributions from Doug Perrine, Amos Nachoum, Paul Nicklen, Brandon Cole, Mark Conlin and many more. Doug Perrine's false killer whale image is amazing. When the magazine finally drops through my letterbox I'll update this news item with a bit more detail. From what I have seen so far, I really can't wait. After some fairly disappointing collections of underwater images in the major competitions this year, I think I have found where all the best pictures have been hiding.
December 2009 - Cover: Wildlife Watch
Wildlife Watch is a wildlife magazine for kids produced by the British Wildlife Trusts. This month one of my seals is on the cover and several more are inside illustrating an article by TV presented Tooni Mahto. Until the last couple of years I had never shot much in the UK, but one of the gratifying consequences of building up a British portfolio is being able to contribute to the conservation of British marine life. For those interested in learning more about the living seas of the British Isles should download this PDF, which is illustrated with photos from many of my friends. Wildlife Watch is actually a cracking little magazine and well worth a look for children of all ages.
November 2009 - Bite Back Calendar 2010
Bite-Back, the UK based shark and marine conservation organisation has just launched its 2010 calendar and I am happy to say that I was one of the 12 photographer's who donated an image and commentary for it. Bite-Back campaigns against over-fishing and has a fantastic track record in persuading retailers to stop selling threatened fish species. Congratulations to Graham, Suzanne and all the bite-back team on all their work on their campaigns. I can't find a full list of photographers but according to the website it includes Doug Perrine, Alex Mustard, David Doubilet, Brian Skerry, Amos Nachoum and Michael Aw, so some fairly decent snappers. I am not sure how much credit I can take for my contribution because it is title Turtle Self Portrait, as it looks as though the turtle is reaching around the camera and photographing himself.
November 2009 - A Conversation With
I am pleased to announce that I have embarked on a new series of articles that will be published on Wetpixel.com and in Underwater Photography Magazine, and once a few more instalments have been published I will reproduce them here on this website too. The aim of this series is to share conversations that I have with other underwater photographers on my travels. Most conversations will revolve around the techniques of underwater photography and I hope that the series provides a chance to present ideas on how to improve your photography in a different way. I know that these conversations continue to help me improve my shooting. The series kicks off with Todd Mintz and Rand McMeins, and was followed up with Martin Edge. Coming soon are the Spanish Fotosub photographers David Barrio, Carlos Villoch, Carlos Suarez and Arturo Boyra, followed by CMAS World Champion Espen Rekdal and then grand master Kurt Amsler. I am pleased with the way the series is progressing as all these should be out by the end of the year. And if you bump into me on my travels be warned, I now carry a dictaphone.
November 2009 - Back from El Hierro, Canary Islands
In the second half of October I travelled back to the Canary Islands to El Hierro the furthest out into the Atlantic. I was there to act as a judge for the long running Open Fotosub El Hierro. El Hierro is much less developed than other areas of the Canaries and the diving is distinct too. We dived on massive rock pinnacles and also on rocky areas along the coast. The gallery from my two Canaries trips is combined and I shot a wide range of subjects from maro critters like seahorses and eels as well as shooting wide angle of wrecks, rock formations and shallow water features. I also photographed a variety of groupers (including some being shadowed by trumpet fish, which hide next to the grouper to sneak up on small fish), the beautiful Canary parrotfish and also angel sharks. I enjoyed experimenting further with techniques such as shallow depth of field and backlighting. I also took quite a few black and white images and even photographed the tourist yellow submarine. You can see a gallery of these images here.
November 2009 - Visions in the Sea 09
I am rather proud of the fact that I am one of only a few people who have attended all the Visions In The Sea underwater photography conferences, hosted by Ocean Optics and in the case of the most recent event Orca Divers, that have taken place in the UK over the last decade or so. This year's event was the first held outside London and had a strong line up of speakers including Cathy Church, Martin Edge, Charlie Hood, Jukka Nurminen and Peter Scoones. My presentation was on Mastering Your Strobes. The event also included a Charity Dinner for the Shark Trust, which including the auction of prints (my leafy seadragon portrait raised £370), which raised £2000 for the Charity. A highly enjoyable event for all.
October 2009 - New Image Galleries
I am pleased to say that I have finally caught up with the image galleries on this website and I am back up to date. I have introduced a new gallery format because the previous embedded galleries were not always the most popular. Also I have updated my 100 image portfolio, which is a collection of some of my favourite images, which I hope gives a flavour of the range and style of my photographic work. Many of the galleries are password protected to help keep the images fresh for publication. People email me all the time to access these hidden galleries, please get in touch if you want to see them, just specify which you are interested in. If I am online I will send you directions by return. Hope you enjoy looking at my photographs.
October 2009 - Cover: Dykking Norway
I am pleased to announce that one of my pictures of the german Second World War wreck, the Frankenwald in Norway, is on the cover of this months Dykking Magazine. The wreck was recently voted the best wreck dive in Scandinavia by the readers of the magazine. I took the picture during the 2009 Nordic Underwater Photo Workshop, which I led at Gulen Dive Resort not far from Bergen. I was actually recovering from a bad back at the time of the event, so I only managed four dives, but was very pleased with the images that these produced, including this one. I cant wait to get back and get a lot more from this productive destination, the Nordic Photo Workshop 2010 is planned for September, but I might have to go before then. This image was taken with my D700 at ISO 800, which on that camera has fantastic image quality. The D700 is widely regarded as having the cleanest high ISO performance on the market at the moment. My D2X would not have been able to produce a useable image in these conditions.
October 2009 - Holland Workshop Aug 2010
HURRY, ALMOST FULL. In August next year I am running a short workshop in Zeeland in Holland. The event is aimed primarily at underwater photographers from Holland and Belgium, but the teaching will be in English and it is open to all. The diving is fairly similar to British waters, but I expect enough differences from the photos I have seen, to give it a unique feel. The area is well worth a visit from the UK. I am yet to dive there. We will be diving from the liveaboard Panda and the trip is being organised by Marine Expedition Services. The workshop will focus on lighting in both macro and shallow water wide angle photography. At the moment the information PDF is in dutch or flemish (I cannot tell) only, but I will add a link to the English PDF once it is done. I will also post a price once I have it. Workshop only has a couple of spaces left.
October 2009 - Back from Fotosub Gran Canaria
At the beginning of October I travelled to the Canary Islands to act as a judge for the 5th Fotosub Gran Canaria, Costa Mogan. I give this event the nickname of the Mogan Masters because it is an invitational event, where only the best underwater photographers from Europe are invited to compete. The standard of entries was very high and it was a pleasure and a challenge to judge. It was also a great occassion to talk underwater photography and made interview number three, with some of the spanish photographers, for my new series of articles A Conversation With, that are published on Wetpixel and in UWP Magazine. In the future I am sure that I will reproduce them on amustard.com too. While I was at the event I posted some live coverage from the event on the Wetpixel forums, the results are now there too. Congratulations to David Barrio. This was actually my first of two visits to the Canary Islands this October, at the end of the month I am traveling to El Hierro, more about that later. You can see a gallery of these images here.
September 2009 - British Wildlife Photography Awards
In am proud to announce that I was named the winner of the Coast and Marine category of the British Wildlife Photography Awards, a new nature photography competition aimed at showcasing the wildlife of Britain. My winning photograph was of a grey seal lounging in seaweeds was taken during my May trip to Lundy off the north Devon coast. The image was taken with my Nikon D700, Subal housing, Sigma 15mm FE, 2x Inon Z240 strobes. 1/160th @ f/13, ISO 800. The image will now form part of a touring exhibition around the UK, and will also include another of my images of a tompot blenny. The winners from this competition, including my seal, have been featured in many of the UK's newspapers, including the Times, Guardian, Mirror and Mail.
September 2009 - Back from France
In late September I travelled to the Etang de Thau in the south of France for a short recce trip to this European macro photography haven with my friend and BSoUP Chairman JP Trenque. The lagoon is shallow, the visibility is low and with no local dive companies, we borrowed cylinders from a local dive club and filled them at the local petrol station (with air). But once underwater we found ourselves in a macro haven with characterful blennies everywhere and seahorses galore. I will certainly go back during the spring to see the different array of creatures that inhabit the lagoon at that time of year. We are very grateful to Helene Caillaud and her friends for their help in getting us underwater and in the right places. The trip was part of my current European Diving Tour as I try and make more use of seas closer to home. This year will see me photograph is the following European countries: England, Scotland, Norway, Italy, Spain and France. And this was actually my second visit to French waters in 2009, having dived the Lavezzi Islands back in August. You can see a gallery of images here.
September 2009 - New Subal Website
Subal, purveyors of fine underwater camera housings and my brand of choice have launched a new website showcasing their products and the work of a few of the photographers who use them. I gave them four images taken with a range of different Subals, ND700, ND2, ND80 and D10, for my portfolio. A list of the great and good who use Subals include Brian Skerry, Cathy Church, Carlos Minguell BaĖos, Howard Hall, Martin Edge, Tom Peschak, Marty Snyderman, Peter Rowlands, Rui Guerra, Tibor Dombovari, Todd Essick, Udo Kefrig, and many others. Check out the new site, but put your credit card out of reach before you do. My current system is a Nikon D700 in a Subal ND700 housing, you can read more on my kit page. You can see the new Subal website here.
September 2009 - Thistlegorm in Scuba Diving Magazine
I am pleased to say that the September issue of Scuba Diving Magazine in the US has published a collection of my photos of the Red Sea wreck the Thistlegorm. Although my images are regularly published in North American diving magazines, this is the first time my images have been used to illustrate an entire article. I was particularly pleased that they chose to use several images that used ore creative techniques, for example a couple of the images that were lit with remote strobes, which is a technique I have been working on through this summer. One image was also my longest ever underwater exposure to be published, the shutter was open for 8 seconds. The 8 page article is called Full Penetration and was written by Travis Marshall.
September 2009 - Back from Vancouver Island, Canada
In early September I travelled to Canada to dive in Port Hardy at the northern end of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. This was my second trip to the area, and since the first one I have been boring everyone about how amazing the diving was. Having hyped it up so much, I was expecting to be a bit disappointed on my return, but Browning Pass was even more amazing than I remembered it. Marine life plasters every surface with fascinating creatures everywhere and colourful scenery than seems more akin to a coral reef than Canadian waters. We were blessed with fantastic weather and I shot a great deal of wide angle during the week. I am travelled with underwater photographers Todd Mintz, Rand McMeins, Jamie Morphy and John Davies. Again we were on the liveaboard Mamro with Capt Dan Ferris although on quite a few evenings we stopped in at John DeBoecks Hideaway to see friends of mine from BUPG and Leamington BSAC. On the way to Port Hardy we also dived in the Comox area of Vancouver Island will Bill Coltart of Pacific Pro Dive. You can see a gallery of images from this trip here.
September 2009 - 50th Issue of UWP Magazine
Congratulations to Peter Rowlands and Underwater Photography Magazine, which has published the 50th issue of its bi-monthly, web-based magazine this month. This is a fantastic achievement for a niche market like underwater photography, especially when you consider that the magazine is free to download. The magazine has a huge following in the underwater photography world. I have been a supporter since the first issue and have written 57 articles to date for the magazine. In the current issue I review MarineLife Keyword List. The cover, this month, is a collection of some of the UWP Mag favourite covers from the past. I am pleased to say that there are seven of my previous covers on the cover. Anyway, congratulations, Peter. The underwater photography world would not be the same without UWP Mag.
September 2009 - Seals in Dive Magazine
I write my PhotoPro column each month for the UK's DIVE Magazine each month and do feature articles every couple of months or so. As a result I don't normally post news items about any of my articles in the diving media. There is a list of them here if you are interested. However I am suitably excited as my first article on UK diving has been published, reporting on diving with the grey seals of Lundy Island off the north Devon coast. Being originally from Devon, I am pleased that my first UK diving piece is from my home county (even if I live closer to Heathrow now). The images shows one of the spreads from the article, of a grey seal resting under a ledge. Check it out if you get the chance.
August 2009 - Back from Northern Tour
In late August I jumped in the VW and drove up to the north of England for a mini dive tour before the summer is over. I combined freshwater photography at the Capernwray inland dive site, shooting more trout and also experimenting with multiple strobe images on some of the underwater attractions, my favourite being the VW beetle. For one shot of the wreck of a small boat I used six strobes and I am very grateful to Adam Hanlon for his help in setting up these complex shots. I plan to feature this shoot in a forthcoming PhotoPro column and I am sure I will also show some in the various talks I have coming up. Next we headed to the very northeast of England, crossing Hadrians Wall and on to the Farne Islands to photograph seals, diving with Paul Walker of Farne Island Divers. I'd learned from my seal photography in Lundy that it is best to make a dedicated photo trip to make the most of these playful pinnipeds and again this strategy really paid off for us. The conditions were better than in Lundy and I was pleased that I filled out my seal portfolio, specifically targeting the gaps I thought I had after Lundy. Images from these shoots can be seen for Capernwray here and the Farnes here.
August 2009 - Back from Sardinia
During the second half of August I travelled to the beautiful island of Sardinia, west of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea. The trip gave me a chance for a variety of underwater photography, including split levels and macro work with my home made ring-flash. I really enjoy photography in the Med, after all it was the birthplace of scuba diving, and the underwater world there is actually quite unlike almost anywhere else I can think of in the oceans, with clear waters, rich seagrass meadows and colourful encrusting life growing on the rocks. There are interesting wrecks too, and we dived on one of my favourites, the KT-12 in Orosei, with Franco from the Orosei Diving Center and Italian underwater photographers Mauro Cabiddu and Davide D'Angelo. I also headed up to the archipelago of La Madellena, diving with Vinny of Nautilus Diving Center and even dived one day with the fabulous groupers of Lavezzi Islands, which are actually part of France. Cool to go out diving for the day in another country. Finally we did a bit of diving in the area around Siniscola with Sergio of Astrea Diving Center and also rented tanks to explore on our own. The trip produced a diverse portfolio of images, which you can see here. Please note that my laptop died during this trip and I lost 3 days of email between 12-15th August, please send your message again if you have not received a reply.
August 2009 - Join me and manatees, Feb 2010
In early February 2010, I am running a group trip to photograph manatees and a few of the other fresh water critters found in Florida. Manatees are one of the great wildlife subjects and love to interact with you, making photography easy and incredibly rewarding. The aim of this short trip is to maximize our in water time with the manatees and specifically to photograph them in the best light of the day and to give us flexibility to change lenses, memory cards (is yours big enough). We will have our own boat, throughout, and will be working with the most respected operator in the area with decades of experience. We will stay at luxurious Plantation Resort and Spa. This is manatees in style. . The cost is just £696, not including flights. The manatee trip is just a few days after my workshop in Cayman (week 2) and it is easy to combine the two trips. Click here for more information, and please contact Divequest for bookings.
August 2009 - More diving in the UK
With a few weeks in the UK between overseas trips, I have actually managed to squeeze in a handful of UK dives, mainly close to home on the Dorset coast. After a few weeks of typical English summer weather, rain, it has actually brightened up recently and I have been out enjoying good visibility and fine diving conditions. I have mostly been concentrating on shore diving, particularly at Swanage Pier, shooting the tompots (pictured), dragonets, scorpionfish etc. Although I did particularly enjoy accompanying Steve Trewhella on a dive to see some of Englands more elusive creatures. More on that in the future. I even managed to persuade Eleonora to come diving at the Pier and the two of us wore wetsuits, well Scubapro Nova Scotia semidries, and were lovely and warm for our 70 minute dive. You can see a galley of images from Dorset here.
August 2009 - Cover: Blue Magazine
I am pleased to say that I have an article and the cover photo for Blue, the magazine of the Egyptian diving industry, published by the Chamber of Diving and Watersports (CDWS) in Sharm. The CDWS was founded by Egyptian Ministry of Tourism in 2007 with a goal to improve quality, safety and standard of services in the diving and watersports industry, as well as to preserve unique environment of the Red Sea. From what I see they are doing an excellent job and have made some significant improvements to the diving industry in the Red Sea. The magazine is a great place to find out what is hot in the Red Sea and any regular Red Sea visitor should have look. My article is a personal one about my experiences diving with the snappers at Ras Mohammed, down the years, and includes two images taken in the 1990s on film! You can read the magazine for free here.
August 2009 - Magic Filter Four Years Old
I am pleased to announce that not only are Magic Filters now 4 years old, but also the last six months have been some of the most exciting for a while because we have been working on some new products, some of which I was testing on my recent Red Sea trip. The first to appear is a new filter for the Canon 16-35mm Mk2 lens. This is a popular wide angle lens for Canon users, and unusually in the Canon range does not have a rear gel filter holder. So we have released a new filter size, the MC85, which is only available in the original Magic recipe. The big news in the last year for digital SLR cameras is the incorporation of high-definition video on just about every model that has been released. These are exciting times for the underwater shooter with the option of taking both stills and video on the same dive with the same system. Magic Filters work just as well in video mode and are the only underwater filters than will fit on popular wide angle lenses, such as fisheyes, making them ideal for making the most of this capability of the latest cameras. Check out this video shot by Backscatter with a Magic Filter.
August 2009 - Announcing Cayman Workshop Week 2, Jan 2010
The first week of my Grand Cayman workshop for January 2010 filled up very quickly, so I have agreed with Ocean Frontiers to run a second week from 23rd to 31st January 2010. The workshop is limited to 12 photographers and costs $2,175 USD (excluding flights) for 7 nights accommodation at the luxurious Compass Point Resort, workshop, 6 days of diving, social evenings, rental car and high speed Wi-Fi. The Cayman Workshop is focused on Lighting, going back to basic principles and looking at the nature of light sources underwater, and how we different types of light must be controlled and can be exploited in different ways to create stunning underwater images. Cayman provides both wide angle, big animal (sharks and rays) and macro photo opportunities, although much of the focus is on close focus wide angle (reef scenics) and available light photography (stingrays, including black and white). The Cayman workshop includes a pool session, where I can work with everyone 1:1 to demonstrate strobe positioning for wide angle photography. Email me for more information and contact email@example.com for reservations. More.
July 2009 - Interview Outdoor Photography
The UK's Outdoor Photography Magazine has a seven page interview by Heather Gregory and gallery of my photographs in the current August 2009 issue. It was interesting to speak about underwater photography with a landscape and nature photography magazine because the last few years have seen more and more land photographers are bringing their and vision underwater, which is diversifying the type of photos we are seeing to quote myself from the article. I think it is also nice to remind ourselves, as underwater photographers, how lucky we are shooting wildlife that is so accepting of our presence and being free to move in three dimensions. The portfolio includes images taken with Nikon D700, D2X, D80 and D100 cameras.
July 2009 - Back from UK road trip
In early July, my VW and I set off on a road trip to take in some UK diving, starting on the south coast of England, before heading north and finishing at the Scubapro Diving day in Largs in Scotland. En route to Scotland I took in a couple of the UK's favourite spots for underwater photography, including the classic Swanage Pier diving with Tristan Jones, that played such a role in the development of underwater photography in the UK, and also the current beau of many UK snappers, Capernwray inland dive site diving with Adam Hanlon, which has arguably the most reliable underwater visibility in the country. Frustrating poor visibility in Scotland from a plankton bloom reduced my possibilities there, but I was greeted with excellent conditions in both Capernwray and Swanage Pier. You can see a gallery of images here.
July 2009 - Photo Pro, 6 months in
My new column in DIVE Magazine celebrated its half year birthday in the July issue of the magazine, with the sixth installment covering capturing sunbursts on digital. The aim of the column is to help readers improve their underwater pictures, while remaining readable by all. I hope it has avoided becoming a techfest, yet remains packed with useful information on what makes the difference between average and memorable photos. I also want the column to be reasonably wide ranging, sometimes dealing with a specific subject, technique or accessory, while on other occasions discussing wider issues relating to underwater photography. I am also keen to get other voices and opinions into the column, so far Peter Scoones has contributed. I know that the Magazine has received lots of positive feedback about the column, thank you, if you have a moment please drop them or me a line to let us know what you like and what you would like to see covered in the future. Two to three months after publication, DIVE Magazine reproduce the columns on their website and I will also reproduce them in the PhotoPro section of this website .
July 2009 - Back from Egypt
At the end of June I travelled to the Red Sea for two weeks on MV WhirlWind, sampling the classic liveaboard diving out of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt. The first week of the trip was a week with friends from the British Society Of Underwater Photographers where I shot stock and also successfully tested a new product we are considering for Magic Filters. On the second week of the trip, I ran my Red Sea Underwater Photography workshop and was joined by 19 photographers from around the world. Both weeks were excellent and some stunners were produced. While in Sharm El Sheikh I also gave a presentation of my underwater photographs at the famous Camel Bar. You can see a gallery of topside images from the workshop here on Facebook and a gallery of my underwater images here.
June 2009 - Back from Norway
At the beginning of June I travelled to Norway to lead the Nordic Underwater Photo Event 2009, organised by Sea Safaris. My co-hosts for the event were Christian Skauge, Ingvar Eliasson and Lars Stenholt Kirkegaard. We were also joined by Jesper Kjoller, editor of DYK Magazine who gave a talk on shooting for publication. The event was based at the excellent Gulen Dive Resort, who ensured we had a great stay and even better diving on the local reefs and historic wrecks. A big thank you to all who came along and made this such a fun event. You can see some topside images from the workshop here, and a gallery of my underwater images here, although I did not dive that much as I was still recovering from hurting my back in the Bahamas.
June 2009 - Cover: DIVE Magazine
I am pleased to announce that one of my photographs from the Cayman Islands in featured on the cover of the June 2009 Issue of the UKs DIVE Magazine. The image showing a diver photographing a yellow tube sponge was taken with D2X + 12-24mm on the North Wall of Grand Cayman. I like to show divers doing things in my photographs, rather than just appearing as a silhouette in the background because I feel it helps the story of the image. The issue also has the fifth installment of my PhotoPro column, this month discussing the challenges of photography inside the holds of the iconic Thistlegorm wreck in the Red Sea.
May 2009 - Back from the Bahamas
In mid May I travelled to Florida and on to the eastern Bahamas to photograph Oceanic Whitetip Sharks on the Wetpixel and Jim Abernethy Scuba Adventures charter. You can read an informal diary of the trip on the Shear Water here. Before joining the boat I was also able to spend some time photographing the critters at Blue Heron Bridge in the Florida, and you can see a gallery of the critter images and see a video of me on the dive here. The liveaboard also gave me a chance to photograph the swimming pigs of the Exumas, which was a lot of fun, but the main aim was to create a portfolio of Oceanic Whitetip images, which you can see in a gallery here. The weather was not kind, but that did not stop the sharks turning out in large numbers and providing plenty of opportunities for photography. All in all, it was a great trip and many thanks to all on board.
May 2009 - European Maritime Day Exhibition
The European Union used a exhibition of 14 of my underwater photographs as a backdrop to the Conference in Rome for the European Martime Day on the 20th May. The European Maritime Day shows the importance of the sea and oceans for everyday life, both in coastal communities and across Europe as a whole. It also highlights the opportunities and the challenges currently facing maritime regions and sectors: from tourism and fisheries to maritime transport and climate change. Keynote speakers at the event included Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso.
May 2009 - Underwater Studio Shoot
I have long wanted to do an underwater shoot in the controlled conditions of an underwater studio pool and that dream became a reality on a recent trip to the USA, where I was able to join a shoot organised by my friend Jeff Hartog. Pool photography gives you a level of control that is not possible in wildlife photography and the ability to control light in such detail makes it a fascinating process. Shoots like this do not happen without a lot of hard work from a lot of people. I would particularly like to thank Barbee Cain, the make up artist, and the two models Elizabeth and Jamie for working so hard for our images. You can see a gallery of the photographs here.
May 2009 - Back from Lundy
Having taken a bit of break from dive travel, after squeezing in over 100 dives in January and February, I decided to get back to things with a two day trip to Lundy, off the North Devon coast in the UK, to photograph grey seals. The weather was not ideal, but the storms actually acted to concentrate Lundy's seals into the sheltered bays on the lee side of the island and we enjoyed productive and fun encounters. I was joined on this trip by fellow underwater photographers JP Trenque, Dan Bolt and Dan Hopkins and we travelled to Lundy on the Jessica Hettie, operated by Clovelly Charters. Although the conditions were far from perfect the seals more than made up for it and I was able to produce an exciting portfolio of images. You can see a gallery of my grey seal images here.
May 2009 - Announcing Cayman Workshop Jan 2010
I know that 2010 feels a long time away, but it is time to start reserving space in your diaries for my Grand Cayman Workshop between 16th and 23rd January 2010 at Ocean Frontiers, East End, Grand Cayman. THe workshop is themed on lighting: “Understanding, capturing and controlling both strobe and available light underwater” and is limited to 12 photographers. We will dive on Grand Cayman s dramatic walls, the East End s atmospheric caverns, fishy shallow reefs and at Stingray City. There will be the traditional dawn stingray shoot to photograph the unique stingray schooling behaviour in the perfect light for both colour and black and white images. We will also aim for encounters with larger creatures such as turtles, tarpon and reef sharks. The small group size provides plenty of time for image critique and the event also includes a 1:1 pool session to refine wide angle lighting. The workshop costs $2,175 USD (excluding flights) for 7 nights accommodation at the luxurious Compass Point Resort, workshop, 6 days of diving, social evenings, rental car and high speed Wi-Fi. You can see a gallery of the participants images here, and read more info here. This trip is open for reservations contact Lesley@oceanfrontiers.com to reserve your place.
May 2009 - Shark Greetings Cards
For when a shark says it best. I am pleased to see that the new collection of Wildlife Photographer Of The Year greetings cards are now available in the UK shops. The series includes one card with my black and white photograph entitled Lone Shark, which was highly commended in the 2007 edition of the competition. The photograph was taken at Walkers Cay in the Bahamas on the 2005 Wetpixel shark trip on Jim Abernethys Shear Water. The cards are produced by The Art Group for the Natural History Museum and are available at selected high street shops across the UK. I am waiting for the fist person to send me one!
May 2009 - Scubapro UWATEC Diving Days
I am pleased to announce my involvement in the SCUBAPRO UWATEC Days 2009. The first is at Wittering Divers, West Sussex on the 6/7 June 2009 and the second is 11/12 July at Largs, Ayrshire, Scotland. My role will be to run some photo clinics and help people out with their underwater photography. The days are designed for you to come along and try new gear on an actual dive, learn about new products, and have fun with us. The boat dives are free, but they are short to allow as many people as possible to try different gear through the day. A Scubapro Uwatec Day is much more than just an opportunity to test new gear in an actual dive and to discover new details about our products during the technical briefings that are held before the dive. This is a moment where the company staff and the divers can meet, exchange information and, most of all, share their passion for diving not just by diving but also having fun together on land: a real occasion to celebrate scuba diving. For those not in the UK, there are Scubapro days running across Europe, I am hoping to make a few next year.
May 2009 - Cooliris 3D Wall Portfolio
I know that the slideshow galleries on my website can be a little frustrating, I use that software because it does not allow people to right click and easily download my images. The key is to run them as slide shows, rather than trying to browse the tiny thumbnails. Anyway I am experimenting with creating galleries that are viewable with the Cooliris 3D Wall free plug-in for web browsers. This software opens the gallery is full screen, infinite, controllable wall of images. At present the files are slightly small and pixelate slightly when enlarged to the full screen and I have only installed this gallery for my portfolio. If you use Cooliris, please take a look at the gallery and tell me whether you like it in this format. With positive feedback I will add more galleries in this format in the future and when I update my portfolio in a few months (I have some many new images I am excited by) I will use appropriately sized images.
April 2009 - Membership of the Ocean Artists Society
I am proud to announce that I am one of the 2009 inductees to the Ocean Artists Society, a group of distinguished painters, sculptors, photographers, filmmakers, and writers coming together to use ocean art to inspire people around the world to a greater awareness of our need to protect and preserve our natural world. The Society provides a platform for participating members to reach ever larger audiences through group participation at dive show events, art shows, as well as various print publications. As artists of the sea it is our responsibility to protect what we love by sharing the beauty of the oceans with others. The Society now has 114 members, although as far as I am aware I am the only member from the UK. The Ocean Artists Society was founded by Wyland, Guy Harvey and Bob Talbot.
April 2009 - Fourth Element Brochure
I am pleased to see my black and white photo of a reef shark over ripples featured on the cover the 2009 product catalogue of Fourth Element, the UK based company famed for their technical approach to dive clothing. Many of their products combine thoughtful and stylish design with the latest fabric technologies creating a range that highlights performance, function and innovation in its designs. I am a great fan of all their range and already own most of it. We have been talking about a collaboration for a few years and I am pleased we will be working together in the future (I think that they were just waiting for me to have bought most of their inventory myself). I first got to know Fourth Element through their support of the Our World Underwater Scholarship Society, when I hosted the 2003 Scholar Jade Berman at the National Oceanography Centre. Jade had all this space age dive gear and I was most envious. Fourth Element also supports the Shark Trust and were named Shark Champions by the Charity in 2008. Another reason I am happy to be working with them.
March 2009 - Talks at LIDS
On the weekend of 27th/28th March I will be attending the London International Dive Show 2009 (LIDS) and will be giving two presentations on each day. The first, at 12:30 each day in the Red Sea Zone is on the photographic opportunities in the Red Sea. Other speakers in the Red Sea Zone are John Kean, John Bantin and Ned Middleton. Then at 14:45 each day I am teaming up again with Saeed Rashid and Paul Duxfield to present the Digital Photo Clinic. These photo clinic is always driven by questions from the audience, although we have some new tips and techniques to share, even if you have been before. If you are at the show, come along and say hi. I will probably be hanging out at the BSoUP stand between my presentations (stand 660).
March 2009 - OWU Competition Results
I am very proud to have been a judge of the Wetpixel & DivePhotoGuide international underwater photography & video competition in association with Our World Underwater. each year, since its inception 4 years ago. This year I was joined on the judging panel by David Doubilet, Dietmar Fuchs and Cor Bosman, who had the challenging but enjoyable task of selecting the winners. The competition goes from strength to strength and with near $50,000 in prizes, as well as being open to both amateur and professional photographers is one of the highest standard events in the world. The prize winners in the competition came from over 20 countries. The Best of Show in the stills competition went to Justin Gilligan of Australia, who photo of a Portuguese Man-O-War is shown on the left. You can see the full gallery of winners here, and particularly if you are planning on entering next year, you can read the judges comments here.
March 2009 - Nordic Photo Event 2009
I am excited to announce that I am going to lead the teaching on the Nordic Photo Event 2009, organised by Sea Safaris. My co hosts are Christian Skauge, Ingvar Eliasson and Lars Stenholt Kirkegaard. It will be my first time in Norway, but the rest of the guys are all regular addicts to this destination, which is known as one of the best cold water diving destinations in the world. Note that this means drysuit diving. The workshop will offer a mix of wreck and marine life photography, is limited to 20 and runs from the 2nd June to 7th June, price DKK 7999 (approx 1075 Euros). This is a unique possibility to both try some of Scandinavias top diving, at the best time of year, and to join a workshop with a level of quality that is rarely seen. The event will take place at Gulen Dive Resort north of Bergen on the west coast of Norway. The dive resort is exclusively ours for the duration of the workshop and we have set up a full package for you that includes everything from qualified dive staff, accomodation, food, equipment handling, workshop facilities etc. Click here for more info or download the PDF.
March 2009 - New Images: Raja Ampat
In February and March 2009 I travelled to Raja Ampat in West Papua, Indonesia to lead my Divequest Ultimate Indonesia group trip with Graham Abbott of Diving 4 Images on the Seven Seas Liveaboard. This was a truly exceptional trip and I dived in so many different environments and photographed so many different subjects it seems futile to list them all. The reefs, mangroves and underwater scenery was stunning and the marine life varied from tiny pygmy seahorses to giant black Pacific manta rays. I photographed in Salawati, Kofiau, Nampale (West Misool), many sites in SE Misool, Batanta, Gam, Waigeo and near Kri. The photos from this extensive trip are divided into the Raja Ampat general gallery, which you can see here, and a special gallery dedicated to photography in the mangroves, which you can see here. With so many special images these galleries are currently password protected. Please email me for access.
March 2009 - Diving Almanac 2009
I am excited to announce that I have contributed the chapter on Photography and Video to the 2009 Diving Almanac. The Diving Almanac & Book of Records is the only almanac, yearbook, book of records, and who's who of the international diving community. Undercurrent Magazine describing it as perhaps the best single reference book ever published for divers.. Updated and revised every year, it provides the most up-to-date information on diving demographics, 500 diving records and aquatic superlatives, 600 personalities, history, training, medicine, federations and associations per country, equipment, marine biology, oceanography, world news, magazines, new books and DVDs, dive destinations for over 150 countries and territories, and much more. Over 750 pages of facts, figures, charts and illustrations, including 56 pages in full color, provide readers with a unique international view of diving activities, the diving community, and underwater sciences. No other single volume offers such a wealth of information on as many diving-related subjects. It is exciting to be involved with this project.
February 2009 - New Images: Lembeh Strait
As part of my Ultimate Indonesia trip for Divequest I spend more than a week photographing the weird and wonderful creatures of the Lembeh Strait. Each visit to this unique destination is totally different to the last because different critters are always dominant. The undoubted highlight of this stay was photographing the rarely seen mimic octopus mating. Those who have read Reefs Revealed will know that I am far from convinced by the mimicing stories, but was thrilled to see some true natural behaviour from these charismatic cephalopods, which was only given a name, Thaumoctopus mimicus, by scientists in 2005. The photo above shows the smaller male on top of the female. With the benefit of Lembeh Resort's excellent guides spotting critters for me, I saw and photographed so much more including other exotic cephalpods including the flambouyant cuttlefish, wunderpus octopus, pygmy squid and a wide variety of other invertebrate and vertebrate critters. You can see a gallery of my images from my Lembeh Strait visit here.
February 2009 - New Images: Buyat Bay
New images and a new destination. I was fortunate to be invited by the guys at Lembeh Resort to join them as photographer on an exploratory trip to Buyat Bay, a new diving destination in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Buyat Bay is completely different from Lembeh being typified by clear water and exceptional coral growth. The reefs form steep slopes rather than drop offs so are almost continuous carpets of coral. Table corals and branching corals dominate in the shallows, giving way to lettuce corals and more massive forms with depth. Some colonies are huge, see the photo. Lembeh Resort intend to start taking people to this exciting new destination, which can be easily combined with a trip to Lembeh Strait, very soon. You can see a gallery of my images from Buyat Bay here and can read an introductory article about the destination that I wrote while on location on DivePhotoGuide. Look out for more articles on Buyat Bay.
February 2009 - Cover: DIVE Magazine
I am pleased to say that one of my photographs has been selected for the cover of the March 2009 Issue of the UK's DIVE Magazine. The photo was taken in the Maldives and is also featured in my book The Art Of Diving. It was part of a series on the enjoyment of diving. The issue also contains the second installment of my new column on the techniques of underwater photography: PhotoPro, which this month covers the tips and tricks involved in photographing anemonefish featuring an image of a Red Sea Anemonefish that I took with the Nikon D700 in November. Apologies if the image does not appear it is hot linked from the DIVE Magazine website.
February 2009 - Get a flavour of my photo workshops
Professional (land) photographer Predrag Vuckovic (those in Europe will have seen some of his photographs in the current issue of Nikon Pro) has recently published a short story about what it was like to attend my most recent underwater photography workshop in Grand Cayman. You can read it on his website. And this has prompted me to collect together some of the other various reports, diaries and galleries to give any of you thinking of attending in the future a better idea of what they are like. I usually run two each year, one in January in Grand Cayman and one in the Red Sea in June or sometimes in November. You can see a gallery of participants' underwater photographs from the Cayman workshop here and also see a gallery of Predrag's topside images from the workshop here. You can also see a you can read my diary from my November Red Sea Workshop here and see a gallery of topside photos here. Also look out for a report on the Cayman Workshop by Julian Cohen in issue 47 of Underwater Photography Magazine.
January 2009 - Equipment tests in Grand Cayman
My photo workshop in Grand Cayman allowed me to conduct a number of tests of new kit and self-made equipment I have been working on. A major aim was testing the performance of wide angle rectilinear lenses on FX Nikons, particularly the 17-35mm. I tested it with three different domes, three different extension rings and two dioptres (and no dioptre) at a range of apertures. I also tested my new ring-flash system, see photo left and the flounder, below was taken with it, and wide angle, underwater soft-boxes for my Inons, and strobe snoots complete wuith egg crate inserts. I'll be publishing my findings in a variety of places such as my PhotoPro column in DIVE Magazine, as articles and in the forums in Wetpixel and, of course, in Underwater Photography Magazine (you will have to check out them all as I will write exclusive reports, rather that repeating them in the different media). If I get time I will reproduce some of the reports on my website too.
January 2009 - Back from Cayman Photo Workshops
In the second half of January I escaped the English winter and heading to Grand Cayman to run two digital underwater photography workshops on the subject of Understanding, capturing and controlling underwater light at Ocean Frontiers on the East End. I was joined by an impressively talented group of photographers on each week and I learned lots. I hope that they did too. The workshop lectures covered available light, strobe light and balanced light, looking in detail at each. Topics included lens filters, strobe filters, diffusers and underwater soft boxes, snoots, ring flash, flat versus directional light, sunbursts, blues, complimentary colours, and most importantly how the different characteristics of strobe and ambient light determine the types of subject matter that can be captured effectively in underwater photographs. You can see a gallery of my images (email me for Cayman password) here and a gallery of the participants images here (I have not got everyones images in there yet).
January 2009 - New PhotoPro Column in DIVE Magazine
Starting this month, my new column on the techniques of underwater photography is published in DIVE Magazine, world-wide subscriptions are available. I am really excited to be doing this project and having already written the first four installments, I am looking forward to what people make of them. To give you a flavour, this is the opening paragraph, of what I hope will be a long running series. Welcome. This column is here to help you take better underwater photographs. I hope to build on Duxy’s excellent and enjoyable Snapper School, talking technique for both compacts and SLRs. While this column unashamedly focuses on the methods of underwater photography, I do not intend to make this a tech-fest mired in jargon and camera settings. I would rather share the key aspects of the photographic process that differentiate producing a stunning shot from an average one. I hope my monthly musings will prove pertinent whatever camera system you use.
December 2008 - Merry Christmas and a Happy 2009
Just a quick message to say that I am away in Sardinia over Christmas and back in the UK for New Year's eve. 2008 has been an amazing year and has completely refreshed, refilled and transformed my portfolio since the award winning Reefs Revealed was published. Next year looks very exciting too, but more about that soon. Merry Christmas everyone!
December 2008 - Back from the Cayman Islands
In early December I escaped the cold UK, not that I spend much time here anyway, and headed to the Cayman Islands for a short pre-Christmas shoot. It was a chance to re-famialarise myself with the divesites and conditions ahead of my workshops next month and to take some images I needed to demonstrate certain points during those talks. It was also a chance to take a few snaps and give my D2X a swansong. I plan to retire it from front line action in the 2009. I shot wide angle reefs scenes down at the East End and then shore dived, mainly at Sunset House, shooting reef fish, and I am very pleased with the resulting images. The conditions in Cayman are so suitable to underwater photography that I always bag more classic shots that I am expecting. I am back in the Cayman Islands for two weeks at the end of January to run a pair of digital photo workshops, focussed on controlling light underwater, at Ocean Frontiers on the East End. I'll post a gallery of images from all these weeks after that trip here.
December 2008 - Back from the Red Sea, again
I am just back from another week of photography in the Red Sea, this time on MY Whirlwind, the same boat I was on in June and will be running my 2009 Red Sea workshop on (see below). This trip was one that my girlfriend Eleonora won in last years BSAC Travel Club competition. She was kind enough to invite me along although I did have to do some underwater modelling for her. The photo, which she took, shows me modelling photographing some dolphins on the Giannis D wreck. We did the classic Sharm itinerary of wrecks and reefs and it was excellent. I had not dived on the Thistlegorm for a few years, and yes it is not as good as it once was, but it is still stunning. We had great marine life encounters too. I was pleased with my photos and Ele got some great ones too. Our trip was made particularly good fun as we were joined on board by a great group of divers from Yorkshire. Thanks also to all the crew and our guides Thomas and Susie. You can see a gallery of my photos from the trip here.
November 2008 - Nikon D700 Review
My detailed review of the Nikon D700 FX digital camera and the Subal ND700 housing in the Red Sea has been published on Wetpixel. Nikons D700 is a classic pocket-battleship DSLR. It bristles with the heavy weight features of the top of line D3, sharing the same 12 MP FX sensor, image processing engine with 14-bit AD converter and Multi-Cam 3500FX auto-focus system, but in a smaller, cheaper and lighter body. Those last three points are sure to make it more attractive than its big brother to the underwater photographer. The Subal ND700 is the first housing to the market and shows their typical craftmanship and attention to ergonomic detail, read more.
November 2008 - Red Sea Workshop June 2009
I am pleased to announce that my 2009 Red Sea workshop will be on MV Whirlwind at the end of June 2009, once again focusing on the wrecks, reefs and seasonal schools of fish in the northern Red Sea (photo from previous workshop). The cost is £1050 for the entire trip, London to London (dates 27th June to 4th July 2009). The workshop usually attracts people from many countries, but I prefer people to fly through London, because I do not want to delay the departure of the liveaboard if other flights to Sharm El Sheikh do not arrive on time (the cost includes the flights from London). The workshop is aimed at DSLR photographers and is designed to help you progress from taking images that come out to photos that stand out. All my previous Red Sea workshops have sold out quickly, so please contact me soon if you are interesting in joining. Trip now FULLY BOOKED.
November 2008 - DVD: Shooting Magic
I am very excited to announce my first film Shooting Magic, which is an instructional DVD on the techniques of available underwater photography with filters. The DVD follows me over 6 dives in the Red Sea, three shooting with my DSLR and three with my compact camera, while I demonstrate and describe the techniques I am using and the considerations, both technical and artistic that go into producing stunning available light photographs. After each of the six dives, I give you a one to one review of the shots and discuss in detail why some have worked and others have not. You will see all the shots, both good and bad, unadjusted straight from the camera. The DVD is packed with 90 minutes of features. Shooting Magic was filmed by Peter Rowlands and will be released when I get back from the Red Sea, see below.
November 2008 - Back from the Red Sea
At the start of November I headed to the Red Sea to run my 2008 Red Sea Photo Workshop on the dive boat Blue Horizon recently voted world's best liveaboard by the readers of Diver Magazine. This event was a very international affair with photographers joining from the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Holland, USA and India. It was a highly productive and enjoyable week exploring the southern Egyptian Red Sea from Elphinstone down to St Johns reef. The group produced some truly stunning images. We were also lucky to get some decent encounters with oceanic whitetip sharks at Eliphinstone. In addition to running the workshop I also took the Subal ND700 housing and Nikon D700 camera with me and you can read a review on Wetpixel here. I generally run two each year, one in the Cayman Islands and one in the Red Sea, click here for more info. You can read a diary of workshop here, see onboard pictures here and see my underwater pictures here.
November 2008 - Book Cover: DIVE
I am pleased to say that my photograph has been chosen for the cover of the second edition of DIVE The Ultimate Guide by Monty Halls and published by Ultimate Sports, who published my book The Art Of Diving. Completely updated for 2008, this carefully researched and fully illustrated guide is packed with all the practical travel information needed to plan any great underwater adventure. According to the publishers it is the world's best selling world scuba diving guide by far. DIVE has been published in English, German, Russian, Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Polish and Romanian language editions. I do not have any photographs inside the book.
November 2008 - Bite Back Calendar
Bite-Back, the UK based shark and marine conservation organisation has just launched its 2009 calendar and I am happy to say that I was one of the 12 photographer's who donated an image and commentary for it. Bite-Back campaigns against over-fishing and has a fantastic track record in persuading retailers to stop selling threatened fish species. Congratulations to Graham, Suzanne and all the bite-back team on all their work on their campaigns. The twelve photographers who have donated images are (in month order) Brian Skerry, Doug Perrine, Chris Fallows, me, Thomas Peschak, David Fleetham, David Doubilet, James Honeyborne, Michael Aw, Tim Laman, Norbert Wu and Jeff Rotman. With such a great cause, a cast of photographers and Christmas coming soon, you know what you have to do!
October 2008 - Show Season
I will be away a lot during the last couple of weeks of October, but strangely I will be staying dry. Its show season in the underwater photography world and I have a busy schedule. First up I will be at DEMA in Las Vegas. I am giving two talks in the Imaging Resource Center. Also Peter and I are exhibiting as Magic Filters, you can find us at booth 3049. We have an exciting new product to launch. Then it is off to the Antibes Festival in France. Once again Magic Filters are exhibiting, we will be at booth 16. However, I have to leave before the end of the festival (Peter is there until the end) for the UK Diveshow at the NEC, where I am once again running the Digital Clinic with Photoshop Expert Saeed Rashid and Paul Duxfield, who writes the Snapper School column for Dive Magazine. Finally, I am not selling my own books at any of the shows, but I expect them to be on sale (not sure about DEMA) and I am very happy to sign any I see!
October 2008 - Cover: DIVE Magazine
I am pleased to say that my popular photo of an Australian Sealion, taken at Kangaroo Island, is on the cover of this month's dive magazine. This photo was taken with my Nikon D2X and Tokina 10-17mm fisheye zoom and lit with Inon strobes. It is the first time that Dive Magazine have used one of my cold water diving images on their cover. Hoepfully there will be more soon. I took this photo in December last year during my trip to South Australia, you can see a gallery of other images from that trip here.
October 2008 - Presenting at DEMA
I am excited to announce that I am presenting two underwater photography seminars at the Image Resource Center during the DEMA show in Las Vegas. The DEMA Show is the only international trade-only event for the diving industry, attracting more than 11500 professionals, so I am really looking forward to being a part of it. Peter Rowlands and I are also exhibiting Magic Filters for the first time too. Yes, we are finally going ligit! I am also really looking forward to finally meeting in person, many folks who I know only through email. And last, but not least, my final reason to be excited is that this will be first trip to Vegas, baby. I am not at DEMA to officially promote my books, but if you have copies and would like them signed please come and find me.
October 2008 - New Portfolio
Phew... and rest. For a few weeks. Once I completed the photography for Reefs Revealed, which was published a year ago in October 2007, I set myself the challenge of not just rebuilding my portfolio by expanding it considerably. Up to that time I had dived mainly on coral reefs, but having produced a coral reef book that won the top award at the Antibes festival I realised that it was time for new challenges. As there was no way I could top that. So since then I am visited an incredibly diverse range of underwater habitats and photographed scenery and creatures I had only dreamed of. I am still diving on coral reefs, but i am also exploring more and more underwater habitats. Checking my passport and my dive log I have done over 450 dives from freshwater in the UK, to the Southern Ocean along the south coast of Australia since completing RR! If I look back at my portfolio then and compare it with now, it is totally transformed. And to some extent this is just the beginning. The Oceans are just so much bigger to me now. And I am very pleased that my style of underwater photography has transfered smoothly to these different environments. I finally have a few months off from major trips and I hope to take stock and enjoy some of the new images I have taken. I have recently updated my portfolio and included some of these new images, in fact half of the images in the portfolio were taken since Reefs Revealed was published. You can see the portfolio here.
September 2008 - Nikon D3 Review on Wetpixel
I am pleased to say that my review of the Nikon D3 and Subal ND3 housing is now up online at Wetpixel. Its a big one. Over 8000 words, 12 pages and 34 images. The review was done on my recent trip to North America, where I dived in Canada, the USA and in Mexico with the camera. Here is the conclusion: The D3 takes excellent macro and wide angle underwater photos. I love the D3 screen (also on the D700, D300 and D90). I miss the Tokina! I miss the D3, now it is returned. FX is great and easy to adapt to. However, the advantages of FX really depend on what you photograph. If you shoot mainly in the tropics or shoot mainly macro then FX offers little over DX. However, if you shoot plenty of wide angle in low light, then the D3 wont just allow you to take types of images you never could before, it will change your approach to photography in these conditions. This makes it a very exciting underwater camera. Read the full review on Wetpixel. I hope to get this review up in a few other places, including here, soon.
September 2008 - BBC Science Website
Check out my shark, which is now part of the banner on the newly redesigned BBC Science and Nature Website. The BBC website is the UK's most visited site and given my interests I think that the Science and Nature page is a pretty cool place to see one of my images being used. This photo was taken on one of the Wetpixel Bahamas shark trips. Don't forget that this image of the shark is also available as part of the Signature range of my limited edition fine art prints.
September 2008 - The Underwater Channel
I am excited to tell you that my show Creature Feature is now being broadcast on The Underwater Channel, the free to view online TV channel. You can either watch my show as a stand alone or as part of the magazine program Splash. Join Dr. Alex Mustard as he sneaks into the archives at the Underwater Channel and has a browse through some of the breathtaking footage captured by some of the worlds leading underwater cameramen, such as Peter Scoones and the Scubazoo team. This is a rare chance to marvel at their never-before-seen raw footage accompanied by Mustards insightful interpretations. The program is next best thing to actually being there in the ocean. Mustard added It is an amazing opportunity to have access to this material. It is like going behind the scenes of wildlife film and experiencing the underwater world as if perched on the shoulder of one of these top cameramen. For me, each program is a voyage of discovery, I never know what is going to happen next and these guys regularly capture creatures and behaviours new to science.
September 2008 - Back from Guadalupe
I have also just returned from Guadalupe, the island of the great white shark. Guadalupe is without a doubt a best place to photograph white sharks anywhere in the world. Twenty hours steam out into the Pacific from northern Mexico, this barren rocky island is an ideal home for seals and sealions. Well ideal except for one reason. Great white sharks visit its clear waters in considerable numbers to feed on the mammals. Travelling with my friend Jeff Hartog, I joined an awesome trip with Shark Diving International on the excellentSolmar V to photograph the oceans most famous fish. In addition to photographing the sharks I was also able to shoot, above the water, blue whales (the biggest fish in the sea, as my friend Simon would say) and large numbers of elephant seals, sealions and fur-seals. You can find a gallery of images from this trip here.
August 2008 - Back from Canada
I have recently returned from a breathtaking trip to the chilly waters of British Columbia in Canada. I joined underwater photographers Todd Mintz, Rand McMeins and John Davies. We were on the liveaboard Mamro and diving the famous Browning Passage out of Port Hardy in north Vancouver Island. There are few places in the world that support such colourful underwater life and abundant critters. It is not known as the worlds best cold water diving for nothing. It was an eye opening experience. The scenery above the water was also stunning and I also photographed eagles, stellar sealion, deer and bear. This trip was also my first chance to shoot Nikons D3 FX camera in a Subal housing. You can read my review on the camera on Wetpixel. You can find a gallery of images from this trip here.
August 2008 - Cayman Workshop - new places
In January 2009 I am running a photo workshop in Grand Cayman. This workshop is limited to 12 people, but the original week was overbooked. So rather than squeeze everybody in, I have agreed to run a second week. The first week (17 to 24 Jan) is now full. UPDATE (6th Sept): two places remain on week 2 (24 to 31 Jan). The workshop will focus on lighting and we will be concentrating on shooting reef wide angle (walls, caverns), fish photography, and bigger creatures (rays, tarpon, sharks). For the stingrays we will be doing special dawn and sunset shoots to get great light and schooling behaviour (at dawn). The only way to reserve a place on this trip is to contact Ocean Frontiers. Email: Lesley@oceanfrontiers.com, Phone toll free (USA only) 1.800.348.6096.
August 2008 - Red Sea Pocket Guide
I am pleased to announce that I was a major photographic contributor to Tauchen magazines new 100 page booklet, Pocket Guide Fur Taucher Rotes Meer. The booklet contains some of my better know images as well as a large number of previously unpublished shots from the region. I also shot the cover image, which shows Peter Rowlands on Jackson Reef in the Strait of Tiran. Incidentally that image was taken on my first trip with my D2X, which recently passed 100,000 photos and is still going strong. I was very pleased to be part of this very useful publication (assuming you can speak German!).
August 2008 - Back from Sardinia
I have just returned from a week of underwater photography in the Mediterranean around the island of Sardinia in Italy, although we also travelled up to the island of Lavezzi, which is officially part of France as it is closer to the Corsican coast. Scuba diving originated in the Mediterranean and there is always something special about diving in these waters. I also passed my own land mark of 2000 dives during this trip. During this trip we did all our diving from private boats, allowing us lots of time in the water at each site and always insuring that we never saw anybody else in the water. You can see a gallery from my Sardinian trip here.
August 2008 - Cover: Tauchen Magazine
It is always nice to get magazine covers. This month Tauchen, Europe's largest diving magazine, have used one of my lionfish images for their issue on the world's best reefs. This image was actually shot as a horizontal, but they have cropped it to a vertical for the cover. Despite the crop the image still looks pin sharp and full of detail. You really have to see a copy of the magazine to appreciate this. Anyway it makes me wonder why I am saving up for a new camera, when my existing one is capable of such amazing image quality.
July 2008 - Back from the Bahamas
I have just returned from a simply stunning trip to the Bahamas, leading the Wetpixel Expedition: Sharks and Dolphins on the MV Shear Water run by Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures. The photo shows the group on the back of the liveaboard, surrounded by sharks! OK, so the title turned out to be something of a misnomer as the trip also included Palm Beach muck diving (which was so productive, mating seahorses and mating long arm octopus, that I have created a separate gallery for the Florida section of the trip), Gulf Stream night pelagic drift, super macro plankton photography, nocturnal critter hunt on Sugar Wreck, fishing for birds as well as more sharks and dolphins than you could shake a stick at. It was really amazing, on one day I shot over 1400 images. You can read a diary report of the trip on the Wetpixel forums here, scroll down to read the various installments. You can see a gallery from the Bahamas trip here.
July 2008 - TWO NEW SPACES on Ultimate Indonesia
FULL AGAIN. In February/March 2009 I am running my dream dive trip to Indonesia. Diving in the Lembeh Strait for critters and in Raja Ampat for wide angle. The trip is being coordinated by Divequest and top dive guide Graham Abbott is co-leading the Raja Ampat section. The trip has been fully booked for a few months. Indonesia straddles the coral triangle, an imaginary shape drawn on the map by scientists that defines the bounds of the world's richest marine habitats. Our two destinations are accepted by most as the two very different ultimate expresssions of that richness. The Lembeh Strait is THE critter capitol, the benchmark destination that all muck diving spots are measured against. Still further east, the Raja Ampat archipelago, off the western end of New Guinea, has the most beautiful, thriving and biodiverse coral reefs in the world. It is a destination that has blown the minds of even the most widely travelled underwater photographers. If you think you have seen coral reefs in all their glory, think again.However a cancellation has opened two spaces. Contact Divequest or me, if you are interested in joining this phenomenal expedition. There are more details a href="http://www.amustard.com/?page=fishplans&subpage=plans&size=s">here.
July 2008 - Scuba Diving Photo Issue
I am proud to announce that I was one of six underwater photographers asked to contribute to the How the pros do it feature in Scuba Diving Magazine's Photo Issue 2008. I was particularly pleased as I was the only non-US based photographer who contributed to the feature in this American magazine. I wrote a short article on fish portraits, the other contributions in this interesting features were Stuart Westmorland on motion blur, Rod Klein on reef scenes, Amos Nachoum on big animals, David Doubilet on the half and half and Brandon Cole on sharks. Like most months, the issue also includes one of my underwater images used in an advert for the Cayman islands. You can see a gallery of images here.
June 2008 - Back from the Red Sea
It is nice to be home after two back to back trips. I only had a 36 hour turnaround between my Lembeh and Red Sea trips which was a bit stressful to be honest! The Red Sea trip was great, I think that this was my twelfth year in a row going at this time to the Red Sea with my friends from BSoUP specially to target the mating schools or large fish that gather at Ras Mohammed. The photo, right, shows me with rabbit ears courtesy of BSoUP president JP Trenque. The trips are great fun with much mickey taking, myself seemingly the butt of most jokes, particularly when Peter Rowlands is around. The main aim of my trip was to produce an instructional video on how to take underwater photos with filters. Peter was filming and I was in the staring role as the photographer (hardly worthy of crediting was Denis Antippa in the role of model). We filmed 6 dives of me shooting with filters, three each with compact and DSLR, discussed the photographic techniques I was using and then reviewed all the images from the dives (both good and bad), straight from the camera. It was good fun and I think that the resulting footage is packed of useful information. In fact I even learned things from seeing myself taking pictures underwater water. I am not sure when the finished video will be available (probably in the autumn), but I'll be sure to announce it here. You can see a gallery of images here.
June 2008 - Back from Lembeh
I have just returned from a hugely productive trip to the Lembeh Strait. It is such a mecca for underwater photographers because there are so many great subjects there, and my recent trip did not disappoint. I stayed at the excellent Lembeh Resort and the trip also acted as a recce for my Ultimate Indonesia group trip for Divequest, next year. That trip is already full, BTW. Regarding the critters I saw all the Lembeh regulars: mimic octopus, wonderpus, bluering octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, painted frogfish, giant frogfish, hairy frogfish, warty frogfish, a multitude of scorpionfish and waspfish, many many nudibranchs, crabs, shrimps and mantis shrimps, pygmy seahorse, pygmy pipefish, ghost pipefish and benthic sharks. Rather than using only traditional macro lenses I shot a reasonable amount of wide angle, which I think helps place the critters in their barren, sandy environment and helps to explain their extreme morphological adaptations. You can see a gallery of images here.
May 2008 - Interview for Monde Bleu
Bruno Beauverger, author of the Monde Bleu blog, has recently published an interview with me in English (actually I was expecting him to translate it into French to make me look cleverer). Anyway, it is up online and available for any English speakers to read. The interview has a bit of background on me, and then some interesting discussion about the technique, aesthetics and inspiration for my underwater photography. There are details of the kit I use and why, as well as chat about some of my favourite locations and best dives. I think it makes an interesting read and contains some useful advice and information on underwater photography. Check it out here.
April 2008 - IM RIFF
I am pleased to announce that IM RIFF, the German language edition of my book Reefs Revealed, has been launched. The book is published by Terra magica-Bildbande and was translated by Ursula Bischoff. The cover is the same image as the English version. I have to say I prefer the French cover! This book has already won the Prix Mondial Du Livre D'Image Sous-Marine at the 34th Festival Mondial De L'Image Sous Marine in Antibes. There are details of how to order your copy within the books section of this website.
May 2008 - Back from Gran Canaria
I am just back from a short, but highly enjoyable trip to Gran Canaria. I went there for just 4 and a half days of diving to test some new strobe filters and to shoot angel sharks (which have recently been added to the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species), seahorses and cuttlefish. I also had the chance to test a variety of new kit such as the INON optical converter, Sea & Sea YS250 strobes and Nikon's new 60mm AFS macro lens. It was great fun seeing friends David Barrio Luisa Quintanilla again. It is their fault I love Gran Canaria. And it was a real pleasure to immerse myself in the vibrant underwater photography scene out there. You can see a gallery of images here.
April 2008 - Your Story on Brendiver Blog
I have recently written a brief article for Brendiver's World, the blog of underwater photo journalist Brendan O Brien, about getting started in underwater photo-journalism. Brendan has also coerced similar pieces from John Bantin and Elaine Whiteford, and I am sure there will be more to follow. Brendan has just started his blog, but he is actively filling it up with real world advice on getting published. It looks like it will become an excellent resource. You can read my story here.
May 2008 - Cover: UWP Magazine
Please to report that one of my photographs is on the cover of the May/June issue of Underwater Photography magazine (the free, online magazine all about Underwater Photography). It is exactly a year since I last had a cover on this magazine. The photo is of a pair of Australian Sealions taken at Kangaroo Island in South Australia with my Nikon D2X + Tokina 10-17mm and Inon strobes. More importantly the issue also contains an article I have written on the role of the colour temperature of your strobes in underwater photography. Specifically their affect on the water colour of your images. Check out the issue to read more...
April 2008 - The Sea Magazine
A new, British based magazine called The Sea was launched this month and I am pleased to say that I have an article in the inaugural issue. The magazine has a broad remit: covering all things marine from news, history, diving, oceanography and wildlife to leisure, culture and commerce. My article is a wildlife article about hamlet fish, their reproductive behaviour, evolution and speciation. It is a great to to subscribe to this magazine and there is even a special discounted subscription rate for RNLI members (three issues for £1).
April 2008 - UK Photography
In stark contrast to the conditions on my recent trip to Thailand, the last few days have been time to don the drysuit for some early season fun here in the UK. It was good get in the water (already 10ŻC) and start brushing up those drysuit skills, but more importantly I was hoping to catch some photos of cuttlefish mating. Which I did in nice conditions in Babbacombe in east Devon. I also spent a couple of days photographing in the much clearer waters around Plymouth with Peter Rowlands and was pleased to add substantially to my UK portfolio. The images from this shoot are currently under wraps, but I will share them on this website soon. For now on the right, you can see a photo of a spider crab that I took on Monday...
April 2008 - Advertising Award
I am pleased to say that an advertisement featuring one of my Red Sea photographs recently won gold in the Scandinavian Advertising Awards 2008 in the alternative media category and received a nomination in the PR-category. The advert was produced by the Swedish agency KING and was placed underwater! You can even see an movie showing the advert in place in the Baltic Sea near Stockholm on You Tube.
April 2008 - Back from Thailand
I am just back from an excellent three week trip to photograph the reefs of Thailand. The trip was organised by legendary underwater filmmaker Peter Scoones, the man behind the camera for many of the most memorable sequences in the BBC's Blue Planet and Planet Earth. For most of the trip the liveaboard was just moored up on the reef and we were encouraged to go in and out when we wanted. This was excellent for both photographing marine life (portraits and behaviour) and for experimenting and refining new creative techniques. During the trip I worked on three new creative techniques: backlighting and off camera strobes, in camera double exposures and top lighting. The example on the right is an in camera double exposure combining a macro foreground with a wide angle background with infinite depth of field. You can see a gallery of images from this trip here and look out for more details of these techniques in articles.
March 2008 - Critter Compulsive
I don't normally write about my regular editorial output on this news page, but I wanted to mention my article Critter Compulsive in the April issue of DIVE Magazine because it the first time I have tried writing an article in a journalist style. Rather than describing my own experiences, instead I interviewed three experts in the field and pulled the article together around their opinions. The article is about looking for the little stuff and what we can learn from these macro devotees. The interviewees for the article were photographer and author Andrea Ferrari, dive guide extraordinaire, cruise director Graham Abbott and scientist and author Dave Harasti. Thanks guys for your help.
March 2008 - LIDS Exhibition
I was very excited to see an exhibition of my photography at the London International Dive Show (LIDS). The display showed 36 of my photographs from Australia, Indonesia, Mexico, Grand Cayman, the USA, Egypt, the Maldives, the Canary Islands, the Bahamas and Malaysia. Many of the photos are currently not in the public galleries on my website, with most taken since the publication of Reefs Revealed. The prints were done by the show organisers so it was a nice surprise for me to see them when I arrived at the event. Hopefully they will be on display again at the NEC for the October Dive Show.
March 2008 - BUIF Awards
On Saturday 15th March I will be the MC for the British Underwater Image Festival 2008 (BUIF) award ceremony at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham. The award ceremony will be followed by a champagne reception. The finalists of the 2008 Festival will be displayed at the three-day Go Diving show, show, which is part of the Ordnance Survey Outdoors Show. Having already seen the finalist images this display is not to be missed! The panel of judges for the stills competition were Colin Doeg, Simon Rogerson, Charles Hood and me. The panel of the judges for the films were Peter Scoones, Colin Doeg and Simon Rogerson.
March 2008 - Cover: OE Magazine
I am pleased to announce that one of my zen diving images is on the cover of this month's Outdoor Enthusiast Magazine. The cover is accompanied by an article by Nick Hanna on zen and the art of diving, again with images from me. The article is a précis of our book, but also includes a few insights from Nick since the first edition of The Art Of Diving was written. This image was taken in Grand Cayman in March 2004 with my old Nikon D100 and 10.5mm fisheye. It was always one of my favourites from the book and I am glad it has finally made it to a cover.
March 2008 - Photo Seminar at LIDS
At the London International Dive Show (LIDS) on 8/9th March I will co-hosting the Underwater Photography Clinic with Photoshop expert Saeed Rashid. The session will run on both days between 1:45 and 3:00 and much of the presentation will focus on helping you get better images. I will be advising on how to improve your in water photographic techniques and Saeed demonstrating how RAW conversion and Photoshop processing can improve those images you have already taken. If you are thinking of coming to LIDS and would like direct feedback on how you can improve your shots please email two or three of your images to firstname.lastname@example.org (the address can handle files up to 20mb, so RAW's or JPEG's are fine). Alternatively you can bring your pictures to the show and give them directly to me on the BSoUP stand, in the morning before the presentation each day. Ideally we are after problem images. Pictures that just aren't as good as you hoped that they would be. But we would also like a few stunners to be submitted, as a lot can also be learned from discussing why they are so effective. LIDS is also a good opportunity to get a signed copy of one of my books!
February 2008 - Talk at the Bath Festival
On Friday 29th February I am giving at talk at the Bath Literary Festival, in Bath, UK. I am presenting an illustrated talk on life on coral reefs and will also talk a little on the photographic approach to taking photographs ini the ocean. The Bath Literature Festival was started in 1995 and has become a well established ten days of literary events, encompassing writing in all its forms. For more information on my talk click here
February 2008 - Cover: DIVE Magazine
It seems ages since I had a photograph on a cover (of a magazine), so I am pleased to say that this month's DIVE magazine features one of my images. The photo was taken on Sipadan Island in Malaysia and shows a hawksbill turtle and diver. Although I have not used this photo in any of my books it has been a popular choice as a magazine cover, this being its third outing, although first in the UK. This image has also been used by the Malaysian tourist board.
February 2008 - Interview with Stuff Magazine
Check out the February 2008 edition of Stuff Magazine, the world's best-selling gadget magazine, to see a short interview with me about Scuba diving and underwater photography. It is not the most in depth interview but it is very nice to see underwater photography being covered by such a mainstream magazine. I even managed to work in a mention for the giant clam - my friend Simon's favourite underwater creature. This interview is not available online.
February 2008 - Interview with PhotographySites.com
Photography Sites, thematic photography directory designed to promote the exchange of traffic among similar types of online photo galleries, has recently published an illustrated interview with me about underwater photography. To quote from the introduction to the article The underwater world is... its a strange world but one which covers more of the planet's surface than land and has more creatures... its where life came from... good underwater photography, like all good photography, is more than a pictorial exercise but gives a glimpse of this mystical place and evokes a feeling of wonder and desire to venture further in. The interview covers my development as an underwater photographer, conservation photography, markets, techniques, kit, gear obsession and travel. To read the interview click here.
February 2008 - Dive with me
Each year I like to run a few group trips, either as dedicated photo workshops with lectures and teaching or more wildlife orientated trips with awesome diving and. At present I have three trips during the next 18 months that I have recently agreed to run and have spaces. First, in July I am leading the Wetpixel Bahamas Sharks and Dolphins (19-27 July, 2008), which will provide the chance for excellent photography with tiger, lemon and Caribbean Reef sharks as well as Atlantic spotted dolphins. Then in November I will be teaching a digital photography workshop in the southern Red Sea (7-14 Nov, 2008), targeting reefs, wrecks and oceanic whitetip sharks. At time of writing all these trips have spaces - although since I am away for a bit some might fill before I am back. And last, but by no means at all least, in February/March 2009 I am running what for me is the ultimate tropical trip - Ultimate Indonesia combining the best critter diving in Lembeh with the best reef diving in Raja Ampat. I hope that you can join me for one of these trips. The photo of me, right, was taken by Michael Gunter during a photo workshop in the Cayman Islands.
February 2008 - Mantas and Manatees
At the beginning of February I travelled first to Florida and then on to Mexico to photograph manatees and mantas, respectively. I was keen to photograph the manatees both in the clear blue waters of the springs and in the murkier green waters of the river in an attempt to get some original images of these well photographed animals. I got slightly more than I bargained for because at times the visibility was so low that I could not see my hand clearly if I reached out in front of me. At other times it was crystal blue. As well as photographing the manatee I was keen to record some of the other inhabitants of Florida's freshwater including blue gill fish, gar and freshwater turtles. You can see a gallery of manatees here. Then it was off to Cabo at the tip of the Baja Peninsula before heading out 250 miles into the Pacific to the Revillagigedos Archipelago. This was a Wetpixel group trip, which I led jointly with Eric Cheng. Here we encountered many sharks, dolphins and our main target giant black Pacific manta rays. You can see a gallery of my Mexican images here.
January 2008 - Cayman Film Festival and Workshop
In late January I travelled to the Cayman Islands to speak at the International Film Festival and to run a digital photography workshop at Ocean Frontiers diving the reefs of the legendary East End. This was actually be my first time speaking at the Cayman Island's film festival, an event which is held in conjunction with the International Scuba Diving Hall Of Fame. The other speakers included Leslie Leaney, Cathy Church and Bob Halstead and the standard of the presentations was very high. I thoroughly enjoyed it, this really is an event worth checking out. The main reason for my trip to Cayman is to run the workshop concentrating on reef and stingray photography. The group was limited to just 12, enough to ideally fill one of Ocean Frontiers excellent dive boats, with five photographers from the US, five from the UK and two from other parts of Europe. You will soon be able to see the guys photos from the week here, and you can see a few of mine here.
January 2008 - Contributing Editor, Wetpixel Quarterly
I am very proud to have been invited to be a Contributing Editor for the lavish new publication Wetpixel Quarterly. Wetpixel Quarterly is a print magazine devoted to high-quality underwater photography, each quarter, the pages are packed with brilliant underwater imagery from both professional and amateur photographers around the world. As well as celebrating the beauty of the deep, Wetpixel Quarterly provides a forum for a necessary dialog on marine conservation among photographers, researchers, conservationists, and the general public. Wetpixel Quarterly is an extension of Wetpixel.com, the premiere online community for underwater photographers and videographers. Check out the latest issue and you will see a portfolio of my fish portraits and an article I wrote on the threats of global warming to coral reefs and how this relates to underwater photographers.
January 2008 - Exhibition at National Maritime Museum
A selection of my underwater photographs will be on display at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth as part of their new year long exhibition Under The Sea. Diving deep into a world of shipwrecks, free diving, submarines, sport and commercial diving, physiology, underwater warfare and photography, this new exhibition promises you an experience under the water without getting wet. Alongside the images are objects chronologically charting the development of underwater photography. Discover the Calypsophot, developed for Jacques Cousteau’s underwater research group which featured in the Bond thriller Thunderball, and admire an early Rolleiflex camera from 1951. The exhibition also features the photography of fellow BSoUP members Mark Webster, Shannon Conway and JP Trenque. The year-lomng exhibition opens on 28 January 2008.
January 2008 - All Bribes Considered!
Its competition season in underwater photography and I am proud to be a judge on two of the most prestigious competitions around - so all offers of bribery will be considered. Only joking, of course. First up, I am one of the judging panel for 3rd Annual Wetpixel and DivePhotoGuide International Underwater Photography & Video Competition. I have been a judge for all the years of this competition and it really is an honour as the standard of the winning images is phenomenal. This year we have over $50,000 in prizes to give away. I am also one of the judging panel for the British Underwater Image Festival 2008 and once again I will be acting as MC and giving out the prizes at the Champagne Reception at the Go-Diving show at the NEC. People often ask me what i look for when judging, and the simple answer is wow me with an awesome shot that I have never seen before. A judge's job is simple, we want to choose the best possible images for the competition - and the best way to bribe us is to enter the best photos you can.
January 2008 - Sunday Times Magazine
The Sunday Times Magazine featured me in their long running "Best Of Times, Worst Of Times" feature describing the trials, tribulations and successes while photographing the undescribed species of walking shark in West Papua, Indonesia. The interview was done by Sue Fox. The article is also available online here. A longer version of the walking shark adventure was also recently published in Diver Magazine.
January 2008 - Ocean Team
I am very proud to have been invited to be a honorary member of Environmental Ocean Team. Ocean Team consists of members who have a passion for the sea. The aim is to bring together science with recreational sailing, by carrying out oceanographic research from sailing boats, which are inherently ecologically friendly, and to disseminate the findings to a wider public via various media platforms. The oceans are going to play such an important part in the future of this planet and there is so much more to learn about them. The scientists involved have a wealth of research expertise and Giovanni Soldini is an accomplished sailor - all the right ingredients to really make this project a success. Dame Ellen MacArthur
December 2007 - Back from Australia
I have just returned from a three week trip diving in the temperate waters of Australia. During the trip I explored the waters of New South Wales, from Sydney up to South West Rocks and also South Australia on both the Yorke and Fleurieu Peninsulas and on Kangaroo Island. My buddy for the trip was talented Australian based photographer Shannon Conway. I started the trip in Sydney, flying in on the new Airbus A380, which is very nice, before driving across to South Australia. In total we racked up over 5000kms of driving exploring a wide variety of dive sites. Key photographic subjects included leafy and weedy seadragons, grey nurse, wobbegong and Port Jackson sharks, several species of seahorses, pyjama squid, sealions and a wide variety of the regions endemic fish species. You can find links to the galleries for the two legs of the trip here.
December 2007 - Talking in Southampton
On the evening of Thursday 6th December I am giving a free talk at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton as part of their monthly Marine Life Series public lectures. This is at least the third time I have spoken in this series, although on this occasion I am also giving the talk at lunchtime so that more of the staff can attend. The talk is really just an excuse to project some of my favourite images going under the title of the Adventures of an underwater photographer – creating images that engage people with the oceans. I hope to explain a little bit about the species shown in the images and also the photographic techniques and process involved. The talk will include a number of photos from my recent trip to southern Australia (see above) as well as some of the well known images from my books The Art Of Diving and Reefs Revealed.
November 2007 - Reefs Revealed Wins BIG
I am delighted and very proud to announce that my new book Reefs Revealed won the Prix Mondial Du Livre D'Image Sous-Marine (World Grand Prize for the best book of underwater photographs) at the 34th Festival Mondial De L'Image Sous Marine in Antibes, France at the weekend. This award is widely considered the ultimate accolade for an underwater photographer and previous winners include some of the greats of underwater photography: Chris Newbert, Kurt Amsler, David Doubilet, Tony Wu and Laurent Ballesta. Books are a lot of hard work and this is certainly the most satisfying award I have won for my photography. I would also like to thank commissioning editor Pete Duncan, designer Mandy McDougal, and all at Constable and Robinson and at Romaine Pages Editions. And of course a big thank you to all those I dived with during the production of this book (see the acknowledgments in the book)!
October 2007 - REEFS REVEALED Launched
Finally! I am proud to announce that my new book, and indeed the first book I have both written and photographed, Reefs Revealed is published this week. Described as a pioneering new volume of underwater photography that reveals coral reefs as never seen before... through revolutionary photography and a marine biologist's revelatory understanding. Although this is a large format picture book, I worked hard to accompany the photographs with well researched and original text, filled with the latest scientific research and my own observations and insights. I would also like to mention a couple of other issues I introduced with the book. First, I offset all the carbon dioxide emissions required for the air travel for the book. Global warming is probably the most serious threat to coral reefs - and as a lot of travel was required for this book this seemed like an appropriate decision. This is not a perfect solution, I know, but I hope it starts a trend in these sorts of books. And second in this age of digital manipulation I chose to mark with a symbol [M], any images in the book that had had their content digitally manipulated. Again, I hope that this is something that becomes more common in these publications.
Reefs Revealed is published (in the UK) by Constable & Robinson and is available at all good bookshops and from Amazon (UK, USA). There are separate Australian, published by ABC Adult Books, and French editions, published by Romaine Pages Editions of the book. The image (right) shows the pygmy seahorse french edition and the clownfish english edition. To get a feel for the content you can browse a brief gallery of some of the spreads here.
October 2007 - Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2007
I am very happy to announce that my photograph Lone Shark was highly commended in the Shell Wildlife Photographer Of The Year 2007. I am particular pleased as this is the third year in a row that my images have featured amongst the winners in this competition. The Wildlife Photographer is the largest and most prestigious competition of its kind in the world, this year attracting over 32,000 entries from 78 countries. This photo was taken in March 2006 on the Wetpixel Bahamas Shark Expedition. My aim was to make the shark look small in its habitat to highlight just how vulnerable they are. So I went for a very simple composition, looking down as it swam across the sand. The Bahamas is one of the few places where sharks have not been decimated by the shark-fin-soup trade, fins are now worth more than $700 per kg. It is one of four of my images that have won awards in this competition that are featured in my new book Reefs Revealed.
October 2007 - Nikon D3 and D300 tests
In mid October 2007 I had the chance to test pre-production versions of two forthcoming DSLRs from Nikon. Both these camera are big technological advances and I am sure that they will be very popular. So I have written up some of my informal thoughts on the strengths of these cameras for underwater photography in the forums on Wetpixel. Please note that these were subjective and not studio conditions tests and also that the camera's were preproduction. That said both cameras were very very impressive. The capabilities of the D3 at high ISO are astonishing.
October 2007 - Interview on BBC Radio 4
On the 24th October I will be a guest on Midweek on BBC Radio 4 to talk about life as an underwater photographer and to try and slip in a few plugs for my new book (see above)! The other guests on the show include actor Charles Dance, retired doctor and author Oscar Craig and former bunny girl and barrister Caroline Wiseman. Midweek is a flagship programme on BBC Radio 4, with an audience of 1.8million. It is broadcast LIVE on Wednesday mornings between 0900-0945, with a shortened evening repeat at 9.30pm. It is presented by the broadcaster, author and Times columnist Libby Purves. It should also be possible to catch the show at any time during the seven days after transmission using the BBC's listen again facility.
October 2007 - Raja Ampat Marine Park Tag 2008
I am very pleased to announce that I won the Raja Ampat Marine Protected Area entrance tag photo competition. The tag, which will be used from the beginning of next year, will be printed 5000 times and attached to the BCs of visiting divers. I actually came first and second in the competition, which was decided by a public vote and this actually gives the marine park the choice of two of my images to use on the tags. At this stage they are thinking of going with the pygmy seahorse. Raja Ampat is a true wonder of the underwater world and I am happy to be contributing in this small to helping in its conservation. If you are a diver and you haven't been there you should go. It is a privilege to see reefs like these. Coincidentally, in 2009 I am running a trip to Raja Ampat, contact Divequest for more information.
October 2007 - Nissan NV200
Over the last 18 months I have been working with Nissan on a concept car designed around my needs as an underwater photographer. It has been a great project for me, not only having a team of talented designers building a car specifically for me (not that I get to keep it) but also because I have always been interested in cars (I read far more car magazines than I do diving magazines!). Obviously such a specific car would never make it into production, but the design study allows and encourages engineers to think in new ways and develop ideas that can be incorporated into their model range. The car will be launched at the Tokyo motor show in October 2007 and I can reveal more about the project after that time. For now you can read the official press release here and see a gallery of images of the car here.
October 2007 - Speaking: Visions and Wildphotos
October is always a busy time with dive shows, conferences and festivals. This month I am speaking at the Visions In the Sea Conference on the 20th and 21st October and at the WildPhotos 2007 event the following weekend on the 25th and 26th October. Both talks are rather fishy. At Visions my talk is Fish photography: expanding the horizons and at Wildphotos I am speaking on the topic of underwater field craft, with the title of How to make friends with fish and when not to. Visions in the Sea is now in its 11th year and I think I have spoken at 7 of them, it is taking place at Kings College, London. Wildphotos is taking place at the Royal Geographic Society, also in London.
October 2007 - Photography in Gran Canaria
In early October I went to the Canary Islands for a short recce trip in preparation for longer trip. Despite only going for three days diving it was a fantastic trip mainly because I was able to meet and dive with some of the island's best underwater photographers. Their hospitality and generosity made the trip great fun and very productive. I am particularly grateful to my new friends David Barrio Luisa Quintanilla for looking after us so well. And I would also like to thanks Claudio Santana, Eva Villagrasa Lara, Enrique Faber, Coralia Morales, Arturo Telle Thiemann, Loli Caballero from Mare Canaria Dive Centre and David and all at Blue Explorers Dive Centre. I hope to be back diving with them soon. Photographic highlights included John Dory, frogfish, the endemic red parrotfish and angel sharks, that have recently been added to the Red List of endangered species. You can see a gallery of my photos from the trip here.
October 2007 - Bite-Back Calendar
I am proud to be one of the contributing photographers in the Bite-Back shark and marine conservation 2008 calendar. The calendar brings together the work of award-winning photographers including David Doubilet, Doug Perrine, Chris Fallows, Jeff Rotman, David Fleetham, Tim Laman, Michael Aw, Brian Skerry, Norbert Wu and myself and combines stunning photography with thought-provoking commentary from the photographers, themselves. As David Doubilet points out: Images have power - sometimes they are the single link that humans have with the sea. The project has enormous significance to the Bite-Back marine conservation group and its campaign director, Graham Buckingham, said: over-fishing is the single biggest threat to the marine environment. It is fuelled by purely by over-consumption and we must shift that balance to stand any chance of ensuring the survival of big fish like sharks, swordfish and marlin. The calendar costs £10 and is available from the Bite-Back website with proceeds going to Bite-Back's marine conservation efforts.
October 2007 - Interview in The Observer
The Observer Sunday newspaper recently published an interview with me in their Me And My Travels by Clive Wilkinson. The interview discusses the fun, frustrations and responsibilities of being a traveling underwater photographer. The Observer is one of the UK's leading Sunday Newspapers and the Me And My Travels series has featured a variety of authors, photographers and television personalities. I am keen to correct the article that I was not named Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2005, as is erroneously stated at the end of the article, but I did win two awards in the competition that year. You can read an online version of the interview here.
October 2007 - The Art Of Diving USA
I am pleased to announce that the North American edition of The Art Of Diving went on sale on the 1st October. The North American edition differs from the European editions by having a hard cover and also more detailed information in the captions. It is published by the Lyons Press and is available on Amazon.com as well as at other good book stores. The content of the book has been updated slightly for the North American audience (mainly the spelling!). The images are the same as in the European versions.
September 2007 - Sardegna Subacquea
At the end of September I travelled to Olbia in Sardinia to be part of the jury for the Astrea D'Oro Fotosub event. This was my second year of involvement in the event and it was great to meet my friends from Anthias Diving, Location Sardinia and top Italian underwater photographer, Paolo Fossati, again. This on the day underwater photography competition, organised by the Centro di Cultura Ambientale Alessandro Spano is based in the spectacular marine protected area of the island of Tavolara. The Astrea D'Oro gold trophy, worth 2000 Euros, was won this year by Mauro Cabiddu for a stunning portfolio of six images. You can see photos from the 2006 event here. I will add a link for the 2007 event when it is online.
September 2007 - Photography in Bali
I have just returned from a very productive trip to Bali. Like many people, Bali is my favourite spot in Indonesia because of the friendly people, the beautiful scenery, the enchanting atmosphere and its strong cultural identity. And of course, some first class diving! Bali offers some excellent critter diving, and plenty of rarities, like the Pterois kodipungi lionfish pictured here. The main aim of this trip was to shoot underwater diver photos, which few people shoot in SE Asia waters, with most photographers concentrating on the marine life. I must say many thanks to Scubapro for lending me the most up-to-date divekit for my model for this trip. The other aim of the trip was to visit a variety of dive resorts to cover them in dive magazines. We stayed at and dived with Bali Hai, Scuba Seraya Resort, Tauch Terminal and Alam Anda resorts. FiNS Magazine will be running five blog diary installments from my trip. You can see a gallery of photographs from this trip here.
September 2007 - New Scubapro Global Website
I am proud to say that my photographs are being used as the backgrounds of the new Scubapro and UWATEC global website in multiple languages around the world. The most obvious image is my photograph of schooling stingrays, but click around and you will see plenty more. Most of the images come from photography for my first book, The Art Of Diving. I am a big fan of Scubapro's diving equipment and chose to use most of their products for myself before they started lending me kit for my model shoots.
August 2007 - Magic Filters 2 Years Old
Magic Filters is now two years old. The original Magic filter came about because I wanted to develop a filter to extend the types of images I could take. While refining the filter in the Red Sea with Peter Rowlands, other photographers who saw our images begged us not to keep the filter for ourselves. And so Magic Filters was born. Despite the name, there is no Magic. All our filters are custom recipes that we have found produce the best results while taking photographs underwater. Our biggest satisfaction is seeing the new types of underwater photos people are producing with the filter. In a short space of time images take with Magic filters have appeared in numerous dive magazines, books and advertising campaigns. Perhaps the most well known Magic Filter photographs are Todd Essick's Bahamas Shark and model photographs, which have been published around the world. We would like to think that our filters have revolutionised available light photography underwater.
August 2007 - Advanced Guide to Digital Underwater Photography
I am pleased to say that I have contributed a chapter to the new book An Advanced Guide To Digital Underwater Photography by Michael Aw and Mattieu Meur. My chapter is on shooting in Ambient Light With Filters, and the book also discusses many techniques both for shooting underwater and for processing them on the computer. An interesting and original feature in this book is a special section that features images and secrets from some of the world’s top underwater photographers, where I am proud for my photos to be featured alongside those of David Doubilet, Doug Perrine and Stephen Frink. This book is the follow up to the successful An Essential Guide To Digital Underwater Photography and is sure to be a popular choice for underwater photographers.
August 2007 - DIVE Magazine 100 issues
Congratulations to all my friend's at DIVE Magazine on reaching their 100th Issue. I am proud to be a contributing editor to this widely respected diving magazine. I am also pleased to report that I was asked to submit an image for a special Big Shot feature for this issue, which was written by Colin Doeg. We decided to discuss my Ghost Pipefish family portrait, that was shot with my newly invented fisheye-teleconverter technique for my forthcoming book, Reefs Revealed. It is a treat to encounter a group of ghost pipefish and usually people shoot them against a black background, which I feel fails to communicate much about the environment they live in. The fisheye lens used in conjunction with a teleconverter proved perfect for getting a detailed foreground of the ghost pipefish and, with the help of a long exposure, I was able to set them nicely in their environment. The photo was taken on a trip to West Papua, Indonesia, and was part of the final photography for the book. Graham Abbott was the dive guide for the trip and his dedication massively increased my productivity.
August 2007 - Photographs in Nikon News
I was pleased to be asked by Nikon Europe to provide images for a special edition Nikon News charting the 30 year history of the magazine and the developments in photography and cameras (Nikon ones) over those years. The timeline featured two of my underwater images alongside sports, wildlife, portrait and journalism images from many famous photographers taken during the last thirty years. The picture here was used to demonstrate the advances that digital cameras have brought in allowing new techniques, in this case filter photography underwater, to develop. The other image that they selected of mine was an older film image, used to represent Nikon's historical links with underwater photography. It was also nice to get paid by Nikon after many years of filling their coffers when buying more cameras and lenses - alas they are still rather ahead on the deal!
August 2007 - Hamlets in inaugural Ocean Geographic
I please to announce that my article on the evolution, speciation and reproductive behaviour of hamlets was published in the inaugural edition of the new high quality periodical Ocean Geographic. I am particularly proud to be featured in the first issue of this almanac of the sea alongside such widely respected underwater image makers as Doug Perrine, David Doubilet, Mike Aw and Wyland. It was also nice to be able to write an article with a strong science content, which I hope the readers found entertaining and informative. I am looking forward to contributing to future issues of this magazine.
August 2007 - Interview in Duiken
For those of you who speak Dutch, please check out a 5 page interview with me in the magazine Duiken, and tell me what I said! I had actually thought that this interview was printed in the issue with one of my photos on the cover a few months ago. From what I remember the interview, written by underwater photographer Ron Offermans discusses underwater photography equipment and techniques as well as the range of Magic Filters that are revolutionising available light underwater photography. In this interview I also discuss new underwater photography techniques I am working on, such as the teleconverter fisheye technique that has been generating a lot of interest. Unfortunately for English speakers the article is in Dutch, but you can see it here.
August 2007 - Sardinia
I had a fun trip to Sardinia at the end of July. A real highlight was diving the Second World War wreck of KT12, complete with trucks and a deck gun. The KT12 was sunk by the British submarine, HMS Safari, which sunk a string of vessels off Sardinia's east coast during the war. The wreck lies in 30m of water and sits upright on the seabed. She's a great dive. Diving this wreck was a particular highlight for me because it is very close to my girlfriend's family home, in fact we were diving with Centro Sub Astrea who taught her to dive. Eleonora's grandfather even remembered that two of the torpedos that missed the KT12 ended up on the beach. Coincidentally the HMS Safari sank just off the south coast not far from where we live in England. I will be back in Sardinia at the end of September as a judge for Sardegna Subacquea 2007 Fotosub competition, get in touch if you interested in going.
July 2007 - Scubapro Summer Promotion
I was not planning to write anything about this on my website, as my photos are regularly used in advertising and promotional material with little fanfare. But I have received several emails from people who have seen this flyer in dive shops in the UK. I guess it demonstrates the power of the bikini - they don't normally write to me about my photos! Anyway this provides a good opportunity to say congratulations to my friend Anna, who stars in the picture, who has just passed her PhD. The picture was taken during the shoots for The Art Of Diving on a deserted island in the Maldives. For those (guys) who want to see a higher resolution version, you can download the PDF here.
July 2007 - FiNS Photo Special
FiNS Magazine has just published its first annual Photo special and features my photographs alongside some of my favourite underwater photographers. The five featured photographers are Eric Cheng, Takako Uno, Stephen Wong, Tony Wu and Takaji Ochi. Despite all the portfolios being themed on marine life they really show the diversity of styles of underwater photography. The images are accompanied by lighthearted interviews, which certainly make an amusing read. Coincidentally, three of us (Eric, Tony and I) were just together on the Wetpixel shark trip to the Bahamas, see the news item below, although luckily we weren't eating cockroaches. You can download the article as a PDF here.
July 2007 - Wetpixel/JASA shark trip
I survived! I have to say I was slightly nervous heading out for the Wetpixel shark trip 2007 after the too close for comfort encounters on the 2006 effort. But in the end we actually had the problem of not being able to attract the sharks we wanted. We travelled right across the Bahamas and couldn't find Oceanic Whitetips for love nor money. It is all par for the course for a wildlife photographer. Luckily Jim Abernethy still provided tigers, lemons, duskies and reef sharks in abundance and it was a very productive trip. Just not with the species we were after! We had a great gang on board and I can't wait for next year's Wetpixel shark trip when hopefully lady luck will be more on our side. You can see a gallery from the trip here.
June 2007 - Digital Techniques Workshop 2007
My UWP Digital Techniques Workshop in the Red Sea on MV Whirlwind was a great success and myself and the gang had a massively productive and really enjoyable time. This was my only digital photography teaching week in 2007 and I am really enjoyed it, even though it was very tiring by the end. We certainly enjoyed the photo opportunities on the wrecks, reef and schools. The photo actually shows the gang from last year, although many of the same group came back for more. We worked through lots of filter photography, both in colour, with the Magic Filter, and in black and white using various contrast filters. We also shot fish spawning behaviour, the schools and most really concentrated on getting those blues right in camera, to produce stunning backgrounds for their scenics and portraits without the need for photoshop!
June 2007 - WildPhotos October 2007
I am pleased to confirm that I have been asked to be a speaker at WildPhotos 2007, on 26th and 27th October at the Royal Geographical Society, in London. The theme of the event is Exploring the power of nature photography, and it offers a chance to learn how to take, improve, publish, earn a living from, and make a difference with nature photographs. The two-day event brings together many of the world’s best wildlife and landscape photographers plus leading photographic agents and publishers to offer insights, tips and visions to appeal to everyone with an interest in nature imagery. The other speakers include Doug Allan, Karl Ammann, Mark Carwardine, Robert Glenn Ketchum, Tim Laman, Frans Lanting and Colin Prior. Also presenting their work and skills will be winners from this year's Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, the results of which will be announced the day before WildPhotos. WildPhotos is a Wildscreen initiative, in partnership with Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year. You can read all about the event here.
June 2007 - Underwater Advertising
An amusing email turned up recently showing me one of my underwater photographs on display, underwater. Swedish advertising agency King decided that the ideal place to display one of their posters advertising diving holidays to the Red Sea was at a popular dive site in the cold and murky waters of the Baltic Sea. The advert, for Swedish travel agent Ving, encourages divers to escape the Scandinavian cold and head to Hurghada from just 3975 Krona. The poster features one of my photographs taken in the Red Sea with the Magic Filter.
June 2007 - Hilton and The Art Of Diving
No. This is nothing to do with Paris Hilton's prison reading list. Instead, I am pleased to announce a collaboration between Ultimate Sports the publishers of my first book, The Art Of Diving, and Hilton Worldwide Resorts. Many Hilton Resorts have dive centres, in fact I stayed at the Nuwieba Coral Hilton in January, and The Art Of Diving will be used to help promote scuba diving. Check out the Hilton Resorts website for more details. You can read more about The Art Of Diving here.
May 2007 - Back from Sabah
For much of May I was away diving around the islands of Sipadan, Kapalai and Mabul in Sabah, Malaysia. This area is remarkable and certainly is one of the diving wonders of the world. Most of my time was spent running my Quest For Diversity trip for Divequest, although I did manage a few days there on my own shooting for myself. The trip was very productive photographically: you can see my photos from Sipadan here and from Mabul and Kapalai here. You can also read my FiNS Blog of my trip here: part 1, part 2 and part 3.
May 2007 - Ocean Geographic
I am proud to have been recently invited to be one of the honorary editors of the new high quality periodical Ocean Geographic. I am particularly proud to be part of such a distinguished editorial board that contains many of the people I most admire: Doug Perrine, David Doubilet, Dr Gerry Allen, Dr Carden Wallace, Emory Kristof, Stan Waterman, Wyland & Michael AW. Ocean Geographic explores the dynamics of our ocean planet. As all on Earth is connected with the sea, Ocean Geographic focuses on getting to know who is who in the sea, allowing you to appreciate the complexity of the oceanic life forms that make up the vast biospheres, as well as understanding the environmental influences and climatic conditions that that make our planet a hospitable place. The first issue of Ocean Geographic will be launched in June 2007.
May 2007 - UWP Magazine Cover
I am pleased that one of my photos has been selected for the cover of Underwater Photography Magazine (UWP Mag) issue 36. I have been a regular contributor to UWP since its first issue and have written more than 50 articles for the magazine (including reviews). Although UWP is published by my friend and partner in Magic Filters I actually do not have any involvement in the magazine beyond being a contributor. That said, I am very proud to be a regular contributor to this magazine. UWP Mag is a free web magazine on underwater photography, published bimonthly and read by more than 10,000 registered subscribers.
May 2007 - Cold Mustard?
Well not at all actually, thanks to the superb efforts of O'Three drysuits and Fourth Element's thermals suits I was really warm. I have been putting off cold water diving for many years, but having recently completed a big project on coral reefs I no longer have any excuses not to start broadening my portfolio. And for me there was no better place for my first drysuit dive than in the county I grew up in, Devon. I absolutely loved my first day of UK diving, and managed three shallow dives, two of which without being encumbered by a buddy (I did not dive solo on my first ever drysuit dive!). This first day was all about building experience and a thick, globular plankton bloom meant that I left my camera on the boat. From what I see, I feel that much of the photography in British waters is quite formulaic, and I am excited to see how my approach and photographic style translates in British conditions. I want my early photography in the UK to be free of expectation and deliverables, but once I have built a portfolio that I am happy with, I will make sure it is up on this website. Check back soon.
April 2007 - Art Of Diving, North America
I am happy to announce that North American edition of The Art Of Diving will be on sale from the 1st October 2007 in bookshops across the USA and Canada. Unlike the British edition the new book is Hard Cover and contains more detailed captions of the photographs. The book is already available for pre-orders at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca at a 33% discount. It will also be possible to order this special edition of the book here in the UK through the Amazon.com website, once the book is published. Scuba diving has become one of the worlds most popular adventure sports, with now more than 20 million registered divers. Enthusiasts passion grows from their exploration of a completely magical and otherworldly dimension under the sea. Each dive is a fresh experience, revealing a different diorama, captured in full color in this magnificent book. With a perfect blend of art and science, the text and photography recreates the emotional and sensual dimension of diving as well as conveying the intellectual fascination of meeting unusual underwater creatures and observing the condition of marine environments. Read more in the books section of this website.
April 2007 - Seahorse Photo Exhibition
If you are in London, you can see one of my photos as part of the the Guylian Seahorses of the World photo exhibition currently on show at London Zoo, aiming to raise awareness of the work of Project Seahorse. The exhibition, is on display in the aquarium of London Zoo - open every day, 10am to 5.30pm, until 1 June. Project Seahorse helps people learn more about these remarkable creatures and to raise awareness of the threat to their habitat. Guylian is famous for its Original Belgian Chocolate Seashells, loved by premium chocolate connoisseurs around the world. I do not consider myself a connoisseurs, but they are yummy. For those who cannot make it to London, you can see a preview of the exhibition online here.
April 2007 - Fine Art Prints
They are finally here. I am very pleased to be able to announce that my fine art prints are now ready. I have spent a lot of time researching papers and printing methods to find a paper that really works well with the look of both my colour and black & white photographs. At present I have 27 photos in the print collection, all are professionally produced giclee prints on semi-gloss Crane Museo Silver Rag 100% Cotton 300gsm Digital Fibre Paper. Each print is signed, numbered and approved by me. They are available in two sizes - 450x300mm (approx. 18x12") and 300x200mm (approx. 12x8") printed with border on oversized paper, prices are £80 and £45, respectively (not including postage and packing) and can be purchased from this website from my new secure online shop. You can browse the galleries of prints here.
April 2007 - Congratulations to Eleo
Even here on my own website, I am being usurped. I am very pleased to announce that my girlfriend Eleonora has recently been picking up plenty of awards for her underwater photography - damn her. Already this year she has won two months of the BSAC Travel Club novice competition coming first and second one month, but she also recently beat me and many other top UK underwater photographers to come first equal in a monthly BSoUP Focus On competition on the subject of abstracts. Not bad considering she has less than 10 dives with a camera! All her winning pictures were taken with a Nikon D80 in an Ikelite housing with an Ikelite DS125 strobe - a great DSLR beginners set up.
March 2007 - Cover: FiNS Magazine
I am pleased to say that one of my walking shark photos has been chosen for the cover of the latest issue of FiNS Magazine. The magazine runs a feature about my trip to remotest West Papua to find this newly discovered species of shark, which currently does not have a scientific name. The sharks common name comes from its habit of walking across the seabed on its fins, a characteristic is shares with several other species of Epaulette sharks. The issue of FiNS also contains the latest installment of my regular Talking Megapixels column.
March 2007 - New book: Dive Red Sea
I am very excited to say that Dive Red Sea has just been published, a new large format dive guide book for the Red Sea that includes more than 150 of my photos, including on the front and back covers. Dive Red Sea was written by Simon Rogerson and John McIntyre, covering all eight countries that border the Red Sea, is about 350 pages long and only costs £20! For me it was a chance to share many of my photos that have not been seen elsewhere, even on my website. When flicking through it there were a couple of shots that made me go wow and stop to find out who had taken them, only to discover that they were mine. The book also contains many Magic filter shots (by me and others), which are really suited to this sort of publication for capturing the "what-its-really-like look" of shipwrecks and divesites. You can see some sample pages here and can buy a copy from Amazon here. Read more in the books section of this website.
March 2007 - Diver Awards: The Underwater Photographer
Congratulations to Martin Edge on winning best publication (books and DVDs) in the prestigious Diver Magazine Awards at the LIDS show. Martin's book is widely regarded as the best on the techniques of digital underwater photography and I am very proud to have contributed a chapter to it on the subject of filters. I am doubly pleased as The Art Of Diving came third, with Diver Magazine commenting that "this year we reckon you had more top-quality publications than usual from which to choose, and the three finalists were each the sort of volume you might treasure as a work of reference". Read more in the books section of this website.
March 2007 - Dive Shows
This month we have two big diving shows in the UK. First up, I am heading to the London International Dive Show (LIDS) on Saturday 10th March. I'll certainly be spending some of my time on stand 339 belonging to Ultimate Sports signing copies of The Art Of Diving and also Dive Red Sea (see above). I won't be at LIDS on Sunday as England are playing the French - gotta have priorities! The following weekend, 17th-18th March, I am up at the National Exhibition Centre to speak at the Ordnance Survey Outdoors Show, joining the likes of Ray Mears, Brian Blessed and Bill Oddie. On the Saturday I am speaking on the subject of Coral Reefs Revealed and on the Sunday I am presenting the awards for the BUIF - the British Underwater Image Festival.
February 2007 - Cover: DIVE Magazine
I am pleased to say that one of my pictures is on the cover of the March issue of DIVE magazine. The image is actually an older one, taken from The Art Of Diving. In fact it shows Nick Hanna. It was taken in 2004 with my D100. It is often surprising the types of images that are required on the cover to communicate the content of a magazine. I certainly never marked this one down as cover, although now it is laid out it makes perfect sense. I also have a number images inside the magazine to accompany an article on the Cayman Islands BSAC branch.
February 2007 - Carbon neutral travel
Coral Reefs are particularly vulnerable to the treats of global warming and the greenhouse effect driven by elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations. On 2nd February the IPCC released its forth assessment report stating it is very likely that climate change is caused by human activities and the current atmospheric CO2 levels (>380ppm) far exceed the natural range over the last 650000 years (180-300ppm), and that the primary source of the CO2 increase is fossil fuel use. Wherever I travel I hear people comment about climate change. 11 of the last 12 years rank among the warmest 12 years since records began in 1850. And during the last decade I have seen many corals bleach and some go on to die as the result of unusually warm water conditions. Furthermore, elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere leads to acidification of the ocean, which has the potential to stop corals laying down their skeletons and dissolving away reefs. As a wildlife photographer based in the UK I clock up many air miles traveling to and from far off reefs to make my photographs. And all this travel produces more CO2. As Nick Hanna put it in The Art Of Diving by traveling to see reefs we are running the risk of loving them to death. So with Nick's encouragement I started offsetting all the carbon emissions from my air travel, backdating over the last 18 months, by investing in forest restoration and renewable energy projects equivalent to the 18.5 tonnes of CO2 my flying has contributed. I hope other regular travelers will consider making these offsets too, try Climate Care or Carbon Neutral for more details.
February 2007 - Cover: Duiken Magazine
The February issue of Duiken magazine from Holland features my image of courting angelfish on the cover. It is
February 2007 - Magic Filters online store
Magic Filters entered its third year of trading in January, having been set up by myself and Peter Rowlands in the summer of 2005. We now have three product lines (original Magic, Auto-Magic and GreenWater Magic) and thanks to our customers recommending our filters to their friends we have now sold our filters in more than 60 countries. We are always trying to improve our business and in February I integrated an online store into the Magic Filters website, with secure online payment processing handled by PayPal. We have also recently started Magic Filters as an official company, previously we traded within Peter's existing company PR Productions. This will make little difference to you as a customer, although it does mean that Magic Filters are here to stay in the world of underwater photography.
January 2007 - Speaking at the Copenhagen Diveshow
At the end of January (26-28th) I travelled to Copenhagen to speak at the CPH Diveshow. I had never been to Denmark before and I had a great time and met lots of interesting people - both underwater photographers and non-photographers. Also speaking at the show were deep wreck photographer and black and white master Leigh Bishop. This was the second time I have spoken with Leigh, and we both agreed we made a good double act because we both have such different approaches which shows what a diverse activity underwater photography can be. The digital underwater photography seminars were chaired by my friend Ingvar Eliasson. You can read more (in Danish) here and also see a short video here
January 2007 - The Art Of Diving - Willy Volk review
Willy Volk, editor of Divester.com and now my new best friend, has just published a review of The Art Of Diving. To continue in Willy's words "the result of their collaboration was tremendous: from the endless creative juices of these two aesthetes came the magnificent book, The Art of Diving. Never before has a book about scuba diving been so beautiful, so literate, and so spot on". Praise aside, I am so pleased that this reviewer really got what The Art Of Diving is about "Hanna and Mustard have put together a tender document suggesting that it doesn't matter much how you do it, so long as you treasure the experience... more than an overview of the underwater world, more than a history of the sport we all love, The Art of Diving is an elegant treatise on how to get more out of diving". You can read Willy's review here.
January 2007 - Photography in the Gulf of Aqaba
There aren't many better ways to kick start the year than by heading off diving. And so I decided to hop on a plane and head to Egypt for a week in the sun and more importantly in the sea. Egypt offers fantastic value for money at this time of year, and I booked up with Longwood Holidays for a week staying at the Coral Hilton in Nuweiba. This resort, and the Emperor Divers dive centre is a perennial favourite for a number of UK underwater photographers and I really enjoyed my time there, especially diving on their small house reef - which is an excellent spot for underwater photography. While in Nuweiba I also dived with underwater photographer Simon Appel, who runs Scuba Divers La Sirene and has been in Nuweiba for ever, who was kind enough to show me some of his favourite spots. It was pleasingly productive trip, although a little chilly at times. I said in a recent interview I wanted to do more cold water diving, and I hope that this counts!
January 2007 - Greater Meaning Of Water on Deeper Blue
Back in 2005 I took some production stills, underwater of course, for a new freediving film called The Greater Meaning Of Water and I even managed to get a Cinematographer IMDB listing as a result. The film should be finished this year and will be released to film festivals and on DVD. You can see a trailer for the movie on the GMW website and if you look very carefully in the teaser trailer you can see me ruining one of the shots. The film is written and directed by Sky Christopherson and stars Justin Flint Williford, who has just done an interview on Deeper Blue discussing the project. It is well worth a look.
December 2006 - Photography in the Cayman Islands
In December I travelled to the Cayman Islands for 10 days to fit in some extra photography for a new project I am working on. It was a long way to go for just over a week of photography, but since I knew exactly what I wanted I found it a very productive trip. I always enjoying diving in Cayman's balmy clear waters and this was a rare trip where my girlfriend was able to come along with me. The clarity of the waters in Cayman, while excellent for underwater photography, can be slighting intimidating after diving in low viz waters of Indonesia! As well as shooting for myself, I also took along a new Nikon D80 DLSR and Ikelite housing (thank you to Ikelite and Cameras Underwater) to write an article about the use of TTL, which has now been published in UWP issue 34.
December 2006 - On the trail of the Walking Shark
I have just returned from a fantastic and major shoot in remote West Papua in Indonesia. I was away for nearly three weeks and took over 4500 images. The trip first explored the remote and phenomenal reefs and mangroves around the island of Misool in Raja Ampat. These reefs are definitely the best I have ever seen, high in diversity and biomass and not showing any signs of human impact, they were a real privilege to photograph. We then went on to the FakFak region of the southern Bird's Head peninsula. This latter area was first explored by scientists earlier in the year and they dubbed the area a species factory after they dicovered more than 50 new species in the area. Well known fish biologist Dr Gerry Allen broke his own record for the number of fish species counted on a single divesite in the FakFak region earlier this year - recording 330 species on one of the sites I photographed. While I was there I had the chance to photograph an undescribed species of epaulette shark, which is known by the nickname of the Walking Shark because it hunts its prey of crustaceans and molluscs by walking on its fins across the seabed (see the photo). This trip was a major shoot for a new project I am working on and I am afraid all the photos will be under wraps until later next year. Although I will probably publish the shark images sooner than that. We travelled on the lovely new boat MY Seahorse and our diving was run by Diving 4 Images, who escorted the scientific trip earlier in the year. You can read more on the FiNS website.
December 2006 - Presenting at the NELOS Fetsival
Directly on my return from West Papua I was off to Belgium to speak at the bi-annual Nelos Festival. This is a fantastic and friendly event and I enjoyed my time there immensely (even though I seemed to be endlessly signing copies of The Art Of Diving, until they ran out!). I spoke on both days of the festival, talking about Fisheye Photography on the first day, including a section on my new fisheye plus teleconverter technique that generated a great deal of interest. On the second day I spoke to a packed audience about Fish Photography. This talk was particularly well received and produced much enthusiasm and debate afterwards between myself and the other photographers at the event. The flight home, my seventh in the week, was a bit hairy flying across the North Sea during a strong winter storm!
December 2006 - Interview in Adrenaliin
On my return home from Indonesia I was greeted with a copy of an interview I did for Adrenaliin Magazine during my trip to Estonia. It is always strange to see interviews about me that I can't read a word of, although I can recognise my own name and also Elizabeth II, who I guess is the Queen!! For those who can read Estonia, or would like to see the pictures in a larger format you can download a PDF of the article here. The interview was written by fellow photographer Kaido Haagen.
November 2006 - Presenting my photos to the Queen
Underwater photography has taken me to some unusual places, but I never imagined that it would take me to meet the Queen. I recently had the great honour to meet Her Majesty The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, to show them some of my underwater photos, chat about underwater photography and to present them with a book. The meeting came about because I was invited by the British Council in Estonia to represent the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition and to present the Queen with their official gift of the Portfolio book. The Queen is a keen photographer herself and congratulated me on winning in the competition and asked me about the challenges of taking pictures underwater. I actually spoke more about the advantages; underwater we can move in three dimensions and therefore can approach the subject from any direction we choose, I told her. Imagine what land photography would be like if we could fly. The Queen seemed amused by this answer. The Duke of Edinburgh, well known for his patronage of the WWF, was more interested in the species shown in the photos and where the photos were taken. I explained that the Snapper photo (which you can see in the photo on the right) was taken in Egypt, explaining that the Red Sea is so lush and colourful below the waves, quite a contrast to the desert above. After meeting the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, I also spoke about my photography to The Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP, The British Foreign Secretary, who was accompanying the Queen during her state visit to Estonia. It was a fantastic experience to meet the Queen, who despite dominating any rooms she enters, has a knack of making you feel incredibly at ease chatting away to her, as if you are only the two there. Click on the image to see a larger version.
November 2006 - Visions in the Sea, 2006
I am one of the few people have attended all the Visions in the Sea Conferences and was very proud to be asked to be one of the speakers at the 10th Visions in the Sea Conference in London in November. This year's conference brought together a stella selection of speakers: Peter Scoones, Amos Nachoum, Michael Aw, Andrea and Antonella Ferrari, Pete Atkinson, Martin Edge, Peter Rowlands, John Collins and myself. The two day festival was very motivating and I can't wait to get back in the water and get to work on all the new ideas I have. Congratulations to Ocean Optics for 10 years of Visions, I hope that it continues for many more decades.
November 2006 - Cover: Tauchen Magazine - two in a row
I am very happy that Tauchen Magazine have again chosen one of my photos for the cover of their magazine. The image shows a hawksbill turtle and a diver in Sipadan and was taken in May. Amusingly the magazine have moved the diver slightly to the right, compared with the original image. Tauchen is Europe's largest diving magazine and this is the second month in a row that one of my images has been on the cover of the magazine.
October 2006 - Plongeur D'Argent in Antibes
There are many underwater photography competitions around the world, but I choose to only enter the two that I think are the most prestigious and most important: the Wildlife Photographer of the Year and World Festival of Underwater Photography in Antibes, France. These two competitions attract entries from the top professionals and getting an award really is a special achievement and a fabulous endorsement of your work. I am very excited to say that for the last two years I have won awards in both (of course I do not expect this luck to last, but I am enjoying it while it does). At this year's Antibes Festival I was awarded the Plongeur D Argent for my black and white image Stingray Sunset taken on New Year's Day in Grand Cayman. This is my sixth award from le Festival in Antibes, I won my first award there in 2002.
October 2006 - Shell Wildlife Photographer Of The Year 2006
I am very pleased to announce that once again I am an award winner at the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year (2006). This competition is the most prestigious nature photography competition in the world, and each year the winning entries are chosen from about 20000 photos from professional and amateur photographers from all around the world. This year, my photo Snappers in Synchrony was highly commended in the Animal Behaviour Category. I am very proud to win another award in Animal Behaviour as behavioural shots are seen as the most challenging type of image by many wildlife photographers.
October 2006 - Estonia visit
During my short visit to Estonia, where I was invited to represent the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, I had the chance to do many media interviews. Most exciting was doing my first live television interview on Estonia's National Broadcaster ETV. The interview lasted for 15 minutes and I had the chance to show a number of my photographs and work in plugs for the Art Of Diving and Magic Filters. I was feeling like an old pro. The interview was broadcast twice, once live and then repeated later in the day. After doing the TV, I did a recorded interview for the Culture and Arts show on Klassika Raadio. Then I was whisked off to the KUMU art museum to give an informal talk about the Wildlife Photographer exhibition, followed by a lecture on Coral Reefs. Finally I did two interviews for Estonian magazines: Cheese a photography magazine and Adrenaliin a sports and diving magazine.
October 2006 - The UK Dive Show 2006
I have just returned from a fun but busy weekend at the Diveshow at the NEC, where I was signing copies of The Art Of Diving in various places and chatting to many people about digital underwater photography. It was very nice to see so many friends from the UK and all over the world at the show! And to those who bought the book I hope that you enjoy it!
October 2006 - Book: my images in Ocean
I am pleased to announce that I have just heard that a selection of my photographs are used in the new illustrated reference book Ocean written by Robert Dinwiddie and produced by publishers by Dorling Kindersley. Ocean is a large format, full colour, hard back reference book on all aspects of the Oceans and costs £30. This is the second book in the DK Reference Library series that I have contributed image to, my photos having already appeared in Earth, which was published in 2004. Fabien Cousteau, a featured contributor to The Art Of Diving wrote the foreword to Ocean.
October 2006 - Cover: Tauchen Magazine
I seem to be doing rather well for covers at the moment. The current issue of Tauchen Magazine, Europe's largest diving magazine, has one of my pictures on the cover - this one showing my buddy Denis Antippa photographing inside the wreck of the Ulysses in the Red Sea. Another shot from this series was used on the cover of Sport Diver Magazine earlier this year, and also appears in The Art Of Diving. I also have an article about Shark Reef at Ras Mohammed inside the magazine.
October 2006 - Sardinian Workshop & Competition
I am just back from a week in Sardinia running a digital photography course for my friends Alan James and Heather Hammond. Alan has run an underwater photo workshop in Sardinia for the last 6 years and this year had to pull out quite late because he is moving house and shop! I was happy to fill in for him for personal reasons (those who know me personally will know exactly what my personal Sardinia reason is!). Anyway it was a great week and a very different and enjoyable diving experience for me. The trip was organised by the excellent Location Sardinia and and the diving by the fantastic Anthias Diving. At the end of the week I was one of the judges for the Astrea D'Oro International Photo Competition and I very much enjoyed meeting many top Italian photographers.
October 2006 - Cover: BBC Wildlife Supplement
I am pleased to announce that my photo of schooling stingrays is the main image on the cover of BBC Wildlife Magazine's travel supplement about the Cayman Islands (and in fact I also have two thumbnails on the cover too). The supplement makes excellent reading and I learned a great deal about the terrestrial wildlife of the islands. In all I have 10 of my pictures in the supplement and also have a picture inside the main magazine, which I will talk more about later in the month...
September 2006 - Cayman Digital Madness
I have just returned from an excellent trip to Grand Cayman. The first week was to continue my study of the mass annual coral spawning. We added a new species to our spawning dataset this year, seeing Massive Starlet Coral spawning, and also saw the regulars including Brain Coral and three species of Star Coral. The branching Elkhorn and Staghorn corals that were flatten on our study site by hurricane Ivan, still haven't spawned since the storm, and they appear to be putting all their energy into growning - some have grown about 15cm in just two years, you can read more in the Cayman Compass here. The second week saw me teaching as part of Cayman Digital Madness organised by Scuba Diving Magazine from the USA. This was a great week with a fantastic bunch of photographers, who made the event a total pleasure for me. You can read Scuba Diving's event diary here and see a gallery of the winning pictures here, there is also an active discussion on Wetpixel here. It was also a real treat to get to know Cathy Church, Stephen Frink and all the gang from the magazine. Sign me up for more.
September 2006 - Cover: FiNS Magazine
I am pleased to announce that one of my photos from my May trip to Sipadan, Kapalai and Mabul is on the cover of FiNS Magazine this month. That trip was organised by FiNS Magazine and this picture was shot specifically as a cover. I love it when a plan comes together. Although taken on Sipadan, this photo shows a Hawksbill rather than the more abundant green turtles. The magazine also features my Talking Megapixels column, this month on a Sense of Style.
September 2006 - Red Sea Workshop
FULL ALREADY! Issue 32 of Underwater Photography Magazine features an advert for my Digital Techniques Workshop 2007 - once again in the Red Sea in June. I realise this is a long way off - but such is the demand that it is already filling up fast. If you are interested in coming please send me an email - at this stage it is just to register interest - no need to pay anything. I will be offering places on the workshop on a strict first come, first served basis - based on the order I receive these emails. I am sorry I have not replied to most of your emails - I will in a month or so, when I start to organise the trip. You can read about this year's trip (back in June) in UWP Issue 31.
September 2006 - Divequest trip to Bali
I am just back from the beautiful island of Bali, where I was running once again my A Quest For Diversity: the Secrets of Bali for Divequest. Bali is a beautiful, interesting and charming island and a wonderful destination for diving. We dived in four areas during the trip: Menjangan/Secret Bay, Puri Jati, Tulamben/Seraya and Padangbai/Nusa Penida and saw creatures ranging from pygmy seahorses to the enigmatic Mola mola the world's heaviest bony fish. We also saw many weird and wonderful creatures such as mimic octopus, blue-ring octopus, ghost pipefish, frogfish, sea snakes and tiger, Coleman's and harlequin shrimps. You can read a report on the trip on Fins Online here and see a gallery of my images from the trip here.
August 2006 - Two new Magic Filters
I am excited to announce that we have expanded the Magic Filters range to three different filters. The original Magic filter is now one year old and I have invented two new filters to add to the range. The first available now is the Auto-Magic, which is made specifically for digital compact cameras. We have designed this filter to make the great colours of Magic images simple for everybody produce. This filter works with the camera’s automatic settings, so all you need to do is turn off your flash and point and shoot for vibrantly coloured images. The second is the Greenwater Magic filter, for which Peter Rowlands has done all the development dives. This filter is designed for low viz, green waters, like those around the UK, and we are promises to revolutionise available light photography in these conditions. Check out the galleries on the Magic Filters website to see the results.
August 2006 - New 05/06 portfolio online
I have revamped the gallery page of this website and added a new gallery of my favourite 50 images taken during the last 12 months. This gallery compliments the similar one that I created this time last year with my my 50 favourite shots taken prior to that date. I hope to make this an annual event - creating an overview gallery from of my best images from the previous 12 months. Please take a look at my favourite images from the last 12 months here.
August 2006 - NELOS Festival
I am pleased to announce that I am a guest speaker at the Nelos Film Festival in Belgium in December, and one of my images is being used on the promotional material for the event. The Nelos Festival is in its 18th year and celebrates and showcases both still and video images of the underwater world, it also incorporates a competition for both formats - the closing date is the 27th October. Other speakers include cameramen Peter Scoones, Andy McLeod and still photographers Christoph Gerigk, Willem Kolvoort and Linda Pitkin. The festival takes place in Belgium on the weekend of the 2nd and 3rd December 2006 and is sponsored by Duiken and Duik Magazines.
July 2006 - DIVE Contributing Editor
I am very proud to announce that DIVE Magazine have invited me to become a contributing editor. This position is in recognition of my regular publication record in the magazine, most recently my feature on tiger sharks, see cover below, called Confessions of a shark virgin. I have to admit that I haven't read the small print attached to this honour, but it probably means I have to buy the drinks at the next DIVE party!
July 2006 - Scuba Diving Magazine USA
I dont normally report on editorial image usage in News, but I am very pleased to have had my first editorial pictures in Scuba Diving Magazine in the States. I have previously had advertising images in both of the big US dive magazines (my images used by the Cayman Islands Dept of Tourism are in as double page spreads regularly) but this is the first time I have images selected by the editorial staff. Very few British or European underwater photographers have their work used by the American magazines, as so many of the world's top underwater photographers are Americans. I have two full page images in the current issue and more images coming up in future issues.
July 2006 - Cover: DIVE Magazine
DIVE Magazine this month has published my feature about diving with tiger, great hammerhead and bull sharks while in the Bahamas on the Wetpixel Shark Trip with Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures. Because DIVE magazine has some of the world's most experienced shark photographers among its regular contributors (Douglas Seifert, Jeremy Stafford-Dietsch and Charles Hood, to name three) I felt like a bit of an imposter doing a shark article. So I decided to write the article from the perspective of a big shark virgin, as I had never seen any of these species before. You can read it in the July issue of DIVE.
July 2006 - Cover: Sport Diver Magazine
I currently don't write for the UK's Sport Diver magazine, but I do have one of my photos on the cover again this month. This is my second Sport Diver cover in just a couple of months, to go with the one I had in May. This image was taken in January in Grand Cayman. I am pleased to have the cover shots on two out of the three UK dive magazines this month!
July 2006 - Portfolio in DYK Magazine
The Scandinavian diving magazine DYK has published a 4 page portfolio of my pictures this month. I decided to select only natural history images, to show a different side to my photography compared with the more scuba-diving orientated images in The Art Of Diving. Furthermore 4 out of the 7 images featured were shot in 2006. I always enjoy seeing articles about me that I can't understand a work of! Dyk is published in both Danish and Swedish, and I am equally inept at both. Thankfully images do not any translation.
July 2006 - 1 Year of Magic Gallery
On 16th August 2005 Peter Rowlands and I started selling our Magic Filter for available light underwater photography. I actually invented the filter on our June Red Sea trip last year, so to celebrate 1 year of shooting the Magic underwater I have updated my DLSR Magic gallery to include my 25 favourite Magic images (that I have taken) from its first year of use. You can see my Magic Gallery here. Once the filter is officially one year old, I intend to do a much bigger version of this gallery, incorporating images from Magic users, on the Magic Filters website. The next 12 months promise to be exciting ones for UW filter photography as we have two new filters to introduce to our range.
July 2006 - Featured in Digital Camera Buyer
The British digital camera consumer magazine Digital Camera Buyer are running a feature on underwater cameras and photography this month. The article includes a four page interview with me, showing several of my photographs and revealing some tips for getting nice underwater pictures. Digital cameras and the proliferation of cost effective housings for them have made underwater photography incredibly accessible these days. A few years ago underwater photography articles in general camera magazines were always novelty pieces, these days they are very much the mainstream. It is certainly an exciting time to be an underwater photographer.
July 2006 - Wildlife expert
I am featured as an Out and About expert in this month's BBC Wildlife Magazine, talking about going snorkelling at Kimmerage Bay in Dorset. The item itself is very short, but it is worth checking out for the rather amusing mugshot of me that I chose to send in to accompany it. It is a self portrait taken with a fisheye lens of me actually in the water at Kimmerage! If you are interested in seeing what the underwater world is like when snorkelling in Dorset check out my winning portfolio in the BSoUP Best Of British competition click here.
June 2006 - Red Sea Workshop
Just back from the Red Sea. I have been to the Red Sea at exactly this time every year since 1998, and I love it. It was an awesome trip where everything went so much to plan that I can just change my post here on what I was going to do, to what I did do. I got lots of material for Ultimate Sports new book Dive Red Sea by Simon Rogerson and John McIntyre, and everyone seems happy with the options for the cover. I also shot plenty of material for the Top Spots Weltweit feature for Tauchen Magazine on shark reef. Then on the second week I ran the UWP Magazine Digital Techniques Workshop, which was very enjoyable and productive for all (the picture shows the gang). And finally Peter Rowlands and I put our finishing touches on our new AUTO-Magic filter, a new recipe I have devised to work with auto-white balance on compact cameras. We will be launching this in a month or so, when I'll tell more.
June 2006 - DYK Magazine Interview
The Scandinavian diving magazine DYK features an interview with me about The Art Of Diving and also my approach to underwater photography. I did the interview with writer Fredrik Isakson at the London Dive Show back in April. DYK is published in both Danish and Swedish versions and you can download the Swedish (I think) version of the interview here. I have also contributed a portfolio feature to the Magazine, which will be appearing in their August Issue.
June 2006 - Interview with NWP Photography
The Nature, Wildlife and Pet Photography Forum has just published a three part interview with me on all aspects of my photography. The first part has background on me, my approach to photography and the influences on my work. The second part focuses on my editorial publications, my new book The Art Of Diving and the Magic Filter. And the final section deals with environmental issues. I am the second underwater photographer to be interviewed by the site, after Eric Cheng was featured last year. Other nature and wildlife photographers featured in the series include Thom Hogan, Bjorn Rorslett, Ron Reznick and Michael Reichmann. You can read my interview here.
June 2006 - Sipadan Barge Accident
During my trip to Sipadan I photographed some damaged caused to the island's reefs by a barge running aground. The damage only effects a small area 370 square metres and the quality of diving in Sipadan remains excellent. Look at my Sabah 2006 gallery to see how great the diving is. Anyway after originally publishing my pictures of the incident on the websites of FiNS and DIVE magazines, the story has been reproduced widely, sometimes with several of the facts exaggerated. I have not wanted to make any money from these pictures and have allowed anyone who asked to reproduce them for free - I took them to show the damage and hopefully to stop further development on the island. That said not everyone asked! Anyway my images have accompanied reports on the incident in many news publications and websites including: FiNS, DIVE, Divester, Underwater Times, Daily Express (Malaysia), CDNN, Asia Dive News, Today (Singapore) and Mingguan (Malaysia).
May 2006 - An evening with Me!
Obviously I have suffer my own company every day, but on Tuesday 30th May in London, Ocean Optics and Mavericks Diving are presenting An Evening with Alex Mustard as part of their Great Diving Adventure series. There is a chance for banter beforehand, followed by a talk at Kings College. The event is free, but you must contact Ocean Optics to reserve a place. My presentation will be quite varied, but will cover plenty of stats on coral reef ecology and underwater photography. You can download a PDF with further details (and quite an old picture of me) here.
May 2006 - Online Articles
Just a quick announcement about a new feature on this website. For a long time I have published lists of the all the photography and marine biological articles I have written. These lists are useful for me to remind me what I have been doing, but I always thought that they were a bit dry! I would love to reproduce all these articles here on amustard.com, but that would take me weeks to do. But instead I have chosen a selection of about 20 of my favourites, both long and short, about marine life and photography and put them online as webpages. When possible I have tried to include images of the original magazine layouts of the articles as illustrations. You can find a listing of my online library here.
May 2006 - Sabah Trip for FiNS
I have just returned from an excellent trip to east Sabah, diving Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai for FiNS magazine. I was hosted by three different resorts: starting off at Seaventures Dive Resort, then going on to the island of Mabul, staying with Borneo Divers, and then finally moving across to Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort. You can read my FINS blog-diary about the trip here. The diving throughout the trip was superb, but unfortunately on my last day I witnessed a tragic accident as a construction barge smashed into the reef at Sipadan. Although very sad, this accident has not ruined the diving on the island but should serve as a horrible reminder of how easily precious natural wonders, such as Sipadan, can be damaged by our actions. To remind you of the wonders still thriving on Sipadan I have put up a gallery of my images from the trip here.
May 2006 - DIVE feature on cleaning
Just a short news item to remind you to look out for my new article on cleaning symbiosis in the ocean in the latest issue (June 2006) of DIVE Magazine. For this article I wanted to use both my own and other peoples images to illustrate this characteristically marine behaviour. After The Art Of Diving, where I just did the images, I wanted to remind people that I write as well. I hope that you enjoy the article.
May 2006 - Easyjet Interview
For those of you flying on easyJet this month be sure to check out the 5 page illustrated interview with me on pages 58-62 of the easyJet In-Flight magazine. For those not flying this month you can read the article online here. The article is called Water World, as you can see from the image of the opening spread above. For you non-Europeans, easyJet is a large airline and has more than 100 planes and last year flew 30 million people. The interview, conducted by Piers Townley, discusses the photography for The Art Of Diving and tips on diving and underwater photography in general. Hopefully this article will enthuse many people about the underwater world and introduce them to the best book about scuba diving for the last 50 years!
May 2006 - Cover: Sport Diver Magazine
This month I got my first cover on the PADI diving society magazine Sport Diver, here in the UK. The image they chose was taken last June in the Red Sea and features my dive buddy Denis Antippa diving on the wreck of the Ulysses in Egypt. This is actually Denis third modelling cover from that trip as he has twice made covers before on DIVE and UWP magazine, with shots on the Giannis D. And also features on several pages of AoD, as well as in the spread from easyJet, above.
May 2006 - Band name song after my photo
An unusual and amusing bit of news. I recently received an email from a newly formed London band asking if they could use the name of one of my photographs as inspiration for a song. The band's founder had seen my award winning Shy Hamlet Romance on display at the Natural History Museum, London as part of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. I thought that this was brilliant, and of course I said yes! The band are called Pocketbooks and you can check out their tunes here. Shy Hamlet Romance was runner up in the Animal Behaviour (all other animals) Category of the 2005 Wildlife Photographer competition.
April 2006 - Announcing Digital Madness
I am very excited to announce a very special underwater photography event Digital Madness, which being run in the Cayman Islands in September. SCUBA Diving Magazine (USA) is teaming up with the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, Cayman Airways and Mares along with 4 of the top dive operators in the business to bring you this unique event. I am running the show down at Ocean Frontiers at the East End of the island - with lectures, pool sessions, special and secret photo dives and even a guest appearance by Stephen Frink. Check out my recent Cayman Gallery as well, of course, as my new book The Art Of Diving to see the photographic potential available in Grand Cayman. To book your place go to the Ocean Frontiers website or email Lesley at Ocean Frontiers direct or call toll free from the States on 1.800.348.6096 - Package price is US$1599. European based photographers, in particular, may be interested in extending your stay to take in the annual coral spawning to make the most of flying across the Atlantic. To get you in the mood for this very special event you can practice your skills in this special Cayman underwater photography game on the Scuba Diving website!
April 2006 - Signed copies
I finally have some copies of The Art Of Diving myself and I am happy to send these out to people who want dedicated or signed copies. I would like to mention that postage costs are quite high - as books are heavy - about £5 for UK and £6.50 for EU and quite a lot more for further afield. The best way to avoid paying these postage costs is by coming along to one of my talks (I am sorry that you will have to suffer hearing me speak!) and get a copy from me in person. You can see what talks I have coming up on my talks page. But I am very happy to send them out by post. I am very happy to write dedications in the books, even unusual ones (I've already had some strange ones). Please email me if you are interested in getting a copy and discuss payment options (PayPal is best). Also if you are planning to come to a talk and want to make sure I don't run out of copies please email me beforehand!
April 2006 - Amazon Top 500
I am very excited to report that my new book, The Art Of Diving, reached the dizzy heights of the top 500 selling books on Amazon.co.uk during last week. Although I don't have a great deal of experience in these matters, I am told that this is pretty remarkable for an underwater book, most of which usually sit somewhere between 10,000-30,000 on the sales rankings. As I write this now we have dipped to a still very respectable 1500, although of course(!) we are the number one title that comes up if you search for diving in the books section of Amazon. I am still waiting to get some copies of the book myself, but once I do I will be offering a limited number of signed copies for sale. Please email me if you are interested.
April 2006 - Tauchen Ultimativ
No. I haven't done another book already. The German language version of The Art Of Diving will be released on 16th April, with reductions for pre-orders. Continuing in German: Tauchen ultimativ - Eintauchen in eine neue Dimension. Mit Tauchen Ultimativ eroffnen zwei Top-Journalisten der Szene eine vollig neue Dimension des Tauchens. Der Meeresforscher und international preisgekrönte Fotograf Alex Mustard und sein renommierter TextKollege Nick Hannah haben ihr Konnen zu diesem Meisterwerk vereint. Mit unglaublichen, bisher nie gesehenen Fotos fangen sie die Seele des Tauchens ein und geben dem Lebensgefuhl Tauchen eine ganz neue Dimension - eben Tauchen ultimativ. Den Taucher erwarten in diesem Buch gruBende Schildkroten, balzende Flundern, lauernde Haie und springende, gleitende und meditierende Taucher, so der renommierte Fotograf David Doubilet beim Erscheinen. Man darf also durchaus gespannt sein! Jeder, der bis zum 16.April 06 vorbestellt, erhalt das Buch zu einem ermaBigten Preis von nur 26,50 Euro, ab dem 16.04. kostet das schone Teil bereits 29,90 Euro im regularen Buchhandel. Alle Schnappchenjager wenden sich direkt per Telefon oder Email an Ultimate Sports: Tel. +49/(0)221/34803833 oder Email email@example.com.
April 2006 - London Dive Show
The Art Of Diving got its official British public launch at the London International Dive Show (LIDS) during the weekend of 1st and 2nd April. Both myself and Nick attended the show, giving an illustrated talk about the book on both days and signing copies of the book on the Ultimate Sports Stand and also on the Aquapress Stand. It was a rare occasion that Nick and I were both in the same place and that place was England, and it gave lucky show-goers the chance to get rare dual signed copies. Thanks to TheDeepStop.com for the photo of Nick and I at the show (right) - looking pretty tired on Sunday afternoon. I have decided that signing books is rather like getting lines at school! Seriously though, I really enjoyed the event and it reminded me how rarely I get to see people's reactions to my images - it was incredibly satisfying seeing someone open the book and their face light up when they see my images. Nick and I also did several interviews during the event including for Dyk Magazine and TheDeepStop.com.
April 2006 - The Underwater Photographer
British underwater photographer Martin Edge has just released the third edition of his popular book The Underwater Photographer, published by Focal Press. This book is a major update on the previous editions and totally embraces digital photography and techniques. My modest contribution is a chapter on filters, that I wrote about a year ago, typically, just a couple of months before I invented the Magic Filter, which obviously would have featured prominently! The book is excellent. Very thorough, but also accessible and filled with real world advice and personal tips. You can read a review I have written on the book here on Wetpixel.
April 2006 - Portfolio in Newton Magazine
I am very flattered to say that the well known, Italian popular science magazine Newton has chosen to run a very large feature on me and my underwater photography in their April Issue. The article, which is 18 pages long, focuses on my fish photography and discusses how I try and communicate my passion for the oceans through my images. The portfolio features some new images (taken since The Art Of Diving), including a new stingray image, which is also used (small) on the cover of the Magazine. The portfolio also features a few older images of mine for a real cross section of my photography. For those who speak Italian, unlike me, this is how the article is introduced il risveglio di una tartaruga, la grinta dei pesci pipistrello, il muso di una bavosa: un inglese, biologo e appassionato di fotografia, a tu per tu con i nostri antenati. I hope it is nice! I like being called appassionato by Italians! Newton Magazine is also syndicated in Spain, Japan and China.
March 2006 - Wetpixel Shark Trip
March has been a very exciting month for me as I was able to get myself in front of some very impressive creatures on the Wetpixel Shark Trip to the Bahamas, with JASA: Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures. This was a wonderful trip and gave me lots of photography time with tiger sharks, great hammerheads, bull sharks, and lemon sharks (in addition to more common species such as nurse sharks, Caribbean reef sharks and blacktip sharks). It was also a great chance to spend time diving with my friends from Wetpixel and to hear all the gossip from the world of underwater photography. I would also like to thank Jim and his great crew on the Shear Water for making it such a unique and amazing experience. You can see a gallery of my images from the trip here.
March 2006 - Art Of Diving Coverage
The Art Of Diving officially went on sale while I was away in the Bahamas, and I am pleased to able to report that the UK's scuba diving magazines have been very excited by the book and both DIVE and Diver ran large features showcasing some of the material from the it in their April issues. PADI International also ran an announcement on the release of the book in their official news. I am really looking forward to the London International Dive Show at the beginning of April where I will be doing book signings with Nick (Hanna) and getting the chance to see some the diving public's reaction to the book. I am pleased to say that the book is generating lots of interest.
March 2006 - BSOUP Theme Portfolio
I am pleased to report that I retained the BSoUP Theme Portfolio trophy in March, and actually got the news while I was away in the Bahamas (and in fact I emailed in my entry from Florida). BSoUP is certainly going through something of a renaissance at the moment, with many members starring in international competitions. This means that even though they do not bring big prizes the club competitions do have a very high standard, and I am very proud of my competition successes at BSoUP. In fact as members we usually see many international prize winners, first at a club level. Coincidentally this competition was sponsored by Ultimate Sports Publications, although there was no bias in the judging because the results are decided by the members of the British Society of Underwater Photographers! You can see the results from the competition here.
March 2006 - The Art Of Diving - published
I am very happy to announce that my first photographic book The Art Of Diving was released in the UK at the start of March 2006. The book, published by Ultimate Sports Publications, is a collaboration with well known diving and travel author Nick Hanna. The book sets out to capture the spirit of scuba diving and to take the experience of being underwater to new imaginative levels. The book combines a wealth of beautiful and remarkable underwater photography, together with captivating explanations of the lure of the oceans. Together they reveal exactly what Jacques Cousteau meant when he claimed that ‘underwater, man becomes an archangel. I am very proud of The Art Of Diving and the collaboration with Nick. You can read more about the book at artofdiving.com and can order a copy direct from Amazon UK.
March 2006 - That bloody snapper
I have to say I have had my fill with my snapper photo; it really has been everywhere in the last 6 months since winning the Animal Portraits category at the Wildlife Photographer of the year. As well as being published in many newspapers and magazines and reproduced on news websites around the world it is also a star attraction in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. Last weekend I went back to The Natural History Museum for the first time since the award ceremony, and it is amazing to think how many people must have seen it there on display. In addition the snapper is also part of the touring exhibition that visits museums both in the UK and all around the world. I have had several emails from friends who have seen it on display in Sydney, which I think is very unfair since I haven't yet had the chance to visit Australia!
March 2006 - Magic Success
I am very proud to announce that American photographer Rand McMeins won Best In Show and the David Doubilet Award for Excellence in Underwater Photography in the Beneath The Sea underwater photography competition. The reason I am so chuffed with this is that Rand used my Magic Filter to take his winning picture. OK, I can't take much credit as clearly his skill was entirely responsible for the winning shot, but it does make the point that in the right hands the Magic filter can produce really outstanding images, than win praise at the highest level in competitions. Buoyed by this success, Peter and I have decided to make the Magic filter available to photographers with compact cameras, but note these cameras must be capable of manual WB to work with the filter.
February 2006 - Art Of Diving website
The UK release of my first book The Art Of Diving is imminent and in preparation the website: artofdiving.com was launched on 24th February (actually this is still having bugs fixed so I have removed the link for now). The website is divided into two sections - the first is publicly accessible and gives you an idea of what the book is about and shows some sample pages. The main part of the website is password protected and contains a great deal of material designed to extend your enjoyment of the book. There are extended captions for all the images in the book, behind the scenes photos of the making of the book, free downloadable screensavers, articles and even galleries from guest photographers. The password for the extended section of the website is printed inside the book!
February 2006 - FINS Articles
The latest issue of FINS diving magazine dropped through my letterbox recently and everywhere I turned I kept bumping into my pictures. I had my regular Talking Megapixels column, this month discussing the difficult of trying to decide when to buy your first digital camera or when to upgrade. The article was cheekly titled Measurebating can make you blind! I also had a travel feature on exploring Bali called Bali road trip as well as news articles about the Magic Filters and my competition successes in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the Antibes Festival. I am pleased to say that three of the articles are illustrated by images taken with the Magic Filters and no strobes, proving the technique can deliver images that are highly desired by publications because of their naturalistic look.
February 2006 - Gone to the dogs
As an underwater photographer I have photographed some fairly strange stuff, but nothing quite prepared me for shooting dogs in a canine hydrotherapy pool. This was a shoot for Petpatter magazine and I have to admit it was fantastic fun. Apparently, hydrotherapy is really useful for dogs with back problems or other physical injuries as it allows them to rebuild their muscles without the physical impact of exercise on land. This would have been a perfect assignment for my own dog, Goldfinger, if he was still with us as his love of the water was even greater than mine! But at least I got to shoot a golden retriever - so thanks Millie and all the staff at the Canine Care Centre. It was certainly a very different Friday afternoon to my usual ones.
February 2006 - Magic filters sold in 50 Countries
Magic Filters started off as a personal project when I set out to develop a filter for myself to use for available light photography. The few friends saw the early results and persuaded me, with the help of Peter Rowlands to make the filter available to all. So we started selling them for the grand price of £19. And I am now proud to say that six months on my filter is being used by photographers all around the world, and we have now sold it in 50 countries (although I should add that most countries are just represented by a single photographer). So if you are a digital underwater photographer and you haven't yet tried the Magic, check out www.magic-filters.com to see what you are missing!
January 2006 - Rob Galbraith Interview
I feel honoured, and very unworthy to be featured in an interview on Rob Galbraith.com, possibly the web's best known site for professional digital photographers, receiving more than 10 million unique visitors each month. The site features a three page interview, written by Eamon Hickey, about my photography and specifically using the Nikon D2X digital camera underwater. The interview also focuses on the new techniques that digital cameras have made possible for underwater photographers - including the Magic Filter. You can read the interview here.
January 2006 - Sub Aqva Cover
It is always nice when the first time a magazine uses my pictures they include a covershot. So I was very pleased to see supermodel Giles Shaxted once again strutting his stuff, this time in Italian. The magazine in question is Sub Aqva. This is actually the same image that is on the cover of The Art Of Diving, although on the book it is manipulated in the computer, to add a blur to make it a bit more graphic and more in the style of the book. This is the original shot - straight from the camera which was taken in Grand Cayman. It is featured in the magazine as an award-winner from the prestigious Antibes World Festival of Underwater Images, France.
January 2006 - UK Underwater Pictures
I don't dive in the UK, but on my return from Cayman I was pleased to see a rare spread of my UK underwater pictures in Sport DIVER Magazine. These pictures were taken in August and always remind me of the Ashes Cricket series - as I remember calling a holt to the shoot so I could get back to hear the latest score! The pictures feature my friends Anna Hickman and Jo Hopkins, who were taking a break from their Oceanographic PhDs to do a bit of underwater modelling. The images were taken snorkelling in Dorset (England) and you can see a gallery here.
January 2006 - Grand Cayman Shoot
As a underwater photographer it is great to start the year underwater and taking photos, which is exactly what I was doing in Grand Cayman for the first two weeks of January. I was very excited about this trip because so many of my Cayman images had been used in the Art Of Diving, many familiar subjects were once again fresh to me. The aim of this trip, diving with Ocean Frontiers and Dive Tech was to shoot new stock for a forthcoming regional diving guide and also for major library submissions. I am also very grateful to my friend and fellow underwater photographer Veruschka Matchett, who came along to model and to shoot with me. I am very pleased with the haul of images from this trip, which mix up my own creative desires with the more conservative style required for the guide book and library. You can see a gallery here.
January 2006 - Talking Megapixels Online!
My Talking Megapixels Column, which I started writing for SE Asian Scuba magazine Fins, is now being syndicated online on the well known digital photography website Wetpixel. I am very please about this because it means my words of wisdom will now read by a wider audience! In fact the column contains very few words of wisdom and rather than being a statement of fact it is intentionally opinionated, hoping to generate debate on key issues in digital underwater photography. You can check it out here.
January 2006 - Why I have been so quiet!
A few friends have asked me why there hasn't been much news here on amustard.com recently. The answer is The Art Of Diving - my first book - a collaboration with author Nick Hanna, published by Ultimate Sports Publications. The book is (finally) done and is currently in press for a scheduled release at the end of February or the start of March. It is not just a collection of photos, but a exploration of why humans love diving. Obviously only a handful of people have seen it so far, but the reaction has been very encouraging. To give you a flavour, we approached one of my heroes, National Geographic underwater photographer, David Doubilet for a cover quote. He commented "Come, dive into Nick Hanna and Alexander Mustard s bright blue world. This is the best book about diving since Jacques Cousteau s The Silent World. Here turtles bow, flounders court, sharks skulk and, best of all, divers leap, soar and even meditate. Alex has a unique eye. This is dynamic underwater imagery at its best." Once the book is out, I doubt I will talk of much else. So you won't miss it. The whole experience has been very exciting.
December 2005 - End of year review
2005 has been a fantastic year. Here are a few of the highlights to save you scrolling down! The arrival of my Nikon D2X in February prompted a glut of photography with trips to Egypt (2), Maldives, Cayman (3) and Bali. Much of this photography was for my new book The Art Of Diving, which is now fully laid out and designed and scheduled for printing and publication in the new year. This year I have written more than 20 UW photography articles, including having my own column "Talking Megapixels" in the magazine Fins, and had 19 marine life articles published, including peer reviewed marine science papers in the journals Nature and Limnology & Oceanography: Methods. On the competition front I won awards for my photography at both the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the Antibes Festival, and completed a grand-slam at BSOUP, winning all three portfolio competitions in the last 12 months. Also this year I have led trips to Bali to see the incredible biological diversity and to Cayman to watch mass coral spawning, and have taught underwater photography at the Digital Jam event, where my group won 6 of the 7 categories. I have continued in my role as co-administrator on Wetpixel and digital officer of BSOUP. I have also had some fairly strange things in front of my camera this year: from world-record free divers to dogs having hydrotherapy treatment, and I even picked up a cinematographer credit on a movie! Finally I am very proud of the Magic filter, that I developed in June and is now being used by underwater photographers around the world to create images that were never possible before.
December 2005 - DIVE Magazine Cover
I had never had a cover on DIVE magazine before 2005 and now I have three - meaning a quarter of the covers this year have been mine! However I am particularly pleased that this image was chosen for the cover as it shot taken with my Magic Filter and therefore doubles as a great advert. The issue features a short article by me on diving the Giannis D Wreck, wow my first wreck diving article, and also a thorough review of the Magic Filter, by DIVE's senior correspondent, and top underwater photographer Charles Hood. The Magic scored 9/10 for performance and 10/10 for value, with a verdict of Excellent way to restore natural colours. That is magic news!
December 2005 - Beneath the Seven Seas
I got a pleasant surprised this week when the new maritime archaeology book Beneath The Seven Seas edited by George F Bass dropped through my letterbox. I got sent a copy of this book because features a few of photographs that I took for the National Museum of the Cayman Islands. The book is a collection of stories about some of the greatest shipwreck archaeology projects ever undertaken from all around the world. It is a fantastic book with first hand accounts from the archaeologists who uncovered the stories and artifacts of these fascinating wrecks.
November 2005 - DIVE Magazine Big Shot
As a result of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, my pictures from that competition are all over the place in magazines this month. Both DIVE and Diver in the UK ran the story, and I was particularly pleased that my image also got full page spreads in the prestigious Unterwasser Magazine in Germany and in Professional Photographer Magazine in the UK. Anyway this item is about the Big Shot feature in DIVE that showcases one of my newer images, taken on my recent trip to Bali. It is nice to remind people that I photograph more than snappers!
November 2005 - Antibes Festival Success
The Festival Mondial De L' Image Sous-Marine, otherwise known as the Antibes Festival is widely acknowledged as the Oscars of underwater photography. This year the Festival attracted entries from professional underwater photographers and filmmakers from 50 countries. I am pleased to report that I was awarded the Plongeur De Bronze for my 10 slide portfolio. That is my fifth award from the Festival since 2002. As well as being a competition the Festival is also a fantastic social event and I met many great and interesting people there.
October 2005 - BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year
I am absolutely delighted to be able to announce that I was both a category winner and runner up in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2005. I had not entered the competition since I started shooting digital in 2002 so I am very happy with these awards. My Snappers School won the very popular Animal Portraits category and my Shy Hamlets Romance was runner up in the awkwardly named Animal Behaviour (all other animals) category. The snapper picture is absolutely everywhere at the moment as this image was chosen for most of the press materials, plus it has been all over the world in newspapers and on the web. Both of my images are in the special winners supplement to BBC Wildlife Magazine and of course in the WPOTY Portfolio 15 Book. I have wanted to be a winner in this competition for many years, and I am very pleased with this award.
October 2005 - BSoUP Portfolio Grand Slam
Until December last year I had never won a BSoUP Portfolio competition, which was frustrating as they are always regarded as the Society's most prestigious competitions. Well, now I am pleased to say that I currently hold all the three portfolio trophies (I am eligible for, not being allowed to enter the Beginners Portfolio!): the Open Portfolio, Theme Portfolio and most recently the Best of British Portfolio (which I won jointly with Sam Bean). I was surprised and pleased to win the Best of British award as I do not dive in the UK and had taken all of the images while snorkelling. You can see a larger version of the portfolio here. All these images were taken with my Nikon D2X in Dorset during August and feature my friends Anna and Jo.
October 2005 - Nature Publication
I don't normally use my news page to report scientific publications - as they are rarely exciting! But I am very pleased to be able to say that our work on the function of open ocean ecosystems has been published as a paper in the prestigious scientific journal Nature. Oceanography is a team sport and I am particularly pleased for all the gang from the FISHES cruise that our work has been published in such an important place. On my page about the FISHES Cruise you can see three jars of my plankton samples - including a very green middle jar that is filled with the mining diatoms from the Iceland Faroes Front. Nature has an impact factor (for 2004) of 32.182, making it the world's top multidisciplinary science journal, and the world's top journal publishing basic scientific research, which is why I am pleased.
October 2005 - Pictures, Pictures Everywhere
Pushing open my front door after time in the ocean I am usually greeted by a mountain of bills and if I am lucky copies of the recent magazines that I have featured my images. This time I was met by the October Issues of DIVE and BBC Wildlife Magazine that both run my coral reef images, and the September issue of Tauchen that has a wreck picture. I also actually appear as a model in DIVE too - in Peter Rowlands photography article (twice in one picture in fact!). While I was away I also had my first chance to see my Cayman Island's advert that has been running in the US diving magazines Scuba Diving and Sport Diver for most of this year. This shot features my friend Giles diving with the silversides, and was taken last summer.
September 2005 - Cayman Coral Spawning
Once again September meant zapping across the Atlantic to Grand Cayman to study the annual coral spawning. It was great to see such an extensive spawn, just one year after Hurricane Ivan, especially considering that our study site was probably the most exposed dive site to the storm. The number of species spawning was reduced from previous years (probably as a result of energy going into repair and growth following the Category 5 Ivan), but with the most abundant species all spawning the size of the spawn was certainly as large as it has ever been. We also saw Flower Coral participating in the spawn for the first time this year. Another first was that my coral spawning orientation lectures were used at the core teaching for a new PADI specialty qualification designed by Instructor Steve Schultz, and 20 divers were certified with this new qualification. Finally the story of the spawning has really hit the headlines this year, not only was it featured in the local press (Cayman Compass and Cayman Net News) it is also currently doing the round in the diving world, such as in the US Magazines Scuba Diving and Sport Diver.
September 2005 - Movie Star!
Just a fun bit of news, really, but I am officially part of the movie industry! In recognition of my crucial work on the forthcoming freediving film The Greater Meaning Of Water I am now officially listed on the International Movie Data Base. OK, I am just the smallest of the small fry at the moment, but maybe one day I will have an entry as long as Big Jack's! Right?
September 2005 - Secrets of Bali
I am just back from a successful Divequest group trip to Bali. It was a very lucky trip and we saw almost all the creatures we set out to find - loads of Seahorses, Ghost Pipefish, Nudibranchs and Frogfish, two species of Pygmy Seahorses, two Mimic Octopus out at the same time, Wobbegong sharks, Harelquin Shrimps, Boxer Crabs, Ambon Scorpionfish etc etc. If it was weird we saw it! The only thing that proved elusive was the Mola mola, which try as we might just wasn't to be seen on the day we went looking. Bali is a fantastic island, with first rate hotels and the diving is so much better than people think - this small group trip is running again next year, so contact Divequest for more details. Check out the Bali Gallery website to see my pictures from the trip!
August 2005 - Red Sea Digital Workshop!
I am very pleased to announce, in collaboration with Tony Backhurst Scuba and Underwater Photography Magazine, my Digital Techniques Workshop, that will take place next summer around the fascinating wrecks and vibrant reefs of the Red Sea (25th June to 2nd July)! This trip costs £975, and is taking place on probably the finest new liveaboard in the Red Sea MV Typhoon. The aim of this workshop is simply to help digital photographers get the great shots they want. Places on this trip will be allocated on a first come first served basis, please send me a short email to register your interest (this is non-committing at this stage). I am away during most of September, but you can read more here.
August 2005 - Magic Filters AVAILABLE!
My June trip to the Red Sea was a nice break from deliverable photography and it allowed me to experiment with a variety of new techniques. Perhaps the most successful was the new underwater filter I designed and refined for colour photography in available light. This Magic Filter was so successful that we are putting them into production! The filter allows a digital photographer to photograph in full colour without artificial light from the surface down to 15m. The filter differs from others because it is not designed to perfectly counteract the filtering effect of seawater because this is highly variable. Instead it adjusts colours to produce a colour balance that is easily corrected by the camera’s white balance. This is a new approach for underwater filtration, one that takes full advantage of the new technology of digital cameras, and gives the filter its wide working depth range making it a practical solution for underwater photography in the real world. Check out the Magic Filters website and buy yours today!
August 2005 - Portfolio in X-Ray Magazine
I am pleased to be able to share that a portfolio of my underwater images was featured in the August/September issue of X-Ray Magazine. I regularly get requests for portfolio features like this and I always try and show different selections of my work. In this case we concentrated on marine life and behavioural shots, particularly on reefs. Some of these images are quite old, indeed 7 of them were taken on film, but this is the first time that several of them have been seen anywhere other than my website. You can see the PDF of my portfolio here.
July 2005 - New Gallery on this website
It has been on my to do list for ever! But finally I have put a new gallery in the photography section of this website, that contains 50 of my new images taken since I last updated the original galleries in early 2004. OK it is not in the same built in format as the old galleries, but at least there is some of my more recent photography on this site at last. I have tried to show the variety of my photography with this new gallery, while at the same time choosing images that I think represent my style of shooting. There are lots of black and whites, behaviour shots, and clean, crisp fish portraits as well as wrecks and a good number of people images, that I guess reflects the photography I have been doing for The Art Of Diving. The majority of these new images have been taken this year using my Nikon D2X camera. Click here for a shortcut to the gallery.
July 2005 - UWP Magazine Covershot
I was very proud that my image was chosen as the covershot for the 25th special anniversary issue of Underwater Photography Magazine (or UWP to its friends). And to add icing to the cake the picture was taken with a Magic Filter! It was very much out of the blue when I asked to contribute to the first issue and I have continued submitting ever since - and luckily Peter Rowlands, the editor, has kept publishing them. I have written articles reviewing kit (housings, cameras, lenses, strobe, filters and even software) but I prefer to write about the techniques of underwater photography. I often find writing about a technique is often the best way to focus my thoughts on the subject and usually acts to improve my photography too. UWP is a fantastic and free publication for all underwater photography enthusiasts and long may it continue!
July 2005 - FREE Digital Workshop in London
Just a quick announcement. On Saturday 9th July I am running a FREE digital photography day at Ocean Optics in London 1 to 1 with Alex Mustard. Starting at noon I will be on hand to discuss and offer one to one advice on how to improve your underwater images. Then as a special evening event I will make a presentation to reveal the intricacies of the techniques that he uses to produce top underwater digital photographs. I am pleased to say that this is a free event, but with limited space, the talk is by ticket only - contact Ocean Optics to reserve yours. To quote from the Optics website "This is a wonderful and rare opportunity to learn simple skills that will greatly help you to make better underwater photographs, regardless of the digital camera that you own".
June 2005 - Egyptian Experiments
Late June took me, as usual, to the Red Sea with friends from the British Society of Underwater Photographers for a week of liveaboard diving. After a number of trips tied to specific deliverables, this trip provided me with the opportunity to experiment with new photographic techniques and test new ideas. All the tests went really well - especially my new Magic colour filter, that produced stunning coloured results, without flash, from the surface to 15m. The trip was also a recce trip for the Advanced Digital Workshop that I indent to run in the Red Sea next summer, with backing from Underwater Photography Magazine. You can read more about the trip here, and see a gallery of pictures here.
June 2005 - X-Ray Magazine Cover Shot
I am always happy when my first contribution to a magazine includes a covershot. X-Ray Magazine is a bimonthly dive magazine published in PDF format and distributed worldwide over the internet. The magazine featured the Cayman Islands in this issue and editor Peter Symes asked me to contribute, as he wanted my stingrays on the cover! The magazine covers many of the top stories from the Islands including Bloody Bay Wall, Stingray City, Freediving World Records, Coral Spawning and an interview with Cathy Church. I am pleased that my image was chosen for the cover as I think the serenity of black and white is a fitting tribute to the popular co-editor John Neuschwander, who died last month.
June 2005 - The Greater Meaning of Water
My good friends all know that I am rather keen on my movies! So I am very proud to announce that I am now finally part of the US Motion Picture Industry. OK admittedly I am not staring in Revenge of the Sith, but I am credited as the underwater production photographer for a new short film on freediving called The Greater Meaning Of Water. The film, written and directed by Sky Christopherson, stars Justin Williford as the freediver Max Avery. The image on the left shows underwater cameraman, Chris Branston during the shoot with Justin. To some extent freediving is just the back drop for the film, which is more an exploration of the higher state of mind that some elite athletes experience during competition, known to sports psychologists as the flow state. I am really looking forward to seeing the finished film.
June 2005 - More Coral Spawning
I have just confirmed that I am off to Grand Cayman at the end of September - and you can join me! This will be my third year of coral spawning diving in Grand Cayman as I slowly (once a year) add to the dataset I am collecting. Working with my friends Ocean Frontiers we have setup Eco-Week an ideal and original dive vacation for those with a passion to know more about the world underwater and to experience unusual photo opportunities. If you are interested please email me, or book direct with Ocean Frontiers. You can download my article on the excitement of coral spawn diving from XRay Magazine here (1.3MB).
May 2005 - Big boys in the Maldives
One of the main projects I have been shooting for in the last year is called the Art Of Diving. We have amassed most of the material for this project, but the obvious hole in the image set was big animals. With deadlines looming and a need for good encounters with remarkable creatures it was imperative to choose the correct location. So for the final shoot for this project I set out to one of the prime locations for the big stuff - a liveaboard around the atolls in the Maldives. I joined the lovely MV Sea Queen, run by Maldives Scuba Tours, and with the help of dive guides Nick and Demelza saw whale sharks, mantas, dolphins, false killer whales, pygmy killer whales and even Orcas. Plus the seething mass of reef fish that is everywhere in the Maldives. OK, you can never guarantee the big stuff - but in the Maldives it isn't far off. You can read more about the trip here (but i am afraid most of the images are under wraps for now).
May 2005 - DIVE Magazine Covershot
I waited ages for my first cover shot on DIVE magazine and then two come along in quick succession! I took this picture in the Lembeh Strait last year and immediately liked it because it offered an alternative view of a common subject. On my birthday I posted my 8 favourite images from the previous year on the Wetpixel website and this shot was one of them. But I found that not everyone got the shot, and certainly never thought it would be a cover. Luckily one person who did like it was DIVE publisher Graeme Gourlay who saw it during my presentation at the Outdoor Show in March and wanted to use it. There had to be a reason for the image so Graeme came up with Fighting Nemo idea for an article and asked me to write a short article on aggression in anemonefish based on a few comments I had made during my talk. Very much a case of the cart coming before the horse!
May 2005 - Talking Megapixels in Asia
I have started writing a new column on the wide world of digital underwater photography for the Singapore based diving magazine Fins. I have always wanted my own column - and I am sure to let the power go to my head! The column is called Talking Megapixels, an expression coined by a friend from BSoUP, Mike Maloney, to describe the techno-babble he heard me speaking to Peter Rowlands on one of our dive trips! I hope to use the column to discuss some of the difference that digital has made, from the way we shoot to the social changes it has ushered in! Wearing my other hat I am also a consultant on Marine Biology for the magazine.
April 2005 - Cayman Islands Advertising Campaign
April was also the first time that I saw one of my images as an advert for the Cayman Islands. Hopefully I will have several images coming out as part of this new dive tourism campaign, however I cannot tell you about them until they have appeared in print! And since the adverts are mainly appearing in North American publications I am not always that quick to know that they are out! This image was taken just a couple of days before Hurricane Ivan at the Babylon dive site on the North Wall. And I am pleased to say that I returned to this dive site in January and the sponge formation, like much of the diving on the island, was not affected by the storm.
April 2005 - Freediving World Record
OK it wasn't me (not a chance!), but I was there to photograph it! On 11th April Mandy-Rae Cruickshank broke the free immersion world record extending it to 74m (that's going down a rope into the ocean, without fins, to 74m and back - on a breath of air). I have to admit that I went to photograph the freediving as a bit of a skeptic, but came back a total convert. Wow. It is so awesome live. If you ever get the chance to watch freedivers disappearing into the blue - grab it with both hands! To find out more about the Cayman freediving event visit Performance Freediving. You can read more about my exploits taking photographs of the freedivers here.
April 2005 - BSoUP In Focus Cover Shot
The Spring 2005 issue of In Focus magazine, the newsletter of the British Society Of Underwater Photographers has one my photos on the cover. The image shows my buddy Giles Shaxted swimming through a school of silversides at Eden Rock in Grand Cayman. This picture was taken on the same dive as the Diver Cover shot (see below) when I was able to persuade Giles to pose for me as his own camera had run out of batteries! Giles is usually a willing model and has helped me create some of my favourite images from Cayman. I am also pleased because it is the first time one of my images has appeared on the cover of this long running publication.
April 2005 - D2X Underwater
I used all my connections in the photographic world to ensure that I was able to get my hands on the new 12.4 Megapixel Nikon D2X when a first few were available on the international release date (25th February). And rather uniquely I already had a Subal housing for it (which I had received specially sent from Subal in Austria to Ocean Optics in London the day before). Anyway just over a week later the three of us (me, the D2X and the Subal housing) were in the Red Sea getting acquainted. Being the first person to use this camera underwater I had a few teething problems to work through (like making sure that the housing didn't leak), but by the end of the first day I was in love! Wow, this really is an amazing camera. Click here to see a gallery of my D2X images, and here to read a mini-review of the camera and housing. So far I have also published reviews of this camera in Underwater Photography Magazine, Wetpixel and Scuba Diving Australasia.
March 2005 - BSoUP Theme Portfolio
I am very pleased to report that at the March meeting of the British Society of Underwater Photographers (BSoUP) I won the Theme Portfolio Award, sponsored by Ultimate Sports, to add to the Open Portfolio Competition I won back in December. I feel very proud to hold both awards simultaneously. My portfolio, Rush Hour At Stingray City, was a collection of 6 images of stingrays, inspired by the photo Squadron, that is on my homepage. The other 5 images were all taken on the final dive of the Digital Jam event in Cayman in January, using a Nikon D70 camera that I borrowed from my friend, Steve Broadbelt. The portfolio is a combination of three colour and three black and white images. You can see the portfolio here.
March 2005 - Speaking at the Outdoors Show
On Sunday 20th March I am speaking at the UK Outdoors Show, sponsored by the Ordinance Survey, at the National Exhibition Centre. My talk is part of the Go-Diving section of the show and the subject is Dances With Fishes. My talk is about my approach to photographing marine wildlife (particularly fish) and how I try to take images that reveal the highly evolved and intimate behaviour of coral reef fish. My talk is scheduled for 12:30-13:30. Other speakers include John McIntyre, Tanya Streeter, Mike Valentine. To read more about the show click here.
February 2005 - DIVE Magazine Cover
The March Issue of DIVE magazine finally brought my first cover shot! Strangely the image ended up in DIVE's hands because they sponsor BSoUP's Open Portfolio competition. They wanted the images for their News section and while they were at the magazine they also decided to put one on the cover. Great. The shot shows a Bohar Snapper, with the rest of the school behind, and was taken last summer in the Red Sea, using the telephoto technique I have developed for digital underwater photography. The image was taken with a Nikon D100 with a 160mm equivalent focal length lens (on FF). I am pleased that an image that I like because of the innovative technique I used has also stood up as just an image - the magazine don't care about my telephoto technique! I am relieved to finally break my DIVE magazine cover duck!
February 2005 - Amateur Photographer Website of the Week
For once this website was the focus of attention when Amateur Photographer Magazine featured it and my photography as their Website of the Week. The publicity shifted my daily traffic up by 50% to 15000 hits per day (the site's maximum was after Hurricane Ivan in September when I got up to 350000 per day). I also received a lot of complimentary emails from AP's readers about my photography. This is what they said "Alexander Mustard is an award-winning underwater photographer, with a great website. It is difficult to pick out a favourite section in the Gallery as all the images are fantastic. However, some shots that stick in my mind include a diver blowing a seemingly huge bubble, Alex's brother in armbands (shortlisted in our APOY competition some years ago [actually it won]), a silvery blue shoal of fish rushing past and a squadron of three stingrays in b&w looking like spaceships in formation. Unmissable. Sarah Jackson."
February 2005 - Diver Magazine Cover
Sometimes it takes a while for news to filter through to me! Canadian Magazine Diver used one of my silversides shots from last summer on the cover of their December Issue. I only heard about it when they wanted to pay me! The original shot was a horizontal and they chose to crop it into a square to use on the cover. A lot of photographers moan when their images are not used exactly as they shot them. I always find it really interested to see how art editors choose to use my images for their needs. I can always show people the original afterwards. Diver Magazine is North America's longest running dive mag and it has a very impressive list of contributing editors and advisors. As I have said before, I am always pleased when the first time one of my images appears in a publication it is on the cover! Diver Magazine, Canada.
January 2005 - Digital Jam Grand Cayman
In January I had the chance to escape the UK winter and head to Grand Cayman to host the Dive Chronicles Digital Jam event at Ocean Frontiers! It was hard work, but great fun. I gave 4 hour long lectures outside on the pool deck, ran pool tune up session and was on hand to give one to one advice to all the participants. I was very pleased that at the end of the week my group won 6 of the 7 categories in this island wide event. Digital Jam was considered by all a resounding success and will happen again in January 2006. Make sure you book up early. Ingvar Eliasson has put a report on the week on Digideep. Read the Ocean Frontiers report on DigiJam. See the winning images in the flashy Dive Chronicles winners' gallery. You can read my own report on my first full on teaching week here.
January 2005 - Divequest trip to Bali
I'm now back from the Bali Recce trip (which was awesome) and Divequest are busy sorting out all the final details for next year's "Quest for diversity, in Bali" that I am leading. I am so pleased that this trip will be going to Bali. First of all the diving there is first rate and so varied. Awesome reef walls and scenery, the most astonishing fish covered wreck, muck sites, and reliable encounters with massive and rare pelagic species. I am so happy to be involved with a trip that I know will be a success basically because the quality of the diving is so high. Anyway, as a more complete write up of the Bali trip I have made this illustrated PDF of the recce trip - which also gives a good idea of what to expect on next year's (2005) group trip. You can download it here (6.5MB). PLEASE NOTE that the trip is now full, but I will be running more trips, and please contact Divequest for details.
December 2004 - BSoUP Open Portfolio
I am very pleased to say that I have won the British Society of Underwater Photographer's Open Portfolio competition, that is sponsored by DIVE Magazine. In my opinion (and that of many people) this is the most important annual competition in British UW Photography, and I am very proud to have joined all the big names of the previous winners on the trophy. You can see larger versions of the images and read more about them on the BSoUP Website.
November 2004 - Officially Weird
Much to the mass amusement of my friends I am featured in a new film called Ocean Weirdos. I would like to stress that I am not, in fact, one of the wierdos! Ocean Weirdos is a new underwater natural history film made by two of the UK's top UW filmmakers John Boyle and John McIntyre. The film features unusual marine creatures from both shallow water and the abyss. My role is to talk about these creatures and explain why such weirdness actually makes perfect sense once we consider how and where each animal lives. This is my first appearance in a wildlife documentary and as a result my ego has been massaged substantially, even if I do look a bit chubby on the screen!!
November 2004 - DPM Camouflage Book Launched
I was invited to Soho for the swanky launch party of the DPM (Disruptive Patterned Material). The press generated by the release of this book has got my images into many fashionable publications for the first time, such as FHM and Warp. The book really is a magnum opus on the subject of camouflage. It seems hard to imagine anything that has not been camouflaged that does not appear! I am actually really proud to be involved with this project and I launch party was pretty cool too!
Below are some quotes from the press releases which describe what it is all about. "Conceptualised by Maharishi, DPM (Disruptive Pattern Material) is a two volume 944-page encyclopaedic art book that takes the reader through the intriguing world of camouflage in which things are never quite the way they seem. DPM is beautifully illustrated with over 5,000 images, most of which are in full colour and many previously unpublished. DPM is an encyclopaedic art book that charts the history of camouflage from its roots in nature, through to its adoption by the military, and on to its current popularity and use within modern civilian culture. The Sub-Aqua chapter of the Nature section, for instance, includes stunning pictures of stealthy marine organisms by the award winning photographer Dr Alexander Mustard."
November 2004 - More Zen Diving Publications
The Zen Diving project is still going strong. Our latest publication is in South Africa's Divestyle Magazine. This is certainly one of the interesting spins offs of the Zen Diving project is that it enables me to get my images published in a number of publications that I had no contact with before. Nick Hanna and I have been working very hard on the Zen Concept recently and have evolved the theme for a more mainstream appeal. Watch this space (there is a clue in the title of this article!).
October 2004 - Divequest Brochure Cover Shot
The gallery of images in the annual brochure of UK travel agent Divequest is always one of the highlights of the underwater photography year in the UK as it features some of the best images from the UK's best underwater photographers. And for many years I got the brochure and aspired that my pictures would be part of it. Well, last year my pictures were part of the gallery and this year I have gone one better and got one of my images on the cover - a picture of a leaping pygmy seahorse taken in Lembeh in March. I must say it has printed very well!
November 2004 - Divequest '05 group trip to Bali
I'm now back from the Bali Recce trip (which was awesome) and Divequest are busy sorting out all the final details for next year's "Quest for diversity, in Bali" that I am leading. I am so pleased that this trip will be going to Bali. First of all the diving there is first rate and so varied. Awesome reef walls and scenery, the most astonishing fish covered wreck, muck sites, and reliable encounters with massive and rare pelagic species. I am so happy to be involved with a trip that I know will be a success basically because the quality of the diving is so high. Anyway, as a more complete write up of the Bali trip I have made this illustrated PDF of the recce trip - which also gives a good idea of what to expect on next year's (2005) group trip. You can download it here (6.5MB). This trip is now full, but I will be running more trips, so please contact Divequest for details.
November 2004 - January '05 Grand Cayman DigiJam
Calling all digital underwater photographers. Do you want to enjoy a week of photographic diving on Grand Cayman's reefs and wrecks? Have the chance to socialize with other photographers and pick up tips from on site photo-pros? Do you want the chance to win over $20,000 in prizes? Then this is what you have been waiting for! And you only have to wait until the last week of January for Grand Cayman's Digital Jam. I am running the Digijam week at Ocean Frontiers. Click here for more information.
October 2004 - Talk at Visions
For the forth year in a row I have given a talk at the annual Visions in the Sea underwater photography Conference in London. This year my talk was entitled 'Digital Thinking' and is about how to modify traditional photographic techniques when using a digital camera underwater. By thinking digitally photographers cannot only achieve results on digital than are as good as film - we can surpass them and take whole new kinds of pictures. This talk was pretty much a toure de force of my two years of shooting a digital SLR underwater. So I was very pleased how well received it was, and seemingly the whole audience commented on the originality of my ideas and quality of my images. More.
October 2004 - Bali a quest for diversity
As England started to get a bit chilly as Autumn closes in I was up and away to Bali, Indonesia for a whistle-stop tour of the island as a final recce for a Group Expedition I am leading there for Divequest next September. Bali offers such diverse diving - everything from encounters with giant ocean sunfish (Mola mola) to tiny macro life like pygmy seahorses and boxer crabs. This trip also let me catch up and dive with fellow Wetpixel member Robert Delfs. You can read more about the trip on my recent projects pages and see a temporary gallery of images from it here.
September 2004 - Golden Hour Feature in DIVE Magazine
I am pleased to report that the September issue of DIVE Magazine contains a large feature by me on Dusk Diving, containing pictures from my last two trips to the Red Sea and the Cayman Islands. I am very pleased with this feature as it has a number of my images of fish spawning that few other photographers have ever captured. The feature spans pages 32-38.
The same issue of DIVE also contains a Big Shot Special Feature that asks "ten of the world's leading underwater photographers about their decision to go digital". The article is kicked off by Douglas David Seifert, and gets comments from US photographers David Doubilet and Doug Perrine as well as UK snappers Georgette Douwma, Paul Kay, Mark Webster, Dan Burton, Charles Hood, Peter Rowlands and me. I feel in esteemed company!
August/September 2004 - A long stay on Grand Cayman
The summer of 2004 took me away from the UK for a long stay in Cayman that allowed me to get on with various projects out there. I spent a couple of weeks working indoors on the Snorkelling Book with Stephen Broadbelt, the first draft of which is mostly complete. Don't worry I did get outside regularly. An on-going project throughout was photographing silversides, small schooling fish that fill Grand Cayman's caves and caverns during the summer months. My good friend Giles Shaxted was my regular accomplice on these dives. Also Wetpixel administrator James Wiseman and his fiancée Sarah Bernhardt visited me for a long weekend, which was lots of fun and we did plenty of diving, concentrating photographically on supermacro subjects. I also had the chance to try out a Nikon D70 in a Subal housing and wrote a review of the system for Wetpixel as well as completing some high speed flash synch tests.
Finally, I was joined by a fantastic group of divers from UK travel agent Divequest to see the Annual Coral Spawning. We had a fantastic spawn this year with at least 10 species spawning, several I had never seen before. The visibility was some of the best I have ever seen on Cayman and we were treated to encounters with reef sharks, turtles, stingrays, tarpon, eaglerays as well as some of the smaller members of the reef. Unfortunately just as we finished a week of amazing diving we were caught up in Hurricane Ivan, that sent us scurrying for the local hurricane shelter and caused a large amount of damage to the island. Thankfully we are all completely fine and with the help of my local knowledge were amongst the first couple of hundred people off the island after the storm - by private jet, no less! You can read more about this trip here.
August 2004 - Oceans-Image Picture Library first sale
Oceans-Image is a new Online Picture library dedicated to stocking the best Underwater Images in the world. The library will be a major representative of my photographs when it is launched in October/November this year. Despite not being officially open for business, the library has already made its first sale of my images, that were used in The Times (London) at the end of July. As well as representing me, Oceans-Image also contains stock from Charles Hood, Julian Calverley, Donald Tipton, Douglas Seifert, Lawson Wood and more. Link.
August 2004 - DPM book printed
The DPM book is probably the coolest project I have been involved with. Keeping quiet about this one has been a real strain - at last I can blab a bit. Us marine-biologist/underwater photographer sorts rarely get the chance to mix in such fashionable circles! It is certainly the only time that my fish pictures have shared a page with pictures from Playboy! In the book my images rub shoulders with pictures of cultural icons such as Robert De Niro, U2, Dustin Hoffman, Janet Jackson & David Beckham, and alongside fashion photography showing camouflaged garments from the likes of Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Moschino and Dolce & Gabbana. Other contributors include: Smithsonian Institution, Andy Warhol Foundation, The Face magazine, Carhartt, Adidas, Rankin, Tommy Boy Records & John Galliano. Cool! I am sure that I will post more details about this book over the coming months - when I have actually seen it! Visit the DPM website for more information - this book is scheduled for a September 2004 release.
August 2004 - Award at Celebrate The Sea Festival
Celebrate the Sea Marine Imagery Festival is the biggest event of its kind in the Asia Pacific. I was pleased to receive a High Commendation Award for my digital portfolio, and was the only British still-photographer to be amongst the awards. I hope one day to be able to attend this great festival in person. Link.
July 2004 - Interview in Sportsdykkeren
Danish diving magazine Sportsdykkeren has published a three page interview with me (in Danish) as part of feature called Digi Talt by Michael Jensen. I was pleased that I was asked to make this interview and I think it reflects my every growing profile as a digital underwater photographer. The downside is that I have absolutely no idea what I have said because I can't understand a word of it. The article is undoubtedly filled with pearls of my wisdom, such as "Diditalt er fantastisk! Men det er ikke sikkert, det er det rigtige for alle." Actually I think I might make more sense in Danish! Most of the images that accompany the article aren't mine, but the nudibranch used as a watermark on this page is.
June 2004 - 1000 Dives
Since I reached 500 dives a few years ago, I set myself the target of reaching 1000 dives before my 30th birthday, a landmark (or should that be seamark) I achieved with 8 months to spare this June. I could not have hoped for a better way to reach my millennium: on a great trip with my friends from BSoUP, at probably my favourite dive site "Ras Mohammed", diving on my own and having one of my best ever dives there. I spent most of the dive hanging out with the school of 70cm long bohar snappers, immersing myself in their ranks so that I could not longer see the open water above, below or around me. Photographically I was trying to get images of the school as seen from a fish's point of view: I shoot in available light, using a UR Pro filter to restore the colour (flash would only light up the first row of fish). This picture is a self portrait I took during that dive. You can read more about the trip here.
June 2004 - UWP 19 Cover and two articles
I am very proud that I have been writing for Underwater Photography Magazine since its first issue in August 2001. At the beginning of the year the magazine adopted its new horizontal format and the current issue is my first cover shot since the change. This issue also has two articles by me, one about going back to basic photographic kit co-authored by Giles Shaxted, and one about deep water ROV photography co-authored by Dan Jones. These contributions mean that I have now had 19 articles published in UWP the same number as there have been issues!
June 2004 - Diver Magazine Calendar
Last year Diver Magazine organised IMAGE 2003, the 10th International Festival of Underwater Photography. The magazine chose some of the award winning images were to illustrate their 2004 calendar. And now it is June I am pleased to be able to say that one of my images is the featured picture this month. This picture was taken on slide last June in the Red Sea. It was taken on the trip of left behind cameras, using kit I borrowed from Linda Dunk (thanks Linda). This June I am off to the Red Sea again with the same reprobates and I hope to make up for the lost time of last year!
May 2004 - DIVE Magazine's Big Shot
One of the things I like best about traveling is submitting pictures before going away and coming home to find them in print. It gets rid of all that waiting. On my return from Cayman I was pleased to find my heart shaped eels image, that I can't bring myself to call "Amore", featured as the big shot in the May edition of DIVE magazine. I am particularly pleased that this image was chosen because it comes from my one day of photography at the end of my disastrous trip to Egypt last year, when my cameras were left at Gatwick and only turned up in my penultimate day!
April 2004 - Tauchen Magazine Cover May 2004
I am always pleased when my images are featured in a publication for the first time, and I am especially happy that my first picture in the large German diving magazine Tauchen made it to the prime spot of cover shot. The image was taken with my Nikon F100 and 17-35mm lens on what was surely my most productive ever photographic trip to Grand Cayman for 2 weeks in 2002. That trip not only yielded this cover shot, but also four other images that won awards at the Antibes Festival in the same year. If only every trip was like that! My friends in the UK have been swift to point out I can now say that one of my body parts has been featured on the cover of a German Magazine!
April 2004 - Multi-tasking in Grand Cayman
I have just returned from spending most of the month in Grand Cayman. It was an incredibly busy trip as I balanced four main projects alongside my own photography. The first week of the trip was continuing my photography on the Zen Diving project with writer Nick Hanna. Then during the second week I was working on a Underwater Photography Magazine feature on basic photographic equipment with Giles Shaxted, as well as a natural history feature on mating and speciation in Hamlet fish (the image shows mating shy hamlets). The final week was spent working inn both the office and ocean on the Grand Cayman snorkeling guide with Steve Broadbelt of Ocean Frontiers. There is no way I could have got so many good images in as shot a peroid working in a location other than Cayman, simply because I know it so well. You can read more about the individual projects on the Recent Projects pages.