I'm the one on the left who looks thrilled to be going under the ice
-Writer and assistant editor for www.uwphotographyguide.com for the past 2 years (and counting!)
-Avid underwater photographer since 2014
Ever since I was a child, I have been obsessed with the ocean and its inhabitants. I grew up wearing out the pages of my beloved copy of The Golden Book of Sharks and Whales, spending inordinate amounts of time at the Vancouver Aquarium, and watching every National Geographic show I could get my hands on.
Some people are born for the water, with a natural affinity, an instinctive ease and comfort when in aquatic surroundings. I am not one of those people. My default instinct is that water is trying to kill me in one way or another. It took me a lot of work to become comfortable underwater, but I knew that in the end it would all be worth it. Fortunately, I was right, as the journey involved a lot of suffering, and a lot of water going places it wasn't supposed to.
My start as an underwater photographer was a cause for concern. My first time trying out my setup underwater, I flooded one of my strobes, creating a mucky brown mess of seawater and battery acid that I noticed coming out of the back panel after I got back to the hotel. On the next trip, I made the brilliant decision to do a giant stride off a tall boat deck, with about a 5' drop to the water, holding my housing.
I hit the water with a massive splash, and I can't imagine how much force was put on the housing. It was enough to crack it open and let some water in, so I spent the whole dive swimming around with the leak alarm beeping. No, I'm not so hapless as to keep diving with an actively leaking housing; I gave it a visual inspection every couple of minutes to confirm there was no liquid water pooling in the housing, and no stream of bubbles from anywhere. But let's just say I needed to learn a few things about caring for my precious baby.
Now, 5 years later, I still have my same beloved OM-D E-M1 setup, and I am addicted to taking underwater photos. I have gone through two dome ports, one acrylic and one glass (thanks, Galapagos), but now I take really, really good care of my rig, and I have not had one catastrophic flood (knock on wood).
My favourite thing about underwater photography is showing people how beautiful the underwater world really is. Everyone thinks the underwater world is really, really blue (which is not completely wrong), but there are so many amazing colours to show, if you just take a good source of artificial light with you. And there are so many beautiful scenes, from healthy reefs bursting with colours and covered in colourful fish, down to weird little shrimp perfectly adapted and camouflaged for spending their entire lives on specific crinoids, starfish, or any other host you can think of. And the imaging possibilities are pretty much endless!
Macro or Wide?
Most underwater photographers have a preference for one form or the other. For me, whatever I am doing a lot of at the time is the one I prefer the most, until I get sick of it!
When I am in the zone capturing sunbursts over wide angle reef scenes with my fisheye, or taking shots of sea lions zipping around, I can't get enough of wide angle shooting. When I am slowing down and working my macro subjects with a shallow depth of field and nice creamy bokeh, I am taken over by the artistic creativity that macro shooting allows. But either way, I'm having fun, as long as there's something good to shoot!
-Olympus OM-D E-M1
-Olympus 8mm f/1.8 fisheye pro lens
-Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens
-Nauticam housing & ports
-2x Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes
-Reefnet fiber optic snoot
-Light & Motion Sola 800 Photo Light
-Kraken 3500S video light