In an ongoing series, Scubaverse’s Underwater Photography Editor Nick Robertson-Brown talks to underwater photographers from around the world that he admires. In this blog: Josef Litt.
I grew up in Czechoslovakia, and we now live with my family in a small town called Twyford, west of London. I dreamt of adventures in faraway lands and in the ocean since I was a little boy, although my interest in technology took over in my early teenage years. Computers became the subject of my studies and later occupation. However, the romance with adventure and nature grew stronger and stronger. The decision to go diving was inspired by my dad becoming a diver in the local army organisation in the late 1970s.
‘Build a house, father a child, become a diver.’
I managed these goals and also planted some trees in 2006. The decisive moment arrived when I brought a borrowed Canon S90 in an underwater housing to my second diving trip. The photos were dreadful, but the bug has bitten.
I like photography, but I love the stories and the adventure more. Which explains why I’d rather write an article than prepare images for competition. Winning is a great feeling but so is to see an article published in a magazine with a photo on the cover page. The most rewarding feeling though was to receive fantastic reviews of my book GALÁPAGOS from readers and magazine editors.
Nowadays I enjoy leading trips to the Galapagos and other destinations, taking photographs, writing articles and working on my next book. Juggling this, family life and my work as a business transformation consultant keeps me busy every minute.
My website www.joseflitt.com covers all about the trips, GALÁPAGOS and my photography. Follow me on Facebook (Josef Litt and Photography by Josef Litt) and on Instagram (@jlittphoto).
Check out the 2020 Galapagos trips on Scuba Travel’s website by clicking here.
NRB: What is your favourite u/w camera equipment (past & present) & why?
JL: The first camera I ever used underwater was a Canon, and I stayed faithful ever since. I own a Canon 5D Mark IV in Nauticam housing, and I am loving it. The dynamic range and the low noise of the sensor allow me to take pictures in difficult lighting situations. The ergonomics of the housing is impressive. I feel I have everything I need at my fingertips.
NRB: What would be your advice to anyone new to underwater photography?
JL: Firstly, have fun! Learn as much as you can, read about photography, book an underwater photography workshop. Bite the bullet and learn Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop properly. Your ability to develop underwater images is as important as the ability to take them.
NRB: What, or who, has been your single biggest inspiration for your underwater photography?
JL: The word ‘single’ in the question puzzles me. The natural history TV series featuring the underwater world formed my interest. But there was no such a thing as a single biggest inspiration. I am privileged to have a chance to learn from the grandmasters: Martin Edge and Alex Mustard, and also be part of an awesome community of underwater photographers around the world.
NRB: Where is your favourite dive location, and is it for the photography?
JL: My most favourite dive locations are in the Galapagos. Darwin and Wolf are fantastic dive sites. Diving with marine iguanas at Cabo Douglas on Fernandina is also an unforgettable experience. Galapagos is not an easy location to take photographs, but results can be stunning with perseverance and careful lighting techniques.
NRB: What are you views on marine life manipulation, moving subjects?
JL: I am against harassing marine life. One could say that the act of flying to exotic destinations has a much more significant impact than moving a candy crab to the top of the soft coral. Also, one flash may not harm a pygmy seahorse but a queue of keen photographers taking ten or more shots each probably will. A healthy respect for the environment and the creatures living in it is critical. Awarding a manipulated image means blacklisting the competition for me.
NRB: What do you look for when you are making your images?
JL: I look for the background, the decisive moment, composition, play of light and an interesting foreground subject. I am usually pleased with clean, uncluttered images.
NRB: What motivates you to take u/w photos?
JL: It is the desire to illustrate the stories about a place, an animal or an event with a view from another angle. Same reason why I enjoy taking split photographs and taking images with a drone.
NRB: If you could photograph any one thing/place what or where would that be?
JL: A gathering of whales. If I were limited to a single place, I would stay in the Galapagos.
To see more of Josef Litt’s work click here.