In Part 1 of my Ghiannis D blog about the inside of the Ghiannis D I showed a couple of pictures to try and convey the drama and light of the insides of this picturesque Northern Red Sea wreck.
So this time I’m going to show a collection of shots of the exterior to try and show how you can get very different shots by simply moving a small amount in the water column, switching your strobes on and moving around the different areas of the wreck.
Before though I will say that I think the best light for shooting the exterior of the Ghiannis D is in the afternoon, when the sun has moved around, and you are not facing into the light whilst getting the classic external picture of her stern.
Another good reason to do this is to avoid other groups in the water, as on a normal schedule she will generally be dived as the first dive, and in the afternoon you will dive one of the other three wrecks at Abu Nuhas.
To shoot the classic angle of her, you are best quite shallow, looking down on her and simply using available light to capture her. There are a couple of alternative viewpoints to be had simply by moving around in an arc whilst staying at the same depth. From a technical viewpoint I’ve shot at an ISO of 200 at 1/50 sec at f6.3.
You need to be aware that with relatively slow shutter speeds like this there is a potential for micro shake, which is not normally visible on your camera’s LCD screen; and even though modern cameras have pretty good image stabilisers, this can still happen if you don’t concentrate and jab at your shutter release.
If you have a steady hand and good buoyancy you can get away with even slower speeds, but you will get a lower success rate as the speed drops.
Like in the previous shot, I’ve used a diver to add scale, and in this case I’ve composed horizontally or in landscape as it’s more commonly called. The above two pictures were taken three minutes apart, and I simply waited for the other diver to move into position. I also kept at the same depth but moved to the left a few metres.
I know a lot of people get annoyed with folk in their shots but I think seeing a diver connects us to the shot and can only heighten the drama and scale.
Neither of these two in these pictures were my buddies and in both cases I simply used them to make the shot, unbeknownst to them.
If you are working with a model and you can direct them, then all the better, however on a photo trip I try to avoid interfering with someone else too much, and usually just sneak shots like this. The technical settings are the same as with the previous shot.
If you keep moving around to your left another classic view will reveal itself. For this though you need to be a little deeper than for the previous pics. You need to properly plan and shoot a wreck dive, as it’s important to make sure you keep a good profile and avoid going up and down too much. If planned properly then you should avoid this. I like this angle as she appears to have slumped in resignation at her fate.
Like the previous pics the technical settings are pretty much the same as the light hasn’t changed over the course of these ten minutes. This doesn’t mean that this will be the same for you though, as the day we had was uncharacteristically overcast with a sandstorm that had blown over.
Being a little deeper now, myself and my buddy, who was lurking on the other side of the Wreck, decided to head off up towards the bow end.
She is separated quite distinctly bow and stern, and there is a section of the wreck which I always find quite graphically strong, so I try and get a little ahead of my buddy, so I can turn and frame them within this “V” shape.
I’ve scooted ahead to try and shoot my buddy coming across this section of the wreck, so I am now pointing back towards the stern area of the wreck. I am also still shooting just using available light at this point, so the technical settings are broadly similar, but very soon there is a good reason for me to turn on my strobes and mix things up a bit.
In amongst this section of the Wreck is an anemone and a couple of Clownfish; this though is buried well within the actual wreckage itself. So a whole new way of shooting needs to be adopted. Behind and around this anemone is very close jagged metal work, and definitely not enough room for my bulky frame, so to get this shot I have to shoot from the hip, with the front of my small dome one an inch or two from the body of the anemone.
There isn’t any room to see what’s on the screen or in the viewfinder, and I don’t have a right angle viewfinder… but to be honest it’s not that necessary once you get used to shooting from the hip.
Previous knowledge of this wreck has allowed me to pre-empt these shots, but on a photo week, these are things I’ll cover usually after the guide has given the regular dive briefing.
This shot required me to switch from available light to using my strobes, and the technical issues were getting my strobes in nice and close to the dome, but still back so as to avoid backscatter, and then gauging the correct exposure. I normally get my strobe exposure set on my hand before I move in for the actual shot, placing my hand in the position of the subject, or where I think it will be if I’m shooting from the hip like this.
I took a quick test shot of the subject to make sure I’d got the exposure right. I will also usually switch from autofocus to manual focus, as the camera, even with the huge depth of field of a fisheye lens, when this close can get the focus off a little.
All I had to do then was wait for my buddy Christian to swim where I think he would appear in the frame and take a couple of shots; this was the one where all the elements fell into place.
Phew! a bit of a logistical headache I agree, but worth it and the more you practice these techniques, and change from available light to strobes, then the easier these things will become.
Up at the the bow we were treated to a flickering shimmering lightship of silversides swirling around like millions of shards of glass, catching the light as they changed direction.
They are very reflective, so the flash exposure can be a bit hit and miss to be honest, and this shot was my personal favourite; but annoyingly I had placed Chris too far to the edge of the frame, so I moved him a tiny bit to the left using the Content Aware technology within Adobe Photoshop.
Another shot above where I’ve mixed available and strobe light.
After spending a bit of time with the silversides watching them swirl about, we both took some shots of the actual bow itself. To be honest I didn’t get any great pictures on this occasion, so was happy that we were going to visit her again on this trip – another great reason why a specific photo itinerary is the best way to get the shots you want.
It was getting towards safety stop time so we moved shallower and headed back amidships, and there was a few more different angles that I like to shoot before finishing the dive.
I like the safety stop area of the Ghiannis D and there are lots of great unusual angles to be had whilst the last few minutes tick away, so rather than just twiddling my thumbs, I like to use the time productively – and in and around the shot line there are loads of picture opportunities.
You have to be a bit careful though as it can get quite swelly, so keep an eye on your depth and position. I like this more abstract angle of the funnel on the Ghiannis which leads the eye into the shot and back down towards the stern.
Being quite close to the funnel, I’ve also used a touch of strobe to bring out a bit of contrast and the colour of the Banner Fish using the top of the wreckage to shelter in. This also provides a splash of yellow contrasting against the duller wreckage to lead your eye in to the shot.
OK, I hope you’ve liked this particular photo tour around the Ghiannis D and it’s by no means the only way to shoot her, but all of these pictures were taken in the one dive. You might want to shoot over parts of her on another dive, but I hope these have given you some ideas.
The trick is to talk about the shots you want with the guide, your buddy or me if you’re on one of my trips… and make a plan and stick to it.
Duxy is the in house photo-pro for UK-based dive tour operator Scuba Travel. To find out about availability on Scuba Travel’s underwater photography workshops hosted by Duxy click here.
PADI Teams Up with Wellness Brand Neuro to Drive Ocean Change and Create a Blue State of Mind
Together launching a whale-inspired limited-edition tin to fund ocean conservation
Ocean lovers and wellness enthusiasts can join PADI® (Professional Association of Diving Instructors®) and Neuro® functional gum and mints in creating positive ocean change.
The two leading lifestyle and purpose-driven brands have united in a shared mission that is born out of the transformational powers of the water and are offering a streamlined way to enhance your wellbeing and that of the ocean. Throughout the year, they will be releasing a collection of two limited edition re-usable Neuro x PADI tins designed to be used with all the bulk Neuro bag products, with 20% of profits donated to PADI AWARE FoundationTMand $100K USD committed to the world’s largest purpose-driven diving organisation’s non-profit charity by the end of 2024.
The first of the co-branded tins that are now available for purchase showcases artwork created by Neuro co-founder Kent Yoshimura, who is also a renowned mural artist and depicts a whale breaching in the ocean.
“The whale is symbolic of how everything is interconnected and small changes can have a huge impact upon our ocean – and all life that calls it home,” explains Yoshimura. “By refilling and using this tin, you’ll cut down on your packaging waste, fuel yourself with clean ingredients to live your best life and do more for all vulnerable marine species.”
“At least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year and more than 250 million tons of plastic are estimated to pollute our waters by 2025,” says Julie Andersen, PADI’s Senior Director of Brand. “Much of that debris is ingested by all of the ocean’s creatures – including the symbolic megafauna like whales. By creating this campaign, PADI and Neuro have come together to drive change and heal ourselves, our communities, and the ocean – our largest and most important ecosystem on this blue planet, and the very thing responsible for life on earth.”
Uniting Two Purpose-Driven Brands
Founded in 2015 by Yoshimura and his co-founder Ryan Chen on their first dive trip in Catalina, the two college friends and PADI Scuba Divers were looking for a more sustainable way to optimise one’s health and energy – and soon after established Neuro®, a collection of functional gum and mints crafted with a patented formula and clean ingredients to help you do more.
What started as a small start-up conceived on a dive boat, led them to garner international recognition for their appearance on Shark Tank in 2020 – and they have now sold over 90 million pieces of Neuro products.
“Core to our purpose-driven ethos, we want to encourage the world to not only improve their own lives, but the lives of others,” explains Chen. “We understand that being a truly sustainable company is more than just protecting the environment. That is why we prioritise environmental, social, and economic sustainability to ensure Neuro operates in a way that benefits everyone – including the smallest of plankton to the largest of whales that live beneath the surface.”
“Just like Neuro, PADI empowers people to become the best version of themselves when they are in a state of ‘blue mind’, where you become deeply aware of your own personal health’s connection to that of our blue planet’s – realising that your own wellbeing gives you superpowers to make a real difference,” says Andersen. “We are obsessed with creating positive ocean change and transforming lives by making the wonder of the underwater world accessible to all and ensuring that communities and ecosystems live in harmony that mutually support one another. Together, we are magnifying our powers to do more by raising awareness to the issues facing our ocean, while at the same time, providing meaningful ways to take action.”
How the Ocean Healed Neuro Co-Founders
Scuba diving isn’t just a passionate hobby for Neuro co-founders Yoshimura and Chen. It is from this that they experienced the entrepreneurial side-effects of scuba diving, in which the dive trip was a core driver to their business success and personal wellbeing – giving them both their “million-dollar idea” and a renewed sense of purpose and belief that anything is possible.
“It was during this dive trip that we realised the need to have a practical, sustainable, and approachable system that can be shared with fellow divers that provide clean energy during surface intervals,” Yoshimura explains. “When you fall in love with the ocean, you want to spend as much time as possible exploring and protecting it. So, we wanted to create a product that supported this passion and gives you a prolonged state of ‘blue mind’.”
For Chen, earning his PADI Open Water Diver certification also provided him with a pivotal moment in his own healing journey after he had suffered a tragic snowboarding accident that left him partially paralysed. He became certified through the PADI Adaptive Techniques Diving Course and benefited greatly from the physical and mental therapy the sport of scuba diving provides. Soon after, his renewed sense of purpose led him to be named to Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2019.
“There’s no cooler feeling than taking that first breath underwater,” Chen recalls. “All of a sudden you have this superpower, to breathe underwater and explore. Learning to dive re-ignited my passion for life but also my belief that I too could make a difference in protecting and saving the ocean.”
“Learning to scuba dive unlocks hidden superpowers that are not only empowering – but essential to keep our shared blue planet healthy,” Andersen explains. “As a PADI Scuba Diver, you not only develop a new passion, but you also earn the unique ability to protect what you love, engaging in impactful citizen science with your own two hands. Through a shared mission of instilling hope, connecting with other species, and fueling hands-on conservation, we hope that we can make a better world for all of us.”
“That is why we rebuilt our company mission at PADI to reach every 1 in 10 people on our shared blue planet and inspire them to join us as Ocean Torchbearers to create positive ocean change,” says Andersen. “Our work with Neuro helps us inspire more people to experience, fall in love with, and protect the ocean and all life that calls it home. Together, Neuro and PADI are supporting more people in achieving a state of “blue mind”, in which they realise they too are superheroes that can accelerate and optimise healing: our own, our communities, and our planets.”
Win a Healing Trip of a Lifetime and Become PADI Whale Defenders in Mexico
Note: This competition is only open to residents of the USA
As part of their limited edition re-usable tin launch, PADI and Neuro are offering one lucky winner the ultimate healing trip of a lifetime: the chance to become a PADI Whale Defender in Baja California, Mexico. The prize includes flights, accommodation, the PADI Whale Defender Course, and a whale-watching tour with Dive Ninja Expeditions for two, as well as a collection of Neuro mint and gum products that includes Energy + Focus, Calm + Clarity and Sleep + Recharge.
“Together, we all must heal ourselves before we can heal the planet,” says Andersen. “Neuro and PADI are united in purpose, focused on our holistic wellbeing by healing from within, connecting with like-minded, purpose-driven communities, and joining a movement bigger than yourself to create positive ocean change. Seeing is believing, and an unforgettable, life-altering encounter with a whale will change your life forever, filling you with a drive to protect their – and our – blue world.”
For more information, to purchase the limited edition re-usable tins and to enter this competition, visit padi.neurogum.com/sweepstakes.
Diver Discovering Whale Skeletons Beneath Ice Judged World’s Best Underwater Photograph
An emotive photograph showing a freediver examining the aftermath of whaling sees
Alex Dawson from Sweden named Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024. Dawson’s
photograph ‘Whale Bones’ triumphed over 6500 underwater pictures entered by underwater
photographers from around the world.
“Whale Bones was photographed in the toughest conditions,” explains chair of judging
panel Alex Mustard, “as a breath-hold diver descends below the Greenland ice sheet to bear
witness to the carcasses. The composition invites us to consider our impact on the great
creatures of this planet. Since the rise of humans, wild animals have declined by 85%. Today,
just 4% of mammals are wildlife, the remaining 96% are humans and our livestock. Our way
needs to change to find a balance with nature.”
Whales dominated the winning pictures this year with Spanish photographer Rafael
Fernandez Caballero winning two categories with his revealing photos of these ocean giants:
a close up of a grey whale’s eye and an action shot of a Bryde’s whale engulfing an entire bait
ball, both taken in Magdalena Bay, Baja California, Mexico. Fernandez Caballero took ‘Grey
Whale Connection’ while drifting in a small boat, holding his camera over the side in the water
to photograph the curious whale. ‘The End Of A Baitball’ required Fernandez Caballero to dive
down and be in exactly the right place at the moment the whale lunged. “The photo shows
the high speed attack,” he said, “with the whale engulfing hundreds of kilograms of sardines
in one bite — simply unforgettable to see predation on such a scale.”
Lisa Stengel from the United States was named Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 for her image of a mahi-mahi catching a sardine, in Mexico. Stengel used both a very fast shutter speed and her hearing to catch the moment. “If you listen there’s an enormous amount of sound in the ocean,” she explained. “The action was too fast to see, so I honed in on the sound of the attacks with my camera to capture this special moment.”
“It is such an exciting time in underwater photography because photographers are capturing such amazing new images, by visiting new locations and using the latest cameras,”
commented judge Alex Mustard. “Until this year I’d hardly ever see a photo of a mahi mahi,
now Lisa has photographed one hunting, action that plays out in the blink of an eye.”
The Underwater Photographer of the Year contest is based in the UK, and Jenny Stock,
was named as British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 for her image “Star
Attraction”, which finds beauty in species of British wildlife that are often overlooked.
Exploring the west coast of Scotland, Stock explained “in the dark green depths my torch
picked out the vivid colours of a living carpet of thousands of brittle stars, each with a
different pattern. I was happily snapping away, when I spotted this purple sea urchin and I
got really excited.”
In the same contest, Portuguese photographer, Nuno Sá, was named ‘Save Our Seas
Foundation’ Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year 2024, with his photo ‘Saving
Goliath’, taken in Portugal. Sá’s photo shows beachgoers trying to save a stranded sperm
whale. The picture gives us hope that people do care and want to help the oceans, but also
warns us that bigger changes are needed. “The whale had been struck by a ship and its fate
was sealed,” explains Sá. “An estimated 20,000 whales are killed every year, and many more
injured, after being struck by ships-and few people even realise that it happens.”
More winning images can be found at www.underwaterphotographeroftheyear.com.
About Underwater Photographer of the Year
Underwater Photographer of the Year is an annual competition, based in the UK, that celebrates photography beneath the surface of the ocean, lakes, rivers and even swimming pools, and attracts entries from all around the world. The contest has 13 categories, testing photographers with themes such as Macro, Wide Angle, Behaviour and Wreck photography, as well as four categories for photos taken specifically in British waters. The winners were announced in an award ceremony in Mayfair, London, hosted by The Crown Estate. This year’s UPY judges were experienced underwater photographers Peter Rowlands, Tobias Friedrich and Dr Alexander Mustard MBE.
Header image: Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 winner Alex Dawson
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