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Scubaverse Underwater Photographer Interview: Frank Schneider

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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: Frank Schneider


After my Sport Diver certification in 1982 a technical question to the chief editor of the scuba diving magazine “Tauchen” surprisingly lead to the first commission to write a travel report. This article, published in 1983, eventually turned out to be the starting point for my career as travel journalist. My articles have been published in many countries including Italy, Spain, England, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Russia, Turkey and Croatia.

Nearly all my articles feature a female model because, even though images of pure nature can be quite nice, it is always recommendable to liven up pictures with people. An experienced photo model is indispensable ­– and for professional u/w photography she must have the nerve to pose for the camera both in the close company of sharks and not only on a dreamlike beach.

I entirely depend on my own equipment by Cressi-sub when it comes to reports which include underwater photography. I use a dry suit for cold water dives and neoprene -suits of diverse thickness depending on the waters that I dive in. Other than that, my models and I dive with the Cressi BCD “Travel Light” and “Cressi Ellipse Titanium – Mc9-SC” regulators or “Cressi Compact XS -MC9” regulators.. For our safety we rely on the Cressi computers “Giotto” and “Leonardo”.

NRB: How did your underwater photography start?

FS: I was the little kid trying to make friends with every kind of animal. I was found sleeping in the cats hideaway with her, with kitties in my arms without being attacked like the adults. And while on vacation in the countryside little Frank, together with a dog, was looking after geese, cows and horses. Later, sharks approached the wish list. As my mother was a professional photographer, I grew up with cameras and images. To combine nature, diving and photos was just a logical consequence for me.

NRB: What is your favourite u/w camera equipment (past & present) & why?

FS: After beginning with a Subal housing and a Canon, I worked with Nikonos cameras and a Nikon F3 in a Hugyfot housing. Now, for more than 15 years, I rely on Nikon in Seacam housings and Seacam strobes.

Underwater, I use the “Nikon D850” in a Seacam housing together with the Nikon f2,8/16 mm fisheye lens, the f2,8/14-24 mm wide angle zoom from Nikon and the Nikon 60 mm macro lens. One or two flashlights “Seacam Seaflash 150 TTL” take care of light and colours

Topside, I work with a “Nikon D850” and I use original Nikon lenses. Those range from a “16 mm fisheye” up to the telezoom “VR 70-200 mm”, all of which have a 2.8 f-stop.

NRB: What would be your advice to anyone new to underwater photography?

FS: Take your time. Good photos are no coincidence, they are created. And: go big with your main subject. If you have to explain where the subject in your image can be found, the photo is just bad. Important: no excuses. Only half the fish in the image, because he was too fast? Don’t explain – just delete. Only if you accept that a bad photo does not help you to increase your skills, you’ll make it. Prefer to show five good photos than five good ones and 20 bad ones. Those 20 remain in the head of your audience. Just avoid that.

NRB: What, or who, has been your single biggest inspiration for your underwater photography?

FS: Indeed, it was Jacques Cousteau. When I saw his films as a kid, my dream was just to visit some of the places he dived and filmed, like Precontinent II in Sudan. Then there was the photography in the family, and the combination came by itself.

NRB: What image are you most proud of and why?

FS: I really can’t tell. Maybe the head shot of a whale shark with a “small diver” in the background, or reef shark action with a model. The latest topshot is a photo of my model (this time my wife) in Fuerteventura. She is less then an arm length close to an angel shark, both on rocky ground, the shark rising his head really up, opening his jaws and showing all his teeth while the model watches it. Perfect composition, perfect lighting on both. I love photos of animals with a model. That’s a situation every diver wants to experience.

NRB: Where is your favourite dive location, and is it for the photography?

FS: To be honest, out of several thousands of dives there are only two handfuls without a camera. If you have more than one kid – would you name your favorite?

I love Embudu Island on the Maldives with the diverse options (reefs, nurse sharks, reef sharks, whale sharks), Yap Island with its famous manta places and channels, but I also love the Mediterranean, places like Portofino, Elba and Giglio in Italy. All these are underwater photo locations par excellence.

NRB: What are you views on marine life manipulation, moving subjects?

FS: Stick to the rules. I’d rather prefer to “chase” my human model into the right position. Ask them…

NRB: What do you look for when you are making your images?

FS: As a journalist I want to show how it is, I want to show people the true characteristics of a dive area/destination and of course create an image with a nice composition and perfect lighting.

NRB: What motivates you to take u/w photos?

FS: Photography is a very big part of my life and in general I love to create images. I think like most u/w photographers I want to show impressions of the world underwater. Finally, professional u/w photography has taken me around the planet, to each continent. Even to places one never could have seen without that background. Again it was, and it is, a kind of combination of many things.

NRB: If you could photograph any one thing/place what or where would that be?

FS: It doesn’t have to be mega spectaculous! However, definitely not a photo where one has to stay in a cage. That’s why I call those white-shark-photos boring. It is neither a kick for me nor any kind of photographic challenge – you just wait and click! I am rather after the perfect photo. Whatever it is. But as a pro you forever try the next – the final flawless – one. And repeat, of course. And then again…

To see more of Frank’s work visit his website by clicking here.

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

Competitions

WIN a Beuchat Air Light Bag!!!

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beuchat-logo-1-300x58.jpgFor this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Beuchat to give away an Air Light Bag!

The Air Light Bag from Beuchat is a practical travel bag that takes up minimum storage space.

  • Material: 600 denier and 1,000 denier nylon/PVC
  • Soft roller bag, easily stored in its mesh bag
  • Internal retaining straps
  • Zip fastener with eyelets for padlocks
  • Side compartment for fins
  • Outer document pocket with coated zip and carry strap
  • Backpack style straps concealed behind the foam back-plate
  • Drainage vents
  • Red over-moulded wheels; detachable wheel block

To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize, all you have to do is answer the following question:

In a recent post on Scubaverse.com (which you can read here), we reported that Mexico is to host the first annual Cancun International Boat Show and Marine Expo this year. But when is the event due to take place?

Is it:

  • A) 9th – 11th July
  • B) 16th – 18th July
  • C) 23rd – 25th July

Answer, A, B or C to the question above:

Beuchat Air Light Bag February 2021

Competition
  • Enter the country you live in
  • Terms and Conditions: This competition is open to all visitors to www.scubaverse.com except for members of the Scubaverse team and their families, or employees of Beuchat and their families or employees of Suunto Diving UK and their families. A valid answer to the competition’s question must be entered. If no valid answer to the competition’s question is entered, your entry will be invalid. Only one competition entry per entrant permitted (multiple entries will lead to disqualification). Only one prize per winner. All prizes are non-transferable, and no cash alternative will be offered. In the event that the prize cannot be supplied, no liability will be attached to www.scubaverse.com. When prizes are supplied by third parties, www.scubaverse.com is acting as their agents and as such we exclude all liability for loss or damage you may suffer as a result of this competition. This competition closes on 07/04/21. The winner will be notified by email. The Editor-in-Chief’s decision is final.

  • The following fields are optional, however if you fill them in it will help us to determine what prizes to source in the future.

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
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Miscellaneous Blogs

Jeff chats to… Jill Heinerth – underwater explorer, author and presenter (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Jill Heinerth.

Jill is one of the world’s premier underwater explorers, and the first person to dive inside iceberg caves. According to filmmaker James Cameron, “More people have walked on the moon than have been to some of the places Jill Heinerth has gone right here on earth.”

An acclaimed polar explorer, cave diver, author, speaker, filmmaker, and climate advocate, Jill is the first Explorer-in-Residence of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. She is the inaugural recipient of the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration and Canada’s Polar Medal.

Jill leads expeditions into extreme environments to advance scientific and geographic knowledge. Her projects have been broadcast on the CBC, BBC, PBS, Discovery Channel, and television networks worldwide. Jill was announced as the recipient of the William Beebe Award from the Explorer’s Club and was inducted into the International Scuba Divers Hall of Fame in fall 2020.

Her bestselling book INTO THE PLANET – My Life as a Cave Diver  has drawn acclaim from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and O Magazine. Heinerth details her journey into the extreme world of underwater cave exploration, where she has had to overcome fear in order to go where no one has gone before.

Find out more about Jill and her work at: www.intotheplanet.com


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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