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Scubaverse Underwater Photographer Interview: Ivan Donoghue

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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: Ivan Donoghue


NRB: Tell us a little about yourself

ID: My name is Ivan Donoghue.  I live in a coastal county of Ireland called Wexford and it was with Wexford Sub Aqua Club that I learned to dive in 1990.  In 1996 I bought my first small housing for a disposable camera, then moving up through a Nikonos V, several compact digital cameras and now shoot with a Canon 7Dii DSLR in an Aquatica housing.

Over the years I’ve had modest success in some of the underwater competitions including the British and Irish Underwater Photography Championship, the British Wildlife Photography Awards, Hook Peninsula Photography Competition, Diving Life Photography Competition, and this year I was truly delighted to be awarded the Love Your Coast Photographer of the Year.

I have run the main underwater photography and videography competitions for Irish divers and I’m proud to have helped promote underwater photography in Ireland.

NRB: How did your underwater photography start?

ID: I began diving in 1990 with my local club, Wexford Sub Aqua, in the south east of Ireland.  After six years of learning the skills, I purchase my first u/w camera, an UNDY housing which accepted disposable cameras.  After that I bought a second-hand Nikonos V (now resting on my shelf).  After that it was a couple of compacts before moving to DLSR with a Canon 550D and Aquatica housing and then a Canon 7Dii in recent years.

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

ID: My current Canon 7Dii and Aquatica housing travels home and away with me, but the one piece of equipment that opened my eyes was the INON wide angle wet lens.  Adding the ability to get close to the subject is a game changer in everyone’s images.  Where once I could only get a diver’s face, now I was getting their whole body and fins.  It really was a game changer for my photography.

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

ID: Firstly, if I could go back in time, I believe a dedicated underwater photography workshop would have been so beneficial to me and cut out a lot of mistakes. Secondly, buy a camera and housing set up that allows a wide-angle lens to be fitted.  Getting close and adding good light to the image will make your pictures stand out.  Shoot RAW and shoot using manual settings.

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

ID: I believe Alex Mustard is the best in the world.  Not only does he take award winning images, write books, he also educates people on how they can become better through books, talks and trips.

However, my biggest inspiration is Irishman Nigel Motyer.  I first met Nigel when we were discussing introducing an U/W photography course for the Irish Dive organisation.  That day he lent me his SLR and I took my first wide angle pic.  From that day we have travelled to the Bahamas, west of Ireland and Hook Head and on these dives, I have learnt from him.

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

ID: The image I am most proud of is the recent one of the Jellyfish and Diver.  The reason is that it was the winner of the Love Your Coast competition 2020, the first time an underwater image took top prize.  The picture also shows a dive friend Nick Pfeiffer who kindly took me and my wife in his boat that day to the Aran Islands and also had the good manners to make the background more interesting by posing!  That is what divers do for each other – we go that extra mile to help fellow divers.

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

ID: I love the Red Sea and have been lucky to have a dived their several times.  Egypt and its history is something that grows on you.  Now that my son is older and has a dive qualification, I hope to spend more holiday time there.

Back at home in Ireland I love a shore dive about 40 mins from my home.  It is a ten-minute walk from the car to the site, but when you get there, it is a shallow site with the Schlesien shipwreck, propellor, hidden caves and a blowhole where you can surface for a chat.

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

ID: I don’t like the idea of adding anything to a picture and it’s the same when it comes to harassing animals or damaging coral for a picture opportunity.

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

ID: I love wide angle images, so I look for something in the foreground with a diver in the frame.  Good visibility is a bonus, but not guaranteed in Irish waters of my home county where either windy weather or plankton blooms affect the seasons.

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

ID: I love scuba diving and I love photography, so those two addictions are very potent.  In addition, for the underwater photographer the gratification doesn’t stop after the dive.  It continues through to the download of images and reviewing them on the computer.  A good photography dive can keep giving enjoyment for days afterwards.

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

ID: I’ve always looked enviously at the travel features in Scubaverse, so a lot of the places featured in the magazine would me on my wish list.  I’d love to do the cage diving trip to photograph Great White Shark off Guadeloupe.  I’d also love to travel to Indonesia with my family, as it’s a part of the world I’ve never been to, but I know offers superb diving and photography opportunities.

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

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Scubaverse UWP Winners Gallery: Christian Horras

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Each month we give the winner of the Scubaverse Underwater Photography competition the opportunity to show off a little more of their work in a gallery. The March winner was Christian Horras and you can see their winning image at the top of this page.


What do you love about diving & underwater photography?

For me it is all about showing the beauty of our world underwater to people that don’t dive and thus can’t see it for themselves. I want to share my own passion for the amazing ecosystem that is so much older than everything we know living on land. As I am from Germany, there are only a few people in my surroundings that have ever seen a coral reef or a shark with their own eyes. It is a big privilege to be able to go diving all over the world and in return it should be our task to arise awareness of this fragile and endangered ecosystem.

What equipment do you use?

I use a Nikon D810 in a Isotta Housing and various lenses, depending on the subject: a Sigma 15mm F2.8 Fisheye, a Nikon 16-35 mm F4 and two Nikon Macro lenses (60mm and 105mm), as well as a WeeFine +13 Diopter. The Fisheye is my main lens, as it allows me to get really close and still cover a big field of view. For lighting I use two Retra Pro Strobes and a Retra Snoot.

Where can our readers see more of your work?

Website: www.christianhorras.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/christian.horras/


To enter the latest Scubaverse Underwater Photography competition, with a chance to win some great prizes as well as have your own gallery published, head over to the competition page and upload up to 3 images.

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Emperor Divers reaches halfway in Covid Diver Heroes Initiative with fourth award

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Emperor Divers have reached the halfway point with their #coviddiverheroes initiative and are still receiving worthy nominations every day! Here, they recognise their 4th winner, another awesome hero from the diving community with an inspirational story of selflessness through the pandemic. Nominated by David White, Phuong Cao wins a free liveaboard trip in the Maldives when she can finally take some time off, and here is her story:

I, David White, would like to nominate Phuong Cao (36) for her tireless efforts fighting this pandemic. Not satisfied with being a frontline hospitalist in New York she took a second job on the COVID team in Guam to treat patients under even tougher conditions on her weeks off! She continues to commute 7750 miles each way and apply herself to both jobs for three months already and counting. Her energy level has no limits and she’s only happy when those in her care are on the mend. I think she definitely deserves a break! I guess the Maldives would be the best choice for her as I know she has dived with you in the Red Sea already.

Phuong Cao

We have been in touch with Phuong who had this to say: “Wow what a surprise! Thank you for the recognition. Holding my breath until I get back underwater!”

The halfway point is a good chance to remind people that the initiative is still running and the Emperor Divers team would love to hear about more heroes, as there are four more to award in the next 2 months!

Do you know a diver who has been heroic this past year? Emperor know that, worldwide, people have had to step up during this pandemic which has affected so many lives. They want to reward some real heroes with free liveaboard trips in the Red Sea or Maldives.

Luke Atkinson, Emperor’s Red Sea Manager, said: “This initiative is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to all those hundreds of people who have taken a selfless interest in looking after the vulnerable in their community. Examples could include healthworkers, carers or those who have come out of retirement to volunteer locally, but really we know there are many other ways people have been heroic.“

Emperor want to hear from people who know a heroic diver who would love to have a free liveaboard trip to look forward to in the future. People need to nominate a Covid Hero Diver and tell Emperor (in 100 – 200 words) why they deserve a free trip, and whether they would prefer the Red Sea or the Maldives. A multinational panel of Emperor’s most loyal and compassionate staff will judge the entries and pick a winner every 2 weeks for the next 2 months. There are two remaining Red Sea and two more Maldives liveaboards to be earned, so get nominating and give that hero a reward for their amazing work!

Winners will be announced by 14th (Maldives) and 28th (Red Sea) of each month. Final entries for Red Sea by 20th May ‘21 and Maldives 5th June ’21.

Entries, comments and questions should be sent to heroes@emperordivers.com.

Terms & Conditions apply: Please contact heroes@emperordivers.com for details.

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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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