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Scubaverse Underwater Photographer Interview: Jason Isley



Jason Isley

In an ongoing series,’s Underwater Photography Editors Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown talk to underwater photographers from around the world that they admire.

This week’s interview is with Sabah-based underwater photographer Jason Isley.

Jason IsleyI’m originally from the UK but have now lived in Sabah for 20 years, happily married with a 2 week old daughter which I’m sure will be the reason to reduce my many trips away exploring the underwater world. I grew up in the UK with a keen interest in the natural world, always over the marshes or woods bird watching when I was young and whenever my parents took us on holiday abroad we would spend many hours snorkeling or exploring the rock pools – catching weird little creatures and keeping them in jam jars.

I’m an old photographer! One of the people that rabbits on about the film days and only having 36 exposures to play with on a single dive!

N/C: How did your underwater photography start?

JI: I learnt to dive in Australia and immediately had a job on one of the many dive boats. I tried a few pics with a disposable underwater camera but it wasn’t until I moved to Sipadan to help create Scubazoo that I tried photography more seriously. My job was filming guests every single day diving Sipadan and one day a guest offered his NikV to play with during my fun dives. I loaded the film and went for a dive and as soon as the film was processed I was immediately hooked. It was so challenging, unlike the filming which had become so repetitive. I loved that challenge of capturing a story in a single frame.

N/C: What is your favourite u/w camera equipment (past & present) & Why?

JI: Even though it didn’t belong to me I loved that NikV with the 15mm lens, the sharpness was amazing. I’m currently using Nikon D800 in Nauticam housings and I would have to say I have no plans for trading them in. The Nauticam housing has really taken over the housing market, and for good reason – and what I like about the company is that they listen to your feedback and are always trying to improve rather than just brush you off.


N/C: What would be your advice to anyone new to underwater photography?

JI: Buy two books (Underwater Photography by Martin Edge & Underwater Masterclass by Alex Mustard) and go on a trip with a good recognised pro – that will increase the speed of your knowledge and technique. Then, when you have the basics under control, try and find your own style; and don’t just follow underwater photographers, look at topside photographers and artists to get inspiration. There is now far too much repetition in underwater photography – the same images are constantly being uploaded online again and again, so try to think outside the box.


N/C: What, or who, has been your single biggest inspiration for your underwater photography?

JI: David Doubilet. I know many people quote his name, but his book Water, Light, Time is probably the best ever underwater photography book. I love the fact people are ‘creating’ new techniques in underwater photography and yet they all already exist in that book!


N/C: If you could photograph any one thing/place what or where would that be & Why?

JI: It may sound corny but I can’t wait to show my new daughter the underwater world when she is old enough. Photographing her amongst the big schools of fish and next to the turtles at Sipadan will be an incredible experience. I just hope there are still plenty of great dive locations left by the time she is old enough to dive!

Jason has recently published a book called Small Blue World and you can read a review about it 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


Get moving with the new RAID DPV training programs



The thrill of speeding through the water behind a diver propulsion vehicle (DPV) is an experience that really gets the blood racing. Using a DPV provides divers both immense fun and the means to achieve goals that would be impossible without their use.

RAID is proud to announce the new two-tier DPV training program with certifications for DPV and Advanced DPV.

Why DPV and why now?
Recreational and technical divers are using DPVs to access sites that would be difficult to reach and explore using traditional propulsion methods; to help propel large amounts of heavy equipment; to increase the safety of dives in areas of strong current; or just for the pure exhilaration of shooting through the water at speed and performing underwater acrobatics.

By extending your capabilities and extending your range, using a DPV opens new vistas for exploration and fun.

This certification option is aimed at the recreational diver who wishes to learn how to use a DPV to enhance their diving by using mainly natural navigation.

Advanced DPV
This certification option is available to anyone who is familiar with longhose configuration, has logged a minimum of 20 dives and is certified as Navigation specialty divers.

This certification option is aimed at the slightly more experienced diver with preexisting navigational training and diving on a single, twin or sidemount setup with a longhose. Although this level is slightly more challenging, the more advanced navigation exercises provide an important base for more complex types of DPV diving within a team.

You must:

  • Be a minimum of 12 years old.
  • Be certified as RAID Open Water 20, Junior Open Water or equivalent.

Just visit to put some extra dash into your dives.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Beers raise cash for ocean clean-up



The Driftwood Spars Brewery, a pioneering microbrewery based on the North Cornwall coast, is donating a percentage of all profits from its Cove range of beers to Fathoms Free, a certified charity which actively cleans the ocean around the Cornish peninsula.

Each purchase of the small-batch, craft beers – there are four different canned beers in the Cove range – will help generate funds to purchase a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and fund retrieval dives; every brew will raise the equivalent cost of a fully-funded dive. 

Fathoms Free is a Cornwall-based charity whose day-to-day mission involves dives from their fast-response specialist vessel to recover ghost fishing gear; abandoned nets, pots, angling equipment and other plastic causes severe damage to the marine environment and the death of countless seabirds, seals, dolphins and other sea life.

The campaign to raise funds for an ROV is a new initiative which will take the clean-up work to a new level; the highly manoeuvrable underwater vehicle will be used to scour the seabed, harbours and remote parts of the coastline for abandoned fishing gear and other marine litter.

Project Manager Natallia Paliakova from Fathoms Free said: “Apart from helping us locate ghost gear underwater, the ROV will also be capable of recording underwater video which is always great for raising awareness about marine pollution issues.”

She added: “We are really excited to be partnering with The Driftwood Spars Brewery and appreciate the proactive support of Mike and his team in bringing the purchase of an ROV a step closer to reality.”

Head Brewer Mike Mason personally approached the charity after their work was featured on the BBC 2 documentary, ‘Cornwall with Simon Reeve’.    

He said: “As a keen surfer I am only too aware of the problem of marine litter and had heard about Fathoms Free, but seeing them in action prompted me to find a way of contributing. The scale of the challenge is scary, but the determination of organisations like Fathoms Free is inspiring.”

Photo by Beagle Media Ltd

Photo by Beagle Media Ltd

The Driftwood Spars Brewery was founded in 2000 in Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes; the microbrewery is just a few steps away from it’s co-joined brewpub, The Driftwood Spars; both pub and brewery are well-regarded far beyond the Cornish cove they call home. 

You can hear the waves and taste the salt on the air from the door of both brewery and pub, and the rough seas along the rugged North coast often throw up discarded nets and other detritus; Louise Treseder, Landlady of The Driftwood Spars and a keen sea swimmer, often collects washed up ghost gear on her daily beach excursions.     

Louise commented: “This is a great partnership to support a cause close to our hearts – I know the money we raise will have a positive and lasting impact. The Cove range was inspired by our unique surroundings and the artwork – by local artist Jago Silver – reflects that. Now donations from each purchase will contribute towards the vital ocean clean-up taking place right on our doorstep.”

The Cove range can currently be purchased online here, and is available in good independent bottle shops in Cornwall.

To find out more about Fathoms Free visit their website here.

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This is the perfect start to your 2021 diving season… and at an incredible lead-in price of just £885 per person.

Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. This itinerary takes in the wonderful South & St Johns from 26 February – 05 March 2021.  

Subject to availability – limited flight seats at this price so don't delay!

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email to book your spot!

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