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Scubaverse Underwater Photographer Interview: Joe Daniels

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

This interview is with award-winning photographer Joe Daniels.

Thank you for asking me to participate in this interview! Originally I am from Suffolk, England and I am now based in South West France. For the past ten years I have been fortunate enough to work on various different marine conservation projects and diving operations around the world. Through diving and spending a lot of time underwater I developed a passion for underwater photography. Now I can’t bear to be in the water without a camera, whether it’s a murky pond or bustling coral reef.

My highest achieving image so far would probably be my Tunicate Shrimp which earnt gold in the Traditional Macro category in the Our World Underwater competition. I have also placed in Outdoor Photographer of the year twice, HIPA Life in Colour and World Oceans Day photo competition. A Whale Shark image of mine was used in BEIJING by Humane Society International and the Jane Goodall Institute. The exhibit, entitled “The Price Behind the Taste—Protect Sharks, Don’t Eat Shark Fins,” was to enlist public support for the protection of sharks. I was very proud to be included in this campaign.

So far in my career I have spent the majority of my time across two locations – The muck diving mecca of Ambon in eastern Indonesia and the idyllic Indian Ocean archipelago of Seychelles. The two locations could not be more different photographically which I think helps diversify my portfolio. I have also been to Raja Ampat twice in the past three years, the marine life there is astounding and is very hard to beat.


N/C: How did your underwater photography start?

JD: As soon as I left college I went and volunteered on a Marine Conservation Project in Seychelles. There I was involved in reef monitoring where we did 2 survey dives per day from Monday to Friday. This wasn’t enough in water time for me so I spent all my spare time and weekends snorkelling. One weekend I borrowed a small clear dry bag for my pentax point and shoot camera. After going out snorkelling with the camera and taking some terrible pictures of Turtles and various corals I was hooked.

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

JD: I love to shoot cfwa images so my Nauticam mini dome and Tokina 10-17mm fisheye is a favourite set up of mine. I have also recently acquired a Trioplan 100mm f2.8 so I am looking forward to shooting and experimenting with that later this year.

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

JD: Not to get obsessed buying the latest and greatest camera setup. Of course buy the best you can afford, but it’s not everything. Focus on subject selection, composition and light. It also makes a huge difference if you are a comfortable and competent underwater.

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

JD: When I first started taking pictures underwater I loved to show people what I had seen whilst I was underwater, I still do. Now I like to show people things that they may have never seen before, or animals they know of but shown in a different way. I just want to share my enthusiasm for the underwater world and hopefully get others excited about it too. There are many photographers that inspire my work, notably Thomas Peschak his images continually amaze me. Alex Mustard’s images are a technical masterclass and are always a joy to behold. Eduardo Acevedo Fernandez, Laurent Ballesta and David Doubilet all produce jaw dropping images and all have large influences on my work.

N/C: Where is your favourite dive location, and is it for the photography?

JD: This is a tough question. I have favourite locations for differing reasons, and there are many places I have not had the chance to get to yet. For macro it has to be Ambon. The abundance of subjects there is endless. The thing I like most about diving in Ambon is that it’s not just macro. There are incredible jetty’s, caves, reefs and even a wreck. So photographically its fantastic. For wide angle I would have to say Misool in Raja Ampat. The health and diversity of the reef systems there are world class. It is also a massive conservation success story being protect by a patrolled no take zone which is twice the size of Singapore. The Yucatan Peninsular, Mexico also has some spectacular photographic opportunities with its Cenotes, Sailfish and Sharks. Finally Seychelles will always be a special place for me where I’ve had many special encounters.

N/C: What are you views on marine life manipulation, moving subjects?

JD: With regards to moving subjects especially in macro photography I am against it. Picking animals up and moving them just for a photo is not acceptable. I would be a hypocrite if I was to say that I didn’t have images where the animal had been coaxed a little to get a better image. I think there would be very few photographers that have never coaxed a critter to a different position for a better image, if they are honest. I think with the rise of social media it has got out of hand as macro photography is very competitive now, photographers are so focused on getting as many likes as possible their ethics go out of the window a bit. On the other hand I have been on dives with photographers that are very anti manipulation and will not tolerate it at all, but will then take hundreds of pictures of one subject then swim straight over the subject wiping it out in one fin kick and not even noticing.

Every time we enter the water we make an impact, it’s what we do to reduce this impact. Don’t forget those basic diving skills you learnt in your open water course and be specially aware. Talk to your dive guide and ask them just to show you, instead of positioning. They are just trying to please you when they move things as it usually increases their tip. The dive operations can also have a code of conduct for photographers to abide by whilst diving to reduce their impact. Marine life manipulation is not isolated to macro photography. Tiger Beach is a good example, the sharks are lured in front of photographers cameras with bait for sunset splits or a perfect pass. I’m not saying I’m against shark diving practices, quite the opposite. If we can make them financially profitable sharks are much less likely to be killed for their fins. I suppose what I am trying to say it that it’s not a Black & White issue. We have to be responsible in our actions and have some foresight to ensure these amazing creatures continue to thrive and photographers can continue to photograph them. So the less we poke and prod them the more likely they are to stick around.

N/C: What do you look for when you are making your images?

JD: It depends on what I’m shooting and in what conditions I am shooting in. For macro I am looking for a willing subject in a good position, generally raised up off the substrate if I want a black background. What I really like to shoot is a subject with an attractive background. If there is current or surge I will try and stay away from super macro and shallow DOF. For wide angle I am always looking for the best light, I can’t resist a Indonesian jetty with shafts of light streaming through the wooden slats. When the light is good I’m looking for a subject to fill the foreground and complete the image. I also love to incorporate the surface into my images, whether it’s a split image or incorporating Snell’s window. These are usually the images that stand out to people that are not divers or spend much time underwater. I think it gives the viewer something to relate to. No matter what technique I’m using I always shoot to the conditions. Whether that means streamlining my gear to catch up with speeding Sailfish or simplifying my images when there is current. When the conditions change so does my plan for making images, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Varying conditions may diversify your portfolio. One of my favourite images is a Turtle silhouette, instead of the classic sunbeams behind it (which I was initially after) it poured with rain so it has rain drops hitting the surface filling the rest of the frame. Shooting in those conditions created an image that stands out from the rest.

N/C: What motivates you to take u/w photos?

JD: Simply because I love it! I love the whole process of making pictures from deciding what set up to use, setting everything up and being underwater searching for a subject. I love that I can use my images to promote marine conservation issues and to just show to people how amazing the underwater world is. I’m constantly learning and driven to take better pictures.

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

JD: Although I have been to Raja Ampat twice I would love to go back and visit the Blue Water Mangroves of Misool. A shallow coral reef with over hanging Mangroves and shafts of light streaming through onto Barrel Sponges and Soft corals sounds incredible, everything I like to shoot all rolled into one dive site.

Follow the work of Joe Daniels at www.jldaniels.co.uk or on his Facebook page and instagram @j_l_daniels

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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Murex Bangka Announce New Oceanfront Cottages & Beachfront Dining

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dive resort indonesia

Located on a private, palm-fringed, white sand beach and surrounded by kaleidoscopic coral reefs that are bursting with colour and teeming with life, Murex Bangka Resort is a haven for scuba divers. A stay at Murex Bangka gives divers the opportunity to experience a virtually untouched, Indonesian tropical island paradise.

This stunning resort that harnesses solar power, is committed to sustainability and marine conservation – is now offering divers even more home comforts with the completion of its new Premium Oceanfront Cottages and a new restaurant offering exciting indoor and al fresco dining experiences.

NEW Premium Oceanfront Cottages

Murex Bangka Resort offers a duplex style and two detached Premium Oceanfront Cottages which are positioned close to the ocean and are just steps away from the beach.

These tastefully appointed and spacious air-conditioned rooms offer comfortable indoor living and large verandas with outdoor seating. Double and twin bed sleeping configurations are available and all Premium Oceanfront Cottages feature large ensuite bathrooms with twin basins.

dive resort indonesia

As well as the detached cottages, the duplex option offers two more individual premium living spaces. For families and groups of friends, the two adjoining duplex cottages and the shared adjoining common living room area may be opened up – making this an ideal and generously proportioned for option for families and groups who prefer to stay closer together.

dive resort indonesia

PREMIUM OCEANFRONT COTTAGE INCLUSIONS:

  • Large verandas with ceiling fans
  • Ensuite ocean view bathrooms with hot water rainfall showers
  • AC throughout the night
  • Minibar
  • Dressing table/desk area
  • Ample storage
  • King size or twin beds with mosquito nets
  • Complimentary drinking water
  • Floor to ceiling windows
  • Ample wall sockets for charging accessories
  • Comfortable indoor and outdoor seating
  • Shared common/living area (Duplex Cottages)

dive resort indonesia

New Beachfront Dining

After a day of diving, guests can now kick-back, relax and enjoy flavours from around the world in Murex Bangka’s new beachfront restaurant. As well as serving a la carte dishes from the inspiring menu, diners can enjoy both buffet and family-style offerings.

Dishes combine the freshest of local ingredients and include options for a range of dietary preferences and restrictions. Bangka’s new menu has been carefully curated with the assistance of an internationally renowned food and beverage consultant and there is a focus on combining traditional classics with more contemporary international plates.

dive resort indonesia

The new and impressive free standing main restaurant allows guests to dine just meters from the shore while enjoying beautiful beach and sea views. Three meals a day are on offer as well as an enticing selection of specialty coffees, teas, mocktails and cocktails. A wine menu is also available and a cold beer (or beverage of your choosing) makes for a perfect way to end the day while watching the sunset over the ocean.

dive resort indonesia

Book Your Stay

If you would like to find out more about Murex Bangka or to make a reservation, contact: reservations@MurexResorts.com or take a look at the Murex Resorts website: https://murexresorts.com/murex-bangka-resort/

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Gear News

Oceanic+ Dive Housing Awarded the Red Dot Product Design Award 2024

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oceanic+

Oceanic, a pioneer in scuba diving technology for over 50 years, announces that its Oceanic+ Dive Housing has been honored with the prestigious 2024 Red Dot Design Award. This esteemed recognition underscores Oceanic’s commitment to innovation and excellence in product design.

The Red Dot Award is an internationally renowned accolade, celebrating exceptional design quality and innovation across various industries. Each year, thousands of products from around the globe undergo rigorous evaluation by an expert panel of judges, with only the most outstanding designs receiving this esteemed award.

The Oceanic+ Dive Housing impressed the jury with its sleek and functional design, seamlessly integrating with both Apple Watch Ultra and iPhone devices to transform them into fully functional dive computers. This innovative product not only enhances the diving experience but also exemplifies Oceanic’s dedication to providing cutting-edge solutions for divers worldwide.

“We are thrilled to receive the 2024 Red Dot Product Design Award for the Oceanic+ Dive Housing,” says Mike Huish, CEO of Huish Outdoors. “This accolade is a testament to our relentless pursuit of excellence in design and technology in the dive industry. We are immensely proud of our team’s hard work and commitment to innovation.”

The Oceanic+ Dive Housing joins the ranks of previous Red Dot Award winners, reaffirming Oceanic’s position as a leader in the dive industry. This prestigious recognition further solidifies Oceanic’s reputation for delivering exceptional quality and performance in its products.

About Oceanic

Founded in 1972 by industry-pioneer Bob Hollis, Oceanic is a global dive leader committed to providing innovative, reliable, accessible and easy-to-use dive equipment to recreational divers so they can focus on what matters most: exploring the underwater world and appreciating the wonders of marine life. For over 50 years this philosophy has been woven into everything Oceanic does and is the foremost reason the company is considered a best-in-class, recreational dive brand. Oceanic is one of Huish Outdoors’ premier dive brands. To learn more, please visit oceanicworldwide.com.

Sea & Sea is the home of Oceanic and other leading diving brands in the UK. 

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