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Scubaverse Underwater Photographer Interview: Mike Bartick

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

Originally, I’m from the Southern California coast of the US, where I also learned to dive. I currently reside in Anilao, Philippines and dive almost every day.

At the core, I think I’m a pretty simple guy, I love the ocean. Our planets oceans are full of mystery, beauty and real life drama that is always in the mode of change. I draw inspiration from what I see on land and in the ocean. I enjoy trying different things underwater and experiment with different techniques heavily. I’m a self taught photographer that has had strong mentoring. I believe this has helped me to form my own methods of shooting.

I’m the Photo Pro for Crystal Blue Resort in Anilao, Philippines where I conduct about 15 workshops a year in addition to private coaching. I love to mentor others and to pass along what I have learned, in turn, I also have a chance to learn from others.

My most favorite achievement was being named one of the 101 worlds most inspiring U/W photographers in 2016 by Scuba Diver Australasia + Ocean Planet magazine, I’m so honored.


N&C: How did your underwater photography start?

MB: Well, it started on a family vacation with my dad. I borrowed a friends Minolta sport and set off to shoot the reefs of Hawaii. I was a bit surprised that there was such a disconnection between the images I thought I was shooting and the reality of the images. Lets just say, I mastered backscatter and fish-butts first.

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

MB: I’m currently shooting a Nikon D500 in a Sea and Sea MDX D500 housing. I use the Sea and Sea YS-D2J strobes. I also use different snoots for different results. For macro and supermacro images I use the Kraken sports +15 diopter with my 105mm lens, CMC with my 60mm and INON diopters. I use off camera lighting quite often and use the Kraken Hydra 1000 for back-lighting.

I live and work in one of the worlds best place’s for Macro photography and even though there is great wide angle ops here, I love macro. The APSC sensor on the D500 offers clean images with greater magnification then a full frame camera. I’m a die-hard Nikon guy so the D500 is currently the best in its class, for me.

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

MB: Enjoy the process of learning, ask a lot of questions and don’t be afraid to try something different.

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

MB: My mentor, Joe Liburdi has inspired me in many ways. I hear his voice often when I’m shooting asking me, “whats the story here” or the best, him shouting, “It’s a chance of a lifetime, don’t blow it”!

N&C: What image are you most proud of and why?

MB: That’s a trick question. This might sound odd but to say I’m happy with any of my images would be a stretch. I can say, I’m amazed at what can be achieved with a simple set up underwater. I just try to make the best image i can while challenging myself to try something different.

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

MB: Anilao is by far my most favorite place in the world. There are a few other places that i love to visit like Lembeh, Sea of Cortez, Monterey California, even Point Loma. I love macro and I love drifting in the open ocean.

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

MB: I don’t like it but it happens all the time. Communication with your guide is very important. I think as a new shooter I didn’t really mind, my ego just wanted to get the shot. In time I’ve sensitized to it big time. It’s important that we respect our dive sites and the subjects that live there, even if just visiting an area.

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

MB: I like strong lines, color, behavior, patterns. I often have images in my mind that i want to try and shoot or some kind of goofy method I want to try. So when I see an opportunity I try to make the most of it. It’s not uncommon for me to spend 90 minutes with a single subject just watching and waiting for the brief moment in time to capture something truly special.

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

MB: I love the challenge of shooting in the open ocean at night. I love day dives and making images but diving in the open ocean at night is the ultimate. There is no possible way to set up a shot or to manipulate. You need to hunt down the subject or that subject finds you. It’s up to you at that very moment to do the best you can relying on your skills as a photographer and as a diver.

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

MB: Place – I think I would love to dive in the polar regions of our planet. As far as photographing any one thing, I have no idea, maybe spawning Rhinopias?

To find out more about Mike, 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

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PADI Recognises EMEA Members with New Professional Development Excellence Award

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PADI® (Professional Association of Diving Instructors®) has recently launched their new Professional Development Excellence Award in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), celebrating PADI Five Star Instructor Development Centers (IDC)  that are championing creating more PADI Professionals, at all levels, during the previous calendar year.

“While becoming a PADI Five Star IDC Center is a prized accreditation amongst members, this exclusive rating comes with the responsibility of training the next generation of divers to become PADI Instructors,” explains Dave Murray, Managing Director for PADI EMEA.

“PADI’s commitment to a continuing education philosophy encourages divers to realise their dreams of a career as a PADI Pro, teaching others to do what they love – to scuba dive. This new recognition award distinguishes productive PADI Five Star IDC stores for the time and effort they dedicate to marketing and conducting the professional training needed to grow the scuba diving industry.”

PADI’s EMEA Professional Development Excellence Award recognises members for reaching specific milestones based on the number of PADI Pro certifications they issue annually. It also provides an extra layer of credentials in their “Pro Development Status” to potential Divemaster and IDC candidates, along with any other prospective Pro-level customers and prospective employees.

The first awards were distributed earlier this year, with 12 PADI Five Star IDC Centers receiving the Platinum Award. This means that they have issued a minimum of 100 PADI Professional certifications from Divemaster to IDC Staff Instructor, which include 30 Core Professional certifications and 70 Continuing Education Instructor level certifications.

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The 2025 PADI EMEA Professional Development Excellence Award is already underway and renewed PADI EMEA Five Star IDC Dive Centers and Resorts are automatically eligible. Stores that reach the recognition levels during 2024 will receive their award in the first quarter of 2025.

For more information about the award and to see the full list of award recipients visit here.

About PADI 

PADI® (Professional Association of Diving Instructors®) is the largest purpose-driven diving organization with a global network of 6,600 dive centers and resorts, 128,000 professional members, and more than 30 million certified divers to date. Committed to our blue planet, PADI makes the wonder of the underwater world accessible to all, empowering people around the world to experience, explore and take meaningful action, as Ocean TorchbearersTM, to protect the world beneath the surface. For over 50 years, PADI is undeniably The Way the World Learns to Dive®, setting the standard for the highest quality dive training, underwater safety and conservation initiatives while evolving the sport of diving into a passionate lifestyle. For divers by divers, PADI is obsessed with transforming lives and, with its global foundation, PADI AWARETM, creating positive ocean change. Seek Adventure. Save the Ocean.SM  www.padi.com

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Introduce family to the wonder of the oceans with new family weeks from Regaldive

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diving holiday

Regal Dive, the diving holiday specialist, is offering Learn to Dive and Family Weeks this summer to encourage divers and those new to the sport to spend some time in the water together, learning and developing their diving skills. There are multiple itineraries on offer providing affordable diving certification, including a range of liveaboard trips which are designed to be inclusive – so that even those who would prefer to simply snorkel are still guaranteed a good time.

ITINERARIES IN THE MALDIVES:

MV Keana: Family Week, perfect for snorkellers, beginners and children.

Spend 10 nights in a Maldivian paradise exploring warm turquoise waters for exciting marine life and beautiful corals, all with a highly experienced diving team on hand. The MV Keana takes guests on an adventure around the remote atolls, home to manta rays, sharks, turtles, dolphins and whale sharks. The vessel accommodates up to 18 guests in comfortable upper deck cabins and features an outdoor bar and dining areaThere is a sundeck to soak in the views of the ocean and pristine white beaches of the surrounding islands.

Price: A 10-night trip on MV Keana costs £3,015 per adult, with children under 11 costing £2,735, including flights, departing 8 August 2024.

AMBA: Liveaboard Diving Beginner’s Tour, Family fun between Male and Vaavu Atoll

Take advantage of a variety of courses and family rates on this week-long beginner’s tour. Guests will complete a diving theory course prior to embarking on AMBA, allowing for the possibility to complete up to four courses whilst aboard, including the Open Water certification. Once certified, guests can explore the Vaavu Atoll, which has the thrilling possibility of shark encounters. More experienced divers can hop aboard the Dhoni to access some of the area’s more challenging dive sites.

Price: A 7-night trip on AMBA costs from £2,400 per adult, with children 11 and under costing £2,210. This price includes flights. Departing 13 August 2024.

diving holiday

DIVING RESORTS IN THE PHILIPPINES:

Atlantis Puerto Galera & Atlantis Dumaguete Family Weeks

The Atlantis Dive Resorts is offering a range of exceptional deals for family groups this summer. The Family Week special offers include free stays, free meals, free diving places for children (one free child per paying adult). Puerto Galera Resort, in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, offers accessible diving, diverse coral reefs and exotic marine life. Dumaguete, in the Visayas region, is home to a diverse range of macro species, including ghost pipefish, flamboyant cuttlefish, and various seahorses and octopuses. The resort also grants access to the Dauin Marine Sanctuaries and Apo Island – one of the finest diving destinations in the Philippines. Both hotels are situated in stunning beach-front locations with tropical landscaped gardens and thatched-roof bungalows.

Price: A 7-night stay Atlantis Puerto Galera costs £3,593 per adult and £1,375 per teen, including flights. A 7-night stay at Atlantis Dumaguete costs £3,895 per adult and £1,475 per teen, including flights.

Family week deals at the Atlantis Dive Resorts are available on selected dates in July, August, November and December 2024.

For more information visit www.regal-diving.co.uk.

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