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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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Diving below the waves of the Western Cape, South Africa – Windmill Beach (Watch Video)

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Head under the waves of False Bay and explore the incredible diversity that is found along the Western Cape. The bay has popular dive spots from diving amongst the biodiverse underwater kelp forests to jumping in with the playful and friendly cape fur sealions (Arctocephalus pusillus). The bay along with the rest of the South Africa coast is known for the range of shark species that are found from the shallow coastal shores out into the open oceans. The coast is also home to numerous endemic shark species such as puffadder shyshark (Haploblepharus edwardsii) and Pyjama shark.

Situated a short drive out of Simonstown is the shore dive at Windmill beach. A short swim over the sand and through the large boulders you enter the incredibly diverse and colourful kelp forests (Ecklonia maxima), a species that can grow up to 12m tall. Life is found in abundance from the base of the kelp where many sea urchins and species such as abalone can be seen then heading into the canopy many shoaling fish species can be observed.

Diving with the local dive club – Cape Town Dive Centre.


Follow Jake aka JD Scuba on the YouTube channel @Don’t Think Just Blog.

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Gear News

Fourth Element to make diving tools from recycled PPE

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Fourth Element has partnered with recycling and repurposing experts, Waterhaul, to retask the mask; turning single-use plastics into the tools we use in pursuit of underwater adventure. Face masks and other items of PPE from hospitals are melted down into blocks, sterilising the material which fourth element purchases, recycle and transforms.

These cave line markers are the first of what fourth element hopes will be many products using this waste material to give it a new life beyond protecting the lives of our frontline healthcare workers. Each marker re-uses the equivalent of two disposable masks. Waste is given a new direction.

The end product is completely safe. The PPE is heat treated by the hospital: the plastic is heated to high temperatures multiple times; first to make the blocks within the recycling process, and also whilst injection moulding the parts.

What makes this OceanPositive?

In the UK alone, 58 million single-use plastic face masks are thrown away every day, littering landfills and polluting the environment. Globally, we use 129 billion per month – that’s enough to wrap around the world 550 times! Over the last 12 months, a recorded 1.5 billion have entered the ocean, disrupting our ecosystem and endangering marine life across the globe. And that’s just what has been recorded.

These lines markers are made from recycled PPE, each one saving two masks from entering landfill or our oceans. Part of fourth element’s Zero Waste and Zero Plastic initiatives; to re-purpose as much plastic as possible and find new uses for products at the end of their lives.

We believe that this is the way,” said Jim Standing, co-founder of fourth element. “We are all going to have to tackle the challenges of a post covid world and one of these will be how we deal with the waste we have created as part of keeping ourselves and in particular, our frontline workers protected. We intend to play our part.”

For more information visit the Fourth Element website by clicking here.

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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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