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: Roisin Maddison
NRB: How did your underwater photography start?
RM: Growing up with a mountaineer for a father I spent the majority of my childhood in the British countryside running around with my dad’s old compact film camera bossing people around telling getting them to pose for photos or to get out of my way of my shot. Back then it would take months to get the photos developed, mostly due to the fact that my dad never took them to the photo shop and would end up stockpiling rolls upon rolls of film but also because he would inevitably forget to go and pick them up when he eventually did.
It was on my 12th birthday that my dad bought me my first digital camera, a small Olympic compact that I’m pretty sure I still have hidden in a box in my old bedroom. It was from there that my photography really kicked off, now that I could see what photos I was taking, and I no longer had to wait months to receive the final product only for it to be blurred or out of focus.
It was however one of my high school art teachers that encouraged me to take my photography seriously and to take it on into my A-levels where I found that I really did have a talent and a passion for photography, favouring it over all of my other “academic” subjects.
It was a given that I was going to go on and study photography at University but nature photography was always my passion, I just couldn’t be bothered with the fashion or street photography elements of my course and I was adamant that I wanted to be based near the sea. However, all the courses I researched or came across were all heavily based on editorial, fashion, urban photography areas that I just wasn’t interested in. Until I came across Falmouth University’s Marine and Natural History Photography course. It was ideal. It was near the sea and it was a course based entirely on nature photography; it even had a diving element, which sounded like a bit of fun. At this stage I had never Scuba dived, I was an avid swimmer, but Scuba diving was never something I had considered doing, it just wasn’t on my radar but what the hell! It’ll be fun, I’ll give it a go.
Little did I know whilst on my first open water dive in the Delph Quarry or on my first university dive at Pendennis Silver Steps that Scuba diving and underwater photography was about to consume my entire life.
RM: My first underwater photography dive was done with a compact Panasonic set up with a single strobe. Once we had proved ourselves trustworthy, we graduated on to a Nikon D7000 and Nauticam housing with either a 60mm macro or the Tokina 10-17 fisheye lens. When I graduated university and no longer had access to the uni’s cameras I treated myself to Nauticam housing for my D7200 and a 60mm macro. For about 2 years this 60mm macro was the only dome port I owned; underwater photography equipment isn’t cheap, especially for a recent photography graduate. Whilst I have since expanded my equipment collection and tried out other cameras and set ups, my D7200 and my trusty 60mm macro will always be my go-to set up. The 60mm is just such a versatile lens. It is a macro lens but it’s perfect for those slightly larger profile creatures, that aren’t quite big enough to warrant a wide angle, whilst also being perfect for any teeny tiny macro critters. Admittedly it doesn’t get as close or as much detail as the 105mm macro but if a turtle swims past whilst you have the 105mm on you have no chance. With the 60mm it may not be the perfect shot but you are at least in with a chance. Plus, there’s always room for a bit of cropping where those teeny tiny critters are concerned.
NRB: What would be your advice to anyone new to underwater photography?
RM: I would recommend getting to grips with manual setting and light set ups straight from the off, set yourself up in a nice shallow reef with a VERY patient buddy (even better a buddy who is already an underwater photographer that can advise you) and start off by practicing different settings and lighting techniques on a simple and static subject; anemones are always a good shout.
Underwater photography workshops are always a massive boost when starting out as well as underwater photography books. Alex Mustards book Underwater Photography masterclass is my absolute go-to when trying out a new technique. But remember even if you are an amazing photographer top side and an experienced diver, it is going to take a lot of time and effort to get to grips with underwater photography and undoubtedly your first few images are not going to be perfect. But stick with it because when you get your first perfect shot, all that time and effort will be worth it.
NRB: What, or who, has been your single biggest inspiration for your underwater photography?
RM: My biggest inspiration for underwater photography has got to be Jane Morgan, not only is she an amazing underwater photographer who has had many amazing articles and images published over the years, but she is also a genuinely kind and caring person who wants to help and inspire the next generation of underwater photographers. Many other Marine and Natural History students and I have had the pleasure of having her as our tutor and all-round photography guru. Over the years she has had to put up with my badgering her for tips and tricks, but she has always been there to lend a piece of equipment or teach me a new technique. She helped me get my first magazine article published and all round cheered me on to pursue a career in underwater photography.
NRB: What image are you most proud of and why?
RM: This is a hard question to answer, I am proud of so many of my images and I don’t think I would be able to choose just one. Quite often my favourite images from a dive or a trip aren’t necessarily the best photographs or the most technical, they are the ones that have the best memories and the most meaning to me.
To name just one is hard but I think I would have to pick a photograph I took in Egypt two years ago. I dropped down on a night dive and the first thing I came across was a brittle star. It was stood up on its arms holding its body in the air, which was strange behaviour that I had never come across before, so I stopped to photograph it and as I did it started spawning right in front of my camera lens. I was amazed and privileged to get to witness such an amazing bit of nature.
NRB: Where is your favourite dive location, and is it for the photography?
RM: My favourite dive location is a little 5m shore dive off the coast of Falmouth. Pendennis Sliver Steps is the easiest most simple dive site you will ever visit but it is also the most stunning. It is the perfect dive site to jump into on your way home from work and get a bit of photography practice in, whether its testing out new equipment or techniques or just keeping your hand in during a busy period, or when the weather has prevented you from getting out anywhere else. Most importantly of all it is bursting with life, there are new species to find on nearly every dive but being such an easy dive site to jump into means I can spend so much time there and get to know to resident species, figuring out where they live, tracking their behaviours and markings throughout the year and each time getting to take better and more technical photographs.
NRB: What are you views on marine life manipulation, moving subjects?
RM: Personally, I am not one for marine life manipulation whether it be in water whilst taking the picture or in post edit. I like my photos to reflect what I saw on the dive as it was when I took the photo. I will however admit to occasionally doing a bit of ‘gardening’ and removing a stray bit of seaweed or two out of the way of the frame, but that is as far as I will go.
NRB: What do you look for when you are making your images?
RM: It very much depends on what dive I’m on and what I am taking the photograph for. If I am out on a pleasure dive, I will be looking for images with a difference. Every photographer wants to take that one image that nobody has ever taken before, but I will also be taking photographs for myself to document my dive and the species I found sometimes for my own memories and sometimes for species research and/or magazine articles. I think it’s very important for photographers not to get to bent up in taking the perfect image on every dive. Whilst underwater photography may be my chosen profession it is also my hobby and it is very important to me that I don’t turn my hobby, my escape, my passion, into an obsession or ruin it by making it feel too much like work.
NRB: What motivates you to take u/w photos?
RM: I take underwater photographs to create an awareness for non-divers as to the beauty and importance of our marine world. More specifically for me is a desire to exhibit how stunning and extensive our own British marine life is. In the last few years the threat to our Coral Reefs and tropical oceans has finally been taking seriously and divers and non-divers have finally realised the importance of our oceans and how imperative it is to save them. I want my photography to highlight that it isn’t just the tropical coral reefs that need savin. British marine habitats are just as important and just as exquisite.
NRB: If you could photograph any one thing/place what or where would that be?
RM: I spent 5 years living and diving in Cornish waters without ever coming across a blue shark or a basking shark. One of my aims for this next year is to get onto one of the blue shark/basking shark trips and to photograph these gentle giants in British waters.
To see more of Roisin’s work click here.
Ocean Art 2020 Winners Announced!
Ocean Art Contest Announces the Best Underwater Photos of the Year
The prestigious Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition, organized by the Underwater Photography Guide, has announced the best underwater photos this year with its 2020 winners. Despite global travel restrictions and the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, the 9th annual competition attracted an extremely high caliber of photos from oceans around the world. Underwater explorers captured photos locally, in select destinations currently open to travel, or revisited their archives to bring us some eye-catching photography. This unique assortment of photos could not have been possible without the help of our generous sponsors who have all had to navigate a changing travel and dive industry. Many of these same sponsors helped the Ocean Art competition raise money earlier in this year to raise money to donate to the WHO and CDC in their fight against Covid-19. These photos showcase the perseverance of underwater artistry amidst the adversity of the times.
All the winning photos can be seen at the Underwater Photography Guide at https://www.uwphotographyguide.com/ocean-art-contest-winners-2020
The Best of Show is a once-in-a-lifetime moment of an octopus taking a selfie with the photographer and his curious family in the background. The photo was captured by photographer Gaetano Dario Gargiulo close to his home in the tide pools of Kamay Botany Bay National Park, New South Wales, Australia. Other extraordinary winners include astonishing scenes of animal behavior, images that bring hope for the next generation of sea creatures, displays of ingenious photographic technique, and conservation scenes that reflect on not just the need to conserve our planet, but our species as well. The judges evaluated thousands of entries from 80 countries before selecting the final set of images as Ocean Art winners.
Ocean Art 2020 judges included prestigious underwater photographers Tony Wu, Mark Strickland, and Marty Snyderman.
Over $45,000 in prizes have be awarded, making the Ocean Art prize value among the highest in the world.
Ocean Art prizes are provided by some of the world’s top scuba diving resorts, liveaboard dive yachts, and underwater photo gear manufacturers. Grand prizes include a choice of 7 or 8 nights for two aboard the Coralia Liveaboard in Raja Ampat or Komodo, a 7 night liveaboard trip on the M.V. Bilikili in the Solomon Islands, a 7-night dive package with Villa Markisa, a 7 night dive package at Siladen Resort & Spa in Bunaken, a 12 night Passport to Paradise with Murex Dive Resorts and Lembeh Resort to three different Indonesian destinations, a 5-night dive vacation with AquaMarine Diving Bali & Ramayana Candidasa, a 7-night dive vacation at Atlantis Philippines Dive Resorts, and a variety of gift certificates from Bluewater Photo and Bluewater Travel. Premium travel prizes are provided by Volivoli Beach Resort (Fiji), Crystal Blue Dive Resort (Philippines), and Solitude Liveaboards & Resorts (Philippines and Indonesia). Premium gear prizes are provided by Sea & Sea and Ikelite. 12 different categories ensure a competitive contest for all levels and disciplines of underwater photography.
The photographic ingenuity from competitors is getting better every year – making judging very difficult and demonstrating that the winning images are some of the best in the world. Bluewater Photo and Bluewater Travel owner and Underwater Photography Guide publisher, Scott Gietler commented, “The Ocean Art team was thrilled to see that so many photographers were able to get out, dive, and immerse themselves in photography this year. The Best of Show was especially impressive. My only concern is that the octopus should get its share of the prize, as it did assist in taking the shot!”
For more information, please visit http://www.uwphotographyguide.com
Gear Review: SeaLife SportDiver housing for iPhone (Watch Video)
WIN an Envirus Everyday+ Mask from Sharkskin – 5 up for grabs!!!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Liquid Sports to give away five Envirus Everyday+ Masks, which...
WIN a PADI eLearning Course – 5 courses up for grabs!!!
From 1-25 December, our good friends at PADI® will donate 10% of your PADI eLearning® purchase to support the Project AWARE® Dive Against...
WIN a Beuchat Air Light Bag!!!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Beuchat to give away an Air Light Bag!...
WIN a Bigblue AL-1200NP Dive Torch!!!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Liquid Sports to give away a Bigblue AL-1200NP Dive...
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to book your spot!More Less
- Competitions3 months ago
WIN one of the NEW Momentum M20 Dive Watches!!!
- Competitions2 months ago
WIN a Northern Diver NDB5 Holdall Bag!!!
- Gear News3 months ago
Breaking News: Garmin Descent Mk2 & Mk2i Launch & Review (Watch Video)
- Competitions2 months ago
WIN a Fourth Element Arctic Hoodie!!!
- Gear News3 months ago
Momentum announce new M20 series of watches
- Competitions1 month ago
WIN a PADI eLearning Course – 5 courses up for grabs!!!
- Gear Reviews2 months ago
Equipment Review: NEW Garmin Descent Mk2i Dive Computer (Watch Video)
- Dive Training Blogs3 months ago
Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 7