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: Wolfgang Poelzer
Wolfgang Poelzer is a well known Austrian full-time photojournalist and underwater photographer. He is a regular contributor to the leading German diving magazine TAUCHEN for more than 20 years, but his photos also gets published regularly in various media around the world. After getting a Master degree in Marine Biolgy he started taking photos under water seriously. Not to be forgotten at a time when digital photography was not yet invented and you had to limit yourself to 36 shots of a film during a dive. Among the numerous wins in photo competitions, two gold medals in the CMAS World Championships in underwater photography and one gold medal in the prestigious competition in Antibes deserve special mention. After he made underwater photography and journalism his profession, he no longer took part in photo competitions. If he is not travelling arround the world, he is taking pictures of babys swimming in the pool to please their parents. For many years Wolfgang Poelzer has also been an Ambassodor of MARES, the worldwide leader in the manufacturing and distribution of state-of-the-art diving equipment.
Facebook: @wolfgang poelzer
NRB: How did your underwater photography start?
WP: Oh, it was back in the 90s of the last century when I borrowed a friend’s underwater camera just for fun. I bought the used camera including the Seacam underwater housing. That was a Minolta 7000 – the first SLR with autofocus! In the absence of a flash, my then girlfriend (and current wife) Barbara had to illuminate my motifs while taking pictures with her UW lamp. I quickly reached my limits with this equipment and first switched to the Nikonos system and soon after to a Nikon camera in the housing. Funnily enough, with one of my first photos with a fisheye lens in the housing, I won many awards at photo competitions. A landscape shot with my snorkeling wife in a crystal clear mountain lake in my home country Austria. A photo that participants tried to copy many years later when I was already on the jury at various competitions. One of my prizes in photo competitions was a trip to the Maldives, where I got in contact with the leading German diving magazine TAUCHEN, for which I soon wrote my first article. Only a few years later (1998) I became a professional and since then have been working as a travel journalist and underwater photographer.
NRB: What is your favourite u/w camera equipment (past & present) & why?
WP: Nikon D850 in a Seacam Housing with 2 Seacam Strobes. My favorite lens is the former 13 mm Fisheye lens from the Nikonos RS because it’s the best wide angle lens for underwater photography ever!
NRB: What would be your advice to anyone new to underwater photography?
WP: Learn to perfect your buoyancy skills first. Only when you feel completely at home under water, you can concentrate fully on photography and achieve good results.
NRB: What, or who, has been your single biggest inspiration for your underwater photography?
WP: After watching Hans Hass and Cousteau films in my childhood, I was mainly inspired by David Doubilet.
NRB: What image are you most proud of and why?
WP: A fishey photo of mating dolphins in the Red Sea (see top of page), just an arm’s length away from me! That was not only an extremely impressive feeling, it also led to a great result. That was in film times almost 20 years ago.
NRB: Where is your favourite dive location, and is it for the photography?
WP: My favorite diving region is Indonesia. 17,500 different islands offer a huge variety of great diving spots and are enough for much more than a whole diving life.
NRB: What are you views on marine life manipulation, moving subjects?
WP: I don’t want to be “more Catholic than the Pope”. Basically you shouldn’t touch or change anything under water! The least I like to see, if somebody takes a nudibranch and put on another surface, just to get a better photo. However, in my opinion it makes a difference, if you gently turn a sea cucumber to examine it for imperial shrimps or to tap a fan of gorgonians with a pointer to look for pygmy seahorses. The least to complain about environmentally friendly diving is anyone who photographs supermacro. Nobody can tell me that with 10 diopter lenses it is possible to take perfect sharp photos of tiny marine organisms while free floating in the water.
NRB: What do you look for when you are making your images?
WP: I am still looking for spots of beautiful, largely untouched nature on my dives. In order to show the beauty of nature in my photos even in times of pollution, marine acidification and extinction of species. If you only search and show the negative, many think that it is no longer worth protecting nature.
NRB: What motivates you to take u/w photos?
WP: I love the underwater world with all of its creatures or even “empty” landscapes. I can never stop trying to discover new things. And if nothing new, then at least familiar objects in a new light and a new perspective.
NRB: If you could photograph any one thing/place what or where would that be?
WP: There are still so many places, regions and countries left to visit – maybe Antarctica or New Zealand. Believe it or not, the Great White is still high on my bucket list, but also the bizarre-looking Leafy Seadragons from South Australia.
To see more of Wolfgang’s work click here.
BLUE EARTH – Future Frogmen Podcast Series – Deep-Sea Stories From a Shadow Diver: a conversation with Richie Kohler
A series of conservation educational podcasts from Future Frogmen, introduced by Jeff Goodman.
Deep Sea Stories From a Shadow Diver: a conversation with Richie Kohler.
This episode of the Blue Earth Podcast is a conversation with Richie Kohler. He’s an explorer, technical wreck diver, shipwreck historian, filmmaker, and author.
Richie was featured in Robert Kurson’s incredible book “Shadow Divers ”. It’s a thrilling true story about Richie and John Chatterton’s quest to identify the wreck of an unknown WWII German U-boat (submarine), 65 miles off the coast of New Jersey. They dedicated six years of their lives attempting to identify the wreck.
Richie has travelled the world and explored many deep wrecks, including the Andrea Doria, Titanic, and Britannic. He’s the author of “Mystery of The Last Olympian” about the Britannic.
Richard E Hyman Bio
Richard is the Chairman and President of Future Frogmen.
Born from mentoring and love of the ocean, Richard is developing an impactful non-profit organization. His memoir, FROGMEN, details expeditions aboard Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s famed ship Calypso.
Future Frogmen, Inc. is a nonprofit organization and public charity that works to improve ocean health by deepening the connection between people and nature. They foster ocean ambassadors and future leaders to protect the ocean by accomplishing five objectives.
You can find more episodes and information at www.futurefrogmen.org and on most social platforms @futurefrogmen.
New Fisheries Act misses the mark on sustainability, but what now?
The UK’s landmark post-Brexit fisheries legislation has now become law. The Fisheries Act, the first legislation of its kind in nearly 40 years, will shape how the UK’s seas are fished for years to come.
The Marine Conservation Society, which campaigned for amendments to the legislation throughout its development, is disappointed by the removal of key sustainability amendments and by the removal of a commitment to rolling out Remote Electronic Monitoring.
The charity has committed to pushing the UK Government to go further than the framework which the Fisheries Act sets out, with greater ambition for the state of UK seas.
Sandy Luk, Chief Executive of the Marine Conservation Society said: “UK Government and devolved administrations must act urgently to deliver climate and nature smart fisheries under the new Fisheries Act. This is a key condition if our seas are to recover to good health. The UK Government removed key amendments from the legislation while making promises on sustainability and the introduction of remote electronic monitoring. We will continue to hold the government to account over these promises.”
“I’m pleased to see the recognition of the important role fisheries play in our fight against the climate emergency. However, even with a climate change objective in the Act, actions speak louder than words. We must get to work delivering sustainable fisheries management, which will have a huge benefit to our seas, wildlife and the communities which depend upon them.”
The Fisheries Act has become law against a backdrop of the ocean’s declining health. UK waters are currently failing to meet 11 out of 15 indicators of good ocean health and over a third of fish in UK waters are being caught at levels which cannot continue into the future. Whilst the legislation failed to address some of the more pressing issues facing UK seas, including overfishing, there is still an opportunity to affect change in the years which follow.
Sam Stone, Head of Fisheries at the Marine Conservation Society said: “The Fisheries Act marks the start of a new era of fisheries management in the UK, but the next two years will be critical in defining what this looks like. The new Act has some good objectives, but we now need to come together to make sure it really delivers the on-water change that is desperately needed for ocean recovery.
“There is genuine opportunity to create fisheries that deliver for coastal communities and for the environment, but it means moving away from ‘business-as-usual’. The UK and devolved governments now have the powers to move forward with progressive new management in their waters. That means proper incentives for low impact fishing, proper monitoring of catches and proper commitments to sustainable fishing.
“In the short term, the four nations must work together to make impactful changes, starting by addressing the UK’s most at risk fish stocks. Recovery plans are needed for our depleted stocks, including new catch limits, selectivity and avoidance measures, protection of vital habitats and fully documented catches. Rolling out Remote Electronic Monitoring with cameras on larger vessels throughout the UK should be top of the agenda if future policy is to be as well informed as possible.”
For more information about the Fisheries Bill and the Marine Conservation Society’s work, visit the charity’s website.
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