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How social media changed the way that I photograph underwater

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Have you ever considered using social media as a method of learning underwater photography or finessing the way you shoot? If you haven’t considered it before, it may be interesting for you to learn that many people are online and doing it right now.

If tools like Facebook, Instagram and photography communities aren’t on your radar, it could be time to get online and start reaping the benefits that come with having a connection to a diverse and international community. It’s free to access, always available and you will gain visibility of all different styles, tastes and experience levels from oceans across the world!

The underwater photography community online is huge and constantly growing. If your first reaction to reading all about social media is to roll your eyes or to dismiss the online realm as the playground of millennials, hear me out!

There are two real benefits that come with using social media platforms to improve your photography. The first? It expands your mind to what’s possible. The portfolios of a vast array of photographers are now at the tip of your fingers, which is incredibly inspiring. Exploring the work of others can motivate you to ‘set the bar higher’ and immediately exposes you to new techniques and ways of thinking.

The second benefit is the feedback you can receive from members of your online community. I actively participate in Facebook communities such as ‘Wetpixel underwater photography’ (they have an excellent forum on their website) and ‘Marine Pixels – Underwater Photography’. Both of these communities are fantastic and allow members to request feedback on their images while viewing content from other contributors. The feedback is often positive and constructive which has allowed me to view my images from a new perspective and grow.

If you’re after something more specific, there are communities on Facebook catering to different subjects and different photography techniques. This can include anything from groups of people whose passion is blackwater diving, through to people shooting specifically using fluorescent filters… and everything in between. There really is something for everyone.

Being a macro enthusiast myself, I enjoy participating in ‘Underwater Macro Photographers’ and ‘International group of underwater macro enthusiasts’. I spend hours perusing images on underwater photography communities and connecting with other enthusiasts. Although I don’t always comment on each post individually or directly speak with the contributor, I enjoy working out what I like about each shot and what I would have done differently if it were my photograph. I’ve found that reviewing and critiquing images from other photographers has trained me to approach my own technique analytically. This has noticeably changed how I shoot underwater and edit my images.

In my experience, there is a generosity of knowledge on these communities which makes them incredibly collaborative and interactive. If you have a question, you can ask a knowledgeable group for help and advice on an issue you’ve having, what gear you need or to talk through and plan an upcoming project.  This takes the guess work out of your photography and allows you to grow and learn from one-another. Information sharing and utilizing the collective experience is a quality of these groups and communities that keeps me coming back time and time again.

If the idea of participating in a formal community is intimidating, Instagram can be a great first step. If you’re not familiar with Instagram, it is a social media app that is designed for the publication and sharing of images specifically. There is an established underwater photography community contributing to Instagram and it’s easy to get involved!

In my opinion, Instagram has the largest volume and variety of underwater photography content available on any social media app. I believe this is because anyone, anywhere can contribute and the search tool, based on hashtags, is incredibly powerful. Because of this Instagram is a great resource for discovering new techniques and approaches to underwater photography. Like Facebook, you can use Instagram to connect with other photographers, follow trending techniques and receive feedback on your images. In fact, identifying and following specific tends is made easier on Instagram, as the search tool is more powerful than that of Facebook or similar social media apps.

Outside of your typical social media platforms are dedicated underwater photography websites and forums you should check out. Scubashooters is a great example of an online community where amateur and professional photographers come together to share images through the photographer portal. Additionally, the website has a forum where members can discuss underwater photography, diving destinations and scuba diving as a hobby. These websites open up your eyes to new places to shoot, new subjects to find, new ways of shooting and new people to collaborate with. As it’s a dedicated website, you will find that content is always relevant to the industry and is moderated to ensure that the community remains positive and constructive. Again, through viewing portfolios and popular images, it’s easy to identify current trends, new techniques and to better understand what makes a great image. The spirit of this website is really to collaborate, inspire and support.

While I’ve only discussed a handful of my favourite social media apps and forums with you, I hope I’ve shown the benefit that social media can bring. This goes above and beyond simply sharing the incredible things you’ve seen underwater with your friends and family. Social media allows you to be inspired by talented photographers globally while actively seeking feedback on your own work. Collaboration and knowledge sharing on these communities not only helps you to grow as a photographer but supports the growth of others.

My final advice to you is to research widely, see what’s available online, try a variety of social media applications or websites and get involved. Find a community or communities that you feel comfortable with and go at your own pace. I hope you find inspiration and see first-hand how the how the exposure you gain, feedback you receive and relationships you form can change your perspective on the way you plan, shoot and edit your images.

Check out more of Miranda-Clare’s photos on Instagram @divingphotos or visit her website www.mirandaclare.com.

Diving and underwater photography enthusiast Miranda-Clare first discovered her passion after moving to Grand Cayman in 2015. Since then, it has become her obsession to explore and capture the underwater world. Now based in South East Asia, she enjoys sharing her journey with other aspiring photographers. Find out more at www.mirandaclare.com.

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Sharks the Ocean’s Greatest Mystery – Part 2

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Sharks are an incredibly significant animal in human culture of both the past and present, they are an animal that have been embodied in our culture for millennia. They are represented in formats such as books and clothing, but most notably in our TV and films, which is where a large portion of their negative reputation stems from. A popular TV representation of sharks comes from Discovery Channel’s ‘Shark Week’, and I believe sharks are possibly the only animal on our planet to have an entire week dedicated to them every year. However, despite this, we still know more collectively about the surface of the Moon and Mars, about Galaxies outside of our own, and even about animals that have been extinct for millions of years, than we do about sharks.

Sharks are our Ocean’s top predator, and they represent just how little we know about our blue planet. We have put more money into exploring outer space than we have exploring our seas and whilst many people call space the final frontier, I believe the final frontier is our Oceans. There are people that have lived in space for over a year, yet we aren’t able to stay underwater for more than a few short hours, and with each dive, scientists are discovering something new in the deep sea, giving us a better understanding of our oceans and the top predator that lives within them.

What we do not know

It is easier to talk about what we do not know and the implications of not knowing it, we still don’t know where most shark species mate or give birth, knowing this would accelerate conservation efforts for sharks in a huge way as these areas could then have realistic protections placed on them, allowing us to preserve key stages of the Sharks life cycle.

Marine Biologists have stated that the discovery of a White Shark breeding ground would be the holy grail of Ocean Science, but the only reports of White Sharks mating come from a handful of sightings from Fisherman and Sailors, so these cannot be used as an official record.

We know that Sharks mature late in the same way as us humans, it is estimated that some species are estimated to not be sexually mature until their late 30’s and 40’s, which means that these species are at extreme risk of disappearing due to fishing, as they aren’t able to replenish their numbers fast enough when put under extreme fishing pressure. There is a lot of debate over whether Sharks mature at a certain age or a certain size, for example it was estimated that White Sharks mature at four metres in length, however, in South Africa in 2017 a female White Shark was killed by Orcas, and it was determined that she was either immature or hadn’t mated, as there was the presence of a Hymen.

We are also still unsure about the impacts of human activities on Sharks and how losing Sharks, or their habitat, would affect the habitats and environments on land, environments in which we depend on for our survival.

What we do know

New Shark discoveries are made every year, and scientists are predicting that in the next 15-20 years we will be entering the golden age of ocean and shark discoveries. We already know that sharks are the oceans top predator and we have determined that they affect the very mechanics and functions of the Ocean, if we were to remove them, we would be putting the worlds ecosystems at risk of collapsing. Sharks are an integral part of the balance of the oceans, they help by controlling populations of other species, if we were to lose sharks, species such as turtles would have an increase in population, therefore leading to more seagrass being eaten, which is a prime food source for many animals. Thus, other smaller animals would not be able to feed, and their population would decrease, also the decrease of sea grass would affect us humans on earth as the oceans plant life helps to absorb carbon dioxide and create oxygen, and actually up to 75% of the oxygen we breathe is created from the oceans.

We know that some Shark species have complex social relationships that aid in their survival, although this has only been observed in a handful of species. Lemon Sharks form bonds as pups and hunt together in the shallow mangrove swamps of the Bimini Atoll, and will learn and hunt together and learn vital skills needed in their future survival. Hammerheads are possibly the most famous for social interactions as they form huge schools off places such as the Galapagos Islands and it has been observed that the more dominant females swim in the centre of the school and display for the males.

Some shark species, such as the Zebra Shark, have been known to mimic other animals. Zebra sharks are born with stripes (which fade as they get older) and they have the second longest tail (after the Thresher Shark), this helps them to mimic the highly venomous, White-Banded Sea Snake in order to trick predators into avoiding them, they have even been reported to mimic taking a breath at the surface like a sea snake would do.

It has recently been discovered that Greenland Sharks are now the longest lived Vertebrate on our Planet, they are believed to be able to exceed the age of 500, with females not reaching sexual maturity until they are around 150 years old. This was discovered by examining special proteins in their eyes that do not degrade with age. Determining age and sexual maturity are crucial for understanding and managing shark populations as knowing what age a Shark can breed will allow us to gauge what protections a species needs.

It has recently been discovered that female Whale Sharks are able to store sperm to use over a period of time, this is in order to ensure their chance of reproducing, even without recently mating. This is a huge advantage for conserving the species, as Whale Sharks are classed as an endangered species and so, with the number of whale sharks declining, this ensures the species can continue. Along with this, Whale Sharks have also been found to be pregnant with up to 300 pups, and these pups can be at different stages of development due to the staggered use of stored sperm.

Of all things we know there is one thing that is certain, a Shark, no matter the species, is unique and worth more to our world alive than dead. In the next blog we will explore the threats that Sharks face and how we can help Sharks through the tough times ahead.


Follow Donovan on Instagram at www.instagram.com/donovans_reefs

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Nauticam NA-α1 Housing for Sony α1 Camera now shipping

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The Sony α1 is the company’s flagship full-frame interchangeable lens camera.  Designed around the new 50.1MP Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor and the BIONZ XR processor, the α1 is truly a camera which can do it all.  It’s 759 point Fast Hybrid Autofocus system offers advanced subject tracking and real-time eye autofocus on both humans and animals.  The optimized processing within the α1 allows it to achieve 30fps continuous shooting at full resolution along with 8K 30p and 4K 120p 10-bit video recording.

Nauticam has supported the Sony Alpha full-frame line since the original a7 with professional grade aluminum housings that offer intuitive access to all the controls and functions of the cameras. As the cameras have evolved, so have the Nauticam housings. The NA-α1 underwater housing provides fingertip access to all key camera controls in a rugged and reliable aluminum underwater housing. Ergonomic camera control access is one of the defining strengths of a Nauticam housing, and the NA-α1 continues this tradition.

Integrated DSLR-housing styled handles with ergonomic rubberized grips and stainless steel stiffening brackets add stability and accessory mounting points. The NA-a1 also features dual rear thumb-levers that are easily reached from the handle that access three of the most-used controls on the rear of the camera. The right lever actuates the AF-ON and RECORD buttons while the left lever is mapped to the PLAY button.

Atop the housing on the left side are controls in the form of a MODE dial and FOCUS mode lever. The C1, C2 buttons as well as the EV compensation dial also have direct access from the top of the housing. The C3, which is typically assigned to control switching between the EVF and the LCD screen is easily reachable on the rear of the housing from the left handle.

For more information visit the UK Nauticam website by clicking here 

or to visit the USA Nauticam website click 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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