Diver with Red Whip Coral is an example of my favourite type of underwater photographic technique, close-focus wide-angle. All of my pictures are taken on Fuji Velvia film because I am a great believer in the power of a bit of red to pep pictures up. I nip up and down the reef examining the colours of subjects such as this brilliant red whip coral using my flash aiming light, and when I find something as punchy as this I move no further, and roll the rest of the film at that same spot. The model is Hilary Driscoll, my photographic alter ego, the location the Red Sea, the lens a 16mm full-frame fisheye (f16, 1/60th). Reds such as this can look particularly good against the wonderful blue of the tropical ocean.Diver
JackJack Patrol is representative of the jack shoals at Sipadan where, with a slight current running, hundreds of these creatures line up almost like live sardines in the tin! The task here was to try to capture all those eyes and fishy facial expressions without burning out the silver scales, using a 60mm lens, f11 at 1/60th.
Blue-Spotted Stingray
Close-up was taken in the Northern Red Sea at the end of 1996. I have always thought that the spots on these stingrays are a stunning colour, so I spent a lot of time creeping up on this individual, taking shots as I went. I used a 60mm lens (f22, 1/60th), Nikon 801s, Subal housing and a single, hand-held housed SB25 flash. The aim was to focus on that extraordinary surreal eye, and get some of those spots on film as well. Luckily this was a tolerant ray and it allowed me to get very close indeed.
RedRed Sea Reef at Dusk is the result of my passion for the effects of light in the sea. I particularly love the type of dappled light portrayed in this shot, and that occurs only in the early morning or very late afternoon. This picture was taken at dusk at Ras Mohammed where, contrary to popular belief, some terrific dives can be enjoyed in very shallow water. This was at less than 5m, using the 16mm full-frame fisheye lens on about f5.6 or f4 at 1/60th, and with the flash stopped down to prevent any burning-out of the superb table coral. I had been cruising along the reef top, captivated by the light, and spotted the table coral with the sweetlips as a bonus. They were circling it, almost appearing to play chase.
The top half of the double-exposure Sipadan Nights is one of the last pictures to be taken of the old jetty outside Borneo Divers on Sipadan. As we left the next day, workmen were demolishing this rather elegant but extremely unsafe structure to replace it with an all-singing, all-dancing model complete with sunset bar! The top half was shot as a half-and-half in standing-depth water, using a 16mm full-frame fish-eye lens plus an orange filter (f16 at 1/60th) on a Nikon 801s in a Subal housing. Along with Hilary Driscoll, I had waited since four in the morning, drinking coffee on the platform outside the Borneo Divers dining hut. As soon as the sun rose we grabbed our cameras, masks and snorkels and went for it. The bottom half was taken that evening on a night dive with a 60mm macro lens (f22, 1/60th) and flash. It was shot upside-down, as the orange tubastrea were growing downwards from the roof of a cave on the drop-off. Altogether quite a complicated picture, and not one I expected to come out, let alone do well in a competition!Sipadan
ClamClam Mantle Detail is a tribute to desperation - it was the only thing I could find to photograph on that particular dive in the Red Sea. Other people find beautiful blue and green clams, but I came up only with what I thought at the time was a drab-looking thing! Imagine my surprise when I got the film developed and saw that this clam looked as though it had been sprinkled with stardust! It just goes to show that sometimes the most unexpected results can come from inauspicious material, and that even a seemingly creative desert of a dive can occasionally reward the undeserving photographer. I used a 60mm lens, f22, 1/60th, and added a diagonal tilt to the camera to make the final image a little more dynamic.