Information for Underwater Photographers
- The reason that I pioneered live-aboard diving in 1972 was that live-aboards
were the perfect platform for underwater photographers. Not only were we able to
get beyond the range of the main hotel-based diver traffic to remote, unspoiled reefs;
we also could make as many dives each day as we wished (within, of course, the limits
of good practice). That gave us better value for the time and money we were spending
to come to the Tropics. In those glory days when our groups were the first to explore
such places as Australia's Coral Sea, the Galapagos, Palau, Fiji, Truk Lagoon, and
the Red Sea, live-aboard cruises were the secret to such remote exploration. Today,
modern live-aboards offer far more in amenities than we had in the 1970's, but their
premise is the same:
- Take a week to as much as two weeks on board to really get in practice and in
the best physical condition--that's when you get the best pictures.
- Go beyond the range of other divers in cruises of 200-900 miles to the very best
sites, wherever they may be.
- Have everything on board that serious photographers need to achieve their goal:
shooting a lot of film on great subjects!
- When there, let the divers dive whenever they wish. On these cruises, the dives
are organized for the convenience of the divers, and not for the convenience of the
crew... Remember, those big airline tickets cost the same whether you do two dives
each day, or five!
- While all live-aboards are thus ideal vehicles for underwater photography, some
are especially known for particular subjects:
- For densely populated, colorful reefs the Red Sea and Fiji stand above other
areas. Reef points or pinnacles where currents flow are particularly rich and rewarding
for photograpers both in their lavish colors and the density and proliferation of
- For rare and unusual species, Papua New Guinea has become a mecca. The Milne
Bay area in the East and New Guineas's Coral Sea offer frequent sightings of the
rare Merlot's scorpionfish Rhinopias aphanes. Milne Bay has also become famous
for allowing photographers access to chambered nautilus, several species of ghost
pipefish Solenostomus, allied cowries, porcelain crabs, panda clownfish, Majid
crabs, miniature cuttlefish and several species of brilliantly-colored fairy basslets.
- Massive soft coral colonies, four to six feet in height are found in Australia's
outermost Coral Sea reefs and hanging from the wrecks of Truk Lagoon.
- Please see the nearby "Sharks" listing to see which vessels in which
countries offer you access to particular species of sharks.
- Carl Roessler has written two books which portray the
world's best dive destinations in text and pictures. "Coral Kingdoms" is
a serious 50,000 word coffee-table book with 250 full-color photos. "Great Reefs
of the World" is a 20,000 word paperback with 200 color pictures. Both are available
from See & Sea (see our "Books" page).
- E-6 film processing on board is labor-intensive, so it is offered mainly by larger
vessels with larger crews. Live-aboards such as Thorfinn in Truk Lagoon, Aggressors
and Peter Hughes' vessels routinely process E-6 type film overnight. Certain
smaller vessels such as Ocean Hunter in Palau have made special arrangements
to courier film to shore-based facilities for overnight processing.
- Underwater photography and Marine life seminars are offered periodically on many
cruises, hosted by well-known photographers such as Marty Snyderman, Paul Humann,
Dee Scarr, Bob Halstead, Scott Frier, Stan Waterman, Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock,
and Carl Roessler. Please contact Carl Roessler for recommendations.
- One way to inprove your underwater photography is to read books by professionals.
Carl Roessler's book "Mastering Underwater Photography" includes
chapters on the mental game of underwater photography--how to get close to fish for
portraits, how to work with models, how to film big animals. Contact Carl Roessler
if you wish to purchase a copy.
For those of you who are deeply fascinated by marine life, we offer the Woods
Hole Oceanographic Institueâs FAQ (frequently asked questions) about sea creatures:
A description of Carl's
large photo collection with sample portfolios!