Category Archives: Photography

The Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands archipelago is amongst the oldest in the Atlantic and actually predates the formation of the ocean itself, being formed of remnants of the paleogeographic supercontinent Gondwana. Situated in rich Southern seas, these ancient islands are home to a hugely productive marine ecosystem typified by large marine mammals and dense kelp forests. Centuries of human settlement have also played out in a fascinating maritime history, evidence of which abounds throughout the islands to this day.

Fighter EscortSouthern Sea Lions (Otaria flavescens)Southern Sea Lion (Otaria flavescens)Upland Geese (Chloephaga picta leucoptera)Peale's Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus australis)Commerson's Dolphin (Cephalorhynchus commersonii)Commerson's Dolphin (Cephalorhynchus commersonii)Sei Whale (Balaenoptera borealis)Shipwreck of the 'Lady Elizabeth'Shipwreck of the 'Lady Elizabeth'Boat GraveyardThe Atlantic Conveyor Memorial


Rocky Mountains

The Rocky Mountains are quite literally the back bone of North America, stretching over 3000 miles from Canada in the North to New Mexico in the South. The Rocky Mountain National Park, accessed from Denver, Colorado, is a haven for wildlife and wilderness and a breathtaking destination for anyone with a passion for the outdoors. Visiting mid-winter reveals a harshly frostbitten landscape, and with much of the resident fauna overwintering in warmer climes or safely settled in hibernation, the alpine slopes of the high peaks foster a frigid sense of abandonment. The sheltered woodlands of the lower slopes however give refuge to a number of perennial residents seeking protection from the icy catabatic winds above.

Rocky Mountain National ParkBear LakeEastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)Windy PeaksA Frozen WaterfallPillars of PineMule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)Canada GeeseCoyote (Canis latrans)Raven (Corvus sp.?)A Murder of Crows (Corvus sp.?)


Caverns Measureless to Man

Gozo feels like an ancient island and with good reason: the fabled home of Odysseus’ besotted captor, the nymph Calypso, it also boasts the oldest surviving free standing human structures in the world, the Ggantija megalithic temples. In fact, the word Ggantija derives from the Maltese word for ‘giant’, as the stones used to construct these temples are so massive people believed the site could only have been built by an ancient race of giants. And the same could be said of Gozo itself: hewn, battered and sculpted by countless millennia, the limestone edifice rises stark and imposing above the azure Mediterranean waters, pocked and permeated by a fantastic collection of caves, caverns and arches. Fortunately for divers, sea level change over the ages has left ancestors of these giant features far below the current sea surface giving rise to an underwater world that is just as dramatic, exciting and magical as any envisaged by Homer. Diving here is largely accessible from the shore, often from sheltered inlets cut off from the sea outside by truly epic caverns and tunnels; caverns that could easily have been the namesakes of Sheck Exley’s Caverns Measureless to Man.

DwejraBlue ChasmsThe Only Way to FlyThe Inky DepthsBarracuda (Sphyraena flavicauda)Silver ArrowsFollow the LeaderThe Double Arch at XweiniCathedral Cave Coral CaveCathedral CaveCaverns Measureless to Man


A Sea of Dancing Rays and The Doors of Perception

I’ve recently returned from the Maltese Island of Gozo. The main Gozo post will follow shortly but I wanted to put something up in the meantime as these shots don’t quite fit there. So here follows a slightly disjointed musing with no particular theme other than thoughts inspired by my time spent under Gozoitan seas:

Firstly, I posit that it is literally impossible for an underwater photographer to visit somewhere with great visibility without picking off at least a couple of backlit sunburst shots so we may as well get that out the way.

1. Ouigi (600)

Because I just can’t help myself.

Natural-light photography from under the sea seems to be under-represented at the moment with the majority of published work focusing on using creative augmentative lighting to boost colours to psychedelic, acid-trip-in-the-Wonka-factory type levels. I think for me this is one of the reasons polar photography is often so striking; there is a refreshing natural purity in a monotone landscape that speaks of the hostility of living there. Don’t get me wrong, I love the acid house(reef) effect but it is a little constraining in terms of the emotion such a vibrant, colourful image can convey. After a while there’s a distinct danger that it all just merges together into a mind numbing swirl. Gozo is a vivid place, but underwater it has the barren simplicity of an aqueous desert and the lighting to match.

2. Wall III (600)

God’s own country and he lights it well!

It is, in part, an illusion of course as a closer inspection reveals there is life everywhere but it is easy to lose yourself in the rays of light playing over the endless walls and dissipating in the impenetrable blue.

4. Light (600)

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water” – Loren Eiseley

Undoubtedly the other thing Gozo is rightly famous for is the scale of the truly epic sea caves that open into the vast blues of an inky depth so profound and inviting that it’s hard not to constantly recall James Cameron’s The Abyss. Hanging midwater, dwarfed by the immensity of the walls and staring down into the unknown below is probably one of the best places to get a feel for the crushing remoteness of the alien world of the deep ocean lying far far below. That feeling was never stronger than on encountering this group of divers guiding their underwater sun back towards the surface.

3. It Came From the Abyss (600)

“A place on Earth more awesome than anywhere in space”.

Finally, taking photos in these caverns, I was really pushing the camera to its absolute limits in terms of low light performance. As photographers, I think we are going to always want more from our gear in this respect but I have been reasonably satisfied with my D800’s results, even shooting at outrageous ISOs. Obviously the heavyweight resolution comes at a price in terms of noise and there are some beautiful vistas that will have to remain memories for a while yet. That said, even those scenes on the borderline, like the final shot in this post, can produce interesting images with some careful RAW processing. “There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception…”.

6. Weird Light (600)

OK, back to psychedelic.

Expedition Oman

February saw me back in the Middle East and out on a shoot of a very different nature: it wasn’t about nature. A ‘typical’ natural history shoot might involve a very small crew operating in isolation in the wild for a number of weeks, usually tracking animals that have a frustrating propensity to run away. That paradigm was left behind from the outset on this production as thirty crew, sponsors and extras dressed in period sailor costumes descended upon Ras Al Hadd to film re-enactments for a historical documentary.


A motlier bunch of rag tag castaways you never did see

This film examines the fate of the crew of the Dutch East Indiaman, Amstelveen, wrecked on a desolate and remote stretch of Arabian coastline two hundred and fifty years ago whilst en route from Batavia (modern Jakarta) to Iraq. For the few survivors cast upon the shore, the ordeal had only just begun as they now faced a desperate and seemingly endless journey through a hostile wilderness to rejoin civilisation. Details of the crew’s passage and their encounters with the local Bedouin have recently been unearthed in the diary of one of the castaways, Cornelius Eykes (Milan Collin, Deepeei Films).

Eykes was suprisingly tech-savvy for an 18th century sailor.

Eykes proved to be suprisingly tech-savvy for an 18th century sailor.

As well as shooting production stills (a selection of which can be found in the galleries here:, I was also camera assisting for self-shooting director, Gilles Frenken, and operating whilst he assumed an acting role. This was a pretty hectic week with a lot to fit in as these re-enactments went on to make up about 20 minutes of the completed film. With so many people involved, time is quite literally money and it pays to be clinical and efficient. It also helps prevent your volunteer army from becoming distracted.



Quite a bit of material was shot handheld to be able to get in amongst the action and so Gilles had opted for an EF mount C300 with L series photographic lenses and a range of Carl Zeiss Compact Primes, plus an onboard stereo-mic for shooting sync. I was pretty impressed with the image straight off the camera – it’s certainly sharp with the compact primes and although the limited bit depth and dynamic range obviously places certain constraints on your shooting style, the set up is light enough that you really can comfortably shoot handheld all day.

Shooting handheld, stranded sailor style

Both Dutch and English versions of the film have been produced. The Dutch version was aired on the 21st of July on Dutch public channel NED2. Discussions are currently underway to enable the English version to be shown on the Discovery Channel in the near future and I’ll be sure to update you if that turns out to be the case.

Arabian Sunset

‘my own desert places’

For more info about the story of the film and including thoughts from director Gilles Frenken, check out this somewhat quirky article from a local daily: