underwater photography

Featured Photographer - Thomas Peschak by Felix Leander

My dad always said you need to get close to your subjects...Thomas Peschak with Tiger Shark in South Africa.  Photo by Wolfgang Leander 2007

My old man wrote this about Thomas Peschak years back: "In his field, wildlife and shark conservation photography, Thomas is, in my and many others' opinion, one of the best - world-wide."

Thomas with large Tiger Shark in South Africa.  Photo by Wolfgang Leander 2007

While I have not had the pleasure in meeting Thomas (we have corresponded) - my father was able to spend a lot of time with him in the water in Aliwal Shoal, South Africa, freediving and photographing tiger sharks.  Then already an accomplished photographer, Thomas has risen above most capturing stunning wildlife images and is a contributing photographer to National Geographic.

The now famous Great White shark and kayak photo by Thomas Peschak

But what makes Thomas so special, beyond his photography, is his involvement in conservation.  "Thomas believes that the combined force of photojournalists and conservation NGOs is very powerful. In the past he has worked as the official photographer of WWF-SA and the Chief Photographer for the Save our Seas Foundation. He continues working with NGOs on a regular basis, collaborating often with Pacific Wild, the Manta Trust and WWF."  He now is the director of conservation at Save our Seas Foundation

Be sure to follow his Instagram feed - https://instagram.com/thomaspeschak/  and visit his website at: http://www.thomaspeschak.com/ and http://saveourseas.com/

Logan Mock-Bunting Captures Freediving Competition by Felix Leander

Came across a Wired article about freediving yesterday that features the photography of Logan Mock-Bunting.  Logan was in the Bahamas late last year to document the 2014 Vertical Blue freediving competition.  He captured the ups and downs (literally and figuratively) of the participants - from the celebrations to the black outs.

Shallow water black-out.  Image by: Logan Mock-Bunting

Be sure to check out his work at www.loganmb.com.

Featured Photographer - Scott Campbell by Felix Leander

Just a little less than two decades ago there was only a handful of freedivers that were capturing moments underwater that were focused on large marine life.  Aside from the Nikonos V, u/w cameras were bulky, expensive, and did have the high resolution as they do today.  And freediving was just starting to go through a revolution and become more popular.

One of those freedivers / photographers is Scott Campbell.  While I am not sure what gear he uses, all his photography is black and white and his subjects include sharks, whales, pelagic fish among others.  I remember seeing his images in the early 2000s - the ones that struck a cord was that of a oceanic white tip (he was doing it before it was "in").  His photographs are raw, rough, yet beautiful - a direct result of the ocean he mostly dives in - The Pacific.

The fact that Scott spent 5 years competing on the US Freediving Team and set numerous records for depth and duration have worked in his favor - being comfortable in the ocean have allowed him to approach animals in ways that a SCUBA diver could never.

Have a look at his gallery / website: http://www.on1breath.com 

Scott definitely was a trail blazer...

Scott Campbell freediving with Oceanic White Shark.  Photo by: Unknown

Freediving... by Felix Leander

There is nothing more pure, nothing more beautiful than freediving.  To truly become immersed in the ocean and connect with it, you have to strip yourself of the one thing that makes you comfortable on earth - breathing.  For as long as you are connected to oxygen you are disconnected to the world down below.  Add any marine animal to the mix, be it a dolphin, shark, grouper, or damselfish - and they too will immediately sense the disconnect...

Beyond the athletic aspect of freediving - the mental state takes each freediver to a place within themselves in which they find peace (which will vary for each) and calmness even when working (spearing / photographing / etc).

Freediving and having the privilege to interact with animals, no matter their size is something that cannot be replicated on SCUBA.  Of course that is some work that requires all the pesky gear --- but I would dare to say that a lot of it, particularly photography / videography can be done on your own breath.  Some of the best u/w photographers I know freedive only - some are old and some are young (there is no excuse).

With all the shark material that is being pumped out - there is nothing more beautiful than capturing a moment between sharks and freedivers (no direct interaction even necessary)...

And while you see guys getting more and more complex in what they do on SCUBA...in freediving you think about simplifying everything. 

Freediving with juvenile tiger shark and lemon shark.  Photo by Wolfgang Leander (freediving)

Freediving with juvenile tiger shark and lemon shark.  Photo by Wolfgang Leander (freediving)

Freediving and filming tiger shark.  Photo by Raul Boesel (freediving)

Freediving and filming tiger shark.  Photo by Raul Boesel (freediving)