by Editor Yvette Depaepe
Gabriel Barathieu's underwater photography is fascinating and brilliant. Gabriel always wanted to share the wonders he discovered when diving. Every single of his images is spectacular and “out of the classic underwater “box”. He is very close to nature and always handles with lots of respect for its beauty. His very own vision is that photography aims to sublimate a subject, a moment, a place. What is important is that there are several very different ways to get there. And only our imagination (sometimes also the technique) limits us. Give yours full freedom while admiring his work and learn more about this captivating and engaging artist.
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs, dear Gabriel.
I'm 35 years old and I live on the island of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean.
My full job is construction site manager, but my passion job is underwater photography.
I have lived since my childhood on islands with beautiful underwater background, so I could not finish other than as an underwater photographer. I started this passion late, around the age of 25 and I must say that diving and underwater photography have completely changed my view of the world and my way of life. Let's say it's them who shaped my life.
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
In fact I think it's the opposite, it's photography that has changed my vision of things, my way of living and the perception of my surroundings.
Before I became a photographer, I did not see all the beauty that surrounded me. I was looking but rarely saw it. Sometimes you can perceive it in simple things like a ray of sunshine.
Which are your most important experiences that has influenced your art and what first attracted you to photography?
Diving, of course.
When I discovered this world unknown to me a few years ago, I had the intense desire to share the wonders I saw. So it's diving that brought me to photography. Over the years, I found my own style.
Describe your overall photographic vision.
In my opinion, photography aims to sublimate a subject, a moment, a place. What is important is that there are several very different ways to get there. And only our imagination (sometimes also the technique) limits us. Being also a photographer close to nature, I attach great importance to respecting it.
When you think of yourself as a wildlife photographer, it means that you love animals. for me it is inconceivable to photograph animals in captivation, or to mistreat them to take a picture. I do not go to tourist places where animals are exploited.
Why are you so drawn by Nature and specifically by Underwater Photography?
Because it's a world radically different from ours. Each immersion is a journey into this world that is not the world of humans. This is the main reason that motivates me. In addition, the desire to share what I see in the depths of the oceans increases my passion for photography.
What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
In fact I like both. For me a photo must be technically successful and also expressing a strong mood.
These are the two indispensable and indissociable criteria that make me decide to publish a photo or not.
If in my opinion one of my photos does not meet these two criteria, I simply delete it.
What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer? Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
In underwater photography and in a natural environment in general, the best is not to touch anything to preserve the best possible natural environment.
I try to apply this course of action as best as possible.
On the other hand, during each dive I observe the topography of the places, and the different species to be able to return to shoot in the best possible conditions.
For example, in great depth, time is very limited. I only stay a few minutes deep for several hours of decompression afterwards. So I do not necessarily have time to make the picture I want. It may sometimes takes several dives and therefore several dozens of hours of decompression to achieve my goal.
In addition, you can not change lenses during a dive. It happens frequently that I'm obliged to come back with another lens.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
I use a Canon 5dsR ans a Canon 5dmkIV.
I have several wild angle lens like : Canon 15 mm fisheye, Canon 14 mm f 2,8 II and Canon 16-35 f2,8 II . For macrophotography I use a Canon 100 mm f 2,8 I.
For underwater photography I use a Seacam housing specially build for deep diving. And with that, two subtronic strobes.
What software do you use to process your images?
Just like many photographers, I use camera raw and photoshop. For panoramic view I use Autopanogiga.
Can you tell us something more about your work flow?
My workflow is very conventional. First step is always in camera raw in which I already do a lot of work. Then, the rest of the work is done in photoshop treating both in the management of high and low light, in the contrast, the tones, the concordance of colours but also in the details and textures.
Almost always, I let "rest" my images sometimes for several days to re-process them till I got full satisfaction.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in Underwater Photography and how do you get started?I think before you start underwater photography you have to make sure you're comfortable in the water. If it is scuba diving, it is essential to be autonomous and have the required qualifications.
Therefore, it may be wise to start with a small camera and a compact waterproof case.
The underwater photo gear is very expensive.
It also is imperative to invest in an underwater flash. Two is even better.
By scuba diving, the colours disappear very quickly depending on the depth. A light input is almost obligatory.
Finally, it is better to read some tutorials before starting. Underwater photography is a very specific branch, but you have to perseverate, shoot a lot to end with something.
Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
In underwater photography, obviously Laurent Ballesta.
I really admire what he does. His photos are always of high quality. But it is also an excellent diver who photographs at depths where no other photographer goes. He inspired me to photograph in great depths.
I'm also very found of National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen. His work is fantastic with great finesse.
Here on 1x, I'm a great admirer of Marsel Van Oosten . The quality of his pictures always impresses me. He has a mastery of light that few photographers have.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
I wish to continue to photography in great depths. This is really what fascinates me because it is a world still very poorly known where rare subjects unknown to science are present. In addition to the technical difficulty, it is exploration in the true sense of the word.
My goal is to continue and refine my work in the future.
Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
It's a hard choice to make. I would say that this picture may be one of my favourites.
I like the movement and the mood that I brought into this picture and I love sea turtles ;-)
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
1x is really an excellent platform for photographers of all types.
The quality of the photos is exceptional. For me there is no other comparable site in terms of content and quality.
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