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Beyond the sea

Underwater photography can be quite challenging. Besides handling the special conditions set by the enviroment, you also often need patience and a bit of luck to get the results you are after. A good example of this is 1x photographer Henry Jager's awarded photo "Sardines tornado".

This photo was awarded with a gold medal in the Trierenberg Super Circuit and has been recognized by National Geographic. For Henry, the photo shoot was a very memorable experience;

On this day I decided to devote my hour-long dive only to the school of sardines. By doing this, I gave myself plenty of time to be patient and find some good shots of them. Patience is one of the most important aspects of nature photography, and especially of underwater photography where you can easily feel rushed because of your limited dive time. So focus on a few or even one single subject per dive. And go with a private guide who can lead you to the perfect spots — trying to photograph fish in a group of eight divers is as ineffective as driving around with a group to photograph wild game when everyone is fighting for the window seat! 

It only took 20 minutes to travel by boat from Kasai Village to Pescador Island. My dive buddy, a local divemaster, and I checked the situation of the ocean current around the island and, after considering the angle of the sun, decided on the right place to dive. The island is small and we knew that the school had to pass through this area sooner or later. 

After a final check of our equipment, we went down to a depth of about 50 feet (15 m) and looked for a good place to wait. It's important to choose a slightly hidden place so the school will pass by really close! And of course you need to find a place with favorable composition conditions. I generally like to include the bright surface in my frame, where the sunlight enters the sea.

I made a lot of test shots that included parts of the reef or other fishes swimming around until I was ready for the sardines. And then they came, fast and compact, around the reef corner. Only a few shots were possible, and then the school disappeared. Yes, it sounds like a pity, but sitting in a stationary school will produce a muddled fish picture.

Henry is an experienced underwater photographer with a lot of good advice for photographers who are not afraid to get wet. You can now read the full story behind this photo on 1xLearning. You will find the tutorial here.