Happy Earth Day!


I want my child to grow up and see the majesty of whalesharks feeding at the surface as I was able to a few year ago…. Today is Earth Day 2015. Let’s not have empty oceans by 2048 please.

Earth Day Network’s year-round mission is to broaden, diversify and activate the environmental movement worldwide, through a combination of education, public policy, and consumer campaigns. (source EarthDay.org).

Today I wanted to highlight the film Racing Extinction and how to get involved which can be as simple as sharing a link on your phone or exposing some environmental villains.

Here’s the trailer:


It doesn’t take special training or equipment to expose environmental villains. When you see polluters or unsustainable practices, take a photo with your phone and share it here. If we can call-out and fix a million small problems, we will make an enormous singular impact.

Help uncover the story. (source racingextinction.com).


On a more light hearted side of Earth Day – Have you seen the Google doodle earth day quiz today? Apparently I’m a giant squid and Mike is Coral.

I'm a giant squid Mike is Coral


Valentines Trip to LIDS2015

Happy Valentines day for yesterday!

Mike and I took a trip into London for the London Diveshow at ExCel yesterday. It was lovely to catch up with a lot of our diving friends. We stopped by the BSoup stand and hung around chatting in the Underwater Photographer of the Year exhibition area. Even grabbed a shot of Alex hugging a shark at the bite-back stand as we were heading through the hall onto somewhere else (and now kicking myself we didn’t go back and get a pick of Mike & I hugging a shark – doh!)

Hug a shark

Stopped by the Ocean Leisure stand to see Alex Tattersall and hear the disappointing news that the Olympus OMD EM5 Mark 2 isn’t going to fit into a modified Mark 1 Nauticam housing (boo!)

I think I should have worn my “Baby Onboard” badge, I think many people we knew just thought I got really fat ;) I tell you what, there is definitely a gap in the market for diving holidays for the those with new babies and young children. If both parents dive, there are no choices but to holiday separately :( Obviously most divers don’t want kids hanging around, which is understandable, I wouldn’t either, but someone needs to come up with a specialised resort. Nice warm water and reef that isn’t too pristine by the shore, good day care and the potential for boat trips for the serious diving parent(s). Maybe there is such a thing (I haven’t done any research) but nothing being advertised at the show that I could immediately see. So there we go rich VCs, get cracking and plug that niche market before its too late!

Best Photos 2014

At this time of year I like to review the previous year to select my favourite (best?) photos and generally reflect on where I’ve been. I also check back on my previous top tens so I can see if I’m making any progress. This year I went to 3 places, which is two more than I was expecting. I was lucky enough to go back underwater in both Raja Ampat and the Red Sea again this year. And by September I was pregnant (so no diving for a while) but very much enjoyed our topside trip to Sardinia to our Friend Alex’s Wedding.

Without further ado (and in no particular order) here is my top ten underwater images from 2014:

I played a bit with backlighting and off camera strobes again this year. Here is one from the Toberlone Tunnel in Raja Ampat. We don’t usually get up that far but we were having fun and games crossing the equator underwater.

In last years top ten I said that this year I wanted to concentrate on trying to get a Manta shot I was happy with. I like this one because its a bit different from the manta images you usually see (often in black and white and from below).

Continuing with the big animals theme, we saw lots of Woebegones (carpet sharks to you and me) when we were in Raja and this year I actually had the wide angle lens on for some of the encounters.

In the same area as the Mantas on one of the many amazing night dives I encountered this lovely little fellow.

One thing I love taking photos of but don’t often get the opportunity to is the night sky. I’m either on a rocky boat or in a city with lots of light pollution.

This year I was introduced to a new critter – the hairy shrimp. So so minuscule I could only just about see him as a spec of fluffy with my naked eye.

I don’t know why I like the image from the Red Sea so much but I do. Its just a simple images of the rusting pillars of the Carnatic. I had to de-fisheye the photo for one of the rare ones underwater where the fisheye lens made the scene look funny.

I like this one because it looks like a film set. Its actually deep inside the engine room of the Ghanis D wreck in the Red Sea.

This year I couldn’t believe how many Anthias there were on the reef. The place was teaming with millions of them.

The great thing about photographs is that they transport you back to a time and place, this one will forever remind me of snorkelling around the mangroves for a good few hours trying to spot the tiny shark baby I occasionally saw swim past and trying to avoid getting sunburnt, just the thing for a cold december night.

We also got our lovely little baby cats. Hard to imagine we’ve had them less than a year now. Leeloo & Dallas…


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And an honourable mention for my forthcoming little baby – although I didn’t take this photo myself ;)

baby scan

I’ve had an amazing 2014, and I hope you all did too. I’m very much looking forward to next year. Exciting times afoot.

Best Photos 2013

As in previous years it is time to review and select my best/favourite photos of 2013. I always really enjoy looking back over all the posts and pictures I’ve made throughout the year and reflecting upon how fortunate I am to go to such great places and have such supportive people in my life. I found it gratifyingly difficult to choose my top ten this year but I can see a few areas where I’d like to improve upon next year (like getting some decent shots of Mantas). With no further ado, and in no particular order, here are this years top ten (click each for larger version on pbase):

Top Ten Underwater:

This year, for me, has been the year for schools of fish and photos with movement in them…

Sweepers: This cave in the Red Sea was the first time I truly realised how versatile my new camera set up is. I saw the cave, and thought this could do with some backlighting. Popped off my strobe right there and then and took the shot I wanted. After many years of electronic sync cords, the fibre optic can-get-wet kind are incredibly freeing for my photography.

Under the Jetty: These little schooling fish under Arborek Jetty in Raja Ampat, Indonesia were like, as cheesy as it sounds, poetry in motion. Constantly tumbling and swirling into new shapes, beautiful to watch.

Wonderpus: Also from Raja Ampat, at a divesite called the Algae Patch, this cheeky little wonderpus.

Reef top: Another wide angle shot, this time of a reef top in the red sea. Near sunset to low sun hits the water at a good angle for shallow water photos such as this one. Most of the colourful reef fish which inhabit the reef during the day have already gone to bed so I was lucky to get this stream of fish swimming past in the background.

Grumpy Snappers: Its tricky to get a head on shot of the schooling snapper because if you swim at them they disperse (and all your fellow dive buddies groan in frustration as you mess up their shots). They look so adorably grumpy though so I took advantage went I found myself alone with them.

Worried Dad: Human fathers don’t know how lucky they have it. In the sea it’s often the males that give birth, or in the case of this Jaw fish, brood the eggs in his mouth. He occasionally spits them and jiggles them around until they are aerated. Fascinating to watch but don’t get too close or he disappears into his hole.

Underwater Train: Something you don’t usually see underwater – a train. This was blown off the wreckage of the Thistlegorm. This famous world war two ship wreck in the Red Sea has so much cool stuff inside the main wreck (motorbikes, trucks, guns etc) and often strong currents around the exterior that I’d never actually seen the second train which is around 10-15m swim away. On this dive the sea was calm and blessedly free of other divers so we not only got to the train but all the way to the front of the wreck to see the guns. See some of my other photos in this blog post.

Schooling Snappers: I’ve tried to see the impressive schooling fish aggregations at Ras Mohammad on quite a few years and this year I actually got quite a few shots I was please with. I think not having to psh so much weight through the water with my smaller camera allowed me some extra swimming power to keep up with them.

Tiny Cowrie: I found this beautiful cowrie in Indonesia at the beginning of the year while searching this sea fan for pygmy seahorses.

Swirling Barracuda: To round off my underwater choices here are some schooling barracuda from the Red Sea, which reminds me I still need to process the video from this trip, I think I might have some nice footage of these guys.

Favourite Other Photos from 2013:

This year I got married to Mike, I didnt take many photos but I did produce a video I was quite pleased with.

We went on honeymoon to Venice, I liked these two because they are a bit ‘postcardy’

Also, This year I’ve been finishing off the first module of my photography degree course. I’ve really enjoyed some of the lighting techniques such as this spotlighting of Danbo here:

I also enjoyed the trip to Kew Gardens to do one of my assignments on colour:

If you’ve made it this far through the post then well done and I hope you enjoyed :) If you want to see the other photos I enjoyed taking this year I put a whole bunch in a gallery on pbase here. Last years top photos post is here. Stay tuned next year for more underwater fun.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013

Wildlife Photographer of the yearYou’ve probably seen that the winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 were announced last week, I congratulate all the winners on their wonderful images. The overall winner, Essence of elephants by Greg du Toit is pictured below but what I’ve been most impressed by is the celebration of the oceans that seems to be going on across the exhibition, not only limited to the underwater category. I’m especially pleased by all the familiar names of friends & acquaintances, congratulations guys! I wrote to the NHM press department and they’ve let me use these images in this ocean special review of the exhibition. I haven’t seen the photos in person yet but as always I look forward to seeing the full exhibition before it closes early next year. Click on each of the images in this post to read the full captions associated with them.

Overall Winner & Winner of Animal Portraits:

Essence of elephants - (Greg du Toit / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

Essence of elephants – (Greg du Toit / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

WINNER of Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 by 14-year old Udayan Rao Pawar:

Mother's little headful - (Udayan Rao Pawar / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

Mother’s little headful – (Udayan Rao Pawar / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

WINNER: The World in Our Hands Award:

The fish trap - (Mike Veitch / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

The fish trap – (Mike Veitch / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

WINNER: Behaviour: Cold-Blooded Animals:

Dive Buddy - (Luis Javier Sandoval / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

Dive Buddy – (Luis Javier Sandoval / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

RUNNER-UP: Behaviour: Cold-Blooded Animals:

Confusing beauty - (Julian Cohen / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

Confusing beauty – (Julian Cohen / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

WINNER: Underwater Worlds

Feast of the ancient mariner - (Brian Skerry / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

Feast of the ancient mariner – (Brian Skerry / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

RUNNER-UP: Underwater Worlds

Lionfish bait - (Alex Tattersall / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

Lionfish bait – (Alex Tattersall / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

I loved all of the underwater world category

COMMENDED: Nature in Black and White

giant with sunbeams - (Alexander Mustard / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

giant with sunbeams – (Alexander Mustard / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

WINNER: Animals in their Environment:

The water bear - (Paul Sounders / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

The water bear – (Paul Sounders / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

I also liked this image – though not underwater, its often one of my fav categories…
WINNER: Wildscapes

The Cauldron - (Sergey Gorshkov / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

The Cauldron – (Sergey Gorshkov / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

I hope you enjoyed this watery highlight of the WPOTY Exhibition, do go and see it if you’re in London. You can see a selection of the other images at the NHM online galleries here. And congratulations again everyone – I know some of you read this blog :)

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is co-owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide. The original photographers hold the copyright to these images. Permission granted for their use in this article by Natural History Museum.

Top 10 underwater photos

Following on from last weeks post where I took you down memory lane with my 10 years taking underwater photos, I have come up with my favourite 10 images that I’ve taken underwater (whittled down from my fav 85 here). I don’t think they are necessarily my best but I like them the most. So with out further ado – here they are in no particular order…

Please let me know what you think in the comments below…

Happy World Octopus Day!

Today is World Octopus Day!

octopus infographic

I love these guys, I’m glad they get their own day. I enjoyed seeing the video & infographic (below) from the National Aquarium but I prefer my creatures out in the open ocean here are a few charters I’ve met on my travels:

Octopus in the Red Sea:

Blue ring – Danger!

I’d heard a lot about these guys, killers with blue rings. I was expecting a proper sized octopus. I couldn’t stop giggling when I saw him. So tiny! I was sure to keep my pinky fingers out of his reach thou, just in case ;)

Coconut shell octopus are often found living inside discarded bottles and other trash these days but in 2007 I managed to actually find one with a coconut shell!

But do wonderpus & squid get a look in, here are some I met in Raja Ampat?