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Another World Beneath The Waves

Mantis

Hello! I am Andre Yanco. I started my carreer with Metrohm some 22 years ago, and am currently working as the Managing Director of Metrohm Turkey, located in Istanbul. Throughout the years, I was able to travel a lot, and had the opportunity to experience different countries and cultures. During my travels, the sea has become an interest for me, particularly the day I took my first scuba diving course. This interest has gradually developed into a deeper and more passionate hobby  : Underwater Photography.

The underwater world is full of amazing surprises. Most underwater enthusiasts are usually interested in commonly recognised marine life (sharks, clown fish, barracudas, groupers, etc.) and underwater sceneries such as reefs, caves and ship wrecks. However, it turns out that the micro creatures of the deep—typically in the size of a few centimeters down to a few millimiters—are the real miracle beings, as they come in endless varieties, colors, and the most peculiar symbian relationships in aquatic life. It is very common for seasoned underwater photographers to spend an entire dive just staring through their 60 mm or 105 mm macro lenses to capture a glimpse of that single moment where one of these miracle beings give you the frame of a lifetime.

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There are quite a lot of locations around the world that are of keen interest for the avid underwater photographer. Typically one’s interest in the subject matter (macro or wide-angle) define the destination, however if one wishes to experience the best of both worlds, most prominent locations are the Malaysian Borneo (especially around Palau Sipadan), Raja Ampat (an archipelago of 1500 small islands located at the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula on Papua), Bali (where one can also experience a close encounter with the Ocean Sunfish Mola Mola, and the graceful Manta Rays of Manta Point) and, last but not the least, the Red Sea in Egypt, which, with its ultra-rich reefs and underwater life displays a sharp contrast to the country’s empty deserts.

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Underwater photography is as physically demanding an acticity as it is a technical art form. It is necessary to master the abilities of the skilled scuba diver while also keeping under control a variety of photography and lighting gear, totally submerged. Virtually all rules of land photography are changed underwater:  as one needs to re-establish the delicate interplay of light, reflection, colour, focus, depth of field and exposure, now in a totally liquid environment which also changes with how deep you dive. Adding to all this the fact that your subject matter is either swimming by or constanly moving out of frame, it becomes a really fun exercise!

3 Comments

  • Alyson Lanciki

    What a great hobby, Andre! Were you also using high ISO film originally (assuming digital now)? How far does your flash reach in the depths? Also how do you keep yourself in place with the currents while using a macro lens for these little guys?

    May 3, 2018 - 1:28 pm Reply
    • Andre YAnco

      Hello Alyson,

      All photos are digital (shot via an SLR camera). Film shooting underwater has gone extinct a long time ago. As for the ISO numbers, underwater macro photography uses regular settings but usually with two powerful strobes mounted on extension arms. With a 60mm macro lens you are very close to the subject, literally less than an arms length. At that distance, major portion of light literally comes from the two strobes while you are playing with angles, shadow effects and depth of field.

      As for wide angle shots, obviously we do a lot of day time shooting (typically bright lit sunny days) since the strobes illuminate the immediate vicinity and “fill” the dark areas. One can theoratically calculate the effective distance which the stobe light can penetrate at a given depth (via information given by the strobe manufacturer), but it is usually by trial and error you perfect your technique.

      Of course currents are a challenge. We typically use “current sticks” (typically a metal rod) to anchor down, or try to lay flat away from the reef while positioning for the shot. For the wide angle shots good bouyancy control is a must.

      May 3, 2018 - 2:33 pm Reply
  • C.S.RAMACHANDRAN

    Wow, the pictures are bewitchingly beautiful. You have an unusual and exciting hobby and seem to be a pro at it, Andre. Keep up the good work 🙂

    May 6, 2018 - 4:06 pm Reply

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