How to Take Pictures and Protect the Reef

STOP! I know that it's so tempting to turn this page with the intention of returning to it at a later date but I ask you to Stop, Read and Absorb. Please.

Whilst you may know what this chapter is all about, many others won't. You will be diving with these 'many others' in the near future. Their diving photo habits may be somewhat lacking and may damage the reef. It may also damage the reputation of other responsible photographers who are diving with them and you may be one of their group. You may feel the need to challenge their dive/photo behaviour or, at least, you may be expected by others in the group to challenge their behaviour. If you have ever been in this situation — or, if not, when you are faced with this situation in the future — the following words of advice might be of help to you in passing on to others some tips about how to photograph the reef in a responsible way.

Many codes of conduct and environmental articles about photo-diving emphasise the need to avoid touching the reef as much as possible, and to take care with 'this and that'. Rarely do they tell you how you should achieve this in practice. Here are some of my own tips for obtaining good shots without risking harm to the reef and its inhabitants — tips that I would like to share with you. Some of the following may be 'old hat', but have protected many an underwater environment and made many friends around the world.

fig. 4.1 This Pygmy seahorse was in residence on a fan 28 m from the Liberty wreck, Tulamben, Bali. I'd like to say I have a better shot than this but I haven't. When I went in with my 105 mm macro to shoot him, he was having none of it. He was easily accessible but not enough to shoot him front on. I had no intention of poking him to face my way and whilst I was patient, patience is not always rewarded. I just did the best I could in the circumstances.

Nikon D300, one Inon Z220 flash, f32 at 1/180th sec, ISO 200.

fig. 4.1 This Pygmy seahorse was in residence on a fan 28 m from the Liberty wreck, Tulamben, Bali. I'd like to say I have a better shot than this but I haven't. When I went in with my 105 mm macro to shoot him, he was having none of it. He was easily accessible but not enough to shoot him front on. I had no intention of poking him to face my way and whilst I was patient, patience is not always rewarded. I just did the best I could in the circumstances.

Nikon D300, one Inon Z220 flash, f32 at 1/180th sec, ISO 200.

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