Rock Fishermen of the Munmorah State Conservation Reserve – Introduction

The rock platforms of the Munmorah state recreational reserve near where I live, is one of the most deadly locations to rock fish in Australia. Rock fishermen & women regularly lose their lives in this area, being swept of the rocks by rogue waves or by storm swells on days they simply should not be fishing. The fishermen also contribute to their demise by not wearing life jackets, fishing alone & not being competent swimmers.

The local council, fishing organizations & even the state government, have provided warning signs, life rings, off shore permanent moored safety buoys will soon be installed & memorials have been erected to those who have died but the fishermen keep coming.

The area is a place of great beauty & being on the platform at sunrise, sunset, when the ocean is angry or calm, to appreciate this beauty, is a joy in itself.

During the six weeks I went to the rock platform, I was very aware of the different ethnicities of those who were fishing & have made a point of noting this is along side the photos, as this is an important part of the problem. All of the people I saw fishing, had Asian or Middle Eastern heritage, prior to beginning this project, I had also seen fishermen of Australian/English heritage. The new Australian citizens seem to enjoy the freedom of life style their new country offers & have embraced with a passion, the pastime of fishing. Anecdotally, unfortunately, many of these people have not grown up around the ocean & lack the ability to swim or an appreciation of the danger, power & unpredictable nature of the waves.

The people I saw fished for different reasons. The Vietnamese man & his wife enjoyed the early morning sunrise while they fished, using bread & small hooks, for small fish that would be made into traditional soups, sauces or fish cakes of their birth country. The Philipino man was not interested in the beauty of his surrounding, his interest was catching large fish like Salmon, Tuna & Mackerel. He meticulously prepared his baits to achieve his goal. The Asian man who was so protected from the elements gave the impression that fishing was also his only reason for him being there. He used a float & green weed so was fishing for Luderick & Drummer which feed in the white water near the rocks. The six young men who were of middle eastern decent certainly enjoyed fishing & catching fish. They cheered each other & assisted with nets & gaffs when one had a hook up. However, they also enjoyed “playing” a game of chicken with the waves. They admitted that it was the excitement of rock fishing they enjoyed & that they would not fish from the beach or a boat.

My intention with this photo essay is to show all of the facets of this beautiful, dangerous place & the people who use it. Will my essay have any impact on those who’s habits need to be changed to protect themselves & the environment…..probably not…..


Image 1 – Vietnamese fisherman at sunrise 

160112LOC044With the sun just above the horizon, it is the fishermen who have witnessed this transformation from night to day. For some, like the Vietnamese man, it was a combination of the fishing & being here at dawn to see the birth of the new day, which brought them back to the rock platform again & again. He said he enjoyed both & only fished in the early morning. He came to fish with his wife who also fished. They fished with small hooks & light line for small fish which they turned into their traditional fish soups, sauces & fish cakes.

He wore a life jacket but she did not. I did not ask why.

The image was taken to show the beauty & the serenity that can be the rock platform at sunrise. A view quite only appreciated by the fisherman who venture out at these early hours.

Image 2 – Vietnamese fisherman at dawn

160112LOC022It was a calm morning, the sun had risen, & even though this Vietnamese man was wearing a life jacket, he was still very mindful of where he stood with relation to the breaking waves. He kept a vigilant watch of the sea, as he said that even on a calm day, a big wave can come & suck me into the water.

In the image I did not want to show the wave frozen, I wanted to show how something dangerous could also be something beautiful. So the subdued colours, the smoothness of the waves all portrays beauty, not danger. This perceived beauty may be what lures the fishermen to reduce their guard & be caught unawares by the ocean.


Image 3 – Phillipino fisherman casting

160116LOC049This fisherman from the Philippines knew how to fish the rocks, he chose the best times, prepared his baits skillfully, wore a life jacket & as seen here, gracefully casts his bait to where he considers the best location to catch a fish. I saw him on a number of my trips to the rock platform & observed the methodical manner with which he fished. He fished to catch fish…..big fish, Salmon, Mackerel or Tuna which frequently swam along the deep water beneath this rock platform. It was the thought of catching that big fish that brought him back so often, this was what gave him pleasure.

The image shows the action required by the fisherman to propel his lure into the sea, to where the fish are. How close they have to venture to the breaking waves & the potential for the action of casting the lure, to cause the fisherman to over-balance, loose their footing or to trip on the rough rock platform & be caught by the waves.


Image 4 – Attaching the lure

160116LOC041At all levels, fishing the rock platform requires skills, from knowing the best tide, the route to climb down onto the platform, the best bait, even to the best way to fix the bait to the hook so as to fool the target fish. This fisherman, originally from the Philippines, was a regular visitor to the rock platform, he always wore a life jacket but he liked to fish alone. He was never there on the rough days, he said he picked the times when the tides, times & ocean conditions were right. Here, he prepares a bait onto the hooks, then winds a line around the bait to retain it’s shape & the hold it onto the hooks more securely. His methods were rewarding, he caught some nice fish.


Image 5 – Giant swells breaking across the rock platform

160108LOC213When the ocean became angry, the wise fishermen stayed away. You would expect all fishermen to stay away but they don’t, only the wise did. On this day the swells were in excess of three metres. On a day with smaller swell, the spray from the waves reached up onto the rock platform, but on this day, green water rolled across the rock platform, swirling, foaming, moving all that was loose in it’s path, then sucking back down to wait for the next swell.

I spent quite a few hours on the rock platform this day, carefully trying not to become a statistic. This is difficult, as I found myself being lured into positions to get a better image, only to be surprised by one of the big sets rolling in & me being too close to the edge. I was trying to show the size & the power of the waves, I am not totally happy with the images, as there was nothing to show or conveyor the real size & the force of the waves. There was nothing to show scale, a person or a boat.


Image 6 – Abdul Karim beating a hasty retreat 

160124LOC043Beating a hasty retreat, this fisherman, Abdul Karim, said that he only fished the rocks, he enjoyed the fishing but he enjoyed the excitement of the playing with the ocean, judging it’s moods, motions & with some sense of risk management, playing his dangerous game. He was of middle-eastern decent & he said he could swim but always wore a life jacket. He was interesting, very polite to speak with & exuded the fun he was having with the other fishermen with whom he came.

The fishermen go close to the edge of the rock platform to cast, this allows their bait to travel further from the rocks but once they have cast many tend to stay in this unsafe zone & relax into fishing mode, forgetting the large wave which crashed across the spot where they are now standing only twenty minutes before. Hopefully they are paying attention when the next big wave comes & they can run to safety. But even the act of running away is not safe as it is not possible to look forward to where they are running & back at the wave at the same time. This is what I am showing in this image the dangers of being too close to the edge & then having to run to safety.


Image 7 – A fisherman standing his ground 

160124LOC127This man was with a group of five other men of middle-eastern decent, who enjoyed the challenge of fishing, even when the ocean was angry. Including this man, of the group of six, five did not wear life jackets. He was polite, spoke good English & was openly enjoying the challenge of the fishing & the wild waves, laughing when he ran away or was caught by the waves. He did not back away from the waves as quickly as his friends, challenging them to wash him away. To him it appeared to be a game with the ocean. When I spoke with him he indicated that he put his trust in his God to decide his fate. This I found to be a strange concept.

These type of action images are opportunistic, they can’t be posed, so I have created more opportunities by spending more time with the fishermen.

What I am trying to show is the scale of the waves & the risks that some fishermen are placing themselves in. This fisherman has to run over the wall behind him if a larger wave comes, a larger wave would have probably gone around both sides of the rock trapping him.

I am showing a fisherman who is placing himself in a high risk situation but is doing nothing to mitigate the risk, wearing a life jacket, wearing clothes which are not going to become sodden & heavy & restrict his ability to swim, if he could swim, plan his escape route, all things which may save his life but also the lives of others who may attempt to rescue him.


Image 8 – A fisherman seeking safety 

160124LOC112This man taunted the ocean time & time again, openly laughing when he had once again cheated death. He was enjoying what he was doing. He wore no life jacket & a heavy hoodie, which would weigh him down & make swimming difficult if he were to be caught by the ocean & sucked back over the rocks, into the foaming cauldron which boiled only metres behind him. On this day his faith, his luck & his agility all contributed to him going home & with a catch of good fish.

This image is showing what happened when a large wave came in & the fisherman was in the wrong position. He must run to safety, he stands no chance against to full fury of the ocean. The wave is clearly seen, as is the sense of urgency & determination in his face. It is not fear…….as soon as he realized that he was escaping the wave, his facial expression changed to a smile then laughter. Even though all this is being done in urgency, he has not dropped his fishing rod, he is bringing that with him, another sign that he is not fearful.


Image 9 – A fisherman heads home safely walking passed a lifebuoy 

160110LOC040I was not able to speak with this fisherman, but did observe him for a period of time. Even though it was a warm, calm day, he was covered from head to toe to protect from the sun, had suitable shoes to allow safe movement on the rocks & was wearing a life jacket. He fished well back from the edge & when he did approach the edge, did it with care. He appeared to have respect for the ocean, he fished as though it was a meditation for him, not an exciting game or a necessity to catch a fish.

As he left the rock platform he passed one of the two life rings which have been mounted on the rock platform to be used in case of an emergency. Even though these are a life saving device, which are clipped to the mounting frame, on one occasion when I visited both had been removed, presumably thrown into the sea by people with no social morals.

This is an image of a fisherman safely leaving the rock platform, walking passed the life buoys, a symbol of safety & protection.


Image 10 – “The strength of his passion and love for the deep waters, could not outweigh the strength of the ocean.”

160116LOC005“The strength of his passion and love for the deep waters, could not outweigh the strength of the ocean.”

These words are cast into a plaque on a memorial for Tony Danchenko, who lost his life here, along with more than twenty other people over the years. The memorial, the life rings, the warning signs & just plan common sense should prevent any more deaths but from what I have seen over the last six weeks, it won’t. It is just a matter of time before there will be another death.

I found the poignant words on the plaque, “The strength of his passion and love for the deep waters, could not outweigh the strength of the ocean.” to be so true, if more fishermen read these words & realized the meaning of them, they may have more respect for the ocean.


…. & maybe a way forward.

This week’s lesson contained information on something that has been a concern for me since the internet began, copyright & protection of my images on line.

The article by Sarah Ann Loreth (Re: If You Don’t Want Your Photos Stolen, Don’t Post Them on the Internet) is very interesting & takes a different perspective on the subject.

My personal rule from the day I started taking photos was that if someone asked me for a copy of a photo for their personal use, I would take it as a compliment & give them the photo for free. Many of my friends have my photos on their walls, some, are even huge murals. I jokingly say that their houses are my photo galleries. All they had to do was to ask.

If someone wanted to use my image for any commercial purpose, (even though I make a good living in my real career,) I was pleased to try to accommodate their requirements but I would not give images away for free, I required reasonable remuneration, which would vary accordingly with the images’ use, distribution etc.

Is this greed on my part?

I specialized in underwater photography & during my days of film photography, my niche market was deep wreck & cave photography. I sold many photos & photo/articles because I had a monopoly in Australia & overseas of real, quality images in this genre.

This type of photography was dangerous & taking unique photos in these deep, dark places required special photographic techniques (some of which I developed & are now in common use), assistance from very skill diving buddies & money. Cost of cameras, lenses, underwater housings, underwater strobes, specialized diving equipment, diving gas, travel to remote locations by plane, boat & land vehicles, accommodation, film purchase & processing, etc. (even the etc was expensive).

Most people/companies I dealt with were professional, book publishers, slide libraries, magazine photo editors, but some were not. Commonly dive shops, dive expos, travel expos, travel agencies, newspapers, dive gear manufacturers would ask for the photographs for free. They said “it would give me exposure”, I was already well established, that was why they wanted my photos!!… “They didn’t have the budget for photos”…….but the graphic artist & printer would both be paid!!!!

I have never walked into a dive shop & asked for free air fills or items of dive gear…….& would have rightly been thrown out if I did. I have never asked a travel agent for a free trip overseas or even offered them images in exchange for a trip overseas, I paid for my own trips so I had no obligation to them, if they wanted the images they could buy them from me on my return. This I found worked, a clean professional approach.

This was at a time when social media did not exist, my images were safe in filing cabinets in my darkroom, only vulnerable to burglars who visited personally & fire, if the house burned down.

As Sarah Ann Loreth named her article “If you don’t want your photos stolen, don’t post them on the internet”. She is right, this is the only way now, not to have your images stolen. There has been a generational mind set change, fueled by Social Media, that what is on the internet is there, free for all to take, the laws/rights of copyright are ignored by individuals, in Social Media provider contracts & even changed by governments to favour the large corporations. See my earlier journal entry

I find all this & my attitude very negative, & I am not normally a negative person, yet Sarah’s article was written in a positive vein, pointing out the pit-falls but noting the positives of the use of Social Media outweighing the negatives. Mike Kelley’s great photo & story is also inspiring showing the great people reaching power of Social Media & the life changing benefits which, if correctly managed can flow. However, his story became a little concerning when he told the reason he believed his image went viral was because it was not watermarked & it was high res. These two qualities, he believes, are very appealing to people using Social Media, as they give a better viewer experience. I totally agree that it does give a better viewer experience & if that is where the viewers’ experience stopped, there would be no problems but these qualities also make the image much more appealing to steal.

I need to find a way to balance my feelings about losing images & showing my images to those who are interested in seeing them. I need to have control. Initially to put images on Flickr, Instagram, Facebook etc. takes away my control legally with the contract which is agreed to in starting an account with these companies, so I will not proceed with these Social Media outlets. My way around this, is to create my own blog/website & to show my images here. In this way I am not agreeing to their conditions of copyright or use but I am not getting the exposure that they may provide. The images I do publish will be copyrighted in the metadata & watermarked to at least show ownership. I may or may not use Google Reverse Image Search…..I am not sure that I do want to know where my images are being used.

I am not being greedy, I don’t want to sell my images, I don’t want anyone to use my images, I only want people to look at them & view them for what they are………me enjoying life & sharing the experience with them but not the image.





Subject Choice – December 2015

My thinking on Project 2 is create a journalistic photo essay on something around me which I have easy access to so that I can revisit it easily & something that is of interest to me so that inspiration is not difficult to come by. (I found inspiration on Project 1 difficult as I have no interest in taking photos of myself)

I started with three subjects for the essay.

  • Fred Bavendam a underwater photographer from the US who has been published by magazines of the stature of Nation Geographic & has spent his whole working life travelling documenting the underwater world with his photography.  Fred will be staying with us during the January & we will be diving together. I would like to show his character through the images I take.
  • The rock fishermen of Munmorah which is a notorious stretch of coastline just north of where I live. It is a dangerous place which has claimed the lives of many fishermen & women in the past few years but it is a naturally beautiful wild place, a juxtaposition which I would like to show in the images. I would also like to draw out the fishermen’s character but his may require additional text.
  • Terrigal Underwater Group (TUG)  is a diving club to which I belong. It is a small group of about forty people who enjoy diving. We own a custom built dive boat which is moored at the Haven Terrigal on the NSW Central Coast. If I choose this subject I will try to show the boat, some of the divers, & the underwater region we dive.

Social Media Platform Choice – 16th January 2016

For me this is the hardest part of the project, choosing which social medial platform to upload the images & text that is best suited to the material & will gain the most attention but with which I am comfortable that my images are not going to be used by others without permission, acknowledgement & payment. See my previous post Copyright of Images on Social Media

Facebook is probably the correct platform to use, as it is suited to conveying both text & images where as Instagram & Flickr are more suited to just images without text. The other option would be start a personal blog (as opposed to this current blog for the course) using Word Press & try to get it out there for people to see. By using a personal blog I would not be dealing with the problems of the Social Media platform operators claiming copyright to the images used on their site so this would reduce one level of theft. By using a blog I am not sure what is the best way to have people in general public who may be interested in what I have to say or show find my blog.

Discussion Group Feedback on the Rock Fishermen Subject – 21st January 2016

Over the Christmas break I have been able to start photographing for the Rock Fishermen subject (the TUG  subject has been slowed by back weather over this time so the club has not been diving. Fred does not arrive until the end of January) I submitted some of my images & a brief outline of my proposal to the discussion group & received some positive feedback & good suggestions. One recommendation that was very inspirational was visiting This site shows images of ordinary people in New York & then uses text to describe, in some cases, their extraordinary lives. I have tended to be a person who will talk with people but when it comes to taking photos of people tend to do it surreptitiously with a long lens. So I have decided to mix it up & talk with people, asking their permission to photograph them. In this way I hope to use a wider angle lens for some of the images.

Inspiration from Week 8 Notes – 25th January 2016

Even prior to reading the notes on week 8, my project 2, The Rock Fishermen, had evolved into a story rather than a theme. I found the most inspiring link provided in week 8 notes was Some of the photo essays were very inspiring & confronting, the subject matter far more dramatic than the story I had envisaged but they made me feel good that I live here in Australia & not where these images were taken. Unfortunately, some lost the story line with images that did not fit into the story line described. Writing down a story line & following this predetermined script makes shooting the images easier. I am aware that opportunistically shooting outside the script can also be very beneficial so I keep a keen eye on what is happening or what may develop. I go to the location with the images in my head & I can tick them off once I have what I need. This does not stop me from shooting that image again if I see it but it does free me up to look more actively for images that I have still to perfect.

My story line for the rock fishermen is a very simple one. The story line is basically chronological through a day.

  • Early morning images of the rock platform & waves – the beauty
  • Early morning images of the rock fishermen against the sun rise
  • Images of large waves breaking on & around the platform
  • Images of the rock fishermen & the big waves
  • Images of the memorial & the life buoys (hopefully with fishermen walking past)
  • Images of the rubbish the fishermen leave behind on the rock platform
  • Images of the fishermen at night with the stars.





My main reason for considering using Social Media platforms is, as a gallery to share my images with family & friends when I am travelling. As an extension of this sharing, I would also like to display my images to those interested, in my photography, in the general public. What concerns me is the theft of those images. Anecdotally, I had heard that just the act of opening an account & displaying images on such sights as Facebook, Flickr & Instagram voids the copyrights of the photographer & the host has the right to use & sell-on the images without payment or acknowledgement to the author. Reality is that people viewing the sites have the ability to download the images & repost them as their own, rework them into a different form or use them in commercial situations such as online editorial, advertising etc., again without payment or acknowledgement of the author.

Today I spent time researching whether this was true or false….. It is true. The site hosts have legal jargon written into their terms & conditions that do give them full rights to your images without payment or acknowledgement. Here is an extract from the Instagram terms & hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, worldwide, limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such Content, including without limitation distributing part or all of the Site in any media formats through any media channels…” Facebook has similar wording.

Maybe having this type of wording is legally required to ensure total protection for their business, to host our images in the format that they do, in this litigious world in which we now live. Even so, it instills no confidence to a photographer who is going to entrust their hard won images to their care.

Copyright, has always been immediate when an image is taken……I take an image & that image belongs to me, no-one else can use that image unless I give permission, usually in writing. In the past, on several occasions I have pursued & won situations where I was not paid for the use of my images. There were ways & there were means. With the coming of the internet people have this attitude that images on the internet are legally free for the taking & for their use. This is not the case, the photographer still owns copyright…….Well they did until a new law was past in the UK about 2012 called the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act. The law voids all copyright for any image on the internet which is classed as an “orphan image”, basically any image that does not have photographer’s copyright embedded or displayed on the image or the image is registered with the correct entities. Nearly all images posted on the web are “orphaned” as stripping metadata is common by the hosting companies as a condition of submission & registering images, with the very few authorized registration bodies in the world, is expensive & has to be completed for every image, for which protection is required.

In this new world, the other issue is once you put up your images onto the web how do you find out whether they have been stolen & used elsewhere & then, how to you pursue the person who stole it.

So after a day of doom, gloom & negativity, I did find one positive website which did give some very good advice on how to manage your images on the web to minimize the chances of them being stolen & how to track images that have been stolen.

It was an interesting exercise which, in the end, confirmed a lot of what I had believed before I started but did give me a way forward so that I can safely put images onto some kind of platform to display them to the public.

Below are links to some of the blogs I read.

The issue of copyright or lack there-of, of images on Social media

UK Laws allowing use of images over ruling copyright for all orphan images – Enterprise & regulatory reform act.

Instagram Private setting & butt covering

Facebook Twitter Instagram usage conditions

Some positive information on Copyright on Social Media


I have two ideas for the second project, A Social World. The first is the rock fishermen of the Munmorah State Recreational Reserve, the second is a photo essay about a friend of mine who is a professional underwater photographer, Fred Bavendam. I plan to do both & then to pick one to submit on the due date.

Rock Fishermen – An Outline

The rock platforms of the Munmorah state recreational reserve near where I live, is one of the most deadly locations to rock fish in Australia. Rock fishermen & women regularly lose their lives in this area, being swept of the rocks by rogue waves. The fishermen also contribute to their demise by not wearing life jackets, fishing alone & not being competent swimmers.

The council & fishing authorities have provided life rings & soon, off shore permanent moored safety buoys, memorials have been erected to those who have died but the fishermen keep coming.

The area is a place of great beauty & being on the platform at sunrise, sunset, when the ocean is angry or calm, to appreciate this beauty is a joy in itself. It is also a place that is being destroyed by those who should be appreciating the beauty the most, the fishermen, but they leave behind plastic rubbish of all forms when they have finished fishing. This is an eye sore when seen against the beautiful back drop but is a killer when washed or blown into the sea, to be swallowed by dolphins, whales, turtles & fish.

My intention with this photo essay is to show all of the facets of this beautiful, dangerous place & the people who use it. Will my essay have any impact on those who’s habits need to be changed to protect themselves & the environment…..probably not…..


We have had huge storms this week & the ocean is out of control. I went out early to capture blurred wave motions images on the rock platforms at sunrise. I saw some other photographers lose $1000’s of equipment by not respecting the power & unpredictability of the ocean when she is in a bad mood. The wave came over the rock & flooded their gear. They were lucky not to have been swept into the sea. The image above was taken just seconds before the wave hit them.


The images I took look good & I am please with the results.

Later in the day I went to a location to capture the power & the force of the waves striking the rock platform. The swells were very large storm swells & their force had me in awe. I don’t think I capture the force of the waves in my images. This was due in part to the lack of anything in the images to give the waves scale. That is, there were no rock fishermen about. ;>))

After a few days when the seas had abated I went back to the rock platforms at Munmorah to capture images of the rock fishermen. I went at different times, early morning & during the day. I will continue to try to capture the fishermen over a number of trips to show the variations in their styles of dress, their fishing actions, their catch & the rubbish they leave behind. From these images I will choose the best ten which show their story.

One my next trip the seas were running high & there was one lone fisherman. I spoke with him & asked if it was OK to take photos, he was good with that & posed at first but then he became bored with me & went about fishing so I could take more natural photos. I also photographed the memorial to some of those who have died here. One had some very truthful words which I plan to use when I up loaded this to social media. There are warning signs in the area identifying the risks so I photographed these as well.


With a southerly change on the 24th January came some more big swells, this combined with the Australia Day long weekend meant there was a good possibility of fishermen. When I arrived there were no fishermen but there was swell & after an hour of waiting I was leaving when six fishermen arrived. They were of middle eastern origin but had been in Australia for most of their lives. They picked a spot to fish which I judged as being dangerous as the big sets of swells rolled right over this section of the rock platform. They said they came here often but they started fishing immediately without studying the swells. After about 20 minutes the first of the rouge wave rolled over the platform. The fishermen scrambled out of the way, one even leaving his rod & jumping to an over head ledge to hold on with only his arms as the water ran beneath him. Only one of the six was wearing a life jacket & one was wearing thongs. I spoke with them about what they caught & why they liked rock fishing as opposed to beach or lake fishing. This location was really good for big fish when it was happening (they caught three good Trevally while I was there) & they said that they di enjoy the danger/excitement of the unpredictable waves. It was a game to them. Throughout the time I was with them they were far more animated & seemed to be having more fun than any other fishermen I had photographed.

Still looking for the shot of the fisherman leaving & walking past the lifebuoy I went back on the afternoon of the 26th January. One of the original fishermen was there & I could see he was planning to leave so I anticipated his path out & positioned my self to get the image. Unfortunately he took a slightly different path which did not give me the ideal shot. I will keep working on it. There was a group of Asian fishermen & their family further around on the rocks. The children were having a great time running totally unrestrained all over the rock platform. One of the fishermen caught a fish which looked very heavy as he played it & I had high expectations but it was a small common sting ray.

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Self portrait ideas

  • Me walking away along beach with swag & camera, late afternoon shadows??
  • Photo of me in back viewfinder of camera with underwater scene being photographed.
  • Me with housed camera & dive gear near water, in water.
  • Underwater selfies
  • Composite like the web site banner May be square???

Self portrait Inspiration

This is one section where I am going to fail.

I found nothing online that inspired me for this assignment 1. By inspired, I mean finding an image which made me want to change from the contemporary views/ideas which I had already thought through, to something else. To my way of thinking there is a lot of material published on the internet in the name of photography/art that is not.

I found trying to use social media as a source of inspiration was more a source of frustration & a waste of time. Time which I could have used taking the style of images which I really enjoy…………….self inspiration, being original.

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My first attempts were in a local bay near were I live. Unfortunately the visibility of the water was quite poor so I used a 16mm full frame fisheye lens to cut down the dirty water between the camera & my face. This lens also gave a greater DOF so I was able to frame one leg of an old admiralty anchor silhouetted into the sun behind me to add some interest.

I guess this is what I look like underwater but it is a fairly ugly image. Analyzing the image, it doesn’t conform to the rules we have been talking about. The two strong points are the mask with my eyes & the chrome circle of the regulator, these are both on the third line, the anchor is a distraction but the image looks worse without it. I think what I dislike most about the image is the bubbles in the mask & the strong line where the diopters have been fitted in my mask.


At the end of the previous dive I had given another camera to a friend with some directions about the type of image I wanted. Initially I left my mask on my face, as this is a more commonly seen vision of a diver.

I like the image although it does not show enough of the camera (which is too heavy to lift out of the water & pose “naturally”)

In theory my head, mask, eyes & the dome port are on the thirds line, the strobe arms form a diagonal lead line to my face.

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After taking some photos with the mask on, I decided to take some with the mask off to “better” show my face. I was also able to lift the camera further out of the water which is more descriptive.

In post production I kept the image as a landscape but when writing this review decided to try to move my head closer to the third point by re shaping it to a square image. I think this looks better.

The combination of the circles of the dome port, the strobe & my head & eyes & the strobe arms leads the viewers eyes around the image.

This image is a variant on the typical photographer holding a camera image so from that point it also ticks the boxes.


My second attempt took place further along the coast on a boat dive with some friends. The water visibility was better & these were real selfies where I held the camera housing & two strobes at arms length & composed the image by looking at the reflection in the dome port.

This image was shot as a portrait but I have rotated it to a landscape as it was not a good look with my head poking in from the side.

I don’t like the image, the coral is too dominant & it is not readily recognizable to a non diver. I am just a small face to the side.

The leading lines of the coral draw the views eye to the base of the coral. The circles of my mask make a strong catch point but the viewer is conflicted with the base of the coral.

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On the same dive I found a Sea Star which I modelled behind.

Unfortunately the whole Sea Star cannot be seen. It was not possible to arrange me & the whole Sea Star all in the one image.

Theoretically it is probably a good image with my face on the third line & the diagonal leading line of the Sea Stars arms but it does not work for me as am image to portray what I do.

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I was actually on holidays in Tasmania when I heard about the course & enrolled. This photo was taken after I had enrolled so I think it qualifies. :>))

I am not comfortable in front of a camera & rarely smile naturally or achieve an image with which I am happy.

This is one of those rare images. My wife took it of the two of us but cut most of herself out so I have cropped it to show just me. It had been a great day of walking on the South Coast Track, I had forgotten my hat & had been wearing a tee shirt on my head & we never take selfies, so that in it’s self made the mood very relaxed.

The image has good colour, The viewers eyes are drawn to mine on the third point, the diagonal sign doesn’t do anything but I really like the image. Is it wrong to pick an image because of an emotive feeling?

Neil Vincent selfie web 1

I want to portray the image of an underwater photographer.

I once saw an image of a photographer in both the image being taken & the viewfinder of the camera. The idea occurred to superimpose an image of me in the view finder of a camera but instead of having me as the subject to show a recognizable underwater subject.

The shark is from my own library, I photographed the back of a camera & then took 300 plus images of myself trying to get one that was half useable. (half useable is as good as it got). I then combined the images in Photoshop.

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Interestingly when creating the shark image I blended using Photoshop, Blend Difference, the image of myself & the scratched acrylic cover of the viewfinder on the back of the camera. The result was a “not so clean” as the original image of my self which I think looks better.

This new image follows the rules with my right eye on the third point & the circle of the camera lens on the lower third line. As I am looking in the same direction as the lens, the viewers eye is drawn between the two. The two distractions are the name on the camera & the wedding ring both of which tend to draw the viewers eye.

Project 1 – Response to the Peer Comments

Anthony’s comment that the underwater image with the air bubbles on the mask would look better if they were not there & were removed in post production are comments that I agree with whole heartedly. Unfortunately the work involved to remove all those bubbles is huge & it will be better to try to re-shoot it when the water clears after the flooding we have had. That has been my plan.


Amanda’s comment about changing the portrait to B&W works & I like the look but I would not use it in this submission as I would prefer to have all the images either colour or all B&W.


The orange cast in the same image noted by Julien was not intentional & I am not sure where it came from, so I did a colour white balance which made the image look more natural.

I have decided not submit my project on the date it is due & to wait until the final date & submit it with my second project. I have done this as I an going to a location for a few days where I believe I have a good chance of having very clear water & will be able to improve the underwater selfies.

Project 1 – More Attempts

I was diving with a friend, Mal Yeo, who shoots images to create underwater QTVR. As this is all he shoots, he uses ISO 3200, available light, no strobes, with a full fish-eye lens, so the question of taking a portrait of me on this dive was never raised before the dive. I was shooting macro & during the dive an Octopus took a liking to me (they are really curious & fun to interact with) sensing the opportunity, I put Mal on the spot & communicated what I wanted. He shot a number of images. He gave me a copy of all the RAW images, I selected an image to processed (lower) & then Mal forwarded me one which he had processed (top).

I used Lightroom & Photoshop for post production reducing grain, adjusting exposure & colour temp & removing scatter. Mal used Dxo to do similar. He takes his back to true white balance while I tend to leave my images with the colour cast that I see underwater which lacks to red end of the spectrum.

I love the images but they do not suit the criteria of a good representation of me, the viewer has to study the image to work out what is happening.

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Subsequently, on a dive with some friends, we came upon a Weedy Sea Dragon. I had pre-warned my friend Robb Westerdyk that if we did come across something of interest I may ask him to take a photo of me with the critter. I asked & then modelled with the Dragon, Robb took a number of good images but I chose this one as it cropped down to square, positioning my eyes close to thirds, I have eye contact with the subject, my eyes are well lit, the viewers’ eye-flow from my eyes to the Dragon is good, sometimes going through the large circular dome port, the Dragon stands out due to it’s bright & contrasting colours, juxtaposed to the background & it’s diagonal positioning divides the image into two triangles.

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I really wanted to show I was a diver & photographer, so looking through all the images I now had to choose from I decided on three that were diving related. One of those was the original image I had taken with the anchor. Technically it was unsuitable as it was due to the scatter & the bubbles on my mask. In the peer review Anthony suggested that I may be able to improve it with some post production.

I was always going to be a big task but following quite a few hours of work in Photoshop & Lightroom I now have an image that I am happy to use. Of the three images I will submit, this image is the only one which is “almost” a true Selfie as I took the image myself, hand holding a camera, unfortunately not a phone.



Project 1 – The Final Selection

Image #1


A simple portrait of me with an underwater camera. I am on the surface but in the water, wearing dive gear. Showing that I am a diver & an underwater photographer.

Composition & Technique:-

It is a harshly lighted portrait taken in the midday sun without fill flash or reflectors, this is not flattering an already lined face but shows me how I want to be seen. Even though my face is on the 1/3 line, I am facing against what would be the normal western orientation (left to right). My eyes are looking at the camera which softens the conflict of facing to the left. The viewers’ eyes are led around the image by strong shapes, my eyes, the dome port, the circular strobe & the triangle formed by the strobe arms. The image was taken by my wife standing on the shore using a Nikon D700 with a 70-210mm lens set on Aperture Priority & f4 the give a shallow DOF.


The image was taken specifically to use as an avatar for a social media site. The image was taken with no meaning, what is shown is what is portrayed, it is my head & shoulders portrait holding underwater camera housing. The only meaning I hope to draw is that I am a diver/photographer.


Image #2


The image is simple, me, underwater looking into the camera lens, in the background is the fluke of an old admiralty anchor, a recognizable underwater symbol. As I am underwater & wearing diving gear the image says “I am a diver”.

Composition & Technique:-

The image does not conform to all the rules we have discussed but I feel it does work. My eyes & the face mask are the first items to draw the viewers’ eye, they are bright & warm as opposed to the background which is cold & subdued, next the viewers’ eye moves to the anchor, a triangle shape on the 1/3 line of the image. I left the two small bubbles as they are a nice distraction & they say…..underwater. The image was taken using a Nikon D700 fitted with a Sigma 15mm full fish-eye lens in an underwater housing fitted with two strobes. This was held at arms length & the image composed by looking at the reflection in the dome port, exposure was all manual. A lots of post production work was completed in Photoshop & Lightroom to correct the scatter & bubbles which initially spoiled the image.


The image was taken specifically to use as an avatar for a social media site. The image was taken with no meaning, what is shown is what is portrayed, it is my face with an anchor in the background. The only meaning I hope to draw is that I am a diver.



Image #3


A simple portrait of me, holding an underwater camera, looking at a Weedy Sea Dragon.

Composition & Technique:-

I feel that the image worked as I have eye contact with the subject & my eyes are well lit. The Dragon stands out due to it’s bright & contrasting colours juxtaposed to the background which is cool in the colour palette. Of lesser importance but still adding to the whole effect, the viewers’ eye-flow from my eyes to the Dragon, sometimes going through the large circular dome port & the bright Dragon divides the image roughly into two triangles. The image is a little confused by the strobe arms but this is the reality of an underwater camera housing.

The image was taken by a friend using a Nikon D300 fitted with a Sigma 10mm full fish-eye lens in an underwater housing fitted with two strobes. The shot was opportunistic on a dive where I found the Sea Dragon & decided that it could be a good prop for my avatar.


The image was taken specifically to use as an avatar for a social media site. The image was taken with no meaning, what is shown is what is portrayed, it is my head & shoulders portrait holding un underwater camera housing. The only meaning I hope to draw is that I am a diver/photographer.

Robbert Westedyk - DSC_0944-2a

Of the images posted these are the three that appeal to me, maybe because each provided some sort of anonymity but still portrays something of the person. Charles’s image of the camera hiding his face is along the thoughts that I have been having.

Picture1a  Picture2a  Picture3a

Image Analysis using the photographic rules described in the notes.

I have used images which I already had for analysis, as I have already taken the images that I required & this was far more time effective.

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