You might be familiar with ‘Out of Thin Air’ which was produced as part of the North of Disko expedition. A very successful book and expedition, the book has just won the landscape category of the FEP European photobook of the year award.
All that being said the Killary Flyer is setting sail for Greenland again on May 23rd and will now be the North of Disko II expedition. Jamie Young, the skipper, invited me to return as part of the crew to create another project. I knew if I went back it would have to be a different angle and the underwater world started to float in my mind……’The Tip of the Iceberg’…..how often do we hear that expression? 9/10’s of icebergs sit below the surface hidden from view and I began to get very excited about capturing icy sculptures from this moody underwater world.
I had some experience with diving as in 1992 I took my open water PADI course in Florida and it was this experience of floating on another planet that inspired my to take up photography.
I took my advanced course in Honduras some 3 years later, a couple of dives in Ko PhI Phi in 1999 and that was about the sum of my experience…….! Typical of me though, I wasn’t going to let my lack of experience and equipment prevent me from an incredible opportunity and I began to reach out to companies and people in the industry.
The single biggest piece of kit needed was a high end underwater housing so I contacted a few different suppliers of quality systems. Jenny Rosenfeld from Cameras Underwater had a fantastic reaction to my work and was immediately interested. We settled on the Aquatica Housing for the Canon 5D MKIII, a few lens port systems and a couple of Ikelite Storobes
This was a key area as if I had been unsuccessful here I would have had to seriously reconsider the project.
Next up was the diving gear and the diving itself. I had no gear and no drysuit diving experience………Enter Scubadive West (Cavalry Bugle Sound), an incredible dive centre located in the most pristine areas of Ireland in Connemara nestled just south of Killary Harbour. Run by brothers Breffni and Cillian Gray, between them they have a wealth of diving knowledge and experience and they came onboard as my go to dive centre with the guarantee that if I couldn’t get any dive gear they would supply me with all my diving gear needs. Ciaran Lennon does work for Scubadive West and Killary Adventure Centre and he agreed to be my back up diver in Greenland. An incredible guy with huge diving experience. Great to have him onboard.
Things were starting to take shape now and I attended the Dive Ireland show in Nenagh, went to many talks about underwater photography (Sarah Tallon, Nigel Motyer, John Collins to name a few) and met Sean Webb from O’Three and Andy Shears from Scubapro.
O’Three loved the idea and agreed to supply both Ciaran and I with Ri 2-100 suits complete with dry glove system, hoods, thermals and a heated vest. Oh yes, a flick of a switch and our cores will be nice and toasty.
Likewise Andy Shears also loved it and Scubapro are onboard with BCD’s, Regulators, integrated weights for both Ciaran and I.
I also met Declan Burke from Anchor Dive Lights and Declan is supplying me with 2 high lumen video lights, full rig for the housing and an underwater tripod!! Yep, an underwater tripod…hopefully I can find a big iceberg wedged on the sea bed and I can set the tripod up and capture a longer exposure image.
Canon were fantastic sponsors last time around and they are onboard again supplying me with a 5D MKIII, 14mm, 16-35mm & 70-200mm lenses. As soon as the 5Ds is on the market I will be upgrading my MKIII to the 5Ds. 50.6MP awesomeness!
SanDisk are also onboard again so watch this space.
Fantastic to have all my gear sorted but now I need to be able to use the equipment.
Up until last Thursday I was still very ropey with my diving. I have had a number of dives with Sarah Tallon who is an incredible teacher and is passionate about the underwater world but I was still feeling I was lacking divetime. So, from Good Friday until Easter Monday I managed 10 dives at Scubadive West. 7 boat dives and 3 shore dives. Wonderful locations, great tuition, amazing gear from O’Three and Scubapro and by Monday I was leading dives. A steep learning curve for sure. Thanks so much to Scubadive West. I even have my drysuit diver cert now! Roll on the delivery of the new dive gear, camera housing and lenses. I am itching to start playing with it all. D