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Featured Photographer Gallery

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Linda Pitkin

I was a schoolgirl collector of beetles, but soon found none of my friends shared my love of creepy-crawlies!

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Featured Photographer

Linda Pitkin

About

From early childhood, my interest in the natural world drew me to a career as a biologist, specializing in research on insects at The Natural History Museum in London . But for decades my passion for nature has led me to photograph marine life (I started in 1980). I approach this with a biologist's fascination for living organisms, but even more with a photographer's eye for composition and lighting. I am the author/photographer of four books and I have been elected into the Women Divers Hall of Fame. I dive around the world, with my husband Brian (president of the British Society of Underwater Photographers ) and we live in Croydon , UK .

To read more about underwater photography, please visit the British Society of Underwater Photographers

Website: www.lindapitkin.net/

Interview

Why nature photography?
I am passionate about all nature but especially underwater because with a bit of patience you can get so close to wildlife – nose to nose with a fish! Also, in the shallows, light can look fantastic filtered through the water – and the sea’s surface.

What's best about it?
The buzz I get in the moments when I have a magical encounter with a spectacular animal - perhaps a manta or a shark, or maybe just a tiny but gorgeous shrimp.

What's worst about it?
I love being away on location, but the downside of the journey is at check-in (heavy bags groaning on the scales, bursting at the seams with dive gear and camera equipment) and, on arrival, the anxious time hovering at the baggage carousel willing everything to appear. Once I’ve checked everything is OK and started diving, I feel happy envisaging the dives and photo opportunities that lie ahead.

Favourite species and places in Europe?
Basking sharks – I’ve snorkelled with them in Cornwall and it’s a thrilling experience to have the world’s second largest fish cruise by your shoulder. Favourite place? Perhaps St Abb’s, a marine reserve on the Scottish east coast, where I have spent many good times photographing underwater.

What's in the bag?
I’m currently using a Nikon D80 in a Sea & Sea underwater housing, 2 Inon Z240 strobes. Favourite lenses: Tokina 10-17 mm fisheye (great underwater!) and Nikon 60 mm macro.

Your specialities / skills?
I have an eye for a picture (I’m told), and I find good viewpoints when I compose images. Also, I think my style, perhaps feminine, is a shade different to many of my underwater peers.

What will you do in your next life?
I will certainly be drawn to nature again. In this life I have explored it in biology and painting as well as photography, and in a future life who knows what media might be next?

3 tips for beginners
1) Get close underwater – the water is rarely crystal clear
2) When you are waiting a long time with a subject, be patient but stay alert to press the shutter at the perfect moment.
3) Try new things but develop your own style.

Mission

My mission is to the Lavezzi Is., Corsica : I have never been there and I am really looking forward to it. I am eager to meet the large dusky groupers (my primary subject), and hope I can encourage them to pose spectacularly for me – I shall use my fisheye lens on them and other lenses too. Meanwhile, I am trying to recall some of the French I learnt 40 years ago. Already, in making arrangements, there were problems communicating, and I am hoping to manage better when I get there. I am going in September to avoid the holiday diving crowds ( “in August you will see a lot of rubber!”); I am booked on a liveaboard boat for a few days, with the rest of my week at a dive centre on the mainland.

Best Picture

Best Picture
Basking Shark

What's cool about it?
I like the angle of view, and the wide-angle lens maximises the impressive gape. The timing is right: The basking shark has just started to turn to swim round me, and almost brushed past me it was so close.

Could it be better?
I would have liked more depth of field, and clear calm water, but I got choppy seas and low light; I was shooting film then and had to push it a stop.

Behind the Scene
A friend Charles Hood, who took us out in his boat, said the best way to get close encounters with basking sharks is to “make like a jellyfish”, i.e. just lie there. Wearing a bulky dry suit and with waves breaking over my snorkel, floundering and bobbing like a jellyfish was all too easy!

Date: July 2005
Location: Cornwall, England
Gear: Nikonos V with Nikkor 15 mm lens, Fujichrome Provia 100 film

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