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Nuno Sá

Unfortunately, nature photography came into my life late, but when it bit me I never looked back.

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Featured Photographer

Nuno Sá

About

Unfortunately, nature photography came into my life late, but when it bit me I never looked back. I was studying to become a lawyer when I took my first diving course, and gradually I became obsessed with exploring the sea. By the time I graduated I had never lost my sleep with the big case I was going to win at the courts, but I just kept dreaming of whales, sharks, manta rays… I was hooked. So I guess I had no choice and had to become a nature photographer, a decision I will never regret.

Website: www.photonunosa.com

Interview

Why nature photography?
When I first visited the Azores I knew this was where I had to live to pursue my dream - whales, dolphins, sharks, manta rays… and the strange thing is… no one really knew they where there. That became my objective… showing people how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place. And that’s what Wild Wonders of Europe is all about (of course we aim to show A LOT more people how lucky they are).

What's best about it?
The adrenaline rush…not because of any kind of danger, just because when you have the privilege of exploring the underwater world you know you are witnessing unique moments, you can take a unique picture – or not!

What's worst about it?
The speeches, interviews, presentations… my wife says I spend too much time underwater and I am loosing my capacity to communicate with people, well… I tell her maybe I’ll learn how to communicate with the whales.
But it comes with the job, it’s not about becoming famous, it’s about making nature famous and I think nature photographers play an important role in showing the public how beautiful nature is… and why it is worth protecting.

Favourite species and places in Europe?
Definitely my backyard… the mythical Islands of the Azores. This is one of the most bio diverse parts of the planet. The only downside is I can never prepare a photo trip; if I go for Sperm Whales, Orcas or Blue Whales show up, if I go for Dolphins it’s Whale Sharks or turtles. But I guess I can hardly consider that a problem!

What's in the bag?
Mainly underwater equipment. Aquatica housing, Ikelite Strobes, Canon 5d cameras, and 3 main lenses: Sigma 15mm, Canon 17-40 and 100mm. And of course a bunch of domes, ports, lights etc… Of course I also take a ‘regular’ camera and a few lenses for it (just in case).

Your specialities / skills?
So far my main interest is…BIG things in the blue. Whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles etc… So a lot of my underwater work is done free diving. I also do a lot of close-to-shore underwater photography, but usually that happens when the sea is too rough to go far out.

What will you do in your next life?
I’m guessing this answer isn’t a very original one, but… exactly the same thing! Of course I would start diving at the age of 5, my beautiful wife would be a lot richer and be my full-time model/assistant and hopefully Canon would be a family business (and probably eventually expand and buy Aquatica ;-).

3 tips for beginners
1) Take a step back, look at your life, decide what you want out of it and go after it, you will get there.
2) Start by exploring your “backyard”; usually what you are so passionate about is unknown to most people, it’s your job to change that, and the better you do it the more opportunities will arise.
3) Get involved, take a workshop with someone whose work you admire, meet people in the business, and take part in photo contests.

Mission

I have been invited to undertake a fantastic mission for Wild Wonders of Europe and I am 100% committed; it seems tailor-made for me!

Basking Sharks in Scotland – This is a beautiful animal in a beautiful country. I am looking forward to see some Braveheart scenery and have to track down my wife’s Scottish roots (Monroe) and of course try on a kilt! But what really attracts me about Scotland is its wildlife, it is one of Europe’s main wildlife destinations and includes whales, dolphins, seals and of course my main goal – Basking Sharks. I am counting on the curiosity of these Giants of the Seas and hope to get up close (with a 15mm lens), catching the peak of action with a giant open mouth. I am also eager on trying some Mink Whales, dolphins and Orcas.

Best Picture

Best Picture
Curious Whale Shark, Azores, Portugal

What's cool about it?
This picture is presently my favourite because it was my first encounter after a long quest to find and photograph Whale Sharks in the Azores. For many years I had heard stories from tuna fishermen of what seemed to be Whale Sharks. Finally, last summer I got my opportunity. When its giant shadow slowly appeared under the boat I jumped into the water and dived. It immediately turned around and stopped 3 ft from me with its mouth open and gave me this giant smile.

Could it be better?
I wanted to illuminate the inside of the Whale Shark’s massive mouth but I was afraid I would disturb it, so I think I could have used a bit more power on my strobes.

Behind the Scene
To get this shoot I had to go to the Island of Santa Maria for 10 days, and I spent about 12 hours daily following the tuna fishing boats. For two months they had been fishing tons of tuna from under these magnificent animals. When I finally got this shoot I came to the surface right next to a tuna boat and a fisherman screamed out – So…what is it? I couldn’t believe none of the fishermen actually knew what a beautiful animal they had under their boat. I later sent each of the fishermen a copy of the picture.

Date: 12-09-2008
Location: Island of Santa Maria, Azores
Gear: Canon Eos 5D, Sigma 15mm 2.8 Lens, Aquatica Housing and 2 Ikelite DS 125 Strobes.

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