POTTERING WITH THE UNDERWATER WORLD
Brixton in South London may not be famous for its underwater world, but it was where, during evening classes in 1982, I first learned to Scuba. There is no doubt that the sense of weightlessness, propelled by a gentle flip of your fin, elevated by a deep breath, is something I would hope everyone could experience. It is quite simply the closest you can ever get to feeling as if you can fly.
Work filled my time and I rarely had an opportunity to dive in the decades following, except for moments in Thailand, Spain and on the Great Barrier Reef. My partner Gary has never been confident in water so I didn’t have a regular diving companion, always meeting up with complete strangers to share some beautiful moments. Nowadays diving is a popular pastime, often shared by couples and friends, providing a wonderful glimpse into an extraordinary ecosystem. For me however, snorkelling and free-diving continue to provide those extraordinary moments. Gary has mastered the surface so we can snorkel together, although the underwater bit still evades him. He gained his confidence when a turtle simply insisted they swim together, but no matter how hard the Galapagos sea lions tempted him to dive down, he couldn’t. As a photographer I’ve always been enchanted by natural light, shunning flash and other artificial light sources. All of the underwater shots on this website have been taken while snorkelling and free-diving with natural light. Water absorbs the colour in the light and even free-diving creates a deep blue which needs photographic adjustment. I’ve always believed the first ten meters can provide the most exciting and colourful wildlife encounters.
As we potter (because that’s how I see snorkelling) on the surface with turtles, dolphins, mantas and brightly coloured coral, I’ve often seen a group of divers twenty meters below. They’ll be up soon, usually only down for an hour before their air runs out, while Gary and I have to keep an eye on the time in case we miss dinner!