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Kim Hildebrandt's June Photo Journal: An Our World Underwater Rolex Scholar Journey

In June I was able to participate in the Photo Camp with Paul Duxfield and Phil and Anne Medcalf at Red Sea Diving Safari, as a first exciting introduction to my new gear from Reef Photo and Video. I then spent 2 weeks on Alex Mustard´s photography workshop in the Northern Red Sea. I got to learn all the basics of lighting and composition at RSDS so that I could then try out photographing wrecks, schooling fish, fish portraits, and of course reef scenery. I used my Panasonic GX9 with the Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ III lens in the Nauticam NA-GX9 housing and mostly shot wide-angle with the Wet Wide Lens-1 (WWL-1), and tried out macro photography with the Compact Macro Converter-1 (CMC-1) on one dive, which I really enjoyed as well. Most of the photos were taken with the Inon S-2000 strobes, but I also shot withambient light, partly with the Magic Filter by Alex Mustard.

I learned how aperture, shutter speed, ISO and strobe power work together to create the right exposure of background and foreground in an underwater image. I also learned how important the right strobe positioning is to evenly light a subject.

My very favorite piece of kit on this adventure was definitely the Wet Wide Lens-1, as it has helped me capture wide reef scenes and has allowed me to get close to subjects in order to maximize strobe efficiency and reduce backscatter.

Out of the 60 dives I did in the past 24 days of diving, I only did about 3 of these dives without a camera in my hand. On these dives, I was surprised how funny it felt NOT having a camera in my hands anymore because it even became part of my buoyancy control. I also began to realize how much variety of life can be found on a reef and I became much more aware of this. I am looking at the reef much more closely now and my diving has become slower and calmer so that I can now take my time to take everything in. My awareness of what reef formations are around me has also enhanced by having to maneuver in narrower spaces with a big camera rig. It is certainly a skill to photograph an interesting subject without touching the corals.

When I first received my fully sponsored photography equipment from Reef Photo and Video, I felt overwhelmed by the many bits and pieces and how they could all be used together as a set-up to take photos underwater. I was also afraid that underwater photography would be too complex for me, as I had just started diving again after a long break. But all these worries have vanished now and I am jumping into the water with my camera equipment confidently. I am very happy with how many of my photos have turned out, and I can almost not imagine diving without a camera in my hands anymore! There is so much beautiful life underwater to be captured it is so wonderful to be able to share these moments with the public so they can see the beauty I am able to witness throughout my travels.