I feel incredibly honoured to have recently been awarded the 2019 European Rolex Scholarship from the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society.
My Name is Kim S. Hildebrandt and I am a Veterinary Medicine student from Hamburg, Germany. Photography has been one of my hobbies since my youth. I particularly enjoy animal and wildlife photography, sports photography, and of course, documenting the places that I have traveled to. With the amazing support and sponsorship of Reef Photo and Video, I have now been kitted up with a range of underwater photography and videography gear, which will allow me to apply my previous photographic knowledge to a new environment - underwater- and record the experiences that I will pursue in various countries in the next year.
Following my former interest in Photography, it is one of my objectives in this year to develop underwater photography and videography skills, in both wide-angle and macro. First, for the purpose of communicating the beauty of the aquatic environment to a wider audience, as well as the threats that marine wildlife and the ocean itself are facing and second, to learn how photography is a tool in marine science and conservation.
In April, I set up the full kit for the first time with the help of Reel Diving in Gotenborg, Sweden. It was really overwhelming how many pieces of equipment we were provided, and holding the gear in my hands for the first time felt rewarding and awoke a lot of excitement in me! In the month of May, I have mostly focused on refreshing and improving my Scuba Diving skills with a PADI Drysuit course with Cornish Diving in Falmouth, UK, and a PADI Divemaster course with Diveshack in Sliema, Malta.
Two pieces of equipment have already played an important role during my time with Cetacean Watching Lda. in Pico Island, Azores. I tested myself through the settings of the Panasonic GX9 with the 12-60mm f 3.5-5.6 lens and collected photographic data for cetacean species identification and the identification of individual animals for the scientific catalog that CW Azores manages. From the photographs I have taken, we were able to identify pilot whales, common dolphins, striped dolphins, and sperm whales.
In June, I will be introduced to underwater photography for the first time in the Red Sea Photo Camp with the Red Sea Diving Safari, which will be held by Paul "Duxy" Duxfield, Phil Medcalf and Anne Medcalf, followed by two weeks participating in the Red Sea workshop with Alex Mustard. I am incredibly excited about these first experiences and how photography will enrich scuba diving for me.