Editor’s note: Underwater photography requires specialized equipment and good dose of pioneering spirit. Our friend Michele Westmorland, a globetrotting pro who is equally at home in marine and land environments, shares what she packs, the backstory on two Papua New Guinea images and her upcoming plans (those include the ultimate safari in 2015 – you might want to get on this list!).
What gear did you pack in this shot of your Pro Roller x200?
In this shot I have my Seacam housing for DSLR camera system; Canon 5D Mark II body; Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens; Seacam maintenance and diopter sets; Seacam glass dome port for the fisheye lens; and various cards and cords as needed.
Are there little creature comforts or accessories you typically include?
Ah yes, creature comforts for long plane flights? The necessary personal hygiene items and plenty of skin lotion and Chapstick for dry skin. Those are my essentials.
Where did you shoot these two images and what’s the story behind them?
Both images were shot on my recent trip to Papua New Guinea. The reefs off the island of West New Britain are some of the best in the world. My “fathers” shot is of silvertip sharks. All underwater photographers desire to include these beautiful apex predators and experience them up close and personal.
I shot this image using the Canon 8-15mm lens (at 15mm). It enables me to get that very close shot (at about 2 feet) and include the surrounding marinescape.
The “Kimbe Bay” shot also applies to capturing a vibrant reef structure and includes a diver. The closer you can get, the better your underwater strobes are in lighting the main subject – in this instance, giant sea fans and whip corals.
What are you up to in the months ahead?
My focus this year is on my Headhunt Revisited project. Although it is not about the underwater world in Papua New Guinea, it has everything to do with the equally diverse culture. The documentary film and book chronicles the journey of Caroline Mytinger, an intrepid and adventurous artist of the 1920s and the expedition to retrace her footsteps. The main message is that all forms of art – paintings, film and photography document and celebrate culture and record it for history.
In addition to the project, I have upcoming photo shoots for a major live aboard dive company, Aggressor/Dancer Fleets, in the Red Sea and Indonesia.
And there is another expedition in my future: a Blind, Boats and Balloons Safari in Zambia and Zimbabwe, planned for 2015.