I was scouring the interwebs the other day when I followed a link to The Azul Ocean and was instantly impressed. Focused on scuba diving and brilliant underwater photography, I discovered the creator was a man named Arthur Koch, with over 15 years in diving and underwater photography. I knew I had to talk to him so I tracked him down and he was gracious enough to answer a few questions. Here we go!
So, underwater photography. How does one fall into such a cool hobby?
I started diving in 1995, about a year later I picked in an Ikelite housing for the old Kodak disposable cameras. My initial idea was to bring pictures home to remember my dives and to show friends and family. Since then it has become a serious hobby and passion, I work regularly to improve my images by taking chases with different Underwater Photography Professionals, diving and shooting with friends who challenge me to improve.
What kind of equipment do you use for underwater photography?? How much does underwater photography cost?
I currently use Nikon D300 bodies, various lenses, Seacam Silver Underwater Housing and Ikelite strobes. I have over $20,000 USD invested in underwater camera equipment. It’s not uncommon for me to jump in the water holding $13,000 in a camera set-up.
You've traveled to 41 countries. What were some of your favorite to photograph?
You know, they are all great! Anytime you’re not in an office or factory and outside in nature, this is what it’s all about! (Nerve Rush note: we couldn't agree more!)
- Love the good old USA; North Carolina for it’s big animal action-the Sand Tiger Sharks; Florida for the diversity of fish life (they have done a great job of building a sustainable reef system) and Hawaii, they got it all, small, medium and large!
- Bonaire, Netherland Antilles’, in the southern Caribbean, awesome shore diving and great macro (small stuff).
- Solomon Islands in the Coral Sea, great macro, sharks, manta rays and schooling barracudas.
What are 3 of the best photographs you've ever taken?
This is a very difficult question…even with being my own worst critic…so many “speak” to me for different reasons. With that in mind, my favorites change every day, but here are today’s picks.
2008 NC – Sand Tiger Shark, Odontaspis tautus, USCG Spar Wreck IV
Diving off the NC coast is some of the best in the world; I just love the NC Sand Tiger Sharks! This image was captured as she was heading to the surface to get a gulp of air for buoyancy. B&W illustrates the textures; fine details of shapes and curves that bring her to life and highlights’ her natural beauty.
2010 Key Largo – French Angelfish with Southern Stingray
While diving a coral reef you often see nature gracefully orchestrating a concert of her beauty. This image captures the natural beauty of a French Angelfish, the turquoise water of a swim through, the precise moment a Southern Stingray decides to swim away, all captured in slow motion that just grabs you!
2011 Wakatobi – Red Whip Coral with the eye of a Mimic Filefish (Paraluteres prionuris)
This image is of a Mimic Filefish hiding in a growth of Red Whip Coral. I spent the better part of 2 dives studying the fish’s behavior, potential photo opportunities and camera settings. On the 3rd dive I captured about 10 images at different angles; the contrast of the yellow eye, red of the whip coral, the black background and the fish silhouette dramatically highlight the reefs delicate and often hidden magnificence. This image marks turning point in my understanding of how to capture the oceans splendor and not just documenting its beauty.
What new projects do you have on the table for 2012?
I plan on exhibiting at 6 Art Festivals in Florida, South and North Carolina and Virginia. I’m leading an underwater photography trip aboard the Caribbean Explorer II in May to Saba N.A. and St Kitts. I will also be attending Stephen Frinks Digital Masters Underwater Photography course in Bonaire, N.A. during July. In between, I'll be diving off Florida and the North Carolina coast. Please check Facebook for details and sign up for The Azul Ocean newsletter of other details and promotions that I'll be running in the near future.
Where can Nerve Rush readers find more of you?
You can find me all around the web. Here's a few good links to start:
- Web: www.theazulocean.com
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheAzulOcean
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheAzulOcean
- WordPress: http://theazulocean.wordpress.com
- e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Massive thanks from the Nerve Rush crew to Arthur. We look forward to seeing much, much more of you and your work here at Nerve Rush in the near future.
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Its amazing how much time,knowledge and experience goes into just one shoot. Great stuff Art !