Saturday, August 01, 2009

Shark Images

This is Chica - and yes, she's pregnant!

A customer has just departed in utter frustration.

He turned up for one day of Shark diving toting an impressive underwater housing with multiple strobes and a fixed 15 mil lens. He's a real nice guy and a very proficient diver with extensive experience in taking pictures of big animals. Water conditions were calm and we had loads of Sharks and very decent visibility.

And yet, he left without a single usable picture.
Very sad indeed - and quite inevitable.

From our website.

One of the principal advantages of the Fiji Shark Dive is that it allows for great opportunities to capture Shark images in a controlled and largely predictable setup.
In fact, many of our procedures and even the spatial layout of the dive have been developed in order to maximize those opportunities whilst still ensuring the best possible safety standards for our customers.

Consequently, many of the world’s foremost photographers and cinematographers have flocked to Fiji and have come away with truly stunning results, some of which grace the pages of our website and our blog and are used for our marketing.

Many of our customers visit us in the hope of emulating those portfolios.
We are acutely aware of those aspirations and will do our utmost to try and please our clients and help them achieve their aims – but to be completely frank, some images will always be reserved for bona fide diving professionals only. Any customer aspiring to stick an expensive fisheye lens into the face of a large predatory Shark will unfortunately always remain frustrated.

The reason for that are our safety protocols that are aimed at avoiding any direct interactions between the Sharks and the spectators. Yes others may do it differently - but this is just how we have decided to run things.
We have blogged about our procedures here and here and they are an essential cornerstone of what we believe constitutes responsible and sustainable commercial Shark diving. We will not deviate from them for any reason whatsoever.

Having said this, you will nevertheless be in a position to capture truly stunning images - provided that you talk to us, listen to our suggestions and devote the necessary time to that undertaking. Over the years, we have worked with hundreds of talented and ambitious elite amateurs and provided that the conditions were favorable, most of them have been able to meet and even surpass their goals. Shark Reef is a Shark photographer's heaven and we assure you that you will not be disappointed!

It is imperative that you plan for several Shark Dives.
The main reason is that conditions vary in function of the weather and the tides and that you want to profit from the best possible visibility and biggest number of animals. Also, you really need to "understand" the dive as your key to capturing stunning images will be good anticipation. Finally, this will give us time to get to know you better and to talk with you about your goals and the best way of obtaining the required results.
We have been taking images for a very long time ourselves and have logged thousands of dives on Shark Reef. You can rest assured that we understand where you're coming from and very much want you to capture stunning Shark images. We also know the best way to do so on this particular dive and are eager to share our insights with you.

In very general terms, this is how that can be achieved.

Typically, on your first day with us, we will ask you to stick to our usual protocols.
This means that you will not be allowed to approach the Bulls, Lemons and Tigers. Conditions permitting, you will however get close and personal with the Grey Reefs, Whitetips and Blacktips along with many large Fishes and we urge you to profit from it as this is quite a unique opportunity. This is where you can successfully deploy your widest angle lens - but for the Bull Sharks, we recommend that you take along a wideangle zoom enabling you to go tighter in order to compensate for distance. We understand that this may be suboptimal - but this is how it is going to be.

As we get to know you better, we will escort you closer to the bigger Sharks.
Depending on your aims, we have some "special" techniques and spots where you are very likely to obtain some excellent images. However, this will always depend exclusively on our judgment and you will always be escorted, positioned and supervised, the more as all will happen during one of our scheduled dives involving other customers.
You can obviously achieve more freedom by booking a private charter - but even then, we will always ask you to refer to our guidance and prevent you from roaming at your will.

As stated above, we will allow bona fide dive professionals to get closer to the big Sharks, albeit always under close supervision.
Typically and when conditions allow, this includes being placed in the much-coveted "pit" during the hand feeding of the Bull Sharks. This is a "radical" position allowing for extremely close captures and the prerequisite for being placed there are excellent diving skills and a proven track record for having dived with large predatory Sharks in baited conditions.

We urge any professionals wanting to enjoy preferential treatment to announce their visit well in advance.
Unless you are really prominent, we would appreciate a short description of who you are, any references, your specific aims and why you require special treatment. We will typically extend discounts against confirmation by one of the major media that you are coming on their behalf. Very exceptionally, we will trade diving against images.

We hope the above is useful and helps to avoid any unfortunate misunderstandings.
Please always feel free to drop us a line should you have any questions. We want you to have a memorable stay and depart with wonderful memories and stunning images and will do our utmost to help you reach that goal.

Thank you very much.

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