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How I got the Shot

  • By Nick Robertson-Brown
  • 06 Nov, 2016

Manatee Kiss - Florida

When we visit Florida in the winter months, we always rent a house from the fantastic team at Bird's Underwater .  The house is called the "fishbowl" and is located in Homosassa. It comes with two double kayaks, and using these to navigate the water ways is a great way to see manatees.
Species: Florida Manatee 
Location: Homosassa, Florida
Equipment: Nikon D700, Sealux housing, 16mm lens, INON Z-240 strobes
Settings: f/6.3; 1/125; ISO-400
We loaded up the kayaks with our snorkeling and underwater photography equipment before the sun had come up. We paddled out just as the first light lit the waterways, to ensure that we would be the first visitors of the day, and we would get the manatees to ourselves. Homosassa Spring was about 5 minutes from the house, and as we arrived and made to tie-off the kayaks, the manatees had already spotted our presence and were gently nudging the boats. Caroline got into the cool water and raised her camera to take a shot as a manatee swam towards her. I was just off to the side of her, watching. The manatee just kept slowly approaching, Caroline lowered her camera, and the manatee gently "squished" against her mask. I took the shot.
Homosassa offers these unique encounters, away from the crowds, if you are willing to get up early and battle less than optimal visibility. However, it is also very much worth another early start to do a tour of Crystal River with Bird's Underwater . Again, up early to beat the crowds, you will enjoy crystal clear water and plenty of manatees. It is a fantastic experience for underwater photographers, snorkelers and it is kid friendly too. A great way to introduce people to the wonders of our underwater world.  
In our underwater photography, we love to portray the amazing experiences on offer in our seas, oceans and fresh water too. Diving with a buddy like Caroline enables me to get shots that show us interacting with amazing marine life. This shot always brings a reaction from the crowd during our talks, whether it is to divers or to non-divers, as it shows an encounter that few are lucky enough to experience - a wild animal choosing to closely approach and "kiss" a diver. This is why I love this shot. 
To see more of our shots from USA click here

Frogfish Blog

By Caroline And Nick Robertson-Brown 12 Jun, 2017
Those of you that follow our work will know that we love to spend a little bit of time above water on our travels abroad, and especially love to visit vineyards and sample the wines that benefit from being close to the coast. So we were delighted to discover that we had been invited to visit Gozo, and that there was a local tasting available for us to attend. We had two days of diving on our short visit, and a day to absorb the local culture above the water. We dived with Calypso Diving Centre , visiting caves, reefs and wrecks doing both boat and shore dives. The vineyard we visited was the Tal-Massar Winery which offers a series of lovingly made wines. 
By Caroline And Nick Robertson-Brown 27 Apr, 2017
We are off to Cornwall for some scuba festivities at the Cornwall Scubafest over the bank holiday weekend. Whilst it is a long drive from Manchester, it is always a good event. We have our fingers firmly crossed for good weather, so that we can make the most of our long weekend. So what's the plan?
By Caroline And Nick Robertson-Brown 17 Apr, 2017
Caroline recently took two awards at the NUPG / GNDS Print Awards. The winners were selected by the general public at this diving event held in Manchester, along with overall winners being selected by sponsors. The above shot of a Grey Seal from the Farne Islands won the British & Irish Wide Angle category. The Cape Fur Seal clinging onto a kelp frond while looking straight into the camera won the Overall Overseas title. Why? Well the public love cute, and seals and sea lions have that in spades. But, they also look right at the camera, giving the viewer of the image the feeling they are engaging with the photo and they can really imagine being there in that moment. This is what makes these images so popular.
By Caroline And Nick Robertson-Brown 18 Mar, 2017
I think it is fair to say that we love our wide angle, big animal photography best. So it is with more than a little excitement that we start to get ready for our group trip to the Revillagigedo Islands that lie some 600km off the Mexican coastline, out in the blue expanse of the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the most prolific pelagic encounter destinations, but you have to have a slice of luck on your side. Both the weather and the marine life can be unpredictable! 
By Caroline And Nick Robertson-Brown 20 Jan, 2017
Any doubts we had about taking our precious iPhone underwater we soon swept aside when we tried out the LenzO housing. It is tough, well made, has good closing mechanisms with a reassuring clunk as the port and back secure into place. You do not need a special app to get the camera to work. It has excellent optics and the controls mean that you can access both the different modes of the camera (slo-mo, panoramic, video etc) and the exposure controls with ease. You can review your images with the swipe feature, as well as read an iBook on your safety stop. It has a special "selfie" lens too! 

Best bit? You can post your images and video onto social media just minutes after getting out of your wetsuit (or drysuit). For more about this, have a look at our review on Scubaverse by clicking here .
By Caroline And Nick Robertson-Brown 09 Jan, 2017
We have not been diving in Sharm el Sheikh for many years now. But we were invited to come and write about the diving here, and to, hopefully, re-ignite the passion for this iconic location for British divers who have been staying away. We jumped at the chance. Whilst there are still no direct flights from the UK, we were surprised to see how many routes the loyal repeat customers have found to get here. Camel Dive Club are hosting us, and their team are happy to help find suitable routes from all the major UK airports. 
By Caroline And Nick Robertson-Brown 17 Dec, 2016
With the weather only getting worse today, and no diving to do, we were stuck for something to occupy us. Simon Doughty, Operations Manager, stepped in and went above and beyond, to take us out to Fiji Siren in the pouring rain and to give us a tour of this magnificent liveaboard. She is in "cyclone mode" and so all her sails and soft furnishings and the like are all safely stowed away, but even with these precautions in place, she is a sight to behold. Mo drove over one of the tenders to the shore at Volivoli Beach Resort to pick us up. 
By Caroline And Nick Robertson-Brown 16 Dec, 2016
We arrived at Volivoli Beach Resort last night, being chased as we headed north by a storm front that brought plenty of very heavy rain. We were greeted here by the staff as if we were long lost friends and shown to our room that has an amazing view of the sea (and weather). The dive shop here, Ra Divers, whilst dubious we would be diving in the morning, said they would do their very best to get us out. So we were delighted to be told at breakfast that we would be treated to a day on and under the water, and that we would also be able to get in three dives. 

The storm was still getting closer, and the conditions were not what you can usually expect here, with reduced visibility and some swell, but we were just happy to be diving. We were not disappointed either, with the reef in healthy condition and crammed with orange soft corals that lend their name to the dives sites, such as Golden Dream. 
By Caroline And Nick Robertson-Brown 14 Dec, 2016
Warren had a worried look on his face last night. The latest weather report was not great, with strong winds and large waves heading our way. All night the rain poured down and the palm trees bent over with the strong gusts. But this morning, it did not look so bad and so to our delight, we headed to Beqa Lagoon. This site is famous for its Bull Sharks and we really, really wanted to dive there! The water was a little green and the rain must have kept away many of the other divers, as the only boats at the site were ours, and Aqua-Trek 's, who run this shark feed and pioneered shark diving here some 20 years ago. We geared up and jumped in, hoping that, of the 9 species of shark you can see here, we would get some big female bull sharks coming up close to us.

Nick got a very close encounter, with the shark wranglers, who watch over the divers with large hooped poles to ward off any over friendly sharks, having to guide a big shark away from his camera lens. Whilst most of the divers stay behind a wall and watch the feed a couple of meters back from the bait boxes, we were given special permission to join the feeders and get in closer to the action. The Waidroka Bay Resort team had phoned ahead to put in this request for us (without us even asking) and it was fantastic to be able to see these huge predators up close.
By Caroline And Nick Robertson-Brown 13 Dec, 2016
Sitting down for dinner with the team and guests at Waidroka Bay Resort , we knew right away that this was our sort of place. Diving, conservation and marine life talk buzzed around the table and our excitement grew for the diving ahead. The resort has a mixture of surfers and divers, and the divers are here for shark diving and for the wonderful reefs. Our first day diving was to visit the reefs, and with tales of colourful corals and plenty of marine life, we were looking forward to it.
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