ViewBug community member Greatwhitesean has always been fascinated with sharks from a young age watching the film jaws and countless nature/wildlife shows you find across the different natural history channels. So once he started diving he knew he wanted to dive with as many sharks as possible.

Greatwhitesean, where did you take this photo?

I took this photo at a special place called Tiger Beach off the coast of Grand Bahama Island. A shallow dive site at around 13 meters to the seafloor where we was living on an old converted trawler boat called the Dolphin Dream for a week of amazing shark diving. This particular place is probably the most famous dive site for big Tiger Shark action and it didn't disappoint.

How did you capture the light and position yourself on this shot?

It's difficult for me to pinpoint an exact time of day as we were aiming for 4-5 dives a day but the weather on the open ocean can be challenging and also meant we sometimes had to cut days short and move on. I'm pretty sure on this particular day the weather wasn't brilliant and we got a couple dives done early and then moved the boat on to calmer waters. This dive I'm pretty sure was an early afternoon dive where the ambient light for diving shallow water should be at it's best. With the ambient light coming through the ocean not being as good as a clear day it meant my strobes were essential to lighting the shark and really bring out the blue in the ocean. Colours are lost easily underwater starting with red, orange e.t.c. so artificial light is great for bringing the colours back in that we can miss with the naked eye. As the shark was swimming close to the seafloor it was essential for me to have the strobes pointing slightly up as I didn't want to blast out the sand and over expose the it. I must admit on this shot I didn't get it perfect and some sand was still illuminated by the light of the strobes and became over-exposed. I also needed to tilt the strobes at an angle away from my camera to the right and left as I also didn't want to over-expose the white on the shark. It was also important to have my strobes positioned behind my dome port slightly as in the wrong position you can get a lot of back scatter with the microscopic bits floating in the ocean.

What camera did you use?

The camera I used for this shot was an Olympus OMD-EM10 with Panasonic 8mm Fisheye lens. This was put into a custom built Nauticam housing specific to the camera and it's controls. I then had fibre optic cables running from the housing where the flash is to each strobe so they would be triggered by the flash on my camera. I use 2 INON Z-240 strobes when shooting underwater.

What was the inspiration behind that photo?

I have always been fascinated with sharks from a young age watching the film jaws and countless nature/wildlife programmes you find across the different natural history channels. So once I started diving I knew I wanted to dive with as many sharks as possible and then the fascination with photography and specifically underwater photography where a trip to Tiger Beach to see the Tiger Sharks is a no-brainer. There are countless photos shared by many underwater photographers of the Tiger Sharks of Tiger Beach and the amazing shallow water allows for many amazing shots that just scream for you to visit and get your own. This particular shot of a Tiger Shark head on I imagined before I went and had to be patient to make sure the symmetry was right before I pulled the trigger.

How much do you post-process underwater shots? 

Post-processing is essential in underwater photography I feel as colours are lost so easily underwater, so it creates a much better image to get those colours back into the photo. Reds especially as they are the 1st to go and adding red back really brings underwater shots back to life. I also cropped the photo slightly to get the symmetry bang on to where I wanted the shark direct centre. There was also minor spot removal as backscatter is a major issue in underwater photography and sometimes if the sea isn't the most clear it can be difficult to get a shot completely clear of microscopic dots. Clean up is essential. I also reduce the highlights a little where my strobes weren't exactly perfect and over-exposed the sand in the corners.

What do you carry in your camera bag?

My camera of choice is Olympus OMD-EM10. The reason being is that with it being small and compact it meant the underwater Nauticam housing was a lot cheaper than if I were using a DSLR. A versatile little camera that is able to use a host of different lenses. In my my bag for an underwater wide angle photography trip it is essential for me to have my trusty Panasonic Fisheye lens with 4" dome port. It is the lens I use most for wide angle where you can get nice and close to the subject. I also have the 9-18mm and specific dome port for those larger animals that can be a little more skittish and not get right up to the camera. When shooting macro underwater I have the 60mm macro lens with port and I have a Nauticam CMC-1 to attach to the port for greater magnification of the super macro subjects. I then have my 2 INON strobes, video light and the arms and clamps necessary to connect everything together. This is specific for when I'm shooting underwater.

Any advice for others trying to capture something similar?

My advice for those wanting to capture something similar is to take the opportunity to dive with sharks and begin to understand their behaviour and gain experience before going for that killer shot if you are not used to diving with a wild apex predator. If you are new to diving with sharks it will take a little bit of time getting comfortable with them around you, which can then mean the shots you can picture taking might not work as your thoughts are elsewhere through nerves. I started off diving with smaller sharks to build up my knowledge of behaviour and to allow myself to be more relaxed before I worked my way up to big Tiger Sharks outside a cage. It is essential to stay calm with such a big shark and keep an eye out for each other when you are in the water with them as you can't always watch behind you but you can always watch each others back. They are inquisitive sharks that like to come and check you out (great for photos) but very rare they will show aggression as long as you are watching it all the way when it is close. Also dive with people who are experienced when it comes to shark diving and behaviour as they will know any tell-tale signs when it is best to leave the water and give the sharks space.