Here’s a mixture of pictures selected by PIX (a weekly picture-news magazine in Australia) editors. Once selected I’d be asked to tell a staff reporter like Syd King, Ben Mitchell or later, Jim Oram what it was all about. The magazine paid sufficiently. They were a good crew. Editor Bob Nelson especially. Meanwhile I was shooting 16mm film footage for my future project, a documentary that would enable travel as well as an income. It was a good plan but eventually there was home video which made cinema films expensive for families. (click to enlarge pages).
FATHOM magazine was compiled by divers. For the first time in Australia, dramatic pictures and stories kept accurate by the people who wrote and published the material. All original pages now online for students of the sea. A benchmark to help understand the slow but steady changes occurring in the marine world. From shark hunting of 1963 to the beautiful underwater photo images of today.
Tiger shark about to bite the pole camera (1975).
Married in December 1964, the above picture was the following month in 1965 while returning from the Australian Spear fishing Championships at Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Ron and Valerie returned via Mount Gambier near the South Australian and Victoria border to do the first truly professional underwater shots in the crystal clear fresh water. Ron mostly used color film in a 6x6cm Rolleiflex with wide angle lens – not the usual Rolleimarin housing. This print was made from an inter-negative taken from the color original by Ron in his home darkroom. Valerie often retouched the B&W prints using her skills acquired as a commercial artist on The Silver Jacket (adventure magazine for boys), this print appears to be as original. The fresh water in Picaninnie Ponds isn’t exactly ‘freezing’ but you have a headache after 90 seconds and three minutes might be maximum before common sense says ‘get out’. Here in her late twenties in this picture, Valerie shows enormous will-power that has seen her persist or endure discomforts associated with diving better than anyone else I can think of – either male or female. This picture is from a series first published in Everybody’s magazine that amazed Australian underwater photographers and also established Ron as the leader – a position he could still challenge without difficulty.
Valerie with Silky shark (1965) during filming of “Surf Scene” at Flinders Reef, Queensland
One of my favorite pictures of Valerie is this portrait from 1967 in one of the fresh water sink holes near Mt. Gambier, South Australia. Ron was making his documentary The Cave Divers. I used a Rolleiflex camera with flash fill. Valerie viewed the picture for the first time in July 2010.
(click to enlarge)
The northern Great Barrier Reef, where surf breaks on the weather side. Corals need to be tough to even begin life here. A constant flow of surfs flows across the reef, except at low tide when the reef might dry or be reduced to shallow pools for a few hours. Pictures with a Sony digital T-1
In deeper water a brain coral in trouble. Something was attacking it. Maybe this is the way life goes on a coral reef? Eventually it might recover. So much to learn and not much time to know all the answers.
The Late John LeBrun pictured
John LeBrun (a professional camera equipment salesman and diver) taught us a couple of points about photography he had learned from his service in the air force.
“When you focus on an object, the area that is actually in focus (also called depth of field) is 1/3 in front and 2/3 behind the point that you’ve focused on”.
You can use this knowledge to some advantage at times.
Generally we were all self-taught photographers. The most difficult part in the learning days was getting a good exposure, especially underwater. Most divers tended to over-expose pictures.
Today the camera’s are automatic in this respect but sometimes adjustments make a nice difference. Sunsets are better if the exposure is make darker, for example.