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Underwater Photographer of the Week: Tobias Friedrich


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How did you get started in underwater photography?

Tobias Friedrich 1
Brown fur seal, or Cape fur seal, or Australian fur seal, Arctocephalus pusillus, biting in bull kelp, Ecklonia maxima, spreading it's flippers sidewards with blue water background, False Bay, Simonstown, Cape Town, South Africa, Atlantic Ocean.

As probably everybody did, I started with a small compact camera and small strobes. After a while the system didn’t fit my needs anymore and I bought a used DSLR with a used housing. That was in 2007, when underwater photography also became more and more important to me.

What came first – diving or photography?

Tobias Friedrich 2
Giant moray eel, Gymnothorax javanicus, free swimming inside the wreck of the Chrisoula K (sometimes also names Marcus), that sank in the year 1981, loaded with a cargo of Italian floor tiles, departed for Jeddah, that can be seen in the foreground. A photographer that takes a picture of the moray eel can be seen in the background as well as the outside area with more tiles. Off coast of Hurghada, at the dive site Ab Nuhas, Red Sea, Egypt, Northern Africa.

Diving came first to me and with the love to the underwater world, the photography also developed more and more, as I wanted to capture and keep the memories during the dives.

What’s in your underwater photography kitbag?

Tobias Friedrich 3
Male Orca Whale, Orcinus orca, swimming underneath the surface to take a breath, split shot half half with snowy mountains in the background, near Tromso, near Skjervoy, Northern Norway, Atlantic Ocean.

My Canon 1DX Mk II and the SEACAM housing for sure. I also always have my SEACAM Superdome with me and a Canon 16-35mm wide-angle lens as well as the Canon 8-15mm Fisheye lens. If it’s a macro location, I also take the Canon 100mm Macro lens as well as a SEACAM Macro port with me. If video is needed as well, I also take a pair of KELDAN lights with me. Usually I also have a SEACAM backup housing for a Canon 5D MKII with me.

Favourite location for diving and underwater photography?

Tobias Friedrich 4

There are so many places in the world which are very nice, but some of my favourite destinations are Egypt, South Africa and Indonesia.

Most challenging dive?

Tobias Friedrich 5
Small Lion's mane jellyfish, Cyanea capillata, with a diver in the background swimming along an iceberg in crystal clear water, Tasiilaq Fjord, East-Greenland, Atlantic Ocean, Arctic, global warming.

One of the most challenging dives for me were the dives in Greenland at -2° celsius water temperature. Depending on the day, dives sometimes only lasted 15-20 minutes until hands and feet were too cold.

Who are your diving inspirations?

Tobias Friedrich 6
Brown fur seal, or Cape fur seal, or Australian fur seal, Arctocephalus pusillus, opening it's mouth wide in front of the dome port of the camera with blue water background, False Bay, Simonstown, Cape Town, South Africa, Atlantic Ocean.

I was truly inspired by underwater photographers in the early days by Eric Cheng from the USA and Norbert Probst from Germany.

Which underwater locations or species are still on your photography wish list and why?

Tobias Friedrich 7

Socorro is still very high on my list as I haven’t made it there yet, as well as for the Sardine Run in South Africa. I also want to visit Antartica some time.

What advice do you wish you’d had as a novice underwater photographer?

Tobias Friedrich 8
Panoramic view of the cargo deck inside the SS Thistlegorm with the motorcycles in the middle and light to lighten the trucks on the side of the cargo deck, near Sharm el Sheikh, Northern Red Sea, Egypt.

When I was new to underwater photography, I was looking at many images in magazines or online. Those I liked I tried to analyse as much as I could in terms of which perspective the photographer used and why, how the lights were set, which lens has been used and so on. In this way you get a good feeling for perspectives and lighting of the images.

Hairiest moment when shooting underwater?

Tobias Friedrich 9
Humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, swimming close to the surface in a split shot half under and half over water with brown desert mountains in the background at Al Sawda, Al-Hallaniyah, Khuriya Muriya Islands, Oman, Indian Ocean.

When I shot a split image of a Humpback Whale in Oman – the whale hit me hard with its tail fin. The hit (on my hand) was just a few centimetres away from my head, so I was lucky that only the hand was injured.

What is your most memorable dive and why?

Tobias Friedrich 10
Half / Half split shot of a from inside a cave to the outside. Just below the surface is a rock, grown with a lot of orange cup corals, tubastrea aurea. Between Nerja and Almunecar inside the Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo National Park, Costa del Sol, Andalusia, Grenada, Malaga, Spain, Mediterranean Sea.

Probably the same dive with the Humpback Whale as it was very emotional, painful, but at the same time rewarding as I got one of my best shots from that particular situation.

Tobias Friedrich

Tobias Friedrich lives in Germany and started taking pictures with a DSLR underwater in the year 2007. Since then his images have been published in prestigious scuba diving magazines such as US Sport Diver, Unterwasser, Tauchen, Scuba Diver Through The Lens and many others. Several underwater photographic competitions, including Smithsonian’s Ocean Views, Ocean Art, Epson Red Sea, Beneath the Sea, and Celebrate the Sea also have honoured his work as well (Awards). He is always passionate for new challenges and up for new, creative ways in underwater photography.


Scuba Diver Magazine
Scuba Diver Magazine
Scuba Diver Magazine is a global publication serving all the major English speaking markets in print and digital format.
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