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How did you get started in underwater photography?
I have always had a keen interest in the marine world, and used to keep tropical fish and corals in home aquaria for a long time. This was the hobby that led me toward diving.
What came first – diving or photography?
Diving definitely came first. After seeing so many wonderful things underwater, I decided to try and capture these special moments for myself as memories and to be able to show non-divers what’s going on in our wonderful oceans.
I would always recommend people spend a long time diving and getting buoyancy and trim down before worrying about taking pictures. I had done close to 1,000 dives before I started with the camera. This made it quite easy when the time came.
What’s in your underwater photography kitbag?
- Canon 5D Mk IV with Nauticam housing
- Inon Z 240 strobes
- Keldan video lights
- Canon 100mm macro or Sigma 15mm fisheye
Favourite location for diving and underwater photography?
I have dived far and wide around the world and have to divide photography into cold and warm water, as they are both so different. Iceland is top for the cold water world due to the unique nature of the dive sites – crystal clear water and Geothermal vents can be found around the island.
When it comes to warm water, it’s Lembeh for me. I just love the fact that you never know what you are going to find in Lembeh and the photography there is also a challenge.
Most challenging dive?
HMS Southwold, Malta. Tricky dive with very strong currents on the descent line and on the way back up, making gas switching tricky. A 72m deep wreck while carrying a big camera didn’t really help either!
Who are your diving inspirations?
Alex Mustard without doubt from a photography point of view. When I look back at many of the images that inspired me to dive, I later found out that most were taken by him. He has pioneered underwater photography in Iceland and it’s amazing that he is always willing to share techniques.
One of the best instructors I have had the pleasure of training with is Alan Whitehead of Techwise Malta. Amazing training and a top dive shop. Alan did my tech training and gave me the confidence to photograph technical deep wrecks.
Which underwater locations or species are still on your photography wish list?
The cenotes in Mexico are where my diving began. However, at the time I was not a photographer and would love to go back and capture what I saw. As for animals, it has to be a manatee. I was lucky enough to see one once but with no camera unfortunately.
What advice do you wish you’d had as a novice underwater photographer?
Post processing skills and advice. It’s amazing what you can do with a low budget set-up with just some minor corrections in post. As long as your focus and composition are good, some slight processing can really transform the image.
Hairiest moment when shooting underwater?
Nothing too dramatic has happened to me when shooting. Although, when diving under the icebergs in Greenland I did hear quite a lot of cracking and creaking from the iceberg which was a little off putting!
What is your most memorable dive?
I was once teaching a fish ID course in Northern Australia and the dive had come toward the end. The group were completing a safety stop when out of the blue, a minke whale swam right up behind the students. They did not see it coming as they were facing me, but I made the question mark sign and pointed behind them. When they turned around and saw a whale less than 3m from them they just went crazy. An amazing experience for the students and great one for me!
Byron Conroy is a dive instructor and underwater photographer based in Iceland, and owner of Magmadive – an Icelandic Dive expedition company. Byron has dived all over the world, from the tropics to the Arctic, and continues to go on dive expeditions all around the globe to widen his underwater portfolio. He has worked in all aspects of diving, from marine conservation to Liveaboards and cold water expeditions. He is a PADI MSDT and Full Trimix diver and continues to develop as a diver in order to photograph some of the worlds most unique dive sites.