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Chris Knight is using his underwater photography to spread shark education and awareness and we are thrilled to share his story. You can follow his adventures on Instagram or his WEBSITE. Chris has also created SHARK INSPIRED to support conservation efforts.
1. What is your favorite shark and why?
That is a very good question as they all amaze me but I’m going to have to say the Great White as it was Jaws that triggered my fascination with sharks. Growing up when anyone mentioned Shark it was always the first one that I thought of and was always the shark that I wanted to see up close with my own eyes. Even now that I have had the chance to spend time with them I’m still amazed by their sheer size and power.
2. What is one species of shark you would like to see/swim with?
I have been very lucky to have dived with many species of shark over the years but there are still a few on my list that I haven’t had the chance to see.
The sharks that I like to dive with are typically the larger species that often have a fearsome reputation. I always find it amazing when I dive with a so called “man eating shark” and we have the opportunity to share a moment together in the water without either of us trying to harm each other. I wish certain other people out there shared this same thought as me and realized how intelligent, awe inspiring and important sharks are.
The next one on my list would have to be the Oceanic White Tip. This species was described by the renowned oceanographer – Jacques Cousteau, as “the most dangerous of all sharks”.
They are fairly solitary animals, but are scavengers and will group together in a feeding frenzy if an opportunity of a meal presents itself. They are incredibly fast sharks and very efficient hunters and therefore a shark that intrigues me and one that I would like to spend time with in the water
3. How did you get into underwater photography?
When I started diving I thought it would be good to have a camera to capture some of my underwater experiences. I started off with a very basic 5mp Sony compact camera that I would take on my diving holidays. Over the years as I could afford better dive trips and better camera equipment I gradually changed to newer and more capable cameras. As my passion and interest for underwater photography grew along with my photography knowledge I decided I wanted to use some of the best equipment to capture amazing photographs in order to enter competitions and hopefully sell prints of my work.
4. What is the most challenging thing about photographing sharks?
As I mentioned I have been lucky to have dived with many species of shark and have learned a lot about how things work when you are in the water with them. I now feel very comfortable being around them in the water and for that reason I would say that the most challenging thing for me is my camera settings.
It is one thing to be able to take a great photo on land and another to be able to take a great photo underwater. The reason for this is that there is a lot more to think about. Apart from the fact that you are under water breathing compressed air and surrounded by sharks the camera equipment is fairly large and cumbersome to manage.
When it comes down to the technical side of photography there are various issues you have to deal with such as:
The loss of color at depth. You lose Red at 15ft, Orange at 25ft, Yellow at 35-45ft and Green at 70-75ft. To fix this you either need to sort it out on the computer afterwards or take underwater flash units down with you.
Backscatter – this is a word that is used to describe particles that are in the water. Even the clean and clearest water has particles in it, but the ones that really show up are small organisms such as plankton, bubbles and sand, silt or mud that is stirred up from the bottom by either you or the subject that you are photographing. This is what commonly ruins most of your shots other than bad camera techniques.
The key to achieving great photos is a good understanding of your subject and also the equipment you use, such as what settings to use for the light you have and the speed that the animal is moving. Last but not least – a little bit of luck that you are in the right place at the right time to capture something unique and amazing.
5. What inspired you to start Shark Inspired? Can you tell us a little about it?
One of my most recognized images is of a Great White called Blue Moon taken on a trip to Guadalupe Island in 2014
I’d spent all week trying to get a great picture of the sharks from the front, but when I reviewed my images on the computer it became apparent that my best image was of one taken from behind.
This unique image of a Great White soon started to gain momentum and circulate the Internet. Shot from behind with its tail filling the frame; you can sense the raw power of this amazing shark as it gracefully swims away from me. It was this image that got me out there and recognized as an underwater photographer. It won a competition and also featured in the Marine Conservation Science Institute 2016 calendar.
When I saw my image of Blue Moon printed, I remember thinking to myself that it would look great on a t-shirt.
Shortly after this, the concept of Shark Inspired came about. My goal was to try to make a clothing brand which could feature shark based images, logos / designs and be able to dedicate part of the sale of these items to a shark research / conservation organization.
One year further down the line, and I’m really happy to be able to say I’ve turned my idea into a real project!
An organization very close to my heart that endlessly campaigns for shark conservation is The Shark Trust.
Since their foundation in 1997, they have made significant progress in shark conservation, and I’m delighted to be collaborating with them on this project.
I am currently selling t-shirts and hoodies that feature the company logo but I’m working towards releasing other products early next year such as rash vests, beach towels, dry bags, water bottles and hats.
Over the winter I will be working on a selection of my best shark images to feature in an exhibition tour that we are putting together to promote my photography, shark inspired and the shark trust charity. These prints will also be available for sale through the shark inspired shop early next year with a portion of the sales going towards the shark trust charity
6. What message do you hope people take away from your photos? Do you think images are important for conservation?
I do think that images are important for conservation, I really want my photos to have an impact on people. I would like them to look at the picture and see the beauty in sharks that I see and I hope that in some way it will lead to people wanting to find out more about them. The more people learn about sharks the more they will realize the importance of us having them as a key part of our eco system. This will hopefully lead to more people getting involved in some sort of conservation or at least discourage them from being involved in anything detrimental like buying shark teeth souvenirs or eating shark fin soup.
A lot of people still think of sharks as mindless killers that will attack at any given opportunity. I want them to realize that someone actually took those photos and in most cases in order to get the shots the photographer had to be within an arm’s reach of the shark. I would like them to know that I have been doing this for around 6 years now and I still have 2 arms and 2 legs and a big smile on my face!
7. What is one of your favorite images you’ve taken?
My favorite image without doubt is my photo of the Great White (Blue Moon) that I took at Guadalupe and had made in to the shark inspired logo
- Tagged: Save our Seas, save sharks, shark conservation, shark diving, Shark Inspired, shark photography, sharks