REVIEWS by Gillian Fagan

“The Essential Guide to Digital Underwater Photography”

By Michael Aw and Mathew Muir


For aspiring underwater photographers the road to success is littered with obstacles.  Surfacing from a promising dive, we are faced with photographs of a blurred buddy, a fish giving us the arse or a blast of backscatter sneering back at us.


Despite the desire to capture the magical moments we are privy to each time we submerge ourselves in the ocean, for most, underwater photography is nothing but a cruel joke.


Abracadabra! The joke is over.


Wizard’s Wands and Mermaids Whispers


Two world renowned underwater image makers have waved their wands and come to the rescue with their new book, “The Essential Guide to Digital Underwater Photography.” 


If you have ever wished you could know just how the experts create their underwater masterpieces, well here is your chance to know.


Like wizards revealing their magic, Michael Aw and Mathew Muir lead us step by step through the secrets it has taken them years to discover.


The tips and techniques that have made their photographs admired around the world are found throughout the book - whispered to us by mermaids. These handy hints provide invaluable information that will encourage owners of digital underwater cameras at every level of skill and proficiency.


A Compendium of Information


Just when you thought you had mastered the jargon of diving along comes resolutions, f-stops, macro, depth of field, ISO, tiffs and j-pegs. This complete ‘how-to’ book is packed with readily absorbed explanations that will demystify the technical jargon and have you talking the talk in no time.


As an educational tool for novices, this definitive guide will also prove to be an essential reference for those with greater proficiency in underwater image making.


Ever wondered how to manipulate light so that a blue ocean suddenly appears black as night or just exactly what to do in that moment of terror in which water gurgles into your precious housing? Colour coded for easy reference, the answers to these questions and more are only a page away.


If the secrets, tips and explanations are not enough to trigger your artistic impulses, the  images featured in this book certainly will.


“Reading through those chapters, I’ve already learned sufficient to make me want to grab the camera and immediately hop into the water, comments last years winner of the macro wide-angle Celebrate the Sea photography competition, David Strike.


“This is a well-structured, comprehensive work, lavishly supported with explanatory diagrams and magnificent images. It will undoubtedly come to be regarded as a classic of its kind.”


The Digital Evolution and Awism


Drawing on the techniques of Rembrandt, the technology of the computer age and the tried and tested traditions of the dark room, this guide successfully portrays how divers have evolved into the digital age, its advantages and disadvantages clearly outlined.


Of his own masterpieces Michael Aw says, “I have learnt to appreciate photography as a form of fine art, our canvas is the sensor, the camera and lenses are the paint brushes and the medium in which we work is light.”


At the beginning of this year I was lucky enough to be on a live aboard off the Baja Peninsula with Michael Aw. Surrounded by the ever-present Silky sharks on our safety stop I turned around to find Michael finning furiously out into the blue, his huge camera and strobe trailing next to him like a naughty child.


“Where is he going now?” I mumbled to myself.




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