Dmitry Miroshnikov is an amazing Photographer from Moscow, Russia. His works highlight the breathtaking beauty of worlds underwater. Find out more about this talented photographer and underwater photography in this interview.
When did your love for photography begin?
It all started 5 years ago. My boss was a diver too, and he asked me if I wanted to learn how to dive. I did… and all of my vacations instantly turned into diving ones on live-aboard ships. On one vacation I met Alexander Safonov, a famous underwater photographer. Talking to him was very interesting, and I wanted to try underwater photography for myself. It’s not a cheap hobby—housing for cameras costs a lot more than the cameras themselves, but, by chance, Alexander was upgrading to a new camera with a new housing, so I bought his old housing with a good discount. I started learning underwater photography with a bit old, but nice Canon 350D camera. I think it’s a good idea to buy used equipment when you first start shooting.
What scenery/person you have captured would you say inspired you the most?
The surrealistic sight of dolphins, birds and sharks hunting together in a huge feeding frenzy, attacking the sardines – “Surrealistic Run” picture.
Another picture that I like, is “The Empire of Colors“. It’s named after Magritte’s painting “The Empire of Light,” where the night landscape co-exists with the day sky. On my photo the same contradiction exists: I’ve made photos from the deep, where all colors are dimmed. But in my photo, birds and fishes that are deeper are painted in more intense colors.
What tools of the trade do you use most often?
Canon 5D Mark II camera in Subal underwater housing. Most of the time, I shoot wide-angle with Canon 16-35/2.8LII lens. Sometime, when I go for macro, I use Canon 100/2.8L Macro lens. I use two Inon Z-240 strobes for lighting. All the equipment weights about 18kg, and I always carry it with me as a carry-on luggage. There is also 25kg of diving equipment in a check-in luggage. I also carry a notebook with me for post-processing in Lightroom and Photoshop.
Most of your work features underwater photography. What do you love the most about this type of photography?
First of all, it’s a wildlife photography, so I have work hard to find my subjects of shooting. It’s very exciting to have a lot of different factors combined together come into play – good subject, good background, good natural lighting. It’s also very hard technically – most of automatic features of camera (such as expose metering) doesn’t work underwater.
Any tips in taking great photographs?
First, you should be a good diver. I think about 100 dives’ experience is good enough. Then, you need to find equipment. Don’t be tied to your current camera, because it’s much easier to sell it and buy a new one than to find good housing with a reasonable price. A used camera is a good choice for diving photography. It will take a lot of time to develop underwater photography skills—it differs a lot from other kinds of photography. Study what other underwater photographers are doing, know the trends, but don’t go along with all of them.
Can you tell us about your work, Sardine Run? What was your experience like in shooting this project?
Diving near the baitball is one of the most amazing adrenalin-full experiences in a life. Scuba diving is usually a very silent thing… not in this case. Dolphin’s attack on sardines starts with very loud high-frequency whistle – dolphins communicate with each other to coordinate the attack. In a seconds a whistle is followed by pack of dolphins, charging themselves into a baitball, usually from down to up. Sardines are trying to escape, so the baitball Curves itself like a liquid, approaching the surface… and it comes close enough for gannets to reach them. Cape gannets are very good divers: they fall from 20-30m into the water with a speed up to 120 km/h, diving to 10-12m deep. The water around instantly becomes full of bubbles – traces of the birds. If the bird hits you, that would be a trouble… But they have very good sight, so it’s not a threat to divers. The sound of birds entering the water is also very loud – it’s like someone smashing the giant hammer into water.
What message do you want to convey in your photographs?
I’m trying to explore the border between reality and surreality. My works are in the same time real (as they are documentory photography) and unreal. I love the works of Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali, and I try to follow their directions in my photographs.
Do you have any new projects that you’re working on right now?
I’m going to visit Komodo island (Indonesia) on NY. This island is famous for it’s dragons, but underwater it’s also a great place with huge biodiversity. I hope to get some nice macro-shots and fisheye ones (I recently added fisheye lens to my equipment, so I want to train with it).
Any advice for our readers?
Never start post-processing the picture with the removal of various defects. There are a lot of them usually in underwater photography, and removing them is a very time-consuming business. You can always do it later. Instead of that, start working on the picture as a whole, think about a composition and color balance on large scale.