I started taking photographs, under water, in 1985. I have been a certified scuba diver since 1976 (very young) and when I started traveling outside the Mediterranean area–that is, after I had started working and could afford it–I bought a Nikonos V, borrowed a UW flash, a very good and very much missed friend gave me an half-day, one-to-one intensive course and I left for the Maldives. My idea was to just take some pictures I could show to some friends but by the time I was back, 3 weeks later, I was hooked.
At the time, I was working in Italy for a large American multinational company with important operations in the production of film, X-rays, and the like (not Kodak). My job was actually in the film division and I had the opportunity to take some internal classes on photography. Taking photo outside the water, though, was just a marginal complement to taking photos under water. I also took some courses on UW photography, read some books and, more importantly, looked, and I still do, at a tons of photos in books and magazines.
This until 1999, and many companies later, when another multinational company "shipped" me to the East Coast of the United States. The unique opportunity to visit the country extensively, knowing that the assignment was temporary (a bit over 4 years), the extraordinary richness (compared to Europe) of space and nature, and the possibility to learn through the Internet (see links), made the change from an UW photographer who used to take some snapshots above water just to complement the slideshows to a very keen outdoor photographer. Now, after living for about 6 years in The Netherlands, 5 years back in the States but in Texas this time, a bit more than 2 in London – UK I’m back in Houston TX.
I have never taken film B&W, even though I love it, but the classical method was too time-consuming for me. Now I do digital B&W (and more and more digital IR B&W) and with the new printers and papers…is very very close to the classical way and…maybe better.
So, after many film bodies, and a few film scanners, printers, PCs, and digital cameras, here I am with a web site: I hope you will enjoy the photos published here.
If you'd like to get in touch with me or if you are interested in buying a print please click here.
Notes on the equipment
As I mentioned above, I started taking UW pictures using a Nikonos V, until it flooded and made me realize the risks and costs. I then bought two used Nikonos III bodies with 20mm, 35mm, and a set of close-up lenses and extension tubes. My first UW flash (even more important than the camera under water) was from Imasub, followed by an Ikelite 200 and then by a 300. For macro photography I use a secondary flash (Ikelite MS).
About 30 years ago I replaced the Nikonos with Nikon AF cameras with an array of lenses into a Sealux case. When it comes to UW case for a digital SRL the issue is that DSRL still become obsolete in 2-3 years which makes the UW case obsolete too (and an UW case without ports costs 2-3K USD), for this reason I got a case almost universal, the Leo from Easydive. Main controls are through the micro USB so it's like to have the camera attached to a PC. I now use 2 Ikelite strobes a DS160 and a DS50.
Above water, for landscape, now I use a Sony A7RII with sony 16-34 F4, Tamron 28-75 F2.8 and a Nikon 70-200 F4 adapted through a Commlite adaptor. For wildlife and UW a Nikon D7100 and a D7200 with an array of lenses from fisheye to 800mm. I also use a Canon M3 and an M1 converted to infrared with 11-22, 22, 18-55 and 55-250. I partially moved to Sony full frame mirrorless because my backpack was way too heavy and I start to be…old to carry a 45-50lbs thing around and hiking with it.
Tripod and monopod are Manfrotto (of course, being Italian), with Manfrotto ballhead and head for long lenses.
I use Photoshop (and Capture One for Sony) for digital image editing and I print on Canon PRO-1000 and Canon PRO-100 for proofing, with Canon and third-parties paper.
© Francesco Svelto