Student Showcase

Mark Pickford Distinction Student

I began to take photography seriously about 14 years ago, after decades of using SLR cameras for what might be called Travel Photography.  I had enjoyed photography a great deal but had not pushed myself to learn about how to take really pleasing, technically satisfactory images.

The turning point came when I started to take cameras underwater on diving holidays.  I began with a modest Nikon compact camera in an underwater housing with a small and unimpressive flash and was amazed by how pleasing the results were; the colours and clarity impressed me. 

I quickly upgraded to a Nikon D300 digital SLR in a Subal housing with twin Inon strobes, plus a range of lenses and ports to cover Macro as well as wide-angle photography; with all this new kit I quickly became obsessed with underwater photography.

Creating images underwater presents its own special challenges but there are also fantastic opportunities.  Below 1-2 meters, even in bright sunlight, it is necessary to use artificial light to reveal the true vibrant colours of fish and coral, although ambient light can of course be used to create striking images too. 

I learnt a great deal from books by leading underwater photographers, by entering dive photography competitions and attending meetings of underwater photographers, plus, of course, by trial and error.

I enrolled on the Diploma course in the summer of 2020, at a time when the opportunity to dive in tropical seas had disappeared due to the Pandemic; I figured that if I couldn’t work on my underwater photographic skills practically, by taking my camera underwater, I could at least improve the quality of my underwater images by learning more about the theory of photography. 

Besides enjoying the course hugely and learning a great deal about areas of photography that I knew nothing of, such as studio lighting for portraiture, the greatest benefit has been the discovery of a passion for landscape photography that is every bit as enjoyable for me as underwater photography. 

It has been a revelation to discover that I get just as much pleasure from a moody landscape image taken on the rocky foreshore at Elgol in Skye as I ever did photographing exotic marine life in the tropics. 

You can see more of Mark’s work here.

Join the same course as Mark here.



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