Featured Photographers

Featured Underwater Photographer – Robert Stansfield

One of the best ways to learn photography is to see other photographers’ work. We try to find some of the best underwater photographers in the world, and showcase their work, along with the gear they use, to help other aspiring photographers improve, learn new skills and get inspired.

This week we will feature the talented Robert Stansfield!

About Robert

I grew up on the River Hamble in the UK, I spent my childhood either in on or under the water.
My sister at the age of 12 was given a camera and like any good annoying younger brother I saw that as a much more of an interesting toy for me to play with than the one I was given. So that’s where it all started.
Since then I’ve loved playing with lenses and cameras. The love of which has lead me to a career touring with international music artists around the world running the video systems that you see at big festivals and stadium shows. As well as working at several Olympic Games and FIFA tournaments I have been very fortunate with working with some of the great names in the music industry.  However I’ve always always been much happier in on or under the water. In 1999 out on  the Great barrier reef I was given the opportunity to try Scuba diving and I was instantly hooked. A few thousand dives and a lots of certifications later I decided to try my hand at underwater photography.
This started with a Nikon aw120 which I broke at 40m on the liberty reck in Bali.  Then a 2nd aw120 which I broke at 35m in the Komodo islands. So when they said it was good down to 20m they really meant it.  Things got serious when I realised the Canon housing for my newly purchased  canon GXMK2 didn’t work properly at 40m while watching Thresher sharks in Egypt. So then I took the plunge to go nauticam.  After several frustrating months of dealing with terrible battery life with the G7XMK2 I decided to do things properly and go down the SLR route. At the time the Nikon D500 was considered one of the best UW cameras so that’s what I went for… only for the D850 to come out just a few months later grrrrrrr.

Robert’s Gear

Nikon D500. With Nauticam housing
AF-S Micro Nikkor 105 2.8G ED VR
AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm 2.8GED
Tokina 10-17mm
Sigma 17-70 DC Macro OS HSM C
Sigma 20mm F1.4 Art
Kenko N-AF 1.4x Teleplus Pro 300
Kenko 12mm 20mm 36mm Extension tubes
Nauticam 230mm dome port.
Zen Mini Dome
Nauticam CMC1, SMC1, SMC2
Various port extension tubes to make them all work
Nauticam carbon float arms.
Venom38 focus light
Backscatter Mini Flash and snoot
Innon Z240 with modified Retra LSD
3 x Orca Light Seawolf 2860.
Dive Gear:
Razor sidemout system. Fitted by Elite Divers International
A mix of Apeks and Scuba Pro regs
Mares Avantix-3 (cave)
Fins4U  Stereoblade Carbons Ultra Hard compound (ocean)
Tusa mask

Robert’s Work

Cave Near Tulum
Sigma 20mm F1.4 art. 3x OrcaLight seawolf 2860. Diving with friends in caves around Tulm Mexico is fantastic fun. Here Robin Cuesta posing in his Triton CCR showing us how big the formations are.
Roger and Nelly from Xoc-Ha Scuba diving Centre pointing the 30,000lm monster lights to brighten up this fantastic cave.
Cave photography is fantastically difficult. The distance between the lights is critical for the colour of the of the overall image. Its very easy to have a very blue or very green look without proper planning.
Of course we did none of the above and this was just purely a serendipitous moment.

Whale Shark.
Tokina 10-17mm During the summer months just off the coast of Cancun whale sharks gather in tremendous numbers. A must do for every underwater photographer. The 10-17 is the go to large animal lens for crop sensor cameras.

Sotted Eagle Ray
Sigma 17-70mm During the winter months Cozumel sees a large influx of Spotted eagle rays. These majestic creature are incredible to watch on the shallow reefs of the island. They have a rather peculiar smile. The sigma 17-70 lens is fantastic if youre not sure what you’ll find on the dive. It does a bit of macro and a bit of wide. A fun piece of glass.

Female Bull Shark Tokina 10-17. When the eagle rays are in Cozumel Playa Del Carmen has pregnant female Bull sharks. With the help of Tank-Ha dive centre I got the chance to take some really special memories with these incredible creatures.

The eye of a nurse shark. Nikon 105 + 1.4 teleconverter. 2x Inon Z330 (before they died) A 45min boat ride from Mahahual (costa Maya) lies Banco Chinchorro with the most endearing Nurse sharks ive ever dived with. Thanks to Amigos Del Mar for these incredible memories.
The following photos are all from shore dives on Cozumel and all from one site. Tikila Beach bar. Its situated in an area of slow currents and they serve wonderful mojitos.

Yellow Jawfish with eggs,
105mm+1.4tc z240+Retra LSD. Cozumel is teaming with macro subjects often overlooked buy the divers swimming past in the wonderfully fun currents around the island

Mouth Brooding Belted Cardinal fish. 105mm + 1.4tc + 20mm extension tube. I sat with this tiny little fish for over 80mins at a depth of 20m. The gas planning for this dive was interesting. 4 tanks and a good amount of deco. The things I do for a photo lol only to come back to find a small about of sand obscuring the eggs hahahaha oh well at least I tried. Hopefully I’ll find another example in a slightly less tricky spot.

Tube Worm 105+20mm ext Z240+ Retra LSD Cozumel has cenots with direct access to the sea. As a result many species have colonised deep inside the island. In one of these caves, tube worms cover any surface they can attach themselves to . They look like cave flowers.

Babas Sea-hare. 105mm +12mm ext + SMC1 These are really the jokers of the sea grass area they always appear to be smiling they have a very silly face.

Grass Squid. They appear to be seasonal on Cozumel as ive only found them for a few months of the year. Another tiny critter. 105mm + 20mm ext. Backscatter mini flash.

Caribbean Reef Squid are ever present. 105mm + 20mm ext. Backscatter mini flash and snoot.

Flamingo Tongue. 105mm + 12mm ext + SMC1. Back scatter mini flash and snoot. Whats not to love about the colours and patterns of these loverly little snails.

Deep sea Angler fish 105 +20mm ext. Backscatter Mini Flash and snoot. The strong currents often draw up interesting subjects from the deep water that surrounds Cozumel. This little one was no more than 4mm

The eye of a Peacock flounder 105mm + 20mm ext. Backscatter Mini Flash and snoot. I can’t say enough good things about the BSMF OS1. Its brilliant fun to use. It makes ordinary subjects so much more fun to shoot.

105mm + SMC1 Z240+ reara LSD. Cozumel for the Mayans was the place of Ixchel the fertility goddess. These Bumblebee Shrimp were enjoying a good cuddle.

Tokina 10-17 3 x orcalight seawolf 2860’s Ixchel presence on the island seems to affect everything and everyone.

Sigma 20mm Francois Stierlin and his incredible locks. 7m underwater . This photo makes me think of Dragonball Z

Juv Trunk fish. 105mm SMC1 z240 retra LSD. These adorable little fish hang around in the turbulent currents behind big coral heads which makes them incredibly frustrating to get in focus as your buoyancy becomes really tuff.

Sigma 17-70.
I’ve found myself staying on Cozumel throughout this whole crazy Covid situation. Its been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The island is a delight. The waters are warm and the people friendly. I can’t think of being anywhere else right now.

Follow Robert

Instagram: bobtec

Jill B

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