It’s not every day that I get asked to photograph great white sharks. I was given that opportunity when National Geographic Travel’s Director of Photography Dan Westergen asked me to go to Australia to shoot underwater images of the great whites for an upcoming Traveler magazine story.
The boat crew used chum (ground-up fish parts) to lure the sharks up to the boat while I was in a cage, hanging off the back of the boat. In order to bring the sharks right up to my cage, the crew kept throwing a small tuna tied to a rope into the water, and as the shark lunged at the tuna, the crew pulled the fish away. I was always rooting for the shark to capture the tuna and at the moment this photo was taken, the shark nabbed it, with the blood of the tuna passing out of the mouth and through the gills.
The sharks were far and few between and the water was cold. I was able to stay in the water for about an hour in a wet suit before my body started to shake and shiver uncontrollably. So when a shark did appear—usually from below—I held my camera in front of me, clicking away. My greatest fear was not the sharks; I didn’t want to miss the shot.
Photo tip: I used a Seacam underwater housing for my camera, which has a large dome port in front. I put the camera on shutter priority and used a high speed. I had the flash off to the side, turned down one f/stop so as not to overpower the scene. ISO was set to 400 because I was close the surface, and the camera picked the f-stop, which for was f/8 for this image.