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David Benz from Gaggenau in Germany has more than 20 years of diving experience and can definitely be called an expert when it comes to the magical underwater world. He has been photographing underwater for more than 10 years and luckily shares his experiences of around 1000 dives and his wonderful pictures with us in this Underwater Photography Blog. We have met him and we think it’s about time you meet him, too!
What was the driving force or inspiration for you to start diving?Even as a small child water was fascinating me. Another, sometimes mystical and sometimes higgledy-piggledy, world with an incomparable flora and fauna. An element which attracts me all along so magically. The only logical consequence was the education to become a diver more than 20 years ago and the entrance to underwater photography in 2007.
What does diving mean to you? Diving is the moment, the possibility to become one with another world.
What fascinates you most when you dive?The silence while diving. And the immense biodiversity of flora and fauna underwater.
Do you have a favourite dive type?Yes. I love muck diving. And if there are no critters, I love to do a wreck dive.
Which destination is currently on your bucket list?I would love to go diving or snorkling with humpback whales in the South Pacific and diving with crocodiles in Mexico.
When do you usually start preparing the next trip?It depends on the trip. Mostly, I start planning one year before. But sometimes shooting requests are coming very short-dated and then everything needs to happen very quickly. Booking today, flying tomorrow.
What is your favourite time of year to go diving?There is no special time for me to travel around. But I pay attention on hurricanes and taifun seasons regarding my trips to remote countries. These you should avoid as well as the rainy season.What is your favourite subject when shooting underwater?Mermaids.
What was your best / worst experience in diving?This is really difficult to say. One of the biggest encounters I had during a dive in Southern Leyte, Philippines, together with my wife Melanie. While I was taking photographs of pygmy seahorses in 30 metres depth, five huge whale sharks clouded the surface and passed by us. Unforgotten is also our first manta ray encounter in Raja Ampat, Westpapua. Beautiful majestic animals.
What or who would you never dive without?Of course I would never dive without my wife and my OLYMPUS OM-D E-M1 Mark II.
What is your recommendation to an expert?First controlling to tare, then taking pictures underwater.
What was your first underwater housing / underwater camera?That was an OLYMPUS C5060 camera in an OLYMPUS PT-020 housing.
What does OLYMPUS as a brand mean to you? To me, it means using the best equipment to capture my impressions from below surface.
Why did you decide to use OLYMPUS gear?During my travels around the globe every gram of hand luggage counts. And this is the main reason to use my OM-D E-M1 Mark II – travelling with light luggage without any compromises in image quality. Furthermore, the OLYMPUS PRO lens series is the best you can currently get.
What is essential in your luggage apart from your photographic equipment?My black Scubapro diving mask. With this mask I have been diving since lots of years already. That much I have seen underwater already it brings luck – definitely.
Could you give us a short travelog about the last years? The past five years I have been travelling, together with my wife Melanie, to the Red and Mediterranean Sea, Mexico, the Philippines, couple of times to Indonesia and Papua New Guinea and last but not least again and again to our second home Curaçao. The further the journey goes, the higher the factor of adventure is. This even begins with the journey. Sitting in the cockpit instead of a regular seat in the plane. But the craziest stories the oceans are telling us. On Curaçao, I had a constant companion. For five days a trumpet fish stayed nearby my side and guided me during my dives until he became my best friend. Really unbelievable! Scarier was the “friendship” to a highly poisonous green sea snake in Papua New Guinea. The snake jammed between my face and the camera and guided me the whole dive - an experience which cost me many nerves. This is something more for adrenaline junkies than something for underwater photographers. The animals are following their natural instinct and are hunting from the shelter of a supposed swarm, a bigger animal. But in this case, I was the swarm.
Some of my favorite diving spots areRaja Ampat, Westpapua, Indonesia, Papua Explorers Dive Resort, Dive Site "Arborek"
David Benz • OM-D E-M1 • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm 1:2.8 PRO
David Benz • OM-D E-M1 • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8mm 1:1.8 Fisheye PRO • PT-EP11
Alotau, Papua New Guniea, Tawali Dive Resort, Dive Site "Lawadi"
David Benz • OM-D E-M1 • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm 1:2.8 PRO • PT-EP11
David Benz • OM-D E-M1 • ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 50mm Macro 1:2.0 • PT-EP11