Photographers' Blog

Under the ice

Lake Weissensee, Austria

By Michael Dalder

I’ve been diving for almost 15 years, but due to family matters it has fallen off my list lately. So a new picture assignment at Lake Weissensee in mid-February 2013 just came right to my diver’s heart: The Underwater Ice hockey Championships.

Underwater Ice hockey is not played on top of the ice like ice hockey is usually played but underneath it. That’s where diving comes into the game because the underwater ice hockey players are in fact apnea divers who want to give their sports an additional sportive kick.

My day started early when I met with the men and women from the Vienna rescue divers’ squad ASBOe – Moedling. These dive enthusiasts are responsible for safety and security during the whole tournament. If you dive under ice you can’t go straight to the surface to breath if you have an emergency. Thus ice diving is, together with cave diving, considered to be the most dangerous diving discipline. For that reason I listened to the security briefing attentively.

One of the rescue divers then took a chainsaw and started cutting the entry, exit and security holes into the 15 cm thick ice.

My buddy from the rescue squad who promised to look after me told me: “In case of emergency when you can’t get to the surface – you must stay cool and go back to the entrance you came from – this is a massive psychological step for divers.” “But so far we have brought everyone back out again” he added with a bright smile. I have been diving in caves before so I knew what I had to face.

Diving, not a sport for wimps

By Stefan Wermuth

I had the opportunity to cover a training session of Britain’s future Olympic diving hopefuls at the Crystal Palace Diving Club in London.

When I arrived the session had already started in a dry diving gym.  It was a room full of trampolines, diving boards, mats and mostly young girls performing somersaults or other flips. “Quicker, quicker” shouted one of the three Chinese coaches.

China’s divers are currently dominating the sport.  They won all the gold medals at last year’s world championships. The British diving club decided to recruit Chinese coaches seven years ago when London won the bid to stage the 2012 Olympics.  Now, 15 of the approximately 460 children in the program are in the top England talent squad.

Awed underwater

By David Loh

Anticipation was high as we started up our boat in the capital, Male, and headed to Maldives’ remote northern Baa atoll. Our destination; the geologically unique Hanifaru Bay. The bay is so small that you could walk around the island in a ten-minute stroll. Every year, hundreds of manta rays and a handful of whale sharks gather for their annual feeding frenzy of plankton in July and August.

Baa Atoll was recently declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, and for reasons of conservation, word has it that the Maldives is likely to shut down Hanifaru Bay to divers. This season might just be the last chance to dive inside the bay. That’s where Tan Shung Sin, my colleague from the Singapore Global Pictures desk, and I ventured to capture images.

Thomas Peschak of the “Save Our Seas Foundation” made Hanifaru famous overnight when he shot the feeding frenzy in the summer of 2009 for National Geographic. Preparing for a topside news assignment is easy for me (I’ve been doing it for over 16 years with Reuters) but shooting underwater is a new ball game; and trying to make it into a multimedia project? Where do I start? How does one plan to cover an event like this?