James Mathias


The day of digital has begun, at least for me, thanks to my friends the 'Waynes'.  Since 2009 I have become a digital convert!  These days I am using a Nikon D90 in an Aquatica AD90 housing and my favourite lens is the Tokina DX 10-17 mm fisheye lens.

We all know technology changes rapidly and I  already have my eye on another Nikon camera system.  When will this madness end?

I learned the basics of underwater photography with the Nikonos camera system ,working my way up from the traditional standard lens and extension tubes and close-up kits , in 1986.  In 1989 I upgraded to a housed Nikon F3 and an Aquatica 3 housing.  Then two years later I turned in my F3 for a F4.  I continued to use the auto-focus Nikor lenses especially enjoying the 60 mm macro lens.  And, did  I love Fujichrome Velvia film!

Eventually I combined the Nikonos V with 15 mm lens on top of the F4 housing with the macro lens in the housing.  I felt that this gave me the chance at any given moment to capture those targets of opportunity that sometimes but not always come along.

Until August 2009 I did not manipulate or crop any of my images.  What you saw was an exact representation of the scene as captured on 35 mm slide film.  Also, as an alternative background to the blue sea I invented 'coloured cards' that provided a unique perpective of the incredible beauty of our underwater world.

Art is everywhere for me: indoors, outdoors, in the sky and underwater.  For twenty-five years I have aimed my camera at the reefs of the world to capture the complexities of the sea.  I have concentrated my attentions in the past years on the small delicate creatures so often overlooked for the superstars of the seas: sharks, whales and dolphins.

I have always wanted to capture the movement in the sea and now with the video capabilities of my new Aquatica- housed Nikon D90 I am able to capture that movement that was missing in my interpretation of life in the seas.

Nature has a way of concealing the true identity of animals, fish and invertebrates. The underwater creatures create patterns and textures as camouflage for protection in what is generally a dark, predatory world.

Designs that dazzle our eyes in photographs mean survival to these animals. Light is the 'magic', the key to opening up this colourful world. The light provided by the strobes of my camera system gives us glimpses of this unique world. I like to think of it as painting with the light to create images that defy imagination. Wonderful, 'magic' light: the essence of life for these living marine organisms and the powerful punch in underwater imagery. 

The animals roaming the seascapes represent a world as fascinating as outer space. The need to protect this precious underwater world is urgent: we need our lakes and oceans for life support. With their ability to touch people, underwater images can help promote a greater awareness and understanding of our natural world. Awareness of the reef and rocks is necessary for our survival. I believe we all must be encouraged to save and protect the oceans, lakes, rivers and streams of this planet Earth.