Documenting life below the surface

Mike Hemus looks at the sun as a wave passes overhead. In the remote Southern Ocean off the coast of South Australia, Mike Hemus revelled in the waves. An experienced surfer, he was more than willing to team up with photographer Mark Tipple for the Underwater Project. “From the first few photos he showed me on the lcd display I knew we were going to get something good, with timing and positioning it was a tiring 6 hours in the water, being thrashed around almost constantly.”

© Mark Tipple / The Underwater Project

“I’ve always been intrigued by what happens below the surface, like what’s happening where we can’t see.” While watching the slide-show on Mark’s laptop I’m amazed at the detail of this ‘other world’ that’s portrayed with his selection.

As an accomplished documentary photographer, in the past Mark has used the ocean as an escape for some solace away from his projects. Lately, while between projects he’s been “hanging out” below the surface trying to capture what happens while swimming on a slow summer’s day.

“Coming from a surfing background I used to wonder what happens when we’re duck-diving, like, what it looks like from a different angle than what we can see. Kinda hard to explain but it has always been on my mind. I used to surf with a small video camera and housing attached to my helmet, (pauses) it worked surprisingly well but my neck couldn’t take the impact and stress while trying to duck-dive and capture the right angle. Even tried to turn it back on myself to see what happens clearer but that, uh, sucked (laughs). I looked for a new approach to capture what I was seeking, which basically meant getting off the surfboard.”

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