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Friday, May 6, 2011

The Underwater Project Photography

Action as it breaks: The Australian photographer who goes Down Under when the surf's up

Underwater photographer Mark Tipple's latest work gives a turtle's eye view of swimmers as they roll in the wake of 15ft high waves.

Brave Mark, 29, travels around Australia diving under powerful waves.

Using his underwater camera he captures the 'battle' between man and the awesome power of the ocean.

His series of shots show swimmers frozen in time as they dive below the surf to avoid being pounded.

These never-before-seen pictures from across the Australian summer form his series, The Underwater Project.

Down Under: A swimmer reaches out to break free from underneath a breaking wave at Bronte Beach, Sydney, in one of a series of photographs by Mark Tipple

'I'm constantly in awe of the different moods the ocean goes through on an annual cycle,' said Mark, from Sydney. 'I'm trying to capture those moods through people underwater.

'The latest pictures in this series were mainly shot around the Sydney area. During summer the beaches are pretty crowded all day, everyday, so it was fun to shoot just down the road from my house.

'I got caught a few times, unprepared for the sheer size of the ocean swells, but it made for some interesting photos.' Striving for dramatic shots, Mark has to hold his breath for up to a minute as he waits for the perfect moment.
What lies beneath: A trio of swimmers are caught diving below the 15ft rollers on Bronte Beach, in Sydney 

Awesome power: Mark Tipple is putting his shots into a book called The Underwater Project

He said: 'As the wave approaches I try to be on the ocean floor a few seconds before the swimmers dive under, so I'm underwater before they dive below.

Underwater photographer Mark Tipple's latest work gives a turtle's eye view of swimmers as they roll in the wake of 15ft high waves on Bronte Beach, Sydney.

'The camera is kept dry using an underwater housing, which is really light and super strong. Most importantly its size doesn't become a hindrance when I'm swimming to get into position - or to get out of danger fast.

'Having surfed my whole life I'm pretty confident in waves of most sizes, which helps with holding my breath to stay under and get the shot.

'I'm constantly trying to increase my breath-holding ability. I've thought about scuba gear, but I need to remain as nimble as possible to be able to capture any situation.' 

Dangerous game: One swimmer appears to struggle for breath beneath the breaking waves

The nature of his work as an underwater photographer means Mark spends sometimes gruelingly long periods getting soaked.

'Sometimes I'm in the water for six hours a day, four days straight. It really depends on the elements that are delivered on the day, plus the people around at any given time.

'There are times when I've been in there for six hours without a break and my eyes are so bloodshot I can't really see by the end.

'The amount of time spent shooting really just depends on the weather.' Before the book launch, Mark's work will be displayed at exhibitions around Sydney this year.

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