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  • Building a connection: George Karbus journeys to new depths to photograph ocean’s greatest wildlife

  • Nikon Ambassador George Karbus is no stranger to the underwater world, having spent 15 years travelling the globe documenting the life aquatic.

    In his new series, produced exclusively for Nikon Europe, George hopes to educate the public on the importance of protecting and preserving our ever-changing world through powerful imagery telling the story of ocean and marine life.

    Equipped with the D850, D5, Z 7 and NIKKOR lenses, George gets up close with some of the ocean’s most stunning mammals.

    Nikon Ambassador George Karbus
    "I want to show that nature is here for us. I believe in order to save our world, we must love it – that’s what I want to inspire in people."
    An extraordinary moment with a wild bottlenose dolphin in the Atlantic Ocean. Nikon D850 | 1/250 sec | f/8 15mm | ISO 220 | AF-S FISHEYE NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED

    The importance of going back to nature

    “We are constantly wiping away food sources from animals in the ocean, which will have serious implications for natural ecosystems, while the impact of climate change on our natural world and its species is now impossible to ignore.

    “We have greater access to information and content about our planet and how we can help restore it. I believe in order to save our world, we must love it – that’s what I want to inspire with my photography.

    Humpback whales catching a breath in the Norwegian Arctic. Nikon Z 7 | 1/2500 sec | f/6.3 200mm | ISO 500 | AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR

    Gaining a new perspective

    George learnt how to snorkel from a young age and spent a lot of time freediving in Mallorca. But it was a move to Ireland and an encounter with its underwater wildlife that cemented his passion and gave him a whole new perspective.

    “Using my Nikon D70 and D200, I spent time photographing a bottlenose dolphin and its movements. I gradually learnt how to read the body language of sea mammals, and how to behave around them with respect and care.

    Freediving training in cold Irish waters. Nikon D850 | 1/250 sec | f/8 15mm | ISO 250 | AF-S FISHEYE NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED
    Wild solitary dolphin in shallows. Nikon D850 | 1/250 sec | f/4.5 15mm | ISO 1100 | AF-S FISHEYE NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED

    “This genuinely gave me a new perspective on how I saw the world and what I wanted to photograph. I managed to develop the skills, content and inspiration to photograph ocean wildlife all over the world.”

    Orca penetrating big ball of herring from below. Nikon D5 | 1/250 sec | f/4.5 16mm | ISO 11400 | AF FISHEYE NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D

    Building a connection

    Peekaboo! Playing the classic game of hide and seek. Nikon D850 | 1/250 sec | f/6.3 15mm | ISO 1800 | AF-S FISHEYE NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED

    “The greatest pictures come from having a connection with the animal subject, when it’s relaxed and comfortable in your presence.

    A large pod of vocal Hawaiian spinners produce an underwater concert. Nikon D850 | 1/250 sec | f/8 16mm | ISO 320 | AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR

    “With fifteen years of freediving and thousands of hours in the water, I’ve learnt to read the body language of sea mammals – this is vital for the kind of photography I shoot.

    “I have to react to any given situation immediately, and instantly adjust my position to get a great angle and composition – all while making sure I’m completely considerate of the creatures I’m photographing.”

    Hunting pod of orcas in dark Arctic waters. Nikon D5 | 1/250 sec | f/4.5 16mm | ISO 5600 | AF FISHEYE NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D

    The photography kit

    To document these wild animals, George used the D850, renowned for its speed and resolution, D5 for its ultimate precision, and the award-winning Z 7.

    George also favours the FISHEYE NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED lens for capturing underwater photography, along with the NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR, FISHEYE NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D and NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR lenses.

    “The Nikon D850 together with the FISHEYE NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED lens is a great set-up for most of my underwater photographs. I need the D850’s autofocus and high resolution, and its speed and low-light capabilities make it an amazing all-round camera. I’ve also enjoyed shooting with Nikon’s mirrorless Z 7 camera – the silent mode is so useful when shooting in such close proximity to animals.”

    Photography equipment:


    Camera:

    o   Z 7

    o   D850

    o   D5

    Lenses:

    o   AF-S FISHEYE NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED

    o   AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR

    o   AF FISHEYE NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D

    o   AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR

    Blowing orca in the arctic midday light. Nikon Z 7 | 1/2000 sec | f/5 165mm | ISO 400 | AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR

    Follow and enjoy more from Nikon Ambassador George Karbus by
    visiting his website or following him on Instagram