“You never know what’s next,” says marine biologist and scuba instructor Nadine Bauer of the different sights that come up when she’s in the ocean. Keeping his visual style minimal allows the natural beauty of the ocean to easily present itself to his camera. She finds herself ethereally clinging to its vast expanse and can’t get enough of what it has to offer.
Skydiving and scuba diving are two areas where I have yet to take my cameras for a photo. It doesn’t help that I’m dizzy and have a morbid fear of sharks. I often wonder if I should try one or the other one day, just to get a good shot. Pushing my comfort zones has often helped me get memorable photos that would have otherwise taken a long time to materialize. Sometimes that just meant getting off the couch and heading to the local bazaar to do some street photography. Maybe it’s because comfort only helps produce good photos, but challenging yourself can produce great ones.
The essential photo equipment used by Nadine Bauer
Nadine told us:
My underwater photography started with a GoPro Hero 9, which helped me a lot in understanding how to edit underwater photos, with low light and muted colors. I still use my GoPro for underwater activities, but I now mostly shoot underwater with my Sony and housing.
The Photographer: Hi Nadine. Tell us about yourself and how you came to photography.
Nadine Bauer: I am a German biologist, diving instructor and photographer and currently live in Madeira. After graduating with a Masters in Biology in March 2021, I sold most of my belongings, left my apartment, and flew to Mexico one-way. I lived in Mexico for almost five months and traveled to the United States for three months before settling in Madeira.
My first contact with a camera was when I was a child, stealing my mother’s old film camera whenever I could. Then for my 16th birthday, I had my first camera. I started photographing everything that came in front of my lens. Over the years, my focus changed: I started studying, spent most of my time in the lab, and worked weekends. Before the 2020 pandemic hit Germany, I traveled through Indonesia and fell in love with capturing moments all over again. Since then, I have devoted myself entirely to photography.
The Phoblographer: Apart from your professional activities, what is there in the ocean that keeps bringing you back there?
Nadine Bauer: Only 5% of the world’s oceans have been explored to date. The fact that there are so many invisibles, so many lives that have not yet been discovered, always attracts me. It’s a world that few people see, but for me it’s a place where I find peace, calm and serenity. Every dive is different and with every dive you see new life. You never know what awaits you when you dive.
Le Phoblographe: We talk about air pollution, but nowadays a lot of activities are polluting our seas at an increasingly rapid rate. How does this affect marine life and water quality?
Nadine Bauer: The scale of pollution and its impact on the oceans and the animals and plants that live there is shockingly high. One of the greatest environmental threats polluting our oceans is sewage and toxins entering the sea, especially in countries that lack the necessary purification mechanisms. This directly damages both the reefs and their inhabitants, as well as the quality of the water that comes to us. Not to mention plastic pollution, a known problem for years, and microplastics that affect marine life and people.
The Phoblographer: In some of your images of divers, the air bubble formations almost look like mermaids. Have others also noticed this?
Nadine Bauer: In my underwater photography, I focus on a minimalist style that shows the endless depths of deep blue. This is how most of my followers recognize me.
The Phoblographer: Adobe recognized you as one of its rising stars of 2022. How did you feel when they contacted you about this?
Nadine Bauer: Gratitude. It’s an incredible feeling to be recognized for my work by the company whose software I use on a daily basis. I can’t wait to show the world more of my work above and below the surface of the water!
Le Phoblographe: How do you hope to use this platform to raise awareness about the oceans?
Nadine Bauer: Many people are unaware of the world that lies beneath our surface and its value and importance to our lives. This is what I want to achieve with my photography and the world I see through my lenses.
The Phoblographer: What was your most amazing underwater encounter as a photographer?
Nadine Bauer: One of the most impressive encounters I’ve had was with a spotted eagle ray about 15m deep when I was diving in the Caribbean. When we descended at the start of our dive, we couldn’t see much because the visibility was not optimal. But I saw the sand moving on the reef bottom, and as we got closer we saw a spotted eagle ray feeding about 15m down. I was able to get very close to him without disturbing him. It was one of the most remarkable encounters I have ever had.
The Phoblographer: When you’re not photographing underwater life, what do you point your camera at?
Nadine Bauer: Out of the water, I use my camera to document my travels, my adventures and the beautiful landscapes I explore. From the beach to the top of the mountains, I take my camera everywhere I can.
All images by Nadine Bauer. Used with permission. Visit his website and his Instagram and Twitter pages to see more of his ocean photographs. Want to be featured? Click here to find out how.