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Free-diving with Whales, Dolphins, and Australian photographer @mishkusk

To see more of Michaela’s photographs and videos, follow @mishkusk on Instagram.

“We could all look at the endless ocean every single day,” says Michaela Skovranova (@mishkusk), describing her reaction when her family moved from landlocked Slovakia to the coast of Australia. “One early morning during a swim I could hear soft clicks of a dolphin and suddenly she appeared right beneath me. She looked at me with the most curious eye—and just as quickly she was gone. I was left breathless and from then on I wanted to feel that every single day – and perhaps let other people feel that too through my work.”

Now 27 years old, and working as a freelance photographer and filmmaker, Michaela describes her continuing relationship with the water:

“My preparation for the ocean consists of swimming practice and free diving training, without breathing equipment. Underwater photography is still relatively new to me, and my experience photographing the humpback whales last year was a major catalyst for my love affair with the ocean. Achieving these images lies in the preparation of camera equipment prior to jumping into the ocean, and also the physical ability to free dive. In particular, within some places like the Polynesian islands of Tonga, it’s not legal to use scuba equipment when you swim with the humpback whales, so if you have the ability to hold your breath and free dive, you have a greater opportunity to interact with them. The adult whales weigh 40 tons, and only take a breath every 30 minutes, so when they do come up, which can be at high speed, it can be a heart-stopping moment — one that’s worth the wait. The baby whales breathe every few minutes and they can be wonderfully playful too, which makes them a little easier to photograph!

In terms of technical preparation, I use a very simple setup to allow me to move as fast as possible, once I am in the ocean. I use a fixed focal length lens, I may even preset the exposure, pre-focus once I jump in, and then let the ocean influence the images too.

Every day can be different. In the ocean I find you have less control of your body and the variables, so not having to worry about the equipment leaves my subconscious open to play. Seeing all the wonderful things that the ocean creates, all I need to do is respond to it, and sometimes hold my breath for a little while — and if I am really lucky, a dolphin may come and say hi.”

Seattle Sunset Glow - EXPLORED by Kyle Wasielewski
Via Flickr:
A view from Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, Washington looking southeast towards the Space Needle and Downtown with Mt. Rainier looming large in the background. <a href=“http://www.kwphotos.com” rel=“nofollow”>www.kwphotos.com</a>