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Name: Henry Jager
Country of Residence: Switzerland
Organization/Level: PADI/AOW, Nitrox Specialty
Years Diving: 9
Favorite Dive Site/s: Raja Ampat, Indonesia; Moalboal, Philippines
BCD/Regulator/Dive Computer: Scubapro/Mares/Suunto Cobra
Camera Set Up: Camera: Olympus E5; Housing: BS Kinetics Lut; Inon macro port, 8” Dome Port; Lenses: 50 mm macro, 1.4 fold teleconverter, 8 mm fisheye, 7-14 mm and 12-60 mm; Strobes: 2 Inon 240, 2 s seaflash 150-d; SolaVideo 1200
Henry Jager is a semi-professional underwater photographer based in Switzerland but when he isn’t diving, he works in the pharmaceutical industry. Although he says he got into diving pretty late in life, he is slowly making up for the lost time. He tries to do at least 2 or 3 big dive trips a year and usually goes to the Coral Triangle or the Red Sea. It was in 2003 on holiday in the Maldives when he decided to get an open water license after seeing all the colorful marine animals on a snorkel. Currently he is an advanced open water diver and also has nitrox certification. He has logged almost 300 dives and says his favorite place to dive in the Philippines is Moalboal, Cebu. He also enjoys the diving in Raja Ampat, Bali and Sipadan.
As a semi-professional underwater photographer, he started out with a simple point and shoot but moved on to a DSLR set up in 2007 as he wasn’t satisfied with the results of the former. It was also a tough time in his professional life as a merger was happening in the company he worked for. Being underwater and doing photography became an avenue for him to calm down and release stress. He shares that it was great to have something aside from his job to focus on and it helped him return to work with new perspectives. His love of underwater photography encouraged him to start shooting topside as well. Since then he has won numerous awards for his photos including the grand master award from www.underwaterphotography.com which holds one of the world’s largest and most prestigious underwater photo competitions. He was also awarded the Gold Medal at the Trierenberg Super Cicuit for his photo “Sardines Tornado” taken in Pescador Island, Cebu.
Incidentally it is that same sardines tornado dive that Henry says is one of his all-time favorites. The story behind the photo is quite interesting and serendipitous too. The trip to the dive site started out routinely enough but once he had jumped into the water he realized he forgot to put an SD card in his camera. Needless to say he aborted the dive and went back to the resort to get an SD card. The boat then took him back to the dive site, he made sure to triple check everything and jumped back into the water for a second take on the dive. He was hovering at about 10 meters and there were no sardines in sight. But suddenly in the horizon the sardines came in full force. He likened that moment to a tornado and he was able to shoot 3 photos before the whole mass of sardines passed in front of the sun, darkening the whole area. He reminisces that if he had gone in at just the right time. In the end the dive turned out to be a very emotional and special one for him.
With that in mind, Henry says that the underwater world in the Philippines is very beautiful, particularly the Marine Protected Areas. He noticed that the areas that are not part of MPAs and remain unprotected have broken reefs and less marine life. He hopes that the various dive operators and resorts will be more proactive in maintaining and rehabilitating their reefs. For him grass roots initiatives are very important as there is a local connection without overhead in between. He does however also support larger NGOs like WWF of which he is a member and he is an advocate of anti-shark finning movements. To find out more about Henry, visit his website http://www.conartix-photo.ch and check out his award winning photos.