Shutterstock, leading provider of high-quality, royalty-free digital footage, is now offering imagery from Australia-based cameraman Josh Jensen and his company Undersea Productions.
Undersea Productions specializes in filming marine life and underwater habitats. “Our eyes are always looking for unusual behavior or interaction between species,” Jensen explains. “We spent three seasons in Tonga to swim with whales, for example.” His next trip, in August of 2013, will take him back for another eleven days of humpback interactions. Jensen is now training for the trip that will be 99% shot while freediving rather than his usual Scuba diving.
Jensen’s passion and focus on marine biodiversity shows in over 11,000 pieces of footage available through Shutterstock. It’s the complexity and variety of life and habitats underwater that fascinate him. “I try to film as many different species and their interactions as I can,” he says. Shutterstock has over four-and-a-half hours of his humpback footage alone, available to download at http://shutr.bz/ZzXPzi
“Shutterstock Footage brings creatives to new worlds,” says Scott Braut, Shutterstock’s VP of Content. “Through working closely with ocean habitats and seascapes, Josh Jensen has created clips of the highest quality.”
Jensen’s shooting package is customized for his needs. In addition to a Panasonic HVX200, high definition DVCPRO-HD 1080p, Gates underwater housing and HD video monitor with Fathoms SWP44 optics, Jensen carries LED underwater lights and UR-PRO filters. “Scuba gear is the most common addition,” he adds. “Although re-breathers are very popular for extended bottom time with no bubbles.”
For Jensen, good underwater footage relies a lot on good diving skills. “You need hundreds, if not thousands, of dives under your belt to get the best out of every shooting opportunity and survive to tell the tale,” he says. “Filming in the open ocean can be extremely challenging and potentially dangerous.” Jensen never goes it alone – good safety divers are also part of the package.
With skills, knowledge, and support, Josh Jensen has been able to capture the character and characters in this underwater world with an uncanny intimacy. He’s shot footage of Pygmy seahorses looking around in Indonesia, Minke whales in Australia, and he even got up-close and personal with a whale shark in Ecuador.
What enables him to do this? “Controlled, steady breathing is the most important thing,” he says. “Scuba gear is very noisy, and most animals, especially the big ones, are frightened off by the sound. Perfect buoyancy control allows me to hover motionless and helps the critters relax.”
Jensen says his Tonga material is some of his favorite footage, and hopes that Shutterstock users will see what he saw. “I spent three or four hours with a group of three juvenile humpback whales not too long ago,” he says. “After enough time passed, a special bond formed where we each trusted that the other meant no harm and we could swim together calmly and enjoy the interaction. When humpbacks reach out that enormous pectoral fin and pass it 1cm in front of your lens it’s nice to know you can trust that its 2.5 tons will pass safely without contact. Being eye-to-eye with graceful animals the size of a school bus is a pretty memorable experience.”
It’s a challenge in multi-tasking and quick thinking as well. Once he’s “made friends” with his subjects, it takes a steady camera to capture what they are willing to give. “I have to get close enough to show the amazing detail on most subjects, but not too close to invade their space,” he says. “To show them in the best way it takes a delicate balance of natural light (the blue water in the background) and the artificial lights (all the color in the foreground). This is important – and difficult.”
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