“You never know what’s coming next,” says marine biologist and diving instructor Nadine Bauer about the various sights that present themselves when she’s in the ocean. Keeping her visual style minimal allows the ocean’s natural beauty to easily showcase itself for her camera. She finds herself ethereally hooked on its vast expanse and can’t get enough of what it has to offer her.
Skydiving and deep sea diving are two areas I’ve yet to take my cameras for a picture. It doesn’t help that I’m scared of heights and have a morbid fear of sharks. I often wonder if I should give either of them a shot one day, purely to get a good photograph. Pushing my comfort zones has often helped me get memorable pictures that would have otherwise taken ages to materialize. Sometimes that meant just getting off the couch and going to the local bazaar to do street photography. Maybe it’s because comfort only helps produce good pictures, but challenging yourself can produce great ones.
The Essential Photo Gear Used By Nadine Bauer
Nadine told us:
My underwater photography started with a GoPro Hero 9, which helped me a lot to understand how to edit underwater photos, with low light and muted colors. I still use my GoPro for underwater activities, but I now mainly shoot underwater with my Sony and its housing.
The Phoblographer: Hi Nadine. Please tell us about yourself and how you got into photography.
Nadine Bauer: I am a biologist, diving instructor, and photographer from Germany and currently living in Madeira. After graduating with a Master’s degree in Biology in March 2021, I sold most of my belongings, quit my apartment, and flew to Mexico on a one-way ticket. I lived in Mexico for almost five months and traveled around the U.S. for three months before settling in Madeira.
My first contact with a camera was as a child, stealing my mother’s old film camera whenever I could. Then for my 16th birthday, I got my first camera. I started taking pictures of everything that came in front of my lens. Over the years, my focus shifted: I started to study, spent most of my time in the lab, and worked on the weekends. Before the 2020 pandemic hit Germany, I traveled through Indonesia and fell in love with capturing moments again. Since then, I have fully committed myself to photography.
The Phoblographer: Aside from your work-related activities, what is it about the ocean that keeps drawing you back to it?
Nadine Bauer: Only 5% of the world’s oceans have been explored so far. The fact that there is so much that is invisible, so much life that has not yet been discovered, always attracts me. It’s a world that not many people get to see, but for me, it’s a place where I find peace, stillness, and serenity. Every dive is different, and on every dive, you see new life. You never know what’s coming next when you dive down.
The Phoblographer: We talk about air pollution, but a lot of activities these days are polluting our seas at an ever-increasing rate. How badly is this affecting marine life and the quality of water?
Nadine Bauer: The scale of pollution and its impact on the oceans and the animals and plants that live in them is shockingly high. One of the greatest environmental threats polluting our oceans is the sewage and toxins that enter the sea, especially in countries that do not have the necessary purification mechanisms. This directly damages both the reefs and their inhabitants, as well as the quality of the water that returns to us. Not to mention plastic pollution, which has been 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 resemble mermaids. Have others noticed this as well?
Nadine Bauer: In my underwater photography, I focus on a minimalist style that shows the infinite depths of the deep blue. That’s how most of my followers recognize me.
The Phoblographer: Adobe has recognized you as one of their Rising Stars of 2022. What was the feeling like when they got in touch with you about this?
Nadine Bauer: Gratitude. It’s an incredible feeling to be recognized for my work by the company whose software I use every day. I can’t wait to show the world more of my work above and below the water’s surface!
The Phoblographer: How do you hope to use this platform to raise awareness about the oceans?
Nadine Bauer: Many people are not aware of the world that lies beneath our surface and how valuable and important it is to our lives as well. This is what I want to achieve with my photography and the world I see through my lenses.
The Phoblographer: What’s been your most amazing underwater encounter as a photographer?
Nadine Bauer: One of the most impressive encounters I had was with a spotted eagle ray at about 15 m depth when I was diving in the Caribbean. When we descended at the beginning of our dive, we couldn’t see much because the visibility wasn’t the best. But I saw the sand moving on the bottom of the reef, and as we got closer, we saw a spotted eagle ray feeding at about 15 m depth. I was able to get very close to him without disturbing him. This was one of the most remarkable encounters I have ever had.
The Phoblographer: When you’re not photographing life underwater, what do you train your camera on?
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 tops of the mountains, I take my camera everywhere I can.