The mysterious beauty of underwater

The mysterious beauty of underwater

Wilco van HERPEN Hürriyet Daily News
The mysterious beauty of underwater

The pictures reveal that there are many beautiful colorful animals under water in Turkey. Photos, Kerim SABUNCUOĞLU

Last week I went to Bodrum for my program about photographers in Turkey. The man I was going to meet was Kerim Sabuncuoğlu. As research I surfed the Internet a bit and when I looked at the pictures of Kerim I became a bit nervous. Is this guy I see now a diver I wondered. Besides many incredibly beautiful underwater pictures there was one picture of a man who looked like an official.

How on earth can this become a nice television program I wondered?

A couple of days later I arrived in Bodrum. We would meet in the Bodrum yacht marina; “his” ship was at C pier. Walking the long stretch of the pier suddenly I heard someone calling my name. I looked and saw a guy that resembled the picture I saw on the Internet but… this guy had charisma and his nice energy was spread around like sunlight. Wow, this is going to be a real nice program I thought. How sometimes pictures can give a completely wrong impression of someone.

A portrait of a photographer

Kerim was excited and hyperactive when he invited me on board of the sailboat. Even before I entered Define, the sailboat, he started talking about the latest sailboat contest they won; the 42nd Deniz Kuvvetleri Kupası Yat Yarışları. This is a very prestigious Turkish competition. But besides sailing Kerim has another, even bigger passion; underwater photography, and after showing me the giant trophy the team of the Define won, quickly the topic changed to underwater photography. As a teenager Kerim started with scuba diving and it was not much later that he also discovered underwater photography. Many times he won underwater photography contests like the Turkish National Underwater Photography contest and he earned a well-deserved second place at the World Underwater Photography Contest.

Without time to waste we directly went to one of the many boats in the harbor of Bodrum that take divers to the most amazing dive places situated close to the shore of Bodrum. While sailing to our first dive place, the Big Reef, Kerim and I had a nice chat. One of the stories that struck me most was the way he prepared himself for the underwater photography contests he was participating in. Two or three weeks before the contest, Kerim goes to the diving place. He starts making reconnaissance dives to find out how the place looks and what might be the “perfect” location for him to take pictures. After deciding about the location he starts looking at the light, the underwater wildlife and interesting rock formations. Where to put his underwater flashes and then he starts making hundreds of pictures to see what gives the best picture.

Analyzing photos of underwater

After analyzing all those pictures Kerim is ready for the contest. The day of the contest every diver gets a memory card and they are allowed to take 200 pictures. The card goes in the camera and the photographer starts his dive. Ninety minutes is the maximum time they are allowed to stay under water and once they are back at the boat they are not allowed to deleted or work on the pictures anymore. Photoshop is strictly forbidden!!! The judges take the card, copies all the pictures and then returns the card to the photographer. Now it is time for the photographer to select the best pictures and tell the jury which pictures for which underwater photography category he has chosen. These are all very strict rules and make foul play almost impossible.

Mind blowing experience

For me it has been a while since the last time I dove. Kerim, with more than 700 dives in his life, enters the water and is like a fish in the water. I struggle, I deflate my BC but I still stay on the surface. With the help of Kerim, he pulls me down, I manage to go under water and finally find myself surrounded by fish and the sound of me breathing in and out. The air bubbles I release slowly whirl up and become silver bubbles by the reflection of the sun. It is quiet under water, it is just I, Kerim and Emre, the underwater cameraman. It does not take long before Kerim finds a small “insect”; a nudibranch, the Turks call it sea rabbit. It is not bigger than the nail of my pinkie but it is as if Kerim is hypnotized by this little animal and makes many pictures. I do not have a macro lens, I do not have any flash but I still try my luck. Twenty-five minutes later we return to the boat and we start looking at the pictures we made.

The pictures of Kerim are mind blowing, I never saw such beautiful colorful animals under water in Turkey. You might wonder about the pictures I took but I prefer not to talk about it… They were very, very blue. I felt ashamed but then again, as an excuse, I told myself that this was just the second time I used an underwater camera. Four dives later and seeing three sea eels, trillions of beautiful fish and all different kinds of little sea “insects,” tired but very happy I put my feed on the wall again. This was a very nice day, Kerim turned out to be a very inspiring and energetic storyteller. Saying farewell and promising to meet soon I return to hotel Costa Farilya in Gundogan. I plan to have a shower and then eat some nice seafood but once I lay on my bed I directly fell asleep. That night I dream of joining the Turkish underwater photography and in my dreams I win this contest. I am such a happy man…

PS: The beautiful underwater pictures you see are taken by Kerim Sabuncuoğlu. Marvelous colors and depth. My pictures are typical “first time” underwater photography pictures but I want to show you those pictures as well so you understand how difficult underwater photography is. If you are
interested in seeing more of the beautiful pictures of Kerim you can visit his website: