Behind the Scenes

COVID-19 Check-In | Ambassadors, Part 1

COVID-19 Check-In | Ambassadors, Part 1

David Fleetham and family in their own tiny world in Hawaii thanks to the COVID-19 stay at home orders. Photo © 2020 David Fleetham

The whole world seems to be sheltered in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. We're checking in with our Ambassadors to see how they're keeping themselves sane without their usual schedules of flying around the world and diving in exotic new locations.

We want to hear what's going on in your life. Send us your story and a couple of photos for the next COVID-19 Check-In | Customer edition!


Copyright Steve Miller Ikelite Housing

It isn't uncommon for Steve Miller to lose days working on new photo projects in his custom built backyard freshwater photo studio. This is the season when the frogs have laid their eggs and Steve's waiting for the tadpoles to emerge. Photo © 2020 Steve Miller

Steve Miller | Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

So three dive shows, my annual trip to Wakatobi, and a May trip to Iceland to sightsee and dive Silfra are all cancelled...

I have been trying to stay sane by shooting and experimenting, with lots of walks in the woods. I'm obsessed with finding Morel mushrooms (any day now they should start!) and have even taken soil temps. Every day.

My dogs think this is the Golden Age :-)

Copyright Steve Miller Ikelite Housing

Tadpoles are getting bigger by the day and just starting to show their faces. Soon the backyard photo studio will be full of little frogs. Photo © 2020 Steve Miller

I'm shooting the tadpoles daily, they are just starting to get faces, and I have two turtles that I want to shoot in a "tiny scene" like table top photography. It's weird to see how the height and angle of the camera changes the whole perspective of things... But that's my next project.

Copyright Steve Miller Ikelite Housing

This turtle doesn't yet know that he's going to be a part of Steve's "table top scene" project. Photo © 2020 Steve Miller

I found that shooting the TG-6 on a stick, and controlling it with the phone lets me compose tighter.. otherwise my face would need to be on the ground- and if the sun is hitting the screen Im shooting blind.. the phone fixes that nicely- even for the over/under frog egg shots, if any part of the camera or housing is out of the water the connection stays well.

I've never been able to walk the same woods every single day- it's very cool to see how things are all coming alive here!!

Copyright Steve Miller Ikelite Housing

It has never been a better time for solitary walks in the wood. We're lucky that spring is blooming in the northern hemisphere. Photo © 2020 Steve Miller


Caitlin Hale | Fairfax, Virginia, USA

Like most the COVID-19 has turned my life upside down. I'm extremely grateful to be safely supported back with my parents in Fairfax, VA; ending my 3 years on Bonaire. Sitting around and doing nothing is not what I'm about; so I'm balancing earning my keep, my chosen new skill of gardening, and indoor/outdoor projects.

Lego diver copyright Caitlin Hale

Setting up underwater photo shoots is a little different these days for Caitlin Hale. Photo © 2020 Caitlin Hale

Indoors: I am keeping busy with editing my endless backlog of photos, setting up a website, creating teaching materials, and getting creative with apparel design. Easily distracted by Spring, I must admit the outdoor projects are in much better shape.

I am fortunate to be surrounded by trails through beautiful woodland and streams in my parents backyard. I'm taking out my Canon SL3 and Olympus TG-6 to develop my topside shots, channel my underwater photographer brain, and have some fun. Swapping crabs for spiders, octopus for deer, and coral for trees.. I want to help other shooters get set up/learn their equipment at home/ practice in diving down time, so they can maximize future precious water time. I've been setting up 'underwater photo shoots' so I can turn my personal lessons into lessons for others.

copyright Caitlin Hale

Gardening and outdoor projects are a good distraction from the fact that there's no good dive travel right now. Even the quarries are off limits. Photo © 2020 Caitlin Hale

First thing I'll do when the world re-enters a new reality? Book trips to see family in the USA and UK; immediately followed by figuring out where me and my housings are going to get wet next! Let's go diving!


Matt Jacobs | London, UK

Lockdown in London. Has the name of a film but is all too real.

I was diagnosed with a frozen shoulder back in December so thats kept me out of of the water for a while but other plans have had to be put in hold due to the virus.

I was due to be talking at the Photography and Video Show at the NEC in the UK, both on the Video studio stand and on the Panasonic Lumix stand but thats been put back until September now.

Copyright Matt Jacobs Narcosis Pictures

Matt Jacobs of London works on editing a new underwater film for a global campaign. Photo © 2020 Matt Jacobs

I’ve been lucky enough have one of my underwater films licensed for a global campaign (which I’m editing in the photo) and that has been a God send for cash flow and I’ve sold a few large prints which has also been helpful.

I’m the co-host of photography and film making podcast Talking Shot http:// so we’ve adapted to recording remotely for a while but guests are freely available at the moment which is a bonus.
I hope to be in Egypt at the end of the year and I’m planning a shoot in South Africa next year to film the sardine run.

Stay safe everyone and hopefully we can all get back in water soon.

Copyright Glenn Ostle

This crude snoot, made by Glenn Ostle from a toilet plunger, fits nicely over the front of the DS160 strobe. The even cruder reflection tube flips down in front of my lens for some different kinds of photos. Here are a couple of “trial” shots taken in Grand Cayman in late December. Photo © 2020 Glenn Ostle

Glenn Ostle | Charlotte, North Carolina, USA 

What to do when you can’t photograph underwater? Well, Pam and I have been busy doing a number of things lately including: finding other things to photograph (we also enjoy bird and landscape photography); spending time with my camera to become more familiar with some of its more esoteric features; learning and practicing more techniques in Lightroom and Photoshop; and trying our hand at creating some home-made add-ons.

Copyright Glenn Ostle

Being confined to home has given me the opportunity to play with several slick features in my Nikon Z6. The in-camera double exposure option creates an interesting effect as shown in the combination of an eagle photo and a window blind. Can’t wait to try it underwater. The automatic stack focus option is going to be very valuable in my macro and landscape photography. This photo of one of our Camelia plants is made up of a dozen individual shots performed automatically in-camera and later combined in Photoshop. Photo © 2020 Glenn Ostle 

In late January, when the coronavirus was just ramping up, we were on the west coast photographing birds migrating down the Pacific Flyway, as well as beaches and lighthouses along the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington. We arrived home just in time to be forced to cancel a macro photography trip to Anilao where we were hoping to try out some home-made snoots and reflection tubes that I constructed after being inspired by a presentation at DEMA by Mike Bartick. Disappointed but determined to keep photographing, we settled for searching out macro and other critters in our own backyard, where in the past we have gotten some great shots.

Copyright Glenn Ostle

Our own backyard has always been a great source of macro critters and bird life. The jumping spider, dragonfly, fighting robins and juvenile hummingbird are examples of just a few photos taken at home within the last few months. Photo © 2020 Glenn Ostle

Photos Copyright Glenn Ostle

Thousands of snow geese and other birds migrate south along the Pacific Flyway. After stopping over in fields and ponds to feed and rest, they take to the air with a frantic flapping of thousands of wings in such great numbers that they literally darken the sky. Photos © 2020 Glenn Ostle

When the world reboots, we can’t wait to hit the water again. After this exceptionally long surface interval, I’m sure we will be doubly appreciative of all the underwater beauty that in the past we have sometimes taken for granted.

See more of our photos at

Copyright Glenn Ostle

In January, strong winds were kicking up huge waves which crashed against the west coast of the U.S. For the wave photo we were on the other side of a large bay, so I used a 300-800mm lens plus 1.4 teleconverter on a sturdy tripod, which resulted in an actual focal length of 1100mm. For the beach photo I used dark filters to slow the exposure to almost two seconds. Photo © 2020 Glenn Ostle

Kayak copyright David Fleetham

The exit isn't quite as easy as simply walking out, but kayak diving is a suitable alternative to shore diving when the beaches are closed. Photo © 2020 David Fleetham

David Fleetham | Maui, Hawaii, USA

We are surviving here on the island of Maui and my family are all pulling together. My son, Sean, was on his first year of college in New Zealand when all this began. We managed to get him back to Hawaii on what turned out to be one of the last direct flights out of the country. We are planting gardens to grow our own food and have put in several fruit trees. Our daughter, Kiara, joins her school Monday to Friday on Zoom. My wife, Denise, has a company that makes handmade goat milk soap and is trying to keep up with the online demand at Cannot wash those hands enough!

The beaches here are off limits, but the ocean is not, as long as you are not in a group. None of the charter boat are operating so I will be doing some kayak diving later this week with the Canon EOS R full frame mirrorless. Look for those images on an upcoming page.

I am currently working on a book, The 50 Best Dives in Hawaii, with Tim Rock who has produced four in this series to date on Japan, Micronesia, Philippines and Indonesia (all available on Amazon).

Photo and book copyright David Fleetham

Though he's Canadian by birth, David can literally write the book on Hawaii diving after living and diving there for almost 35 years. 

I’m getting somewhat caught up on editing my library which has grown to nearly 400,000 images. Now if I can just find that one photo of the manta ray that I know is in there somewhere...

I have a shot, not on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, but inside the current issue. It is a shot of a kelp forest off Santa Barbara Island and illustrates a story on our Pacific Ocean; "Rising Tides, Troubled Waters: The Future of Our Ocean".....we may have bigger fish to fry currently, but this is none the less an important topic. Good job Rolling Stone and Jeff Goodell!

Tiger Paws for sale Guangzhou China copyright David Fleetham

Stock photography sales are still going strong, like this shot of the illegal sale of dried tiger paws in Guangzhou, China. Photo © 2020 David Fleetham

I’m still getting requests for my images which I fill right away, and not always underwater images. I just sold a shot from China of a street peddler on a walkway overpass above a highway in Guangzhou, South Western China. She had dried tiger paws and other animal products illegally for sale. Parts of tigers are used in traditional Chinese medicine and an aberration of this practice is being considered as a source for our current global predicament.

copyright Bryant Turffs

Bryant Turffs is finally finding some time to work on those editing projects that have been accumulating on his hard drives over the years. Photo © 2020 Bryant Turffs

Bryant Turffs | Florida, USA

Living with COVID-19 has definitely been an adjustment for us Floridians. The beaches and public waterway access points were among the first things closed, even before full social distancing measures went into effect. I am missing the ocean during this time, but very thankful to be healthy, and am trying to make the most of it. Honestly, not being allowed outside has made me much more productive. I am tackling projects that have been on my to do list forever. I have organized my photo libraries and am reviewing and editing photos dating back years! I am using online resources to hone and expand my editing skills. I am working on some new creative projects and planning some professional changes and expeditions for once the world opens back up (I cannot wait to get back out the everglades to shoot).

Manta Ray copyright Bryant Turffs

The Florida Manta Project tracks the movements of manta rays along the coast of Florida. Right now you can still operate drones outside as long as you're not congregating in groups. 

The lockdown has not been a total wash for photo projects. My partner, Jessica Pate, of the Florida Manta Project and I have managed to do some drone aerial photography and keep track of manta ray movements along the coast while staying within government guidelines for social distancing.

Manatees copyright Bryant Turffs

Bryant photographed these manatees earlier in the year and is still playing with edits. The pair was photographed from a canoe near a spring in North Florida.



Stay tuned for more from the Ambassador team. We also want to hear what you're doing! Send us your story and a couple of photos for the next COVID-19 Check-In | Customer edition!  

Keep Reading: COVID-19 Check-In | Ambassadors, Part 2



Additional Reading

Building the Next Generation Backyard Underwater Photo Studio

Black and White Conversion for Underwater Photography

Getting it Sharp: Back Button Focus and Post Processing Workflow

An Insider's Guide to Diving the Blue Heron Bridge, Florida

Cousteau's Aquarium | Sea of Cortez with the Nikon Z6

The Making of The Rapture of the Deep with the Panasonic GH5

David Fleetham's Tips on Housing Assembly & Maintenance

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COVID-19 Check-In | Ambassadors, Part 2