COVID-19 Check-In | Ambassadors, Part 4

"This virus has changed our world, our views, and how things happen: we are masking ourselves, covering up, hiding away; the virus - our government - society - is combining to make us feel choked - constrained - stifled we are having trouble breathing - moving - living - experiencing." This series of images featuring Kimber Kiefer is a portrayal of things Ken Kiefer sees and feels as a result of this. This particular image brings to mind being constrained and masked and pushing through to another dimension, out of the insane twilight zone we all find ourselves. Photo © 2020 Ken Kiefer

 

Our ambassadors' lives have been anything but boring over the last few weeks, from fundraising to writing books to having babies... and photography of course!

Photo Copyright Lorenzo Terraneo

Light and shadows in a deserted city in Italy. Photo © 2020 Lorenzo Terraneo

Lorenzo Terraneo | Lombardy, Italy

I live in the Italian region most affected by COVID-19, which is Lombardy. We have been on total lockdown since the starting of March, but at least, since I work in a Web Agency, we continued working at a full speed. We remained fully operational using smart working, and recently we also started going back at the office (we are among the few who can).

This has been a very hard time: among all the other things, not having the possibility to dive nor even looking at the sea (which is about 150 km from my house), has made everything more difficult.

Photo Copyright Lorenzo Terraneo

Photo Copyright Lorenzo Terraneo

The cathedral of Milan and the central plaza completely empty, as we have never seen before. Photo © 2020 Lorenzo Terraneo

As a journalist, I had the chance to participate a couple of weeks ago in a photographic project describing the effects of COVID-19 on Milan: we see a frantic city turned to desolation, without people out on the streets – it feels like a surreal atmosphere of a ghost city.

Photo Copyright Lorenzo Terraneo

The fatigue of the workers who can’t stay at home. Photo © 2020 Lorenzo Terraneo

On a positive note, as soon as we got permitted to go on walks, I’ve been using this time to dedicate myself to terrestrial macro waiting to come back to my beloved sea.

Photo Copyright Lorenzo Terraneo

A free bee photographed in the air. Photo © 2020 Lorenzo Terraneo

 

Copyright Claude Evangelista

Claude Evangelista along with his brother and good friends have created a fundraiser named Unite Pinas to supply meals, personal protection equipment (PPE) to front line healthcare workers. Photo © 2020 Claude Evangelista

Claude Evangelista | Carmona, Cavite, Philippines

The Covid pandemic has hit the Philippines hard with over 11,000 cases, 772 deaths and 2,251 people recovered.

We’ve been on lockdown for about 8 weeks now. And as the weeks go by more and more hospitals are having a harder time accommodating patients due to the overwhelming increase of covid patients and the lack of hospital nurses, doctors, staff, equipment and rooms.

We decided to create a fundraiser together with my brother Butch, and good friends Ayang, Kara, Camille & Abby named Unite Pinas.

Copyright Claude Evangelista

Sets of PPE ready to be delivered to healthcare workers in need. Photo © 2020 Claude Evangelista

Our initial goal was to raise around $1,000 to supply meals for 300 front liners in 3 hospitals. Fortunately, there were many kind hearted and generous souls who helped fight our cause as we ended up raising about $3,000+ !

Unite Pinas hosted live streams featuring our kababayan’s talented DJs, instructors, influencers & artists. These talented folks together with their generous audiences has helped us reach past our goals.

With this, we were able to increase and supply more meals and supply 120 pieces of personal protected bunny suits & masks!

Overall, our fundraiser went really well. Aside from raising money to support our cause, we were able to do something more. We were able to show love & support to our frontliners who have been sacrificing their own health, time & hard work. And that even at home, we can all help to make a difference during these strange times of a pandemic. We let our frontliners know that the people of the Philippines have their back and we are truly grateful.

Copyright Claude Evangelista

The Unite Pinas team makes a delivery of much needed PPE to Rizal Medical Center in the Philippines. Photo © 2020 Claude Evangelista 

At home, it’s hard not to feel anxious and feel uncertain about our future. I miss diving quite terribly, but for now we all have to be patient, follow rules and stay at home. To help fight my anxiety at home and stay conditioned, I do high intensity interval training and exercises to start my day with positive energy, and to raise my endorphins up so I can be in an uplifted mood throughout the day. I highly suggest HIIT workouts to anyone who wants to start their day in a positive state. It really makes a difference in my opinion.

I’ve also been editing some short underwater content for PADI and finishing some marketing materials to a live aboard client.

I did my last cleaning last week for my Ikelite housing, ports, domes, camera and lenses and they’re tucked away nicely.

Copyright Claude Evangelista

Claude edits some video footage for PADI and a live-aboard client, but finds it important to get away from the computer on a regular basis for some physical activity - for him, high intensity impact training (HIIT). Photo © 2020 Claude Evangelista

And lastly, I’d like to share a few tips that we can all practice at home to continue saving our oceans!

  1. Reduce carbon footprint by reducing energy at home. Turn off and unplug the appliances, chargers and other electronic devices that are currently not in use.
  2. When you need to go out for a grocery run, instead of using plastic bags, buy some eco bags that you can keep using instead of using plastic that will eventually just get thrown out.
  3. Inform your family & loved ones about conservation. The more active you are, the more aware people around you become. Tell your family how small things can affect and make a different in saving our oceans, and sooner or later, doing these simple things will become a habit! "

Stay safe & everyone, we will all get through this pandemic together. #WeHealAsOne

 

Copyright Jenna Martin Ikelite Housing

Work with models has ground to a halt for Ambassador Jenna Martin due to Coronavirus stay-at-home orders. Photo © 2020 Jenna Martin 

Jenna Martin | Billings, Montana, USA

I spent most of 2019 pregnant and on ordered bedrest, and after we welcomed a healthy baby boy in December, I couldn’t wait to get out of the house and get back to work!

Joke’s on me, as it turns out.

Copyright Jenna Martin Ikelite Housing

Larger shooting projects have been postponed to Summer 2021. In the meantime, Jenna is compiling a photobook of her underwater fine art. Photo © 2020 Jenna Martin

We’ve been pretty fortunate up here in Montana, as COVID got here late and we shut down early. Just in case though, I’ve postponed most of my larger shooting projects until next summer. With 2 kids under 5, a new baby, no childcare options, and sketchy travel circumstances, postponing the big stuff seemed like the right decision.

Copyright Jenna Martin

Life through the lens of Jenna's 4-year-old daughter. Somehow Jenna manages to write a novel and produce a popular podcast while raising two toddlers and a newborn. Photo © 2020 Jenna Martin

In the meantime, most of my focus is split between a few different projects I can tackle from home: a fiction novel I’ve been writing since last May, a photobook of underwater fine art work, and my podcast, Creative Chaos, a show meant to demystify the components of artistic careers.

I’m about halfway through the second draft of the novel, which is getting more and more fun the deeper I get into it. It’s a crime thriller set in a fictional town in Montana. I’m hoping to have the final draft completed by next spring.

The photobook is a project that has also been in the works for years. I’m not sure of an end date on that one, but it’s been fun to curate some of my weirder photos for a single project.

Creative Chaos Podcast by Jenna Martin

The Creative Chaos podcast is a go-to for anyone looking to monetize their art. Jenna delves into just about every topic you should be thinking about and does it with an approachability that makes anything seem possible. Available through iTunes.

The podcast, on the other hand, was started as an experiment two years ago. I decided to take down all my online class material (how to sell fine art prints, setting up a portfolio website, etc.) and put it all up on the podcast for free. It centers heavily around writing and fine art photography (since that’s what I do), but I like to think there’s something in there for artists of any kind.

Otherwise, I’ve got my camera sitting next to the couch, ready to go at all times. I’m trying to document this period of my life as accurately as possible, even letting my 4 year old shoot from time to time to get things from her perspective. I’ve never considered myself a family photographer so it’s been a new challenge taking pictures of my family during this time. I hope to keep it up after we all come out of quarantine.

Copyright Jenna Martin Ikelite Housing

The lockdown means that the most readily available subjects are Jenna's three kids. She manages to make a lot more out of them than the typically family snapshot. Photo © 2020 Jenna Martin

And thats about it! It’s a lot of writing, changing diapers, making homemade play dough, more writing, more diapers, snapping a picture of my husband picking the homemade play dough out of the carpet, and maybe even a movie night* once in awhile.

(*Me showing my husband a video clip of when I thought the baby was going to crawl but instead he just drooled a lot and it was still pretty cute.)

 

Copyright Ken Kiefer Ikelite Housing

Ambassadors Kimber and Ken Kiefer are counting down the days until they are free to travel down to the Bahamas again. But isolation can breed creativity, for example their latest pool project. Model Kimber Kiefer. Photos © 2020 Ken Kiefer

Kimber & Ken Kiefer | Webster, TX, USA

Just like everyone else, I’m sure, Kimber and I have been dreaming about island critters and friends and new gear to explore with… all from our living room and back yard sadly.

We do have it a little luckier than some of the Ikelite Ambassadors we’ve been keeping tabs on – down in South Texas, we have been social distancing and keeping to ourselves, but luckily our local government allows outdoor activities as long as distance is observed. We’ve been having mostly great weather and have been going on runs and lengthy mountain bike rides pretty often; which are really a nice break from all of the Netflix series and depressing news 😁

Crocodile jaws underwater in Cuba copyright Ken Kiefer

Editing photos and reliving experiences like diving with the crocodiles in the Yucatan Peninsula. Photo © 2020 Ken Kiefer 

Kimber comes up with plenty of DIY stuff to make me want to go back to bed – turning our garage into a home gym with rubber flooring, organizing every single drawer and cabinet, rebuilding a fence… you know stuff like that.

We managed to get into the pool to experiment with some backlighting and a really unusual garment a week back. Quite a few people suggested that we do something Covid themed, and while we love experimenting and creating, just throwing on a mask and gloves doesn't seem like the route we wanted.

Copyright Ken Kiefer Ikelite Housing

A photo session featuring Kimber inside of a body sock inspired by land photographer Brett Seeley. Photo © 2020 Ken Kiefer

One of our favorite land photographers Brett Seeley, did a youtube video showing models in body socks and Kimber said that she wanted to play with that underwater. I had been wanting to try out some ideas that I had with backlighting, so off to the pool we went the other night. As soon as I saw Kimber moving within the constraints of the body sock, I had visions of what I wanted to create.

Copyright Ken Kiefer Ikelite Housing

Hammerheads are a favorite subject when Ken and Kimber are able to get in the water. In their spare time they also do work with Sharks4Kids to help educate about shark conservation. Photo © 2020 Ken Kiefer

With no sports to keep us entertained, we have been greatly enjoying the 2020 version of the summer games:

  • Racing to see who can grow their hair faster each week
  • The exciting package toss - to determine which delivery driver can launch your fragile items from the furthest point - with bonus points for landing on the This Side Up portion
  • which friend wins the most political posts per day
  • this years most anticipated Olympic sport is the meme of the day contest. Seems Carole F Baskin wins the majority of these
  • toilet paper dodgeball
  • the silent game

 

Copyright Jeff Milisen Ikelite Housing

A pilot whale swims off the coast of Hawaii. Thankfully using the ocean for active recreation has continued to be allowed under Hawaii's stay at home orders. Photo © 2020 Jeff Milisen 

Jeff Milisen | Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA

The deafening buzz in the vacation town of Kona has quieted to less than whisper in recent weeks. We were asked to stay at home as of March 20 and the order has been extended to at least May 31. Even those of us who continue to work are finding ourselves with a little more free time. Fortunately, my hobbies have kept me distracted from months of growing idly older and balder. My free time over the last month has been split between 3 areas: designing a new office, finishing my book, and diving.

Copyright Jeff Milisen

The home office is a place where Jeff spends a lot of his time when not diving. Using the space efficiently has been a top priority in this space that began as an enlarged hallway. Photo © 2020 Jeff Milisen

I recently bought a house, which is a great time to be forced to hibernate because even a house in decent shape comes with an endless stream of projects. You Tube University has helped me through much of it, and with the pressing projects complete, I got to start on one of the fun ones.

My new office is effectively an enlarged hallway, so a lot of thought has been put into building furniture that uses the space efficiently. Specifically, my last few weekends have been spent turning my humble-sized office into an expedition center complete with a photo editing station and custom camera table with storage for photographic odds and ends.

Copyright Jeff Milisen

Jeff has crafted a lot of the furniture himself for a built-in look. A custom desk featuring a nautical chart of the Hawaiian archipelago is a focal piece. Photo © 2020 Jeff Milisen

For the desk, I knew I needed space for some of my most-referenced books, some drawer space, and room for an extra monitor. The design was a blend that borrowed aspects from a few designs I found online. For the top, I cut apart a nautical chart of the Hawaiian archipelago and epoxied it into the surface. It came out better than I could have hoped.

I needed a good charging station, lighting, and a waterproof top for the camera table. The stained burned-wood working surface is recessed in a rim to catch parts that might fall while I am working or to help keep expensive things from falling during an earthquake. For charging, I built a removable shelf that goes over the working surface with under-shelf LED lighting and a large power strip for all of my charging plugs.

Blackwater Diving Book Copyright Jeff Milisen

Jeff is a biologist and one of the early pioneers of blackwater diving. He has amassed a huge collection of photos and is creating the first field guide dedicated to blackwater. Photo © 2020 Jeff Milisen

Lots of home time has given me some extra bandwidth to finish up the last few edits on my book, A Field Guide to Blackwater Diving in Hawaii, that is due to come out later this year. At 282 pages and over 200 animals featured, it will be the first field guide dedicated to blackwater.

I have been working on this project for more than half of a decade, so the moment when I first saw a pdf draft come into my inbox was a rather emotional one, but I was far from finished. Book publishing requires a seemingly endless back-and-forth with the publisher and graphical designer to make sure that the end result is accurate and what everyone had in mind.

A Field Guide to Blackwater Diving in Hawaii will be available through Mutual Publishing. To get a reminder when it comes out, shoot me an email (milisenj@gmail.com) and I will add you to the list!

Copyright Jeff Milisen

Shark encounters are commonplace in the local harbor. Photo © 2020 Jeff Milisen

In his address to shut down the state, the governor made the exception that using the ocean for active recreation was still allowed under the shelter in place rules, as long as social distancing practices were followed. That has left us with a whole ocean at our disposal, and documenting how the reef has responded to a lack of visitors has been an absolute joy.

Between work and private boats, I have been fortunate to get offshore during the day to look for megafauna, but sometimes it is just easier to jump in from the shoreline. It turns out that nature is pretty resilient if we can just leave it alone for a little while. The local dolphins that were once accustomed to daily tour boats have seemed especially lonely. Tiger shark encounters at the local harbor have been a daily occurrence. Of course, Hawaii has no shortage of turtles to occupy the slow times. And my wife has taken it upon herself to lead me to every nudibranch that comes within 200 yards of the shoreline.

Copyright Jeff Milisen

An octopus spreads out and blends in to avoid crowds. Photo © 2020 Jeff Milsen

When the world opens back up, I look forward to meeting some of you out here and underwater! Our ocean is better than ever, and Kona’s local businesses could use the tourism. Please stay safe and Aloha!

 

Copyright Jeff Milisen

Snell's window reveals itself when shooting towards the surface of the water with a super wide angle lens. One of Hawaii's many sea turtles is the perfect center-point of the effect. Photo © 2020 Jeff Milisen

 

Related Article: COVID-19 Check-In | Ambassadors, Part 1

Related Article: COVID-19 Check-In | Ambassadors, Part 2

Related Article: COVID-19 Check-In | Ambassadors, Part 3

 

Additional Reading

An Insider's Guide to Blackwater Photography

What Makes Diving in the Philippines Unique?

Freediving a 60 Ton Statue in the Bahamas with Jenna Martin

Crocodiles, Cenotes, and Chinchurro with Ken and Kimber Kiefer

A Celebration of Life with the Sony Alpha A7S II

6 Ways You and Your Kids Can Help Save the Sharks

Snell's Window: A Wide Angle Photography Effect

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