Interview with the Professionals: Byron Conroy

Divers discover the world-famous Silfra Fissure in Iceland. Silfra is a flooded crack between the North American and European tectonic plates and as it’s spring fed, boasts the clearest water on Earth, with visibility exceeding 300 ft


Should you’ve ever come throughout a panoramic underwater picture of Iceland’s spectacular Silfra Fissure, there’s probability you’ve already seen the work of Byron Conroy. And should you’ve gone one higher and really dived this distinctive spot, you’ve in all probability achieved it with the nation’s largest tour firm, Arctic Adventures, of which Byron is the Chief Working Officer.

As you’d anticipate, Byron loves cold-water environments and has photographed the jaw-dropping topographies and weird creatures of his adopted residence extensively. However what is maybe extra stunning is that Byron additionally relishes the chance to be “accountable for the whole body” when taking pictures macro, and also you’ll discover quite a few superbly executed captures of the small stuff among the many pictures right here.

Learn on to search out out extra in regards to the proficient Mr Conroy, what makes Iceland such a dream dive vacation spot, and why you’ll in all probability by no means take an image of a waterfall frozen inside a flooded glacier…


Silfra will get all the eye however Odin’s Tear is one other spectacular dive website situated method up within the Icelandic Highlands. It has an identical aesthetic to Silfra, however is much much less dived


DPG: How and when did you start taking underwater photos?

I moved to Iceland in 2015 to work on the well-known Silfra Fissure. The primary time I submerged within the fissure, I noticed it was an extremely particular place and that I might like to create pictures of it to attempt to do it justice—a virtually unattainable job! I purchased my first underwater digicam system shortly thereafter and started my underwater photographer journey.

One among my main causes for taking pictures underwater pictures is to share the images with non-diving household and mates. Virtually all of the individuals who view your photos have by no means dived and should by no means dive, so it’s a pleasure to share with them a world they’ll by no means expertise in any other case.


A juvenile saddleback clownfish posing for Byron, Lembeh Strait, Indonesia


DPG: You’re the chief working officer of Arctic Adventures, the biggest tour firm in Iceland. Has this benefitted your journey or pictures in any method?

Working with Arctic Adventures has allowed me to build up a wealth of data in regards to the geography of the entire of Iceland, and I’ve been capable of discover new and distinctive dive websites across the nation. I’ve developed relationship with different dive facilities and operators round Iceland, particularly Strytan Dive Middle. Strytan is known for wolffish and lumpfish in addition to being the one place on Earth to scuba on a geothermal vent. Between the Strytan space and Silfra, Iceland has change into a sought-after dive vacation spot for experiences you can’t have anyplace else on the planet.


One of many famously pleasant wolffish that may be discovered at Strytan in northern Iceland. The geothermal vents close to Strytan host quite a few sought-after species like wolffish and lumpfish. The wolffish are used to divers and can typically come proper as much as the digicam


DPG: What tools do you at present use and why did you select that exact system?

For a few years, I used a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, however only in the near past I joined the mirrorless migration. I selected a Sony a7R Mark V with a Nauticam housing. My most important lenses are the Canon EF 8–15mm f/4L fisheye, used with an adapter, the Sony 90mm macro, and the Sony 28–60mm with the Nauticam WACP-1. The WACP is a outstanding piece of glass and pairs brilliantly with the excessive decision a7R Mark V.

I exploit Retra Professional X flashes and I simply adore them. Once I upgraded from my previous strobes, I observed a direct distinction within the high quality of my pictures, rather more so in my view than any digicam improve would carry. Often when upgrading cameras, you’ll get higher autofocus and extra decision, however that doesn’t often make a serious distinction to the aesthetic of your photos; the standard of sunshine makes the largest distinction. I might all the time advocate a lighting improve earlier than a digicam improve.


A shocking tiger shark cruises over “the seashore” in The Bahamas


The charismatic pygmy seahorse: A troublesome topic to get taking a look at you with each eyes so capturing this picture required persistence and nice dive abilities! Lembeh Strait, Indonesia


DPG: Do you will have a choice between vast angle and macro?

I get pleasure from all varieties of pictures, not simply vast angle or macro however all the things from caves to wrecks, reefs, chilly water, muck, all of it. I simply love taking pictures pictures underwater! I wish to have one of the best lens that can do the actual atmosphere justice.

On the subject of macro, I really like the truth that you will have extra management over the variables in your picture. Many macro topics are fairly static, so you will have the prospect to be extra inventive with lighting and backgrounds and compositions. You might be largely accountable for the whole body. This presents each challenges and alternatives, and that’s what makes pictures so enjoyable.


Truk Lagoon is maybe essentially the most well-known wreck diving vacation spot on this planet. The world options numerous World Conflict II wrecks together with the Hoki Maru, a Japanese cargo ship


A juvenile pinnate batfish, Lembeh Strait, Indonesia. The speculation is that they mimic toxic flatworms as juveniles to keep away from predation. The batfish flops round within the water with none actual sense of course or grace, just like a free-swimming flatworm


DPG: What sort of diving and pictures excites you most?

I’m an enormous fan of chilly water diving and making photos in chilly water. Whereas I really like heat water diving and I dive tropical locations continuously, I really feel lots of the extra distinctive pictures I’ve created have come from chilly water environments. Far fewer individuals dive and {photograph} in chilly water areas versus heat, so you will have higher probabilities for uncommon photos and alternatives.

Chilly water diving can also be far more difficult, bodily and mentally, so while you seize a compelling picture, you actually really feel such as you’ve earned it! I really feel even within the diving group, a lot much less outdoors of it, chilly water locations and animals are ignored or unparalleled, so it’s pleasing to carry these locations and creatures into the collective consciousness by way of pictures.


With tentacles that may attain over 100 ft lengthy, a lion’s mane jelly cruises by way of the chilly, inexperienced water of Iceland


One among Iceland’s coolest nudibranchs, Dendronotus frondosus, posing within the highlight. Chilly water nudibranch range simply rivals that of tropical locations and Iceland’s waters aren’t any exception


DPG: What’s your favourite animal to {photograph} underwater?

Of all of the marine creatures I’ve photographed, there may be one group of animals that I simply by no means tire of: frogfish. I really like the character they’ve, and every is so distinctive and expressive. The number of species and the variation inside particular person species is improbable. They’ve countless colours and patterns and textures.

After all, they’re aesthetically improbable, however the behaviors they exhibit are fascinating as nicely. There isn’t something a lot cooler for a fish nerd like me than to observe a frogfish stalk, lure, and seize its prey! I additionally get pleasure from them as a pictures topic as a result of their slow-moving, typically static nature means that you can actually work with them and be endlessly inventive with lighting, composition, depth of area, and so forth.


A shocking and miniscule painted frogfish from the black sands of Lembeh Strait, Indonesia. Lembeh is arguably one of the best place on Earth to search out and {photograph} frogfish so it’s little marvel Byron returns repeatedly


Looming out of the darkness, this warty frogfish casts its lure out to entice a meal, Lembeh Strait, Indonesia


DPG: Do you will have a single marine life encounter or expertise that stands above the remainder?

I think about myself fairly fortunate to have dived with all varieties of marine creatures, from mantas, sharks and crocs to whales, manatees, and naturally, frogfish. Nevertheless, maybe essentially the most highly effective experiences I’ve had within the water had been earlier than I used to be truly taking pictures photos. I labored on a dive boat which had a allow to snorkel with minke whales off the Nice Barrier Reef. Minkes are amazingly participating and inquisitive animals and infrequently they might method from behind earlier than popping round and sustaining eye contact as they swam a 360-degree loop round you. Their eyes are extremely emotive and it’s laborious to clarify simply what it was wish to share house with them. I’ll should return someday with a digicam to attempt to seize that emotion in an image—a job simpler mentioned than achieved!


A manta banks and reveals off its stomach for the digicam, Raja Ampat, Indonesia


DPG: What’s your favourite picture you will have ever captured?

One among my private favourite pictures is from diving inside a flooded glacier ice cave. It was an extremely distinctive expertise to be diving inside a glacier with ice in each course, crystal clear water, and nil pure mild. We needed to mild the cave up from the within and we found a frozen waterfall throughout the cave. In my view, diving doesn’t get any extra distinctive than that! Being a very enclosed atmosphere, it was additionally a complicated and technical dive and one that will be close to unattainable to copy.


A diver shines a light-weight on a waterfall frozen inside a flooded glacier in Iceland. This could be the one picture that has ever and can ever exist of a state of affairs like this


DPG: What different photographers encourage you?

Alex Mustard has been essentially the most inspirational photographer in my profession. I bear in mind after I was first beginning out, I despatched him a message and he despatched me a hyperlink to all the images he had ever taken in Iceland. I couldn’t consider the kindness he confirmed to somebody he had by no means spoken to nor had ever made an image underwater. At the moment, I think about him buddy, and I’ve had the pleasure of diving with him many instances all all over the world, from Iceland to Cayman.

Nick Extra is one other photographer who has impressed me to get extra inventive with my method to underwater picture making. I’ve lengthy thought of myself extra technical than inventive however Nick’s portfolio, particularly his gradual shutter work, has given me motivation to push the boundaries a bit bit. Nick is a grasp of this type of image.


This delicate coral goby is trying very fairly in pink, Lembeh Strait, Indonesia


An enormous tiger shark searching for a snack, photographed with rear curtain sync to emphasise motion, Tiger Seaside, Grand Bahama, Bahamas


DPG: What are your future plans or tasks?

This yr (2023) has been an incredible yr for me and we’re barely midway by way of! I’ve already visited Lembeh twice, Komodo, Raja Ampat, and The Bahamas. Nonetheless to return are Grand Cayman, Baja, and the Philippines. We’ll see the place else I can plan a visit; typically last-minute, spur-of-the-moment journeys are greatest. 

I really feel I’ve actually stepped up my pictures sport this yr, so I’m excited for these upcoming adventures and looking out ahead to the diving and pictures I’ll be capable of do in all of them.


A tiger cardinalfish mouthbrooding a clutch of eggs behind its monstrous enamel, Purple Sea, Egypt


Should you’d wish to see extra of Byron’s phenomenal underwater work, please comply with him on Instagram. Should you’re feeling adventurous, why not head on over to Iceland and make a journey with Byron with Arctic Adventures!