Underwater Photography An introduction into documenting the underwater world

It’s almost time for my underwater stills photography course at Blue Wilderness on the South Coast’s Aliwal Shoal. Hosted by team Blue Wilderness,  I’m always excited to get back to the diverse and shark rich reefs of Aliwal Shoal.

Here’s some info to help you decide if this course is for you. I try to run this over a weekend but you’d need to take Friday off work. We will do a total of four dives.

Day one: 

We meet for a coffee and delve into your underwater camera/housing and it’s buttons and settings; we take a look at possible upgrades and why you could and even if you should! After that, we move into the basics of shooting in all the modes your camera will allow including the ultimate trip- full manual mode.  We will talk about maintenance and preparation of your equipment and by then you’ve had enough of me talking.  After a lunch break, we will spend the afternoon in the pool practising and you can ask me all your questions. We will prepare the cameras for the next day. Later, there’s an introduction to Adobe Lightroom, my post-processing program of choice. I’ll give you an overview of the interface.

Cost

R4900 p.p

includes:

  • 3 x nights accommodation
  • 4 x dives with SCUBA rental gear
  • Course tuition

Day two:

We will do a pre-dive briefing on the photographic skills to be practised on that day and then we hit the water with a vengeance. We do two dives and they are usually both macro dives on this day, conditions permitting. After a well-deserved lunch, it’s back to some theory. We’ll be looking at your shots from the morning and learning more about Lightroom at the same time. After the crit. session and a coffee we will get back into some more theory and cover such topics as wide-angle shooting; perfect strobe placement; use of ambient light; reading the ‘peak of the moment’. The Lightroom work for the day includes a look at the library and develop modules. We will set up our cameras for the next morning and then it’s time to relax.

Day three:

As usual, there’s a pre-dive briefing on the photographic skills we will practise and today it’s wide-angle we are concentrating on. We whip around the reefs seeking our sharks and turtles, both of which abound at the shoal. Same as day two, we do a crit session and then it’s time to choose some photos that really worked and some that really didn’t and to do a group discussion- helping each other to find out why- based on what you’ve been taught. Now, it’s time to really apply the knowledge you’ve acquired over the past 2 days. I will preside of course !! The Lightroom work for the day includes a look at the remaining modules, esp. the slideshow module and how to watermark and export correctly.

As a bonus, and only if you tag my courses,  I’ll also show you how to quickly get your best shots out onto social media, appropriately watermarked and resized so they can’t be stolen. For those who aren’t rushing off back to work, on this final evening, we will present a combined slideshow and presentation of certificates whilst enjoying a braai.

That’s a wrap.

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Wildlife Filmmaking A 4-week experiential learning masterclass

This wildlife filmmaking training program is run by my wildlife media company – Africa Media.

Develop, film edit, and produce your own five minute wildlife film documentary in the heart of one of Southern Africa’s premium wildlife game reserves.

Whether you just have a desire to film Africa’s fascinating wildlife, or you are aiming for a career in the competitive world of wildlife film making, then this training program is for you. Our wildlife film making course is specifically designed to offer a practical introduction into the world of wildlife film making, and the work of camera operators, directors, producers, script-writers and the diverse positions required to produce and broadcast a successful wildlife documentary.

Come and make your own wildlife film making documentary, starting from concept and ending at TV screen, under the guidance and direction of passionate and experienced filmmakers. Revel in this unique environment and wildlife, and experience the highs, lows and challenges that wildlife film makers face daily when attempting to bring to life the wonders of nature. Walk away with a high quality five minute documentary showcasing your ability as a film maker.

Quick Info

Student portfolios

View all the final documentaries of our alumni from the wildlife filmmaking program –VIEW PORTFOLIOS HERE

Program dates
  • 1 – 28 March (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 April (S.Africa)
  • 1-  28 May (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 June (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 July (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 August (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 September (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 October (Moz.)
  • 1 – 28 November (Moz.)
Syllabus

The program is structured around a 9 day filming expedition living on one of South Africa’s iconic wildlife game reserves. Full syllabus can be viewed here – VIEW PROGRAM SYLLABUS

FAQ's

I have answered all the most common questions that student interns have here on the programs FAQ page. VIEW FAQ PAGE

Testimonials

Many of our past interns and students have taken the time to write about their personal experience with Africa Media. Here are some of those: VIEW TESTIMONIALS

Start your adventure

Delve into the world of wildlife filmmaking in the heart of Africa

Shark Development Program A 4-week experiential learning masterclass

(Link to the Blue Wilderness – Shark Research Unit.)

Our shark development program is run by the Blue Wilderness Shark Research Unit – Giving you the skills to  work as a shark specialist

The Shark Research Unit welcomes students and enthusiasts on its internationally acclaimed shark development program. Almost anyone can join our dedicated team and develop skills in shark diving, research, conservation and education.

Participants learn snorkeling, diving and scientific techniques to collect data that is vital to the management of some of the world’s vulnerable shark species. As a team member at the Shark Research Unit, you will be the driving force in our education and conservation programs, as well as ensuring the ongoing success of our dedicated shark and ecosystem level research programs. In addition to shark diving and snorkeling with up to five species of sharks, participants will be working in the Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area, one of South Africa’s most pristine and important marine biodiversity hotspots.

Quick Info

Location

The Shark Research Unit of Blue Wilderness is located in the small coastal town of Scottburgh, South Africa. It lies directly opposite the world famous shark hotspot – Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area. 

Program dates
  • 1 – 28 March
  • 1 – 28 April
  • 1 – 28 May
  • 1 – 28 June
  • 1 – 28 July
  • 1 – 28 August
  • 1 – 28 September
  • 1 – 28 October
  • 1 – 28 November
Syllabus

Please take time to view the program training syllabus VIEW PROGRAM SYLLABUS 

FAQ's

We have answered many of the common questions students ask us on our programs FAQ page. VIEW FAQ PAGE

Start your adventure

Develop your career as a specialist in shark research, education, conservation and ecotourism

(Link to the Blue Wilderness – Shark Research Unit.)

Underwater Videography A 4-week experiential learning masterclass

Our underwater videography internship programs is run exclusively through my media company – Africa Media

Learn vital skills for shooting under the waves. A hand-selected team personally trained by renowned uw photographer Fiona Ayerst will guide you through these essentials. Come to tropical Mozambique or adventurous Durban.

Acquire the knowledge and practical skills required to master the art of underwater photography and videography while exploring the incredible diversity of the stunning coral reefs of the warm Indian Ocean. The course uses  dSLR cameras in Sea&Sea housings; DSLR and panasonic video and GoPros together with exceptional LED lighting and accessories.

Developed by internationally acclaimed underwater photographer, journalist and conservationist Fiona Ayerst, this course will empower students to see and explore the underwater realm in a totally new and intimate manner. We focus on becoming part of the marine world; using specialised breathing techniques and capitalising on the natural curiosity of the marine inhabitants. Fiona’s team will teach you how to capture the perfectly exposed and composed images and film. Creativity and new techniques are key.

Quick Info

Student portfolios

View all the videos filmed and edited by our alumni on the underwater videography program – VIEW VIDEO PORTFOLIOS HERE

Program dates
  • 1 – 28 March (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 April (S.Africa)
  • 1-  28 May (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 June (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 July (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 August (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 September (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 October (Moz.)
  • 1 – 28 November (Moz.)
Syllabus

The underwater videography programs full 4 week syllabus can be viewed here – VIEW PROGRAM SYLLABUS

FAQ's

I have answered all the most common questions that student have regarding the underwater videography program on our FAQ page. VIEW FAQ PAGE

Testimonials

Many of our past interns and students have taken the time to write about their personal experience with Africa Media. Here are some of those: VIEW TESTIMONIALS

Start your adventure

Master the art of underwater videography in tropical Mozambique and stunning Aliwal Shoal. 

PADI Openwater Diver Become a qualified SCUBA diver in four days
The PADI Open water course is where it all begins, this is your foundation course that will qualify you to dive anywhere in the world to a maximum depth of 18 meters. Millions of people all around the world have learned to SCUBA dive with the PADI Open water course and have continued to discover the wonders of the underwater world.
Academics

PADI’s online training program is designed so that you can learn the academics at your own pace, when it is convenient for you. You can complete the academics online at your own time and keep the book and quizzes handy on your mobile device or laptop/desktop, never to be lost!

Equipment

In the PADI Open Water Diver course, you learn to use scuba gear, including a mask, snorkel, fins, regulator, buoyancy control device, a tank, a compass and a surface marker buoy, that you learn to deploy yourself. The thickness of the wetsuit you wear may change if you live or travel in a warmer climate,  but in Mossel Bay you will learn in a 5mm with a hoodie to ensure you stay warm during training

Pool Training

When you’re fitted with your scuba equipment you can begin your pool training at Oceans Hotel in Voorbaai. Fiona will put into practice the techniques you learned in the academics program. Your training dives will be logged and approved by Fiona before you move on to open water.

Open Water Training

Get ready to experience everything you’ve learned with the freedom of open water. As soon as your open water training dives are approved by Fiona you will be a certified diver. PADI Open Water Diver certification is recognized worldwide to a depth of 18 meters so your diving experiences will be limitless.

Quick Info

Location

I run my SCUBA diving training courses in Mossel Bay, South Africa

Course dates

I run my PADI Openwater training courses on a adhoc basis. When you indicate your interest, we can chat and make a date that is most suitable for you. 

Eligibility

To participate in a PADI open-water program you must obtain a medical clearance from a GP stating that you have no respiratory issues. All students must be 14 years or over to participate. 

  • Will my certification be recognized internationally?
    Yes! Your diving certification is not just limited to South Africa but is valid worldwide. PADI is the most widely recognized diving certification agency in the world – almost 80% of all recreational divers get certified through PADI. This means that your certification will be recognized wherever you go!

 

  • How safe is it to scuba dive?
    Statistically, scuba diving is one of the safest sports there is out there, with very few injuries. Part of the reason for this is that divers get trained very well, and if you stick to the rules there is very little that can go wrong.

 

  • What open water reef do we dive on in Mossel Bay? We will dive on Santos reef for the most partThis reef forms the Western border of Mossel Bay’s main swimming beach. Depth ranges from 2-7m. There is a colourful garden of feather worms, sea fans, red bait, octopus and abundant schools of blacktail. On the edge of the reef, “Sand dollars” can be found.

 

  • What about sharks in Mossel Bay? Sharks are a bit like dogs – there are a few different types in Mossel Bay. You get big ones, small ones, cute ones, ugly ones… some are friendly and some not so friendly. There are some shark species that we specifically go to look for at times, as they present no danger to humans and are really nice to see while diving. Seeing a Great White shark on a normal scuba dive in Mossel Bay is extremely rare – between our staff, we have thousands of dives under the belt and we have never seen one! However, there are no fences in the ocean, which means that there is always a chance of meeting one on a dive. Meeting a shark underwater does not mean that it will attack you, however. Scientists say that shark attacks on human are normally a case of mistaken identity, for example, a surfer on the surface might look like a seal to a shark. Scuba divers, however, spend most of their time under the water and not on the surface and as such do not look like a Great White’s natural prey. The noise from the tanks bubbles also tends to scare them away!

 

  • Is the water cold around Mossel Bay?
    Mossel Bay’s water is not tropical, but we wear wetsuits to keep us warm when we go diving. We believe that there is no such thing as cold water – only divers that are incorrectly dressed!

 

  • What do I need to bring with me?
    You need to bring the following:•    A towel•    Swimming clothes•    A snack to eat and something to drink during the day•    Coral friendly sunscreen with an adequate SPF factor;
  • Can I drive with you to the dive site from the kit up area?
    Yes, you can.

 

  • Can you take pictures of me while diving?
    We have an underwater camera. Please note that booking is essential for this and an extra fee would be applicable so if you are interested please let us know.

 

  • How old do I need to be to do the diving course?
    You can do a youth dive course in a 2 m pool from age 8. You need to be 10 years old to dive in open water. Divers between ages 10 and 15 will receive a PADI junior open water certification, which is automatically upgraded to a full open water certification once they reach the age of 15.

 

  • How fit do I need to be to scuba dive?
    You do not need to be very fit, but you do need to be reasonably healthy and should be able to swim. Please download the PADI Medical Questionnaire here, and if you answer “yes” to any of the questions on there, you would need a note from your doctor to say that you are healthy enough to scuba dive.

 

  • I don’t have any friends that scuba dive in Mossel Bay – who can I dive with after I get certified?
    We have some contacts in other cities, and ideas for you to keep diving on guided dives after your certification. Speak to Fiona to see which will work the best for you.

 

  • What’s next after I qualify?
    Once you have qualified as an open water diver, you can take part in the following programs:•    Guided dives – use your qualification to explore underwater.•    Diving holidays – sign up for one of our scuba holidays and get to dive in the best diving destinations in the world•    The PADI advanced open water course.  This is a very practical course full of the exciting adventures that can be had underwater – like wreck diving, boat diving, deep diving, and underwater photography.

 

  • Can I buy this scuba course as a gift for someone?
    Of course, what a great Christmas Present. We can email you a voucher that you can give to a friend as a gift. This voucher will be valid for one year.

Start your adventure

Explore the wilds of Africa as an environmental and travel journalist intern with Africa Media

Underwater Photography An introduction into documenting the underwater world

It’s almost time for my next beginner’s underwater photography course at Gozo Azul in Ponta do Ouro. It’s super easy to get into the town these days on the new tar road. Hosted by the co-owners of Gozo Azul, Natalie and Marcus,  I’m always excited to get back to the diverse and rich Ponto reef.  I love to teach in Ponto. Firstly, the weather and conditions in the protected bay are indeed a natural wonder, and this means we always get to dive and complete our course. Secondly, we will be diving in a marine reserve and as a result, the reefs and fish life are in great condition.

This vibey little town is still a great place for divers and non-divers alike. There is a safe swimming beach a short, 5/10-minute walk from virtually anywhere so if you want to bring a non-diving spouse or friend they can go snorkelling or fishing, 4 x4 adventuring or walking on the beaches.

They could also take a dolphin trip with local legendary dolphin lady and guru Angie Gullan who you can find here. It’s a fascinating and quirky little town with some quaint markets, restaurants and shops to explore.

Cost

R6450 p.p

includes:

  • 4 x nights accommodation
  • 6 x dives with rental gear
  • Course tuition

Here’s some info on what I cover to start my students out on this fantastic adventure of underwater photography.

Day one: 

We meet for a  wake-me-up caffeine kick and then delve into your underwater camera, and it’s buttons and settings; we take a look at possible upgrades and why you could or should. Next, we move into the basics of shooting in all the modes your camera will allow including the ultimate – full manual mode.  We will talk about maintenance and preparation of your equipment, and by then you’ve had enough of me talking, and it’s time to set up your equipment.  After a lunch break, we will spend a few hours in the pool practising everything learned in the morning session. Here you can ask me loads of questions. We will prep. the cameras for the next day. After a quick shower and tea, there’s an overview of the Adobe Lightroom workspace and how to download your photos safely. A quick dinner and you’ll be in bed early as it’s a long day for your brain!

Day two:

Whoop Whoop- it’s time to dive baby.  We will do a pre-dive briefing on the photographic skills we are using for the day and then we hit the water with a vengeance. We do two dives, and they are usually both macro dives on this first dive day. After a well-deserved lunch and perhaps a power nap, it’s back to some theory. We’ll be downloading and looking at your shots from the morning and learning more about the Lightroom library area at the same time. After the crit. Session and a coffee we will get back into some more theory and cover such topics as wide-angle shooting; perfect strobe placement; use of ambient light; reading the ‘peak of the moment’. Adobe Lightroom work for the day includes a look at the develop module. We will set up our cameras for day 3 and then it’s time to chill and enjoy the Moz vibes.

Day three:

As usual, there’s a pre-dive briefing on the photographic skills we will practise and today it’s wide-angle we are concentrating on. We whip around the reefs on 2 spectacular dives and then it’s time to feed the ravenous and have a nap. Same as day two, we do a crit session and then it’s time to choose some photos that really worked and some that really didn’t and to do a group discussion- helping each other to find out why- based on what you’ve been taught. Now, it’s time to really apply the knowledge you’ve acquired over the past 2 days. I will preside of course !! The Lightroom work for the day includes a look at the remaining modules, esp. the slideshow module and how to watermark and export correctly. We get the cameras ready for the last 2 dives – Yes- there are 2 more dives on this course. Fantastic. Six dives will definitely help you to get your skills deeply practised.

Day four:

On this day you can choose whether you’d like to do macro or wide-angle and I’ll be guiding you through some new techniques and introducing some new concepts. I’ll give you some examples of shots I’d like you to try and re-create, using your shiny new skills. After these two dives, there’s a short lunch gap (and maybe a nap if you eat fast) before attacking those computers to prepare our slide-shows in Lightroom. I’ll also show you how to get your best shots out onto social media, appropriately watermarked and resized so they can’t be stolen. After all, they’ll be THAT desirable! On this final evening, we will present a combined slideshow and presentation of certificates whilst enjoying a braai.

That’s a wrap.

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Photo-journalism influencer A 4-week experiential learning masterclass

My environmental and travel journalism training internship program is run through the wildlife media company – Africa Media

Learn how to research and produce written content, and receive guidance in establishing a successful career in the fields of environmental journalism and travel writing.

Environmental journalism and travel writing are both powerful tools to advocate for the natural world and to inform the general public on ways to travel sustainably and how to best experience the wonders of nature.Join us to learn invaluable new skills especially practical ones. You’ll revel in our unique environment and wildlife. You can  experience first hand what to expect as you embark upon a career as a journalist. Let our team work with you to put into words, the wonders and challenges our world faces.

To be a successful journalist you must have an understanding of: current environmental concerns; environmental policy decisions; scientific studies;  have knowledge of historical environmental events and above all else, possess an enquiring and curious mind.

Learn how to become a successful and environmental or travel writer, setting yourself up for an incredible career of travel and adventure. You’ll have the career that everyone else dreams of.

Quick Info

Student articles

Read and access the articles that our environmental and travel journalism interns have produced and published in local and international print media publishers. VIEW ARTICLES

Program dates
  • 1 – 28 March
  • 1 – 28 April
  • 1 – 28 May
  • 1 – 28 June
  • 1 – 28 July
  • 1 – 28 August
  • 1 – 28 September
  • 1 – 28 October
  • 1 – 28 November
Syllabus

The environmental and travel journalism program runs over one month. The syllabus can be viewed here: VIEW PROGRAM SYLLABUS

FAQ's

We have answered many of the common questions students ask us on our programs FAQ page. VIEW FAQ PAGE

Testimonials

Many of our students have written about their experience at Africa Media. You can read some of their reviews and testimonials here. STUDENT TESTIMONIALS

Start your adventure

Explore the wilds of Africa as an environmental and travel journalist intern with Africa Media

Wildlife & Travel Photography A 4-week experiential learning masterclass

My wildlife photography training internship program is run exclusively through – Africa Media

Upgrade from an enthusiastic amateur photographer to an aspiring professional. Learn how to make money from Wildlife and Travel photography whilst experiencing incredible photographic platforms in Africa

This popular course aims to provide aspiring photographers with the opportunity to ‘ break into and make it’ in the competitive world of wildlife and travel photography. Over the course of a month, students will accompany Africa Media photographers on expeditions throughout the Garden Route in the Southern Cape of South Africa, at the same time building their own professional photographic portfolio.

The program includes tutorials and practical training on such aspects of Wildlife and Travel photography as: setting up your own business; how to make enough money to start and keep going; how to market yourself and build your income streams in the field you love. This training, coupled with the practical experience of shooting within various wildlife and travel platforms, will enhance your career prospects. Some benefit from receiving credits within their schools or colleges.

Quick Info

Student portfolios

Please take time to view the photographic portfolios produced by of our past student alumni at Africa Media: VIEW VIDEO PORTFOLIOS

Program dates
  • 1 – 28 March
  • 1 – 28 April
  • 1 – 28 May
  • 1 – 28 June
  • 1 – 28 July
  • 1 – 28 August
  • 1 – 28 September
  • 1 – 28 October
  • 1 – 28 November
Syllabus

Please take time to view the program syllabus VIEW PROGRAM SYLLABUS 

FAQ's

We have answered many of the common questions students ask us on our programs FAQ page. VIEW FAQ PAGE

Testimonials

Many of our students have taken the time to write about their experiences with Africa Media. You can view these here: VIEW TESTIMONIALS

Start your adventure

Master the art of underwater photography in tropical Mozambique and stunning Aliwal Shoal. 

Underwater Photography A 4-week experiential learning masterclass

Learn vital skills for shooting under the waves. A hand-selected team personally trained by renowned uw photographer Fiona Ayerst will guide you through these essentials. Come to tropical Mozambique or adventurous Durban.

Acquire the knowledge and practical skills required to master the art of underwater photography and videography while exploring the incredible diversity of the stunning coral reefs of the warm Indian Ocean. The course uses  dSLR cameras in Sea&Sea housings; DSLR and panasonic video and GoPros together with exceptional LED lighting and accessories.

Developed by internationally acclaimed underwater photographer, journalist and conservationist Fiona Ayerst, this course will empower students to see and explore the underwater realm in a totally new and intimate manner. We focus on becoming part of the marine world; using specialised breathing techniques and capitalising on the natural curiosity of the marine inhabitants. Fiona’s team will teach you how to capture the perfectly exposed and composed images and film. Creativity and new techniques are key.

Includes / Excludes

INCLUDES: 20 SCUBA dive package, underwater cameras, online and in person tuition, dorm accommodation, meals, local transport, internet

EXCLUDES: flights, travel insurance

OPTIONAL ADDONS:  Single room accommodation

Quick Info

Student portfolios

View all the videos, photographs, and stories of our alumni on the underwater photography program – VIEW PORTFOLIOS HERE

Program dates
  • 1 – 28 March (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 April (S.Africa)
  • 1-  28 May (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 June (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 July (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 August (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 September (S.Africa)
  • 1 – 28 October (Moz.)
  • 1 – 28 November (Moz.)
Syllabus

The program is structured around a 20 dive SCUBA package. the full syllabus can be viewed here – VIEW PROGRAM SYLLABUS

FAQ's

I have answered all the most common questions that student interns have here on the programs FAQ page. VIEW FAQ PAGE

Testimonials

Many of our past interns and students have taken the time to write about their personal experience with Africa Media. Here are some of those: VIEW TESTIMONIALS

Start your adventure

Master the art of underwater photography in tropical Mozambique and stunning Aliwal Shoal. 

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