Interview with the Execs: 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 toes


In case you’ve ever come throughout a panoramic underwater picture of Iceland’s spectacular Silfra Fissure, there’s likelihood you’ve already seen the work of Byron Conroy. And in case you’ve gone one higher and really dived this distinctive spot, you’ve in all probability executed 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 house extensively. However what is probably extra stunning is that Byron additionally relishes the chance to be “answerable for your entire body” when capturing macro, and also you’ll discover quite a few fantastically executed captures of the small stuff among the many photographs right here.

Learn on to search out out extra in regards to the gifted 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 web site positioned means 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 footage?

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 photographs of it to attempt to do it justice—an almost unimaginable activity! I purchased my first underwater digital camera system shortly thereafter and commenced my underwater photographer journey.

One in every of my major causes for capturing underwater photographs is to share the images with non-diving household and mates. Nearly all of the individuals who view your footage have by no means dived and will 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 images in any means?

Working with Arctic Adventures has allowed me to build up a wealth of information in regards to the geography of the entire of Iceland, and I’ve been in a position to discover new and distinctive dive websites across the nation. I’ve developed relationship with different dive facilities and operators round Iceland, particularly Strytan Dive Heart. Strytan is legendary 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 turn out to be 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 usually come proper as much as the digital camera


DPG: What gear do you at present use and why did you select that specific 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 principal 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 seen an instantaneous distinction within the high quality of my photographs, way more so for my part than any digital camera 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 footage; the standard of sunshine makes the largest distinction. I might all the time suggest a lighting improve earlier than a digital camera improve.


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


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


DPG: Do you may have a choice between large angle and macro?

I take pleasure in all sorts of images, not simply large angle or macro however every thing from caves to wrecks, reefs, chilly water, muck, all of it. I simply love capturing photographs underwater! I prefer to have the perfect lens that may do the actual surroundings justice.

Almost about macro, I like the truth that you may have extra management over the variables in your picture. Many macro topics are fairly static, so you may have the prospect to be extra inventive with lighting and backgrounds and compositions. You might be largely answerable for your entire body. This presents each challenges and alternatives, and that’s what makes images so enjoyable.


Truk Lagoon is probably essentially the most well-known wreck diving vacation spot on the planet. The realm options numerous World Battle 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 images excites you most?

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

Chilly water diving can be far more difficult, bodily and mentally, so whenever 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 exterior of it, chilly water locations and animals are ignored or extraordinary, so it’s fulfilling to carry these locations and creatures into the collective consciousness by means of photographs.


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


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


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

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

In fact, they’re aesthetically implausible, however the behaviors they exhibit are fascinating as effectively. 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 take pleasure in them as a images topic as a result of their slow-moving, usually static nature permits you to actually work with them and be endlessly inventive with lighting, composition, depth of subject, and so forth.


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


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


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

I think about myself fairly fortunate to have dived with all sorts of marine creatures, from mantas, sharks and crocs to whales, manatees, and naturally, frogfish. Nonetheless, maybe essentially the most highly effective experiences I’ve had within the water had been earlier than I used to be really capturing footage. 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’d 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 elucidate simply what it was prefer to share area with them. I’ll should return at some point with a digital camera to attempt to seize that emotion in an image—a activity simpler mentioned than executed!


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


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

One in every of my private favourite photographs 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 surroundings, it was additionally a complicated and technical dive and one that will be close to unimaginable to copy.


A diver shines a lightweight on a waterfall frozen inside a flooded glacier in Iceland. This might 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 once I was first beginning out, I despatched him a message and he despatched me a hyperlink to all the photographs he had ever taken in Iceland. I couldn’t imagine the kindness he confirmed to somebody he had by no means spoken to nor had ever made an image underwater. Right now, I think about him good friend, and I’ve had the pleasure of diving with him many instances all around the globe, 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 sluggish shutter work, has given me motivation to push the boundaries a bit bit. Nick is a grasp of this model of image.


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


An enormous tiger shark on the lookout 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 a tremendous yr for me and we’re barely midway by means of! I’ve already visited Lembeh twice, Komodo, Raja Ampat, and The Bahamas. Nonetheless to come back 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 images sport this yr, so I’m excited for these upcoming adventures and looking out ahead to the diving and images I’ll be capable of do in all of them.


A tiger cardinalfish mouthbrooding a clutch of eggs behind its monstrous tooth, Crimson Sea, Egypt


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