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Hawksbill turtle – Charles Hood, 1995

28 February 2008

This image, photographed in the Red Sea, Egypt, was taken in the days of film, when the biggest limitation to the underwater photographer was being limited to just 36 exposures because, unlike top-side photography, you can’t change films underwater.

We had noticed that turtles often used to try and eat plastic bags – to a turtle, they probably look like a tasty jellyfish. So I tied several plastic bags around my camera housing to entice the turtle towards the lens. After several failures eventually we came across this turtle who took the bait. The only problem was I had to keep constantly swimming away so I could get both the ‘I’m coming to get you’ type of image as well as to ensure the turtle couldn’t eat one of the bags.

Charles Hood was born in England in 1960 and first started taking wildlife photographs at the age of 8. After winning the best junior award at his local school with a black and white image of a swan, he’s never looked back.

At the age of 16, Charles began taking photographs underwater while living in the Middle East. His equipment then consisted of a Kodak Instamatic in a homemade plastic housing. Since then he has won numerous awards for his work in the UK and worldwide. These include, the most first prizes in any one year at the British Society of Underwater Photographers (BSoUP), Underwater Photographer of the Year in 2001, twice specially commended at the Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2004 and 2005 and overall winner in European UW Wildlife Photographer of year in 2007.

Today Charles lives in Cornwall with his wife Sandra and two scuba qualified children; Samantha (13) and William (10). He is a freelance underwater photojournalist under contract to DIVE magazine in the UK. Half the time he spends testing diving equipment for DIVE and submitting his findings as well as writing general equipment, educational features and the monthly general knowledge quiz.

When he is not in the office he is generally travelling the world, UK or out on his own RIB, diving and capturing the more challenging aspects of underwater photography. “I mainly get sent to destinations with either low visibility or cold water or both!” he says. “This suits me fine as I generally visit destinations that you wouldn’t immediately think of and sometimes uncover a really fascinating country or piece of water.” Outside of the magazine, Charles’s work is now almost exclusively commercial, involving filming people and big animals both topside and underwater. His clients include national newspapers, BBC, diving equipment manufactures, holiday companies and book publishers.

Charles has written his own book ‘100 Best Dives in Cornwall”, which is a divers guide around the coast where he lives. At the moment he uses the Nikon D2x in an Aquatica housing, but has just invested in the new Nikon D3 and is awaiting a suitable housing. He has racked up over 60 front covers including being only one of two underwater photographers to have had a cover on TIME magazine.

Photographer since 1982, EPUK member since 2006.

See more work by Charles Hood

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