Great White Ambush

July 28, 2014 — Leave a comment
shark teeth

Photo by Andy Casagrande-


Last year I got to travel to South Africa to get my first up close and personal experience with great white sharks, while shooting an episode of the new Nat Geo series ‘Die Trying‘. We shot in Gansbaai, one of the sharkiest places on the planet and well known as one of the best locations to see white sharks get airborne when they attack seals. Our mission was to film the breach from the shark’s perspective by attaching a camera to its dorsal fin. The camera was just part of a package of scientific instruments that would profile the details of the shark’s explosive behavior as it closes in on its prey.

Henau Marais, David Wright, Willem Van Herden, Nicole Gormley, Oliver Jewell, Adrian Gleiss, Taylor Chapple

Henau Marais, David Wright, Willem Van Herden, Nicole Gormley, Oliver Jewell, Adrian Gleiss, Taylor Chapple

Working with a talented team of biologists and filmmakers we battled 30 foot swells to get the shot. Tune in to Nat Geo Channel on Wednesday July 30th, 10pm to see the results.


You can also check out a couple of previews on the NGC site (Sorry about the plug for the Noah film!)

Close Encounters

Tagging Frenzy






A behind the scenes gallery from the shoot




Special thanks go to Marine Dynamics for their help in shooting this story and in particular our boat captain and scientific expert Oliver Jewell. Give them a call if you ever want to see a white shark for yourself or even want to cage dive with these magnificent animals.

If you visit Gansbaai, the best place to stay is Saxon Lodge, a great location, wonderful staff and great food, all in one place.

Saxon Lodge

Saxon Lodge

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 11.12.08 AM

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 6.51.22 AM

Silver Discoverer- Home for the next few weeks


Previously I have been lucky enough to explore the eastern side of the Bering Straits and looked out at the Russian side, wondering what secrets were hidden away along that coastline. I am now heading to that region, via Nome Alaska, for a photo expedition with Silversea. The trip promises visits to native villages, old Russian outposts dating back to the Cold War, as well as spectacular bird nesting colonies, walrus haul-outs and whales.

Posting from the field may be challenging but I will do my best to upload photos and stories along the way, but if things go quiet for a couple of weeks, you will know where I am…

After leaving Nome, our first stop will be Provideniya, which looks like it will be reminiscent of Barentsburg in my old stomping ground of Svalbard…. A piece of old Soviet Russia. I am sure we will be met with a serving of black bread and vodka. Many of the city’s residents are native Yupik people, many of whom have relatives across the Bering on the US side. Despite the short geographical distance, these people hardly ever get to meet thanks to the political divide between Russia and the US. Its a great privilege for us to be able to make this trip and see a part of the world where few people get to travel.

Here are a few iPhone shots from my last trip to the Bering region. Its a rugged place but home to some talented artists… it was also great to see the Amundsen statue in Nome, having just seen an identical copy in Tromso, Norway, commemorating his sailing of the famed North West Passage.

Stay tuned for updates

After a hot and humid day, storms were forecast for tonight. They promised relief from the heat of the day. They also had me watching out for dramatic skies on Appleton Ridge. A good lesson in shooting when the weather is bad, and even capturing dramatic landscapes right from your backyard. I am still watching the storm cells to our west in case the lightning starts to pop, but for now back to prepping gear for next week’s expedition.

Storm Clouds

Storm Clouds

St George Valley

St George Valley


Storm over the St George

Storm over the St George

WW Website Banner

Over the next year I will be shooting a portfolio of images to help raise awareness (& funds) for a charity working on the escalating water crisis in the Owens Valley of Eastern California. Bounded by the Sierras on one side and the Inyo Mountains / Death Valley on the other, the Owens River has ever decreasing water levels, thanks to decreased snow fall in the mountains. The river is also a major source of water for the city of Los Angeles, where consumption is going up. I will be compiling images celebrating the natural landscapes, man made landscapes and people of the valley.

The website that we will be using to promote the photographs is still in a testing stage but it would be great to get any comments before we start to publicize the site. Thanks!



Heading to the Bering Straits next week presents all kinds of challenges in terms of what photographic gear to take, how to keep it safe when flying to Alaska and then safe when traveling in zodiacs or hiking. Nikon have asked me to write a post for their Nikon Cinema Blog on “my tricks of the trade” for a shoot of this type. I will post a link when the story is published. Meanwhile the Nikon blog has some other fascianting behind the scenes stories from great shooters from around the world.

One thing I know will be useful is a waterproof pack to get my gear from the ship to shore, or just dry in the rain. My recommendation would be to check out the great range from Hyperlite. They are strong, waterproof and super light weight, which is the perfect combination for travel… And made by company based in the State of Maine!

Thanks to the team at Nautilus Live, they just published a short behind the scenes video of mapping the U-166 from our recent voyage


Maine has a great film-making and creative community. That also draws in a lot of other great producers, photographers etc…. One of the icons of wildlife film-making is in town right now, Mark Lewis. He produced the original and best documentary on the cane toad invasion of Australia. Looking forward to sharing dinner tonight and swapping war stories from the field.

For more information on Mark’s film, go to CANE TOAD

Cane Toads

Photo C/O Mark’s website