Adrian Morettin was born in the city of Trieste, Italy — a city of the sea and seafaring traditions. He shared that he has always had a strong attraction to what lies beneath the surface. It is this love and curiosity towards the “sixth continent” that pushed him to become a diving instructor.
But it’s the first time he picked up an underwater camera - over 21 years ago when his love affair with the ocean truly began.
This picture depicts a horned male blenny (Parablennius tentacularis) I encountered during some diving in the Gulf of Rijeka (Croatia) in the Northern Adriatic Sea.
This beautiful blenny had chosen a large dead shell (Pinna nobilis) as a den and would stick his head out every so often to see what was going on around him. I started to photograph him at first with the snoot applied to the flash, then with the technique of backlight, placing a flash with the snoot behind him.
This blenny was very friendly and very curious, it was so much closer to the lens snoot to see who that blenny reflected, so it gave me the chance to take a truly exceptional shot. It was at times territorial and would open its mouth in a manner to prove ownership of the territory. I waited for the right time when the mouth was opened to the maximum and took this photo.
Q: How long have you been a scuba diver/what’s your certification level? A: I started diving thirty years ago and have been a two-star CMAS diver instructor for over 25 years.
Q: How long have you been an underwater photographer and how did you get started?
A: I started in underwater photography 21 years ago for event and play because I thought that underwater photography distracts my attention from the rest of the aquatic world. One day, a friend lent me his Nikonos and I tried to take a few moments: from that moment on, I have not stopped!
Tell us about your camera setup.
Camera: Nikon D800E
Macro Lens: Nikon 60 micro, Nikon 105 micro
Wide Lens: Nikon 10,5 fisheye, Nikon 14-24 f.2,8 and Sigma 15 mm
Housing: Seacam housings with flat ports for macro, Superdome Wide-macro port for wide-angle
Flash: Seacam mod. 150; Snoot RETRA LSD
Q: Do you prefer to shoot on scuba or freediving? A: I prefer freediving.
Q: What is your favorite photo-sharing platform?
A: My favorite photo-sharing platform is Facebook.
Q: What are your three favorite social media accounts to follow?
A: I follow National Geographic, Fotocommunity and DivePhotoGuide.
Q: What hashtag best describes your underwater photography style?
A: #Snoot and #DoubleExposure
Q: What or who inspires you?
A: First of all, the great love for the sea and for all of its creatures, then the happiness of being able to admire even the smallest beings up close without disturbing or capturing them. Finally, I find the great underwater photographers like David Doubilet inspiring.
Q: What do you love most about your work?
A: Unfortunately, this is not a job for me because in Italy you do cannot just live with underwater photography, but I do it with the same passion I do with my work. What I love most in this wonderful hobby is the great passion for everything that lives under the surface of the sea.
Q: What's been the biggest challenge and /or most rewarding moment?
A: The most rewarding moment of my life as an underwater photographer was when I won the Plongeur d'Or in Portfolio Category at the Festival Mondial de l'Image sous Marine in Marseille in 2009, and when my shot was a finalist winner in 50° Wildlife Photographer of the Year at Natural History Museum of London in 2014, the most prestigious competition in the world of nature photography.
Q: What was your favorite trip and why?
A: I have two favorite trips, the first was a cruise in Raja Ampat, Indonesia that I went on twice, in 2008 and 2014 onboard the Ondina boat with the trip organized from Deb Fugitt. This was the best underwater experience of my life: unforgettable!!!
For the second, Lembeh Strait in Indonesia where I dived with exceptional underwater guides in 2012 and in 2016 and where they allowed me to take great and amazing photos of the critters.
Q: Where do you most want to go?
A: I would like to return once more to the Nad Lembeh Resort in Lembeh Strait, Indonesia and I would like to go to Mexico to photograph the whale sharks, seals and big jackfish banks.
Q: Any advice for budding photographers?
A: For underwater photographers who start now, I recommend what I always say to people who ask me for this kind of advice. That is to have great humility, constancy, determination and desire to learn and then to do a lot of diving with the camera.
MORE ABOUT ADRIANO MORETTIN
Since taking up underwater photography over 21 years ago, Morettin has won two Italian titles in Underwater Photo Safari. He has excelled in some of the most prestigious competitions in the world of underwater photography and has won the following titles:
• The Plongeur d'Or in Portfolio at the Festival Mondial de l'Image sous Marine in Marseille in 2009
• Finalist winner in 50° Wildlife Photographer of the Year at Natural History Museum of London in 2014, one of the most prestigious competition in the world of nature photography
• Second place in the Behavior category in the 2014 Scuba Diving magazine Through Your Lens photo contest
• Shot the cover of the 2015 Scuba Diving magazine photo contest issue