The Big Picture with Charles Hood

Author: Alison Bygrave

The Big Picture: an interview with Charlie Hood by Alison Bygrave

Alison: Charlie, you are currently working for Dive Magazine. Can you let us know a little about what your role is there?

Primarily I’m their Technical Editor and responsible for all the equipment testing we undertake. Living down in Cornwall and only a mile form the coast we have a unique facility among the diving magazine industry whereby within literally minutes of receiving equipment to review we can be in the water using it. I also report on both UK and overseas diving sites and as I am technically trained get especially chosen to cover the more deeper and challenging destinations. When I’m not doing either of these then I’m usually helping out with other columns, such as skills as well as taking images for the various BSAC training materials. In the latter half of May and through June I try and take a break running specialist basking shark trips around the southwest coast of Cornwall in my RIB.

Alison: You have lead several trips with Divequest over the years. Can you remind me where you have been?

I’m going to have to think about that as we started working together quite a while ago now, but yes they have been mainly shark-orientated destinations. We started out venturing out to the Channel Islands off San Diego primarily photographing Blue, Mako, Angle and Horn sharks with also the occasional soup-fin shark a possibility. Combined with the giant kelp forests found around Catalina Island with the magical Garibaldifish this was for many years a favourite trip with DiveQuest. Following that we have run several trips on Jim Abernethy’s MV Shearwater out of West Palm Beach, Florida to shoot, Great Hammerhead, Tiger, Bull, Grey Reef, Lemon, Dusky, Silky Sharks and of course the last one where we specialised in the massive oceanic whitetip sharks that make the ones you find in the Red Sea appear like insignificant juveniles.

I have also led one of the all time favourite trips to observe the simply awe inspiring Great White Shark off the Mexican Island of Guadalupe. Completely safe and undertaken in cages the first time anyone witnesses these super apex predators they never forget this moment for the rest of their lives.

Alison: And which were the most memorable for you?

They all have their own unique memories, but if I had to pick one then being in the water with Great White Sharks doesn’t get any better.

Alison: Charlie, your next trip for Divequest is a workshop with the Great White Sharks. What are you hoping to achieve on that trip.

First getting everyone to have some great encounters in the cages while at the same time making sure we all get there and back safely. With this achieved to progress the participants photographic skills if they are photographers, try and take some snaps myself but primarily to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves and it’s a fun trip at the end of the day. That’s the number one objective.

Alison: And how will you go about working with the clients to achieve these goals?

What has worked well in the past is to canvass opinion from all the participants as to what they want out of the trip. With some clients it’s very much hands on with plenty of coaching tips and review sessions over a laptop as well as perhaps advice of camera configurations, settings, lens choice and lighting considerations. Other divers can be pretty much self sufficient and maybe just want the occasional tip now and again. Whatever level the guest, I adjust my focus (no pun intended) accordingly so they can get the most out of the time spent underwater.

Alison: What photography equipment will you be taking along on the trip?

I have a Nikon D3 in an Aquatica housing with two Sea & Sea YS110 strobes. Small strobes with short arms are essential as the cage can be a bit tight to manoeuvre large camera rigs in. The D3 is a full frame camera so I take with me a 16mm full frame fisheye, 20mm and 28mm fixed focal length lenses. Wide-angle zooms are also a good choice but you can certainly forget a macro set-up!

Alison: From all your trips, can you tell us which are your favourite 3 images you have captured?

Great White (right side bar), Blue Shark (right side bar),  Great Hammerhead (below)

You have a young family. Do you think it is possible to enjoy a family holiday and still manage to slip away and take your camera for a dive?

Well they are not that young anymore and we are all qualified divers. The passed five years ago and when we have been away as a family  I definitely take my camera with me. They are great at modelling. my daughter is already a cover girl twice over!

Alison: Thinking of the future, which locations are on your wish list?

I would love to visit French Polynesia again, some of the islands are absolutely stunning and combined with the adrenaline shark diving in some of the deep passes that can be found at Rangiroa for instance it’s a very under dived destination. Also I have recently discovered a magical dive centre in the Cayman Islands of which the exact location for now remains a closely guarded secret.

Alison: And where do you plan to offer trips for Divequest clients in the future?  Who knows, if the Great White trips continue to prove popular then I will continue to lead trips there. But perhaps with a little more research we could plan a trip to Tahiti and the surrounding archipelago of islands.

Blue Shark (Charles Hood)

Great White Shark (Charles Hood)

Shark action captured perfectly (Charles Hood)

Oceanic White-tip Shark (Charles Hood)

Oceanic White-tip Shark (Charles Hood)

A Tiger Shark gets a stroke (Charles Hood)

Oceanic White-tip Shark (Charles Hood)

A Tiger Shark grins for this lucky photographer (Charles Hood)

Grey reef Shark (Charles Hood)

Lemon Shark (Charles Hood)

Website handcrafted by the Accent Design Group.

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: Certificate

Divequest is a division of Birdquest Ltd, which is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY.