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Karen Willshaw (Marjani) Interview

Marsha Edmunds (meadowlark2)

Keywords: landscape, seascape, underwater, travel, photography, marjani


Karen Willshaw is a photographer who travels extensively taking breathtaking images underwater, at night and from exotic locations.  Even from her home bases she captures images that are so unique that most would never have the opportunity to see such visual delights were it not for her posts.  She generously shares her knowledge and passion participating as a member and moderator with Nikonians.  This giving back is motivated by her gratitude for the inspiration and support she has received here learning her craft.

 “I live on a tiny coral atoll, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands that is located half way between Perth, Australia and Sri Lanka; literally in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Living where I do has given me the most amazing photographic opportunities both topside and underwater.

I came to Cocos as a non-diver and a happy snapper photographer, not really understanding the camera’s operation (mind you, that is still debateable!).  My husband gave me a simple film camera for underwater and that is where I fell in love with capturing the stunning marine life and corals of the Cocos Islands. 


Sunrise at South Runway
My FIRST EVER post to Nikonians way back in 2005
Nikon D70, 18-70mm @ f/8, 0.5s, ISO 200, on tripod
Click for an enlargement


I truly love all genres of photography, however, if I had to narrow it down then it would be underwater and travel photography.  Underwater photography changed my perspective on how I see things.  It also gave me patience, something I sadly lacked.  Capturing shy fish or waiting for divers to move into a position that is compositionally pleasing takes time and patience. 


Manta & Divers
Nikon D300, Tokina 10-17mm @ f/10, 1/320s, ISO 160
Seatool housing with Twin Iron Z240 strobes (not used for this image)
Click for an enlargement


This year I’ve gone out of my comfort zone by entering International Photo Salons.  This image above has been very successful in International Photo competitions in the Photo Travel section gaining a PSA Gold and Merit, along with many acceptances.

Also, I have become a “citizen scientist” through my photography; capturing fish that I haven’t seen before, documenting manta bellies for identification and recording any coral damage. Travelling has given me the opportunity to document the way people live whether it be in the city or out in the country. Wide open spaces, stunning landscapes that I am able to share with those who are not able to travel.


This is Australia
Nikon D700, 24-120mm @ 120mm, f/8, 1/250s, ISO 200, handheld
Click for an enlargement



Sailing In
Nikon D200, Tokina 12-24mm @12mmm f/11, 1/160s, ISO 100
Click for an enlargement


Many years ago when I was considering moving from a point and shoot to a DSLR a visiting diver suggested a Nikon and checking out Nikonians. Well, that is exactly what I did.  And now, over 10 years later, I’m still an active member and moderator at Nikonians. I remember posting an image the first time, unsure of how I would be received.  Well, I needn’t have been concerned.  Everyone was welcoming, many gave gentle critiques that I took on board and others showed great interest in where I lived. Nikonians gave me the courage to try different types of photography.  I asked questions, received answers that were meaningful and extremely helpful.  No one was “frightened” to share methods on processing or how a particular image was shot.


Milky Way over West Island
Nikon D700 + 14-24mm @14mm, f/2.8, 25s, ISO 2500, on tripod
Click for an enlargement



In the Red Canyon (with HBB & LeRoy De Jolie)
Nikon D700, 24-70mm @ 24mm, f/4, 1/13s, ISO 200, handheld
Click for an enlargement



Ta Prohm & Jungle
Nikon D700, 24-120mm @ 24mm, f/8, 1/200s, ISO 200, handheld
Click for an enlargement


Through Nikonians I had the pleasure meeting Hal Becker (HBB) back in 2012.  Hal and his lovely wife, Carol, welcomed me into their lives for two weeks.  Hal shared his incredible knowledge of flash photography with me during that time. 

We did a night shoot for the Phoenix Police, travelled to the Grand Canyon, visited Page, where I had the pleasure of meeting photographer, LeRoy De Jolie.  LeRoy, gave us a personal guided tour of the Lower Antelope Canyon, an experience I will never, ever forget.

Remember to enjoy your photography.  I think we all may tend to be so caught up in all the technical ‘stuff’, that we sometimes can forget to enjoy the moment that we are capturing.  Take time to enjoy what you are shooting.  Put the camera down and LOOK.


Peek-a-Boo Pipefish
Nikon D300, 105mm f/2.8 @ f/18, 1/320s, ISO 200. Seatool housing
Click for an enlargement



Sunrays on Dolphins
Olympus EM1mk1, 12-50mm @ 12mm, f/8, 1/320s, ISO 200
Nauticam underwater housing. Natural light

Every time I go out to shoot is an experience to remember and savour, as no two days are the same. One experience that stands out is photographing dolphins.  They are such endearing characters and so inquisitive when they are in the mood.  They just love bombarding you with their sonar; coming in close to check you out. I love seeing these beautiful creatures, as they should be, wild and free.”

How fortunate we are to have Karen Willshaw participate in this feature between a move, for the season, to Queensland from the Cocos and right before a photography trip to Vietnam!  At the time of this interview she is travelling with a group of women to lead them on an adventure. Wishing you calm weather Karen and an exhilarating and inspiring journey. She expresses gratitude to her husband when discussing her love of travel, saying that Dieter, her husband, gives her wings to fly.

Of note is that all but one of the included images were taken with Nikon cameras.  Karen’s “Sunrays on Dolphins” was captured with her Olympus.

You may want to visit her profile as well. 

Originally written on December 13, 2017

Last updated on September 5, 2018

Marsha Edmunds Marsha Edmunds (meadowlark2)

Donor Ribbon awarded for her support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Fellow Ribbon awarded for her continuous encouragement and meaningful comments in the spirit of Nikonians. Donor Ribbon awarded for her generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Ribbon awarded for her generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Awarded for her in-depth knowledge and high level of skill in several areas.

Lethbridge, Canada
Team, 8828 posts


Mike McLain (AUMike) on January 5, 2018

Here is an unsolicited plug for Karen. Back in 2009 I ordered Karen’s photo book (Reflections) from her and found it to be beautiful and peaceful. We keep it on our coffee table for visitors to peruse. They love it! Thanks, Karen! Mike

Ian McNicol...aka Scotty. (Scotty45) on December 31, 2017

It's great that Nikonians have so many talented photographers who are willing to share their knowledge with us all. Thank you for sharing your images Karen. And thank you for another informative interview Marsha.

Russell Whittemore (rosewood_ltd) on December 28, 2017

Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level of skill in several areas. Ribbon awarded as a member who has gone beyond technical knowledge to show mastery of the art a

Lovely images, both "wet" and "dry." We are all very fortunate that a talented Nikonian inhabits this far away piece of paradise, otherwise we might never view it or know of it, let alone being able to see it captured so well. I sincerely hope you will be able to share more images of your home with us in the future.

Tom Jacob (sevendayimages) on December 27, 2017

Awarded for his continuous knowledge and images sharing with community members Awarded for his win at the Best of Nikonians 2016 Photo Contest Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level of skill in several areas.

What a very interesting article Karen, and of course oustanding captures. I can imagine they do very well in Photography Contests, well done! I have been a diver for over 30 years but never took my camera down with me, so you inspire me. Thanks for sharing your story and keep up the nice work :) Marsha..another top work done of course.

J. Ramon Palacios (jrp) on December 25, 2017

JRP is one of the co-founders, has in-depth knowledge in various areas. Awarded for his contributions for the Resources

Beautiful images, Karen. Thank you for your thoughts and pictures. Wish we could visit ;-)

David Summers (dm1dave) on December 18, 2017

Awarded for high level knowledge and skills in various areas, most notably in Wildlife and Landscape Writer Ribbon awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Nikonians community Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Ribbon awarded as a member who has gone beyond technical knowledge to show mastery of the art a

Great work both on the surface and below the waves.

John D. Roach (jdroach) on December 16, 2017

Fellow Ribbon awarded. John exhibits true Nikonian spirit by frequently posting images and requesting comments and critique, which he graciously accepts. He is an inspiration to all of us through constant improvement in his own work, keen observations and excellent commentary on images posted by others. Donor Ribbon. Awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his most generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Ribbon awarded for his generous contribution to the 2019 Fundraising campaign

Wonderful article and splendid images. Thanks, Karen, for sharing your experience with us!