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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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