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What It’s Like to Swim and Photograph Whales With A Rx100 [Anuar Patjane]

By Hanssie on March 13th 2016

When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up at age 10, I knew I wanted to be around water and whales. I was fascinated with orcas and dolphins and longed to one day swim alongside these magnificent creatures. My dream was realized in 2001 when I had the opportunity to swim with some dolphins (in a controlled environment). It is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done and something I’d love to experience again. Though I’m not sure I am brave enough to swim in the open water with some of the largest mammals in the world, for Anuar Patjane, the underwater world is his photography studio.


Armed with a point-and-shoot camera, a Sony RX100 (a quite capable, but point-and-shoot nonetheless), Nauticam housing and a wet wide angle Inon lens and dome, Anuar gives us a peek of the magical world under the surfaces of our oceans.  With so many cameras to choose from, why a compact camera? Anuar tells us,

“I choose this rig because of the mobility and agility that it allows me without sacrificing image quality. For shooting macro life and achieve great color, I do agree that the best option is a SLR and strobes, but for whales and big school of fish,  a compact camera with an excellent sensor would be the best option.

Anuar first began diving at the age of 17, encouraged by his mother who was a marine biologist and an avid diver. Being comfortable in the water helps him as a photographer because of the limited time (even if an extra oxygen tank is used) and buoyancy control needed to focus and get sharp images. Anuar makes sure his settings are dialed in before he dives so he’s not fumbling with settings and missing the shot while whales are swimming around him.

The following short video by Great Big Story gives us a glimpse of Anuar’s work underwater and what it’s like to be up close and personal to the world’s largest animals.


Hearing the whales is just as beautiful as seeing them, according to Anuar, the sound, “makes your body resonate.” Anuar’s incredible underwater images have won him numerous awards, including last year’s National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest for the image below, titled ‘Whale Whisperer.”

You can see more of Anuar Patjane’s work on his website or Instagram.



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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. R. John Anderson

    This stuff is awesome. I wish I could dive, but I can barely swim/snorkel :( LOL

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  2. Hannes Nitzsche

    wow how awesome! Whales are so cool and to swim with them must have been nuts! great images and interesting article//video!

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  3. Lotus Buccola

    Just gorgeous!

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