Photography and filmmaking are difficult professions to break into. Add underwater caves to the mix and they become daunting tasks that seems impossible.
But these challenges haven’t stopped Canadian cave diver Jill Heinerth, known for her worldwide explorations and breathtaking photographs that bring the underwater world to the surface for landlubbers.
Heinerth captures many of her aquatic adventures for publications like National Geographic and science organizations. Even when on her own, she'll take her Canon 5D with Aquatica housing to shoot video and stills underwater.
“Cave diving is known as the world’s most dangerous sport,” Heinerth says. “You add imaging to that and handling your own life support on a rebreather and you really have a huge task to handle.”
She says that the difficulties go beyond low light capacity or no light. "A lot of the challenge is really creating a safe dive with limited time before you have to return to the surface.”
Though lighting conditions may be poor, it's still possible to capture beautiful underwater photography. Heinerth suggests shooting in the doorway of a cave or close to the surface at the "golden hour" when the sunlight hits the water, though she feels most at home in the cave environment.
“It’s the hardest thing you could imagine to shoot," she says. "But I really like that challenge and I really like bringing back images that compel people and make them realize how beautiful these environments are.”
Much like a kid in kindergarten class, Heinerth enjoys the show-and-tell aspect of photography.
“The opportunity to dive in places that nobody’s been before, take photographs, bring them out and share them with people is really what excites me. People get inspired by seeing these places. They might as well be outer space. They’re uniquely beautiful and there’s so much to learn from them.”