DR ALEXANDER MUSTARD shouldn’t need an introduction – for the past four years he has been delivering his informative and thought-provoking BE THE CHAMP! underwater photography column in DIVER. These have been, and continue to be, some of the most comprehensive and up-to-date “how to” features to be published anywhere around the world.
Alex Mustard is a photographer who’s been at the very top of his game for more years than I can remember, and has always been extremely unselfish in sharing his vast knowledge of what can be a complex and often frustrating subject.
Last October he told me that he was putting the final touches to his first instructional book, Underwater Photography Masterclass.
This book is, as you’d expect, beautifully illustrated, but it’s not a celebration of the author’s fine work.
It is instead a tutorial on the whole of underwater photography, written from the perspective of understanding, controlling and mastering light while shooting in possibly the most challenging of elements – water.
When I first received a copy for this review, I marvelled at the paper and print quality. In an age of electronic tablets and Kindles, there’s something special to me about the tactile feel of
a book, and this one oozed class in spade-loads.
The book consists of nine chapters. Each one has been broken down into numerous two-page tutorials covering the different techniques, and each one contains images that illustrate that technique.
Everything has been explained in the author’s typically uncomplicated style, but this is a complicated subject to digest in a single, cover-to-cover sitting.
Instead, and this is where this book really scores, it’s been designed and written to be referenced, selecting the sections that are relevant to the reader’s ability or needs at the time.
Of course, there are some “must-read” pages. Those covering cameras, strobes and backscatter will probably be on everyone’s initial agenda, and then there are sections covering the likes of fluorescence, on-camera backlighting or long-exposure macro that will, I’m sure, be referenced over time, when the reader’s photographic ability has grown, or by already-advanced shooters who want to better their technique and ultimately their portfolios.
I, on the other hand, read the book in its entirety to find an absolute plethora of information stuffed into its modest 192 pages.
The author has left out the frilly bits and concentrated his efforts into supplying need-to-know, real-world information, tips, tricks and techniques that he has refined over 30 years of taking his cameras for a dive.
I’ve been reminded that, like Alex Mustard’s philosophy when writing this book, less is more. So I’ll finish by saying that, in my opinion, this is the very best publication, written by one of the most talented authors I’ve ever had the privilege to read on the subject of underwater photography!
Nigel Wade

Ammonite Press
ISBN: 9781781452226
Softback, 192pp, £19.99