Welcome to Scratchings, the Swimming Wombat Photographics Blog!
Swimming Wombat Photographics?
That’s us, Christine (Chris) Fernance and Mitchell (Mitch) Baskys. We’re photographers, explorers and wildlife lovers, currently based in Canberra, Australia.
We share a passion for photography and have 18 years of combined experience. This by no means makes us experts, but our passion drives us to capture images that best represent us, what we love doing and the world around us. We love working in all photographic genres, and try to push ourselves to try new techniques and experiences to grow our style and what we capture.
We have a soft spot for underwater and wildlife images. This evolved from our backgrounds in marine biology and science. While learning about the underwater world we developed a strong desire to share what we found. We are both keen SCUBA divers and have expanded our skills into underwater photography. This lets us share the environments and animals we encounter with anyone we can.
We’ve spent time living and travelling along the east coast of Australia, in Coffs Harbour, Townsville, Cairns and Huskisson to name a few places.
We were also lucky enough to make multiple trips to Papua New Guinea over the past couple of years, living for a month or two in Port Moresby with Mitch’s Dad. It was during this first trip that we really began to consider writing about our experiences. This led to our first published article “Diving on your Doorstep: Bootless Bay”, in Niugini Blu a national water sports and diving magazine. We’re extremely proud of this article, sharing our images and the story with all of Papua. Since then, we’ve travelled to Tawali Leisure and Dive Resort to capture images above and below the waves for the resort. Its true to say New Guinea has a way of capturing you and we continue to plan return trips as often as possible.
It’s a little-known fact that wombats can swim (if you count walking across the bottom of a river as swimming). When rivers dare to get in their way, wombats take the direct route. This stubborn, dogged attitude inspired our name and reflects our own determination to capture images without letting things (like rivers) get in our way. A swimming wombat also links to our interest in the aquatic world and Australia’s unique animals, some of the many things we love photographing.
It’s our brand new blog! Somewhere for us to share more of our images and the stories behind them. Over time we hope this becomes an amazing collection of our adventures that are shared with everyone.
It’s our aim to tell the stories of the places, animals and people we meet, visit or trip over (the trip over is mostly wombats). Whether it’s the story of Abel Peter, the Papuan New Guinean security guard from Tawali, or Ridge the first wombat Mitch rescued we want to tell these stories and share the images they produced. We also want to share how we took these images, why we love them, and what we learnt from each shoot.
Oh, you meant the name? Well wombats spend most of their time scratching. Scratching on trees, the ground, their left leg, their right leg, their back, their nose….. you get the idea.
It’s our collected writings, musings, or scratchings, if you will, that we want to share with you and the world.
So, we called it Scratchings. Welcome to our blog!
My name is Chris and I’m from Coffs Harbour but moved to Canberra for work in 2016. I’ve been taking photos on and off for about nine years, starting about the same time I began uni, because studying and working full time wasn’t enough to keep me busy. I also did as much volunteering as possible and went on field trips to some amazing places during my degree in Marine Science and Management, so having my camera with me was always my highest priority. It was my goal to visit all the islands on the Great Barrier Reef with the best diving and I’ve done ok so far going to Heron Island three times, Orpheus, Pelorus, Lady Musgrave, spending two months on Lizard and going to Lady Elliot Island twice, most recently for two months as an activities intern.
Two months straight on Lady Elliot was one of the most amazing experiences of my life but I’d already signed up to do an honours project so had to come home. My honours research involved looking after 30 clownfish and fifty sea anemones. From that year I learnt you can stick anemones to their aquariums like post it notes and all fish have different personalities (and need appropriate names to go with these – I miss you Cheech and Chong!).
Loving both photography and the ocean it still took me awhile to take a camera underwater. I’ve been diving for almost 12 years but only started taking underwater photos with a DSLR in 2015. I finally upgraded my camera and emptied my bank account to get all the gear to take it underwater in time for my first trip overseas – Papua New Guinea! It was totally worth it, we both fell in love with the place, it’s people and every time we leave we know we’ll be back soon. I love shooting wide angle underwater because I can capture more of the amazing aquatic world. Over unders are also a favourite to show what’s happening both above and below water at the same time.
Last year I finally signed up to do a Certificate IV in Photography and Photo Imaging, something I’d wanted to do since first picking up a camera! Two months into the course we went on a two week trip of Tasmania. It was during this trip I spent a lot of time confined in a van with five other people, all our camera gear and a wearable panda head. Luckily these people were incredible company and became my three best photography friends (I’ll link their work below, check it out, I think they’re all doing some amazing stuff!).
As well as travelling, I also love hiking and animals so try to incorporate taking photos of these as often as possible. Last year we began working with ACT Wildlife and Mulligan’s Flat Woodland Sanctuary so got to spend a lot of time learning how to shoot animals (in the good way). We also got to hold baby wombats, possums and quolls – it’s a tough job.
Mitch and I have had some incredible experiences through our business and love of photography. By starting a blog we hope to share some of these while practicing our writing so we can work towards being published in more magazines, and maybe one day even write a book!
I’ve been taking photos semi professionally for about 8 years. I started on an interesting path, it wasn’t on land, but underwater that I wanted to capture images. Shortly after completing my PADI Advanced Open Water course I received a Canon point-and-shoot and Ikelite housing for Christmas. It was this camera and housing that pushed me to expand on my skills both as a diver and photographer, and to this day I’ve taken some of my favourite images with it. I’ve upgraded slightly along the way and now love capturing all the tiny critters that call the ocean home. In particular I’ve become taken by Nudibranchs and sea slugs, a collection of strange molluscs that seem determined to have the best colours and patterns on the reef.
I studied Marine Biology at University and graduated with Honours in 2016. My science background really pushes me to learn about the animals and places I see and take pictures of. I really enjoy learning the stories and love sharing this information. Hopefully I manage to do so in a fun and engaging way.
Chris pushed me to improve my skills as we both explored old WWII bunkers around Townsville together, discovering microbat colonies and snakes hunting. I love watching us both come away from each trip or shoot with a variety of different images, both of us not even aware we aren’t focusing on the same subject until we get home and show each other what we’ve taken.
When I’m not taking photos, or working as a VALS (Voice Activated Light Stand – Chris loves Strobist!) for Chris, I like painting and building wargaming miniatures, and playing boardgames.
Thank you for taking the time to read about us and what we want to share with you.
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We look forward to sharing our stories with you 🙂