Leigh Bishop
Shipwreck Explorer / Photographer
Hertfordshire - England
Leigh Bishop has been exploring shipwrecks for the last two decades and was one of the first British divers to use mixed gas in order to dive the deeper shipwrecks around England. His particular dedication to exploring the many thousands of wrecks in the English Channel has led him to identify scores of previously unknown sites as well as discover several famous wrecks such as the Flying Enterprise.

Leigh began diving wrecks in the 1980’s, before this he was a regular caver on the UK Scene where he had met the late Rob Palmer who went on to educate him one to one on the concept of mixed gas techniques for deep diving. During the 1990’s he spent most of his time diving with the Starfish Enterprise wreck diving team led by the late Polly Tapson, a team who continually pushed the boundaries of sport diving.

During the 1990’s he led the first expedition to explore a shipwreck deeper than 330ft in European waters where the Starfish team identified the British Battleship HMS King Edward VII lying at a depth of 380ft. He took up still underwater photography specifically for the Britannic & several RMS Lusitania projects he was involved with. Britannic the largest sunken ocean liner in the world was one of his first deep photographic assignments in 1998 and was again later tasked with the job as official expedition photographer for the National Geographic Channel 2003 project.

During the early 1990’s Leigh was fascinated by the possibility of bringing home a photograph of a wreck deeper than 330ft, by 1998 this had become a reality and later he went on to bring back the first photographs of the famous gold ship the ‘Egypt’ sunk in deep water off north west France. His next challenge in underwater photography was to photograph huge sections of shipwreck that could be identified by non divers. By now he was working on the wrecks of the North Atlantic such as the Justicia and the awesome dreadnought battleship HMS Audacious. To capture large panoramic shots of wrecks Leigh pioneered the art of shooting fast black & white film with long exposure times. To do this he mounted his cameras on fixed tripods and set them up on the seabed’s around specific shipwrecks often in depths of 400ft. Shooting wrecks around the world under this new concept his images began to embraced the covers of many of the worlds scuba magazines and as his roots lie in English Channel wreck research & study his knowledge of writing turned him into one of the most prolific shipwreck authors of the last decade.

Leigh went onto photograph ocean liners such as the Transylvania sunk in the North Atlantic in 450ft of water, in 2003 he was a photographer on a NOAA scientific expedition to Titanic as well as travelling to Poland to photograph the Nazi liner Wilhelm Gustloff Maritimes biggest shipwreck disaster with an estimated 10,000 people going down with the wreck. Leigh has led expeditions that have discovered significant U-Boats as well as lost British Submarines and with his teams became the first to explore previously lost wrecks such as HMS Affray & HMS Vandal. More recently he was with the British Royal Navy in the Arctic searching for the lost submarine X5 last seen during the famous Tirpitz raid of WW2.

In the early part of the millennium he worked with teams led by the late Keith Morris to explore significant war ships of historic interest, his photography and writing of these discoveries have helped bring together numerous survivors & family’s after 60 years.

Today he lectures on the subject of shipwrecks extensively and during the English off season he travels the world regularly attending major diving industry shows headlining speaker line ups. In England he lectures at museums and nautical conferences and restores artifacts from shipwrecks which can be seen in several English Museums. He also writes treatments for television shipwreck documentaries and appears in many of them as a leading exploration expert, using rebreather technology of which he has been involved in the significant development of with UK companies.

Although his shipwreck travels have taken him around the globe he still continues to explore shipwrecks in what he calls his ‘back yard’ the English Channel. The English Channel is a virtual museum of over 5,000 known shipwrecks that have sunk since wood could float the vast many of them classic tramp steamers all with a story to tell. Often the only way to identify the vast majority of the wrecks is by the recovery of the ships bell, by doing so we can finally document their history and what happened to them before they biologically implode and become nothing more that iron ore deposits on the ocean floor. As long as they are there we shall keep photographing and documenting them for others to enjoy, others that may not have for whatever reason, the option of visiting them for themselves.

Leigh’s dedication to shipwreck exploration is undertaken in leave periods and weekends as he holds a full time job as a Fire Fighter in Hertfordshire North of London where he lives with his partner & three children.

His website includes many of his images and expeditions and can be found on www.deepimage.co.uk

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