I was born in northern Germany in 1970. My father and I spent every summer holiday in the Mediterranean area. That is where I became addicted to the water. Certified in scuba diving in 1986, I spent several years diving with a local diving club. My first trip to the Mexican peninsula was in 1998, where I completed my full cave certification. Since then, I started conducting more challenging cave dives in France at sites such as the Ressel or Saint George. These more demanding dives motivated me to use rebreathers for deeper and longer penetrations (AP Inspiration and T-Reb).

In my home region of Germany, there are very few natural lakes. Because of their low visibility, these are rarely in good condition for diving. Quarries such as Kreidesee Hemmoor or See im Berg in Messinghausen are well known since the 1990s and guarantee excellent conditions. After that, I also learned that there are a multitude of accessible flooded mines throughout Germany.

With a small camera system, I became involved with underwater photography in the early 1990s. The fantastic visibility and the impressive scenery of the walls and structures in the „See im Berg“ made me intensifying my photography ambitions. The Sunlight beams and long shadows can create spectacular impressions under water, so I kept this aspect in focus. Over the next several years, with the help of my sister, who is an educated photographer, I improved my photography skills.

Using strong video lights (bigblue vl 65000 P and similar), I have intensified taking photos in local slate mines. My new Sony A7c with its full frame sensor makes previously unattainable low light scenarios possible with remarkably low picture noise. With this amazing camera, I can capture the lights and deep shadows in these overhead environments. My desire is to capture these historical sites and the extreme conditions the men who worked in them had to face.

In my real life, I‘m a chemist and medical physicist in the pharmaceutical industry. Married and have a son. Luckily, my family also shares my diving enthusiasm.

(Click on Images to Enlarge)

Top of Page: In this mining space, you can see some pieces of slate standing upright. Emphasized by back light, they look like slate stalagmites in a flooded cave.

Above: The workers excavated a quarry in the "Kreidesee Hemmoor" or Lake Hemmoor for about 100 years to extract limestone and convert it into cement in the former cement factory. The factory closed in the 1970s and the huge quarry filled up with water. Since then, people have demolished and dumped several of the former buildings into the lake. Today, the crystal clear lake entices divers to submerge into the site’s history. They suspended an old aircraft on surface buoys and anchored it to a former concrete foundation from the factory.

Below: After passing the “Bremsberg” in the Felicitas Slate Mine, one reaches the grand entrance hall. The closure of the mine resulted in several forklifts and caterpillars being left behind. With the appropriate illumination, one can show the entire scene impressively. Because of the size of the hall, I took the pic with a tripod and an exposure time of 1 sec. I advised my model to not move.


Above: The Christine Slate Mine was active until the 1970s. After switching off the pumps, the lower part of the Christine slate mine flooded and now offers clear water to the diver. Many tubes, railway tracks and slate walls are witnesses of the mining era. When laying strong video lights behind a diver, the dark shadows created can emphasize all these structures. This photo of the “Bremsberg” and its access to the main tunnel can be seen.

Below: Wooden elements decompose slowly in mine water. Divers found this wooden wall close to the mine tunnel. To emphasize the structure, I asked my model Petra to stay in front of the wall below my video lights. I illuminated the wooden structure from the back so that light could pass through the holes and scratches in the wood.


Above: Remains of the active mining time such as this foundation of a drilling machine on top of a “Bremsberg” offer interesting opportunities to the underwater photographer.

Below: Open doors often stimulate one’s imagination. The Felicitas mine contains this open door, which blocks access to the explosives chamber during active times. A back light and a top light were used to illuminate the tunnel and the diver below.


Above: Big mining spaces show the vast amount of excavation. The size of these halls can be recognized best by indirect light from the back to emphasize the walls and a model as a comparison. The shadows direct the viewer’s eyes to the small diver.

Below: Near the Mahusan wreck, divers also sank an old Piper 28 aircraft as an attractive photo motif for Tech divers. The aircraft belonged to Alan Shepard, who in 1961 became the second person and the first American to travel into space and, in 1971, at 47, became the fifth oldest person to walk on the moon.


Above: Rusty remains of the mining such as this oil tank give a very colorful aspect in the image. The mirroring on the top looks like mercury.

Below: When the quarry was active, a forest grew on the sidewalls. As the lake is now filled with fresh water, the wood doesn‘t decompose and divers can swim through a real underwater forest. It‘s called the “Silberwald“ or silver forest because of a thin film of limestone particles covering the trees and making them look silverish under the condition at a depth of 45m depth.


Above: Divers can find the bottom of the lake at a depth of 55m. As an attraction for technical divers, they placed a wreck of a former patrol boat there. Video lights can create interesting shadows.

Below: One of my favorite quarries is the “See im Berg” in Messinghausen, located in northern Germany. This lake looks like a giant cooking pot on top of a hill (“See im Berg “means “Lake in a Hill“) which, filled up with rainwater over the years. After winters with little snow, the visibility can increase to 40m. The vertical side walls of the lake with the appropriate sunlight give an impressive view from the ground of the lake at depths from 40m up to the surface. The owners have sunk platforms for scuba drills and old containers.


Above: This photo was taken of a 20 meter long oil tank. The ends were cut off to give recreational divers a cavelike feeling when diving through. A strong video light placed behind the diver creates a corona of light reflected by the tube with the divers silhouette in front. He looks like a spacecraft in the orbit.

Below: The vertical wall structures on this image are underlined, making it very impressive. During a dive one week before this photo was taken, I noticed the sun rising over the hill with the perfect lighting, so i returned one week later to capture this magical time.


Above: People used the "Ruettler" in the active times of the quarry to separate limestone and other components. Today a big concrete building in a depth range between 18 to 33m is the highlight of the lake, making it a real dive into the past.

Below: In past times, lorries drove on the “Ruettler” bridge to unload their cargo. An “newer“ van was placed on the former “Ruettler” bridge to show the former unloading process.

Contact Frank Aron
Frank Aron Sponsor