A diver’s perspective

Photo by Tobias Dahlin.

Byggstudio (B): Who are you and what is your relationship to Falkenberg?

Tobias Dahlin (TD): I am Tobias Dahlin, born and raised in Falkenberg, a pedagogue and freelance photographer. I have successfully competed in underwater photography for several years and has represented Sweden in three world championships and has become both Nordic and Swedish champion. I also have several prominent placements in international nature photography contests and is widely published in books and newspapers.

From the start my profession is based on a little boy’s curiosity, fascination and love for the ocean. I grew up outside Falkenberg and, for as long as I remember, the ocean has had a strong lure. As a little boy I snorkled in the summer and did not get up until my mother was screaming herself hoarse. She caught me in a bath sheet and I was always eager to tell her about my experiences.

B: What distinguishes the sea / bottom outside Falkenberg? Is it different from the rest of the Halland coast? Do you have any favorite place? Describe what it looks like, flora, etc. Favorite growth / animals in the ocean there?

TD: Around Falkenberg, the coastal plains of Halland expands and the sandy beaches dominate the coastline. Here you will meet the open landscape and the free horizon. The coast is shallow, and there are also many of the protective wave barriers in the form of islands and cuts that are more common further north of Halland. Thus, the coast is sensitive to the prevailing southwest winds, which often affect and limit the visibility of the coastal areas. Stensjö beach in the southern municipality, however, has some islets and inserts that partially protect the area from the waves. Otherwise, a boat usually is needed to reach the best dive sites. Here, the outlying banks such as Morup’s bank together with the wrecks constitute the best dive sites. Morup’s bank has a ground that in some places has a steep bottom topography where marine life flows and thrives. The wrecks outside the coast of Halland serves as artificial reefs and often attracts a rich fish fauna. They act as magnets and offer hardness, nooks, hallways, and hiding places in the otherwise often monotonous bottom topography. Here is one of my favorite fishes found, catfish. Interesting wrecks outside the Falkenberg coast include M / S Ocean (in everyday life “Tegelskutan”) and Dania (“13-famnarn”).

B: Höstena wells, tell us about them and how to dive there, what kind of place is it?

TD: In Höstena, several sources flow. Crystal clear groundwater flows through self-pressure in the bottom of the wells and looking a little closer you see small craters on the sandy bottom where the water bubbles up. Since ancient times, the sources have aroused astonishment, sayings and traditions have been linked to the site. Earlier it was said that the largest source was bottomless. According to a saying, a farmer ran into the source with his oxen and carts. They disappeared in depth, but later fled up near Falkenberg! The source is connected to Ätran through a small stream and it is common for small trout irons to irrigate over the sandy craters of the source. Here it is not about diving in traditional terms but snorkeling. And you have to take extreme care so that you do not adversely affect the sensitive and unique source.

B: How has diving and photographing affected your environmental interest? What stories do you want to tell? What should people know about the underwater world outside Falkenberg? How has your meeting with the underwater world influenced your view of the above-surface-world?

TD: With love for the ocean, I started diving in 1991, and in the mysticism of the sea, my true photo interest was also awakened. I mainly engage in underwater photography but also focuses on sea, coast, nature and the environment. The motives are mainly derived from marine and lake environments in western Sweden.

I am driven by highlighting the beauty of nature to make people realize what amazing world we still have. Not least, this applies to images from the underwater world, as it depicts a bit of environment that accounts for more than 70 percent of the planet’s surface but is actually hidden and unfamiliar to most. In particular, it applies to our own Nordic home water. People seem to have the perception that one has to travel far and to southern latitudes to discover and experience beautiful and exciting nature under the surface. Nothing can be more wrong. In our own waters there is a fascinating nature richness and beauty that can tamper with even the most discerning photographer. At the same time, it is one of the most vulnerable to negative human influences. If people open their eyes to the beauty of the sea and the lakes, they are hopefully more likely to care for them. Today, I also challenge the traditional underwater photography by taking pictures that are meant to engage and touch without being beautiful for that matter. People also have to raise their eyes on the fragile environments we have contributed to.

Tobias Dahlin has released three books:

Bättre bilder/Dyk – en guide till bättre undervattensbilder (2012), Dext förlag.

Västerhavet – en hotad skönhet (2014), Förlag Waterglobe Productions, ett resultat av att han tilldelades Hasselbladstiftelsens naturfotostipendium.

Insjöar – där sagan möter verkligheten (2017), Förlag Waterglobe Productions.

Tobias is elected in PhotoNatura and Nature Photographers / N and is affiliated with the green image agency Azote. He has a deeply rooted environmental commitment.