NUPG March 2018 Meeting Report

There were a lot of takers for the pre-talk curry this month along with a great turnout to listen to Dr. Alex Tattersall and his talk entitled “Confessions of an ex (critter) fiddler”. Alex is an award winning underwater photographer and the founder of Underwater Visions.

Before the presentation Alex Tasker thanked all those that had helped make the NUPG open Print Competition 2018 such a success. It had been commented on that our stand was the best at The Great Northern Dive Show so congratulations everyone.

Alex Tattersall then started his talk. A very topical subject considering some of the winners of various International underwater photo competitions. It was a very entertaining presentation with some fantastic shots that drove home a very serious message.

In the first part Alex talked about his experiences of when he was a “fiddler” and how and why his outlook has changed over the last 20 years or so.  There were examples of past and present prize winning underwater photos which must have involved the manipulation and disturbance of the wildlife being photographed. The rewards can be high with great prizes awarded to the winners of competitions.

Often it is ignorance of the public and judges that do not comprehend that a particular underwater subject would have been stressed to have got that particular shot.  He then went on to describe how tip systems can inadvertently encourage dive guides to become critter fiddlers.

The second half of his talk concentrated on what we can do as underwater photographers to discourage this practice and how we can get just as good a picture by using various techniques that did not involve “fiddling” as well as knowing when and when not to spend time with a subject. There was a discussion on the use of negative space, magnification and depth of field and how these techniques can turn an “id” fish, coral or critter shot into a work of art. The use of portable backgrounds, inward and forward lighting and motion blur can add a different dimension and perspective to the everyday underwater life photographs as well as remembering to think of a good caption for your photo. The presentation was well illustrated throughout with some fantastic shots.

The difference a background can make

The final part turned into a discussion about ways to dissuade guides and resort managers from being critter fiddlers and how to improve the judging of photo competitions along with the use of positive assertive pushback in social media whenever you see a photo that is “suspect”.

This month’s competition did not bring in as many entries as was hoped but there were still some great shots.

There was a joint winner in the open category with Nick Robertson-Brown and his shot of dolphins hunting during the sardine run in South Africa and John Spencer’s photo of a lionfish hunting.

Common Dolphins hunting a bait ball on the South African Sardine Run in July. The dolphins herd the sardines into compact balls and then attack

A lionfish hunting

Maggie Russell came third in the open competition and won the compact category with her shot of sweetlips taken in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

As it was getting late there was just a quick discussion about the other entries and this was then followed by the presentation of Shark adoption packs and certificates for the winners and highly commended photos for the NUPG Open Print Competition along with any other business. Watch this space hopefully for an improved website soon!!

Next month we welcome Joseph Litt who is going to talk about Galapagos and the making of his great book of the same title.

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