NUPG 11th March 2019 Meeting Report

A wet windy night did not deter people arriving to be entertained by Jason Gregory this month and his very informative presentation on the planning behind his shot of a Phosphorescent sea pen (Pennatula phosphorea) for the BSoUP Splash-In 2017 competition. He succeeded in getting a well-deserved runner-up spot out of 40 images in the “close-up” and also received the BSoUP trophy for Restricted Category with this super shot.

Phosphorescent sea pen (Pennatula phosphorea)

For those that do not know, this type of “Splash-In” competition differs from many other photography competitions in that the picture has to be taken on the day and often there is only minimal cropping and overall adjustments able to be made on the image (if any at all). This adds extra dimensions and complexity. Everyone is in the same “boat” having to take a photo in British Isles waters on the same day, fingers crossed the weather is kind, or again that can be partly mitigated for, can it not? as Jason informed us?

Like many of us in the past Jason has just gone for a “bimble” type dive on the day with the only planning being where he was going diving but Paul Colley had inspired him with his attention to detail and planning with his images so he decided this time to “Plan the Shot”.

He told us how he decided on his subject, it had to be available on the day, sessile, partly translucent, the right colours and form for what he wanted to achieve with back lighting. He was not the first to try this type of lighting for underwater imaging but he wanted something a bit different and the phosphorescent makeup and translucence of the Phosphorescent Sea-Pen fitted his purpose.

He discussed the reasoning behind the lens he decided to use and then it was time to try it out. He made a model of a sea-pen which was quite ingenious, tent pegs and plastic being re-used in a very clever way! Then it was off to Capernwray for some trials to get his distance and focus points sorted and how and if the lighting arrangement would work. People must have thought him mad as he wandered off to the silty depths of the quarry with his “Sea-pen”.

The talk discussed and showed his camera set-ups and how his initial thoughts of remote strobe positioning and using portrait mode will not work in the soft silky, silty muddy environment where the phosphorescent sea-pen lives. He could not afford to have any silt stirred up or else there would be too much back scatter. He normally dives alone and the talk discussed the pros and cons of this.

A couple of months before the competition he was off for a couple of recces of dive sites, he dives a lot in the Scottish Lochs loving the many unusual and wonderful underwater creatures that can be found there. He needed the sea-pen to be at the correct depth so he could re-dive and spend time there and also the pen had to be the right colour and size. He tweaked his final set-up and discussed his very cheap “snooting” technique which was ideal for the type of shot he wanted.

The result was that on the day of the competition he was able to get the shot he wanted on his second dive of the day. Then it was just down to the judges, something that he had no control of other than knowing what type of shots they may like. He discussed the final output strobe power, positioning and camera settings he finally used.

A great friendly presentation with loads of advice thrown in and questions and answers throughout. I for one now know that insulating tape is not only for tool kits!

Our monthly competition theme was “Monochrome”. There were not so many entries as last month but still a good number. Remember if you are a member of the NUPG you can still put in an entry even if you cannot make the meeting. Also please, please can we have more compact entries? Following the results every image was discussed and why or why not some images were chosen by those present. We had a tie for 3rd place and a vote-off for the winner – John Spencer scored a double with his image of a 2nd place image of a jellyfish being narrowly beaten to 1st place by his image of an octopus! Well done John.

Open Winner
Open Runner-UP

Paul Ansell and Maggie Russell were joint third with their images of a raggy toothed shark from Australian waters and a sea fan with diver taken off of Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia respectively. Alex Tasker got an honorable mention with the only compact shot of the night with a delightful shot of seals.

Raggy Toothed Shark
Sea Fan & Diver

Congratulations to to all our winners and thank you to everyone who entered, once again there were some great images.

Our next NUPG meeting which is being held on the 2nd Monday of the month as usual, will be on the 8th April when Dr. Gavan Cooke a multi-discipline biologist with specialisations in cephalopod biology will be talking to us about Cephalopods (we suspect!). Further details of this talk and next month’s competition theme “Cephalopods” as well as details of our splash-in and print competition in July 2019 will be found on our website http://www.nupg.org.uk shortly. Please come along and join us. Everyone welcome.

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