All images in this article are taken from video frames.
After an introductory lecture, we headed for Mylor in Cornwall to join Mark Milburn of Atlantic Scuba to join his dive boat for a few days diving on local reefs and wrecks. We prepared the cameras in the car park and ran through a few final details; how to get close to the animals, composition, and best camera settings. We touched on how to create sequences for the editing but would come back to that later after a few sessions in the water.
It was one of those days where the bright sun was occasionally enveloped in thick sea mist and a chilly breeze lowered the air temperature. But the water was calm and quite warm for the time of year. Quite a few Bull Huss (Great Spotted Dogfish) had been seen on the previous day so we were quite excited to see them should luck be on our side. But this is the sea and there are never any certainties. As we left the harbour, the mist came down permanently and took away the sun, which remained hidden for the rest of the day.
We dropped into the shallow water off a nearby headland into a mixture of rock and kelp and it was here on our first dive we watched large Ballan Wrasse feeding on small crustaceans from under rocky overhangs. I find the Ballan Wrasse to be one of the most friendly fish in our UK waters and with a bit of patience it is always possible to get very close to them. In fact, as long as they don’t think you are a threat, they will get curious as to what you are doing and come close to investigate.
Unlike Wrasse, Spider Crabs are more timid and scuttle away to hide in the kelp.
Later we returned to the harbour for hot drinks and lunch which gave us the perfect opportunity to review and analyse what we had shot and to talk about the importance of diver buoyancy, which is key to being able to hold the camera steady for long smooth shots.
Our next dives were on the Mohegan wreck off the Manacles reef. She was originally built as a mixed passenger liner and animal carrier and went down in 1898 with the loss of 107 lives. Wrecks are tragic in terms of lives lost but finally settle on the sea bed to make robust habitats for many species of marine life.
As we finned past the ship’s boilers we came to the crushed and storm-battered remains of the rest of the ship, where pink sea fans had taken hold and were growing in the rich current. It wasn’t too long before a Ballan Wrasse appeared and began utilising our lights to look for food in the crevices and overhangs.
The dive finished with a rare encounter with a very small Monk fish or Angler fish. Believing fully in the effectiveness of its own amazing camouflage, it remained as motionless as a statue, hoping the lights would soon go away and leave it in peace. While it was great to see this wonderful fish, I also felt great sadness in that I hadn’t seen one for many years, and when I finally did, it was so small. I remember with great fondness swimming with these Angler fish off the Devon coast and an average size would be 5-6 foot (1.5-1.8 meters) in length. They are now heavily fished and their tails are often mis-sold as scampi.
The last two days of the course were held in the studio where Tony and Paul edited their clips into short videos. Here we covered all the aspects of video editing like how to produce sequences, apply colour grading, continuity issues and much more. Finally the videos were scripted, narrated and music added. The finished videos are below.