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BOOK REVIEW: Glass and Water – The Essential Guide to Freediving for Underwater Photography

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Author: Mark Harris

Review by Steve Millard of Apneists UK

About the Author

Freediving - Mark Harris HeadshotWhen I found out Mark Harris was writing a book about freediving I was excited, as there are maybe a handful of good factual books out there on the subject. He hasn’t failed to deliver a quality product.

Mark is one of the most respected freedivers to come out of the United Kingdom. Good freedivers writing on the subject start to dispel some of the myths and highlight this great and diverse sport. When Mark makes a new facet of freediving his focus, he excels. His previous experience in the sport has seen him organise the long running London Freediving group. He was a very successful athlete, winning various titles including a silver medal at the 2004 World Championships and was my captain on the 2006 World Championship UK Freediving squad. He was a competition judge, an Instructor, a Coach and now a notable Underwater photographer and author. The advanced skills discussed can be exploited even by beginners and intermediate divers if practised properly.

Overview of the book

Mark HarrisGlass and water is the first book dedicated to explaining the essentials for successfully pursuing underwater photography without SCUBA gear. It isn’t designed to teach the reader all freediving skills, but it does cover those vital in understanding some of the safety aspects of the sport. Throughout the book it is stressed the need for the reader to take a Freediving course and regular training within a club structure to gain the best and safest results. It also isn’t a book to teach the reader everything there is to know about underwater photography. There are great tips about these two subjects, but specifically it helps the reader understand the subtle nuances in breath hold photography whilst still delivering other tips, and direction to further reading and training opportunities.

It is split into three broad sections: equipment and basics, technique, and perspectives and approaches to photographing particular animals.

One of the things I liked about the book is that it simplifies information. It exposes the reader to key ideas and onto additional sources of information when the book doesn’t specifically cover that particular information. You will end up with an extensive skill set if you pursue all avenues of advice.

One of my favourite sections is a good candid overview about freediving safety, leaving the reader in no doubt as to the risks of the sport, and also the safe nature of the sport when practiced properly. A four step plan is offered to the reader for consideration to avoid a serious incident. Once beyond the realms of being a ‘snorkeler’ and having increased duration and depth during dives, a proportionate amount of additional considerations on how to continue to dive safely are essential. Having said that, it is always stressed the reader and potential freediver should not be pushing their limits in these situations.

The main focus of the book isn’t stationary objects, it is mainly about photographing living creatures of all descriptions, and Mark has a lot of experience in this area. There is a good section for the reader on the ethics and considerations of entering the underwater world and the impact of interactions with its natural underwater inhabitants. Photographers and freedivers can be amazing ambassadors for the Underwater world; we must not damage it in any way and limit interactions that change behaviour.

I would say that as many ideas, concepts and techniques are developed throughout the book, I would read it initially from cover to cover to grasp all of the information on offer. It then will serve as a great resource to look back on as it is well written and well indexed. As some of the basic concepts are difficult to explain fully, there is a great summary at the end of each section to remind the reader of the important points ‘in a nutshell’ and a useful glossary at the end for those new to freediving and/or underwater photography.

There are many references to other sections in the book, and you feel a lot of thought has gone into how to give the reader the best understanding of the subject. A good writer considers what the reader needs to read, not what the author wants to write. As you would imagine there are some great example pictures showing some showcase work, and highlighting good technique.

Glass and Water is a great addition to the bookshelf for photographers and freedivers. You can get a copy from http://divedup.com/shop/glass-water-essential-freediving-underwater-photography-guide/.

Steve Millard is a leading UK based AIDA and PADI Freediving Instructor Trainer who is the owner of Apneists UK freediving group - www.freedivers.co.uk. Currently Press officer to the British Freediving Association and Performance mermaids lead coach.

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Frontline workers honoured with free dive trip to Yap

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The remote island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia is among the few places in the world that remains free of Covid-19 thanks to its ocean border and a strict travel ban that has kept its residents safe.

Nonetheless, Yap has been affected, too. As one of the world’s premier, award-winning destinations for divers, this paradisiacal location in the western Pacific Ocean has had no outside visitors to its rich shores and reef for nearly a year. But while there may be no virus, the island hasn’t been cut off from the economic impact experienced around the globe.

Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers by A. Tareg

That didn’t stop Bill Acker, CEO and founder of the Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers, from doing something, though.

Last March, soon after the island went into lockdown, Bill began to realize the effect of the virus on daily life beyond the island. “Yes, we are closed, have no divers, had to send our employees home and prepare for difficult times,” he said. “But we’re lucky in that we have, for the most part, avoided the human suffering and death this pandemic has caused.”

Thinking about the problems faced by his family business, they paled when he compared them to those endured by the healthcare workers who have been fighting selflessly around the clock for months on end for the well-being and lives of others.

“One evening, while checking the news online, I saw pictures of frontline workers who were tending to desperately ill and dying people when families and friends could not be with their loved ones. It was heartbreaking,” he added.

The next day, a meeting was held with the resort’s staff and Bill invited suggestions for ways they could do something to honor healthcare workers. The result was the idea to award twenty divers who are working on the frontline to save other’s lives during this pandemic while risking their own, with a free week at the resort.

Manta ray, Manta birostris, gliding over a cleaning station in M’il Channel, Yap, Micronesia by David Fleetham

Divers around the world who had been guests at Manta Ray Bay in the past were invited to submit the names of candidates for the award by December 31, 2020. “We received nominations for 126 individuals from as far away as Germany, the U.S., Australia and Canada,” he said. “It was not easy choosing the winners but our committee of staff members took on the job and selected the 20 finalists.”

“While trying to choose the people to reward for their hard work during this Covid-19 crisis,” Bill added, “by reading the nominations we saw that every one of the nominees was doing things above and beyond the call of duty. Sadly, we don’t have the finances to offer over 100 free weeks in Yap, but we do want to recognize the contributions all of them are making to our world. So, we are offering the rest of the nominees a free week of diving in Yap which includes room, hotel tax, airport transfers, breakfast, diving and Wi-Fi.  The only requirement is that they travel with at least three other people and stay in two rooms or more.”

“We do not yet know when Yap will open its borders,” said Bill, “but when it does, we will welcome these important guests to Yap to relax and dive with the manta rays and the other beautiful denizens of the ocean surrounding our island home. They are the true heroes of this devastating, historic time and we look forward to honoring them with a well-deserved dive vacation.”

Watch out for our exclusive trip report from a healthcare worker from the UK who is one of the 20 to have been awarded this amazing dive trip!

For more information on Manta Ray Bay and Yap Divers visit their website by clicking here.

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Dive Training Blogs

Dream Dive Locker Build Out. Part I: Demolition (Watch Video)

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It’s finally here! Time to start building the greatest dive locker the world has ever seen! Part I: Demolition! #dreamdivelocker

This is the first of a series of videos showing the evolution of building out my dream dive locker. My dream dive locker needs to be dive gear drying and storage, dry storage, workshop, office, editing suite, You Tube studio and classroom. That’s a lot of functions for a small space!

The first step is planning out the space and demolishing the laminate flooring. Then I taped up the walls to get a feel for the space. We have a lot of work to do!

But finally we will have a purpose built space to house all of our dive equipment! Subscribe to our channel to follow our progress! 

Thanks for watching, Team!

James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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This is the perfect start to your 2021 diving season… and at an incredible lead-in price of just £885 per person.

Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. This itinerary takes in the wonderful South & St Johns from 26 February – 05 March 2021.  

Subject to availability – limited flight seats at this price so don't delay!

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk to book your spot!

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