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Galapagos Islands & Fish Faces: The April NUPG Meeting

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On the second Monday of each month the Northern Underwater Photography Group meet for a curry at the Gurkha Grill, followed by a meeting from 8-10pm to discuss all things underwater photography.

This month those attending were treated to a talk from Josef Litt about the Galapagos Islands. Josef has recently published a book on the islands and so had been invited to speak to the group, focusing on the diving and underwater photography. Each month there is also a competition for members and this month the theme was Fish Face(s).

Josef kicked off the meeting and started by talking about the geography, history and creation of the marine reserve in the Galapagos. He moved on to discuss the best ways to dive the islands, with liveaboard options for Wolf and Darwin Islands, whilst also suggesting an island snorkelling tour to get some of the more unusual and rewarding shots.

His marine life images often made the audience gasp, with outstanding photos of whalesharks, eagle rays, schooling hammerhead sharks, marine iguanas, Mola mola, sealions, penguins, turtles and birds. Josef also discussed the underwater photography conditions, with cool water, plenty of current and what he describes as low visibility, although when pushed, said it was 10-15m – which is pretty good in our books!

Josef’s talk was full of essential information and packed with funny anecdotes and was one of the most enjoyable we have been to. He clearly has a wealth of knowledge about these islands and a love of them too. His book is beautiful and we look forward to reviewing it for Scubaverse later in the month.

The Fish Face competition saw a drop in the usual number of entries, perhaps due to many members being away on Easter holidays. The winner was a gorgeous and funny portrait of a UK shanny by Elaine White. Nick Robertson-Brown took second place with his gaping Basking Shark shot from Cornwall. It was great to see UK species featuring so highly. The compact winner was Keith Major with his image of a scorpionfish in the Red Sea.

The next event for the NUPG is the Spring Warm-Up at Capernwray on the 28th April. This will be an informal meet up for any underwater photographers that would like to attend, take some photos and discuss how to improve as the UK season gets into full swing.

For more information about the Northern Underwater Photography Group please click here.

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

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Mantis Sub: The world’s first production 3D/360-VR underwater housing

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Mantis Sub opens the realm of 3D production to professional underwater VR producers. To date, underwater VR cameras and housings have been either monoscopic, or the price and size of a new car. The producers of the NZVR Project wanted an alternative that could meet demanding professional production standards, offer 3D stereoscopy, and do it in a compact, affordable, robust housing that was good to 90 metres.

An early decision to leverage the performance, reliability and huge feature set of Insta360’s Pro2 camera set the course.

“It made perfect sense to use the Pro2 camera,” says James Frankham, publisher of New Zealand Geographic and director of the NZVR Project. “We had already been using it for our drone footage, and the interface, control app and workflow offered quick and elegant solutions to an excruciatingly complex technology. It offers 8k 3D production with a log format, and means that users can deploy the same camera in terrestrial and marine environments. In the end, it was a no-brainer.”

The distinctive hexagonal geometry of the housing grew out of the desire for an uninterrupted 360-degree view with clean zenith and nadir. Even the latches are recessed into the anodised aluminium body, resulting in a perfect stitch.

The camera can be switched on and controlled using capacitive-touch buttons on the body, or connected via a waterproof ethernet bulkhead to provide control and livestreaming via the Insta360 app. (On the surface, operators can use wifi/bluetooth for configuration and control as usual.) There are additional ports for a hydrophone, a vacuum valve, and numerous threaded mounts for attaching lighting, tripods and other production rigging.

“This is a camera designed by VR professionals for VR professionals,” says Frankham. “We understand the production community wants­­­­ robust, capable tools that are good value, reliable and extensible.”

From the stable of Insta360’s professional range, the high degree of control allows producers to finely control the camera’s response to difficult underwater conditions, add artificial lighting and ISO-limit the exposure for clean blacks when shooting in dark environments, at night or in caves.

The Mantis Sub already has a product variation in the Mantis Spray—a weatherproof housing designed to provide 3D-360 coverage aboard foiling AC75 Americas Cup yachts. Rather than submersion it had to resist sheets of spray and the rigours of sailing at speeds approaching 100 km/h while delivering uninterrupted VR footage to the world. A powerful, filtered fan was required to keep the unit cool inside the housing. It’s available in lightweight nylon or anodised aluminium.

“With the acceleration of virtual reality technology, the advent of 3D stereoscopy, and the desire to create visceral experiences in the marine realm, these housings have an important place in the way we cover extreme sports and the underwater world. I can’t wait to see what producers can do with them.”

Development was funded by New Zealand Geographic and Global Dive—a technical diving outfitter also based in New Zealand. Global Dive will be the international distributor and first point of contact for sales and service of the products, says director Andrew Simpson.

“Global Dive is proud to be involved in this product development, and brings considerable sales and service experience to the partnership, from an extensive international network of dive professionals to the meticulous in-house service crew to assemble the products and offer uncompromising after-sales support.”

For more information visit the website by clicking here.

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Announcing the Winners of Scubaverse.com’s November 2020 Underwater Photo & Video Contests

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Another great month for entries in both contests – your underwater photos and videos are just getting better and better! Thanks to all who entered.

To find out who the winner of Scubaverse.com’s November 2020 Underwater Photo Contest is, click here.

To find out who the winner of Scubaverse.com’s November 2020 Underwater Video Contest is, click here.

If you’re not a winner this month, then please do try again. December’s photo and video contests are now open.

To enter Scubaverse.com’s December 2020 Underwater Photo Contest, click here.

To enter Scubaverse.com’s December 2020 Underwater Video Contest, click here.

Good luck!!!

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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