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NUPG February 2019 Monthly Meeting Report



February saw the NUPG welcoming Nick & Caroline Robertson-Brown of Frogfish Photography who entertained us with a presentation entitled “Telling Tales” which was all about the type of underwater images required by diving magazines, newspapers, online media and other organisations. Nick is a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and specialises in photo journalism and is currently the Photo Editor of Scubaverse whilst Caroline has a MSc. in animal behaviour and is the Deputy Editor of Scubaverse so they should know what they are talking about.

The differences between single page double page spreads was discussed and how for an article in a magazine a great double page spread image is the photo that has to be thought of first. This image needs to tell the story of the article. As always the talk was illustrated with many examples of their work.

The discussion turned on to the importance of divers in a shot, especially for dive magazine front covers. Lots of front cover shots have been taken in portrait mode, so try to remember this underwater. Some dive magazines will only produce front covers that have photos of divers in them, even if it is only a silhouette. A diver can add scale and make a picture “pop”. When photographing divers for a magazine image it is good to either have the face lit or the diver to be a silhouette. Also try to avoid photos of divers with camera gear or ones that show a diver with loads of dangly bits that can make the image look untidy. It is also interesting to note that black and white images rarely make a great front cover shot.

Images that can tell a story as well as have a good headline are often favoured. They don’t have to be 100% perfect as wording and post photo editing can work wonders, however there is only a certain amount of backscatter allowed! At this point they emphasized the importance of strobe angles in underwater photography.

It is always good to prepare a “To do” list so that all the particular shots that are required are taken. Often above water pictures are needed and these can be very easy to forget. Many more hints and tips were supplied especially if you are hoping to write and illustrate your own article for a dive magazine. Again there were many great examples that they have had published in the diving press along with the tales of where and how they took the images.

The next part of the talk went onto discuss other media that is not dive orientated such as the general press, television and digital social media and how images can be sold to them. They used their iconic shot which launched the BT Paralympic World Cup in 2012 as an example. Following on from this they showed some of their images which have been the most published. Unsurprisingly seals and salt water crocodiles were some of the top billing shots as was the swimming pig!

After the presentation it was time for our monthly competition “Front Cover”. There were an impressive number of entries. We had asked Nick and Caroline to pick the winners. They went through every shot discussing what was good and bad about each one and how some could be improved and how it was difficult to pick a winner out of so many great photographs.

In the end there were 2 highly commended images. Elaine White with her shot of a seal in The Scillies and Maggie Russell and her shot of a diver over a large brain coral taken in The Banda Sea Indonesia. There were two joint runner-ups, Alex Tasker with his image of a diver on the “Mark Graf” and Paul Ansell with a lovely fish portrait shot taken off Bussletown jetty Australia. The overall winner was Elaine White and her great image of a diver in The Cenotes, Mexico.

Following on from this there also was the announcement of the winning compact shot “Best of 2018” The winning image was Jason Melton and a delightful shot of a blennie in its coral home.

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

Our next meeting which is being held on the 2nd Monday of the month as usual, will be on the 11th March and Jason Gregory will be telling us how he planned and took his award winning image of a Sea Pen in a Scottish Loch. Further details of this talk and next month’s competition theme “Monochrome” as well as details of our splash-in and print competition in July 2019 will be found on our website shortly. Please come along and join us. Everyone welcome.

For more information about the NUPG please click here.

The Northern Underwater Photography Group (NUPG) is an organisation of like-minded people with an interest in taking images underwater. The group meets in Manchester but membership is drawn from around the North of England and further afield. Meetings are monthly and previous speakers have included Alex Mustard, Martin Edge, Alex Tattersall, and Scubaverse's own Nick & Caroline Robertson-Brown. Find out more at

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Sharks the Ocean’s Greatest Mystery – Part 2



Sharks are an incredibly significant animal in human culture of both the past and present, they are an animal that have been embodied in our culture for millennia. They are represented in formats such as books and clothing, but most notably in our TV and films, which is where a large portion of their negative reputation stems from. A popular TV representation of sharks comes from Discovery Channel’s ‘Shark Week’, and I believe sharks are possibly the only animal on our planet to have an entire week dedicated to them every year. However, despite this, we still know more collectively about the surface of the Moon and Mars, about Galaxies outside of our own, and even about animals that have been extinct for millions of years, than we do about sharks.

Sharks are our Ocean’s top predator, and they represent just how little we know about our blue planet. We have put more money into exploring outer space than we have exploring our seas and whilst many people call space the final frontier, I believe the final frontier is our Oceans. There are people that have lived in space for over a year, yet we aren’t able to stay underwater for more than a few short hours, and with each dive, scientists are discovering something new in the deep sea, giving us a better understanding of our oceans and the top predator that lives within them.

What we do not know

It is easier to talk about what we do not know and the implications of not knowing it, we still don’t know where most shark species mate or give birth, knowing this would accelerate conservation efforts for sharks in a huge way as these areas could then have realistic protections placed on them, allowing us to preserve key stages of the Sharks life cycle.

Marine Biologists have stated that the discovery of a White Shark breeding ground would be the holy grail of Ocean Science, but the only reports of White Sharks mating come from a handful of sightings from Fisherman and Sailors, so these cannot be used as an official record.

We know that Sharks mature late in the same way as us humans, it is estimated that some species are estimated to not be sexually mature until their late 30’s and 40’s, which means that these species are at extreme risk of disappearing due to fishing, as they aren’t able to replenish their numbers fast enough when put under extreme fishing pressure. There is a lot of debate over whether Sharks mature at a certain age or a certain size, for example it was estimated that White Sharks mature at four metres in length, however, in South Africa in 2017 a female White Shark was killed by Orcas, and it was determined that she was either immature or hadn’t mated, as there was the presence of a Hymen.

We are also still unsure about the impacts of human activities on Sharks and how losing Sharks, or their habitat, would affect the habitats and environments on land, environments in which we depend on for our survival.

What we do know

New Shark discoveries are made every year, and scientists are predicting that in the next 15-20 years we will be entering the golden age of ocean and shark discoveries. We already know that sharks are the oceans top predator and we have determined that they affect the very mechanics and functions of the Ocean, if we were to remove them, we would be putting the worlds ecosystems at risk of collapsing. Sharks are an integral part of the balance of the oceans, they help by controlling populations of other species, if we were to lose sharks, species such as turtles would have an increase in population, therefore leading to more seagrass being eaten, which is a prime food source for many animals. Thus, other smaller animals would not be able to feed, and their population would decrease, also the decrease of sea grass would affect us humans on earth as the oceans plant life helps to absorb carbon dioxide and create oxygen, and actually up to 75% of the oxygen we breathe is created from the oceans.

We know that some Shark species have complex social relationships that aid in their survival, although this has only been observed in a handful of species. Lemon Sharks form bonds as pups and hunt together in the shallow mangrove swamps of the Bimini Atoll, and will learn and hunt together and learn vital skills needed in their future survival. Hammerheads are possibly the most famous for social interactions as they form huge schools off places such as the Galapagos Islands and it has been observed that the more dominant females swim in the centre of the school and display for the males.

Some shark species, such as the Zebra Shark, have been known to mimic other animals. Zebra sharks are born with stripes (which fade as they get older) and they have the second longest tail (after the Thresher Shark), this helps them to mimic the highly venomous, White-Banded Sea Snake in order to trick predators into avoiding them, they have even been reported to mimic taking a breath at the surface like a sea snake would do.

It has recently been discovered that Greenland Sharks are now the longest lived Vertebrate on our Planet, they are believed to be able to exceed the age of 500, with females not reaching sexual maturity until they are around 150 years old. This was discovered by examining special proteins in their eyes that do not degrade with age. Determining age and sexual maturity are crucial for understanding and managing shark populations as knowing what age a Shark can breed will allow us to gauge what protections a species needs.

It has recently been discovered that female Whale Sharks are able to store sperm to use over a period of time, this is in order to ensure their chance of reproducing, even without recently mating. This is a huge advantage for conserving the species, as Whale Sharks are classed as an endangered species and so, with the number of whale sharks declining, this ensures the species can continue. Along with this, Whale Sharks have also been found to be pregnant with up to 300 pups, and these pups can be at different stages of development due to the staggered use of stored sperm.

Of all things we know there is one thing that is certain, a Shark, no matter the species, is unique and worth more to our world alive than dead. In the next blog we will explore the threats that Sharks face and how we can help Sharks through the tough times ahead.

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Nauticam NA-α1 Housing for Sony α1 Camera now shipping



The Sony α1 is the company’s flagship full-frame interchangeable lens camera.  Designed around the new 50.1MP Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor and the BIONZ XR processor, the α1 is truly a camera which can do it all.  It’s 759 point Fast Hybrid Autofocus system offers advanced subject tracking and real-time eye autofocus on both humans and animals.  The optimized processing within the α1 allows it to achieve 30fps continuous shooting at full resolution along with 8K 30p and 4K 120p 10-bit video recording.

Nauticam has supported the Sony Alpha full-frame line since the original a7 with professional grade aluminum housings that offer intuitive access to all the controls and functions of the cameras. As the cameras have evolved, so have the Nauticam housings. The NA-α1 underwater housing provides fingertip access to all key camera controls in a rugged and reliable aluminum underwater housing. Ergonomic camera control access is one of the defining strengths of a Nauticam housing, and the NA-α1 continues this tradition.

Integrated DSLR-housing styled handles with ergonomic rubberized grips and stainless steel stiffening brackets add stability and accessory mounting points. The NA-a1 also features dual rear thumb-levers that are easily reached from the handle that access three of the most-used controls on the rear of the camera. The right lever actuates the AF-ON and RECORD buttons while the left lever is mapped to the PLAY button.

Atop the housing on the left side are controls in the form of a MODE dial and FOCUS mode lever. The C1, C2 buttons as well as the EV compensation dial also have direct access from the top of the housing. The C3, which is typically assigned to control switching between the EVF and the LCD screen is easily reachable on the rear of the housing from the left handle.

For more information visit the UK Nauticam website by clicking here 

or to visit the USA Nauticam website click here.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email

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