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NUPG March 2019 Monthly Meeting Report

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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.

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. 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.

Congratulations 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.

For more information about the NUPG 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 supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

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Photo Gallery: Dive Fest Barbados

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In our Gallery feature, we let the photos tell the story… Each Gallery showcases a selection of outstanding images on a chosen theme, taken by our Underwater Photography Editor Nick and Deputy Editor Caroline of Frogfish Photography. This time they reflect on their visits to the Caribbean Island of Barbados for the annual Dive Fest celebrations.


Dive Fest Barbados is a week of celebrating the marine life, diving and snorkeling this idyllic island has to offer. There are activities organised each day for all those that attend that include wreck diving, marine conservation, learning to dive, snorkeling and one an unusual dive for us – riding a submarine to the bottom of the Caribbean Sea! Dive Fest Barbados allows divers to get the very best out of a trip here, with plenty of diving, but also to sample the unique atmosphere, mouth-watering food and drink, stunning scenery and beautiful beaches.

For more images from Barbados and around the world, visit the Frogfish Photography website by clicking here.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Video Series: The CCMI Reef Lectures – Part 4 (Watch Video)

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Introduced by Jeff Goodman

Never before since human beings have had major influence over our earths climate and environments, have we come to so close to the brink of global disaster for our seas and marine life. We need to act now if we are not going to crash headlong into irreversible scenarios.

A good start to this is understanding how the marine environment works and what it means to our own continued survival. We can only do this by listening and talking to those with the experience and knowledge to guide us in the right direction.

CCMI (Central Caribbean Marine Institute) are hosting an annual Reef Lecture series that is open to the general public and Scubaverse will be sharing those lectures over the coming months.


Part 4: Stop Whining! Life as an Ocean Ambassador; Ellen Cuylaerts

Ellen Cuylaerts shares her insights on how to act, practice what you preach and use your voice to contribute to constructive change. Ellen is a wildlife and underwater photographer and chooses to take images of subjects that are hard to encounter like harp seal pups, polar bears, orcas, beluga whales and sharks, to name a few. By telling the stories about their environment and the challenges they face, she raises awareness about the effect of climate change on arctic species, the cruel act of shark finning and keeping marine mammals in captivity.

During this seminar, Ellen will take you on a virtual trip and show you the stories behind the shots: how to get there, how to prepare, how to create the most chances to come home with a shot, and how to never give up!

Ellen Cuylaerts is an ocean advocate, underwater & wildlife photographer, explorer, and public speaker.


For more information about the CCMI click here.

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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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