Beneath the Sea 2004 Expo Report

The Beneath the Sea Exposition at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ, is the largest consumer scuba & dive travel show in America. The ambiance of the show is very different than it is at DEMA, which is geared for the dive industry itself and not for typical consumers. It was crowded on Saturday: there were literally hundreds of exhibitors at BTS, and I spent about six hours squeezing between browsing guests, visiting both friends and exhibits related to underwater digital photography. Unlike last year's DEMA show, there were very few new digital products announced.

Beneath the Sea

BTS registration

The BTS winning photos

I first stopped by Aquatica's booth to see Blake, Norma, and Jean Bruneau. They had the newest version of their I.C.U. ( Illumination Control Unit) on display, and I met and chatted for a bit with Sylvain Marcotte, the engineer responsible for its existence. Aquatica is working out a few compatibility issues with INON and Nikonos strobes, but are confident that the I.C.U. will soon bring E-TTL compatibility to most of the existing TTL strobes on the market. Aquatica's dedication to its customers is amazing. Norma told me about a customer who had just shown up to the show in tears because her years-old Aquatica housing needed some work. She was leaving for a trip the very next day and wasn't sure that she would be able to get it working in time. Instead of going to the film festival and participating in evening festivities, Norma decided to go home with the customer to solve her housing issue! I was very impressed.

As usual, Mauricio Handler was also at Aquatica's booth; Mauricio brought up an interesting point that we should probably be stressing in the Wetpixel forums. Regardless of the technical merits of the equipment one ends up buying, one still has to get in the water in order to develop as a photographer and as a creative artist. With digital cameras, there is no excuse for lack of experimentation -- its tight feedback loop enhances greatly the potential for creativity.

Blake and Norma at the Aquatica booth

Blake holds Aquatica's E-TTL compatible I.C.U.

Mauricio Handler, at the Aquatica booth

Next door to Aquatica was Todd Essick's booth, featuring his new book of nudes photographed with marine mammals and turtles, entitled Beginnings: Goddesses, Sirens and Mermaids. I last saw Todd at the Antibes Festival; back then the book was still in production, and it was really nice to finally see the finished product.

Art Photographer Todd Essick displays his new book

Todd Essick, in his booth

The Shark Diver Magazine guys (Eli and Marni) were stationed next to the Shark Research Institute booth, and were showing their newest issue (#6), which is so new that it isn't even on their website yet. At the Shark Research Institute booth, I spoke with Director Alex Antoniou at length; they had a poster on their wall of a whale shark photo I took while in the Galapagos last August. Ken Weemhoff over at Galapagos Adventures is offering a pretty sweet incentive to donate to SRI: If you donate $100 (or was it $150?) to SRI, you get the same amount in credit for a booking to the Galapagos, plus a whale shark poster and a CD slideshow of images from the Galapagos. For more information, send Ken an e-mail.

Shark Diver Magazine booth: Rata, Eli, and Marni

At the SRI booth: Stan Waterman, Alex Antoniou, and others

While wandering over to the TUSA/Sea & Sea booth, I passed by Wyland's corner of the expo, where he was painting (live!) a new work featuring whales. At Sea & Sea's booth, I spoke with Brad Lally, a Sea & Sea product manager for TUSA. They unfortunately weren't able to bring the N70 housing prototype to the show (it got stuck in customs), but had some other housings on display. Ryan Canon over at Underwater Camera Pros also had many housings on display. I like UWCP because Ryan is very pro-active about getting accurate information about digital underwater photography out to the public.

I talked to Dan Baldocchi at Light & Motion for awhile about the Titan D100 housing, which has been a bit controversial over here at Wetpixel because everyone seems to have strong opinions about it (on both sides). I'm looking forward to our trip to Fiji in May, when I'll have the opportunity to use the Titan underwater -- so I can form my own strong opinion. :)

I dropped by Ultralight Control Systems to see Dave Reid and Terry Schuller a few times. As usual, their booth was crammed full of people placing orders.

Wyland, painting on-site at his huge booth

TUSA/Sea & Sea's Brad Lally

Leandro Blanco

UnderWaterCameraPros.com. I gave Ryan two chances to keep his eyes open, but it didn't work out. :)

Light & Motion's Dan Baldocchi

Ultralight Control Systems: Dave Reid and Terry Schuller

Next to the Wakatobi booth (where Henrik Rosen was stationed), Anat Grant and Bobby Maruvada (and relatives) were manning their booth for ScubaCore, a quarterly DVD magazine featuring trip reports and interviews with professional photographers. The first issue features David Fleetham, an early convert to digital underwater imaging. The second issue will feature... me! No, I'm not joking. I dove with Bobby and Anat in Wakatobi last December.

Henrik Rosen, Wakatobi

Anna's behind is all over Wakatobi literature!

ScubaCore DVD Magazine: Anat Grand and Bobby Maruvada

Fred Dion and Dave Marsh were busy at the Underwater Photo Tech booth. I saw them recently at the Boston Sea Rovers Clinic. Jim Bullitt was at Ocean Brite's booth, where he was showing a rough prototype of their low-priced Canon Digital Rebel housing, which features a fixed dome port and strobe housings for the Canon Speedlight 220 EX E-TTL Speedlight. Oceanhaus had on display their small, expensive Casio P&S housings, and SeaLife showed their Reefmaster 2 and 3 megapixel underwater digital cameras.

Fred Dion and Dave Marsh, at Underwater Photo Tech

Jim Bullitt, at Ocean Brite Systems

Oceanhaus housings

SeaLife's booth

Joe Lein. I owe him a big one for picking me up and driving me to the show!

I bumped into (and met for the first time) fellow bengal cat owners Frank and Jo Anne Scherf, who stopped me on the floor to say hello.

I'd like to thank Joe Lein for his company, for his dedicated to sharing his experience with sharks, and for picking me up from Manhattan this morning. I'd also like to thank Scott and Faye (sp?), who were nice enough to drive me back into Manhattan after dinner. Dinner was delicious. We had Turkish food in Union City. Thanks also to Howard and the other organizers for their wonderful hospitality. I had never been paged before at a big show like this.

If anyone has some words about the film festival and/or other BTS activities over the weekend, please let me know! We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Yes, I'm a nerd.