Eleventh International Festival of Underwater Photography and Film
Location: National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Birmingham
Dates: November 12-13, 2003
1. DIVE 2003
This year’s Birmingham Dive Show was the biggest and busiest yet. There were no less than 320 leading suppliers at the show offering the latest range of dive gear, fabulous dive holidays and some of the coolest leisure gear. The show took up two massive halls at the NEC and had two in-hall pools for both open-water and rebreather (Draeger Dolphin, Ambient Pressure Inspiration and Azimuth) try dives. There was also a spectacular Caribbean Village promoting holidays to the Bahamas and Caribbean complete with Caribbean band, which brought a nice summer feel to an otherwise cold and wet autumn weather outside.
In addition, there were also dozens of free seminars and presentations taking place with top named speakers in virtually every field of diving. A packed room turned out for the phenomena and beautiful, Tanya Streeter’s talk on her latest world record free dive to 122m in the variable weight category (beating the men’s world record). The crowd pleasing Amos Nachoun (National Geographic photographer) was on hand to “wow” the audience with his awesome pictures of jumping great whites.
2. Cameras and Diving Equipment
For the technophiles, there was no shortage of equipment on display. Most of the large UK photographic retailers were out in force (including Cameras Underwater, FEP, Alan James Photography, Sea & Sea and others). They were by far some of the busiest stands displaying an increasingly large number of digital underwater cameras and housings.
It was however nice to see at the show the presence of not only the established names like Sea & Sea, Light & Motion, Subal, Seacam, Gates but also smaller UK manufacturers like Birchley from Gloucester, UK getting into digital.
Many renowned international photographers (like Paul Kay and Constantinos Petrinos) were also on hand to sign their latest books on underwater photography. It was a real treat to chance upon a meeting at the Historical Diving Society’s stand one of the founding members of BSOUP, and an icon of the UK photographic scene, Tim Glover. I was teleported back to the 50s and early 60s when diving was considered a dangerous sport undertaken only by the brave. Tim, as a Kodak engineer, was already making clear housings and moulding dome ports, in his spare time from his home. He even showed me an early housing that was made from a metal cooking pot. For those of you with eagle eyes, the camera around Tim’s neck is a digital camera. The digital revolution marches on.
3. Image 2003
One of the highlights of the show was an exhibition of the winning pictures and screening of the winning short underwater films at the – International Festival of Underwater Photography and Film 2003.
This prestigious biennial festival attracted over 3000 entries from all over the world from both professionals (they have a grand master category) and amateur entrants. Entrants compete for prizes across numerous categories including prints, slides, portfolios, manipulated images (including digital images) and moving images (including video and cine films).
There was a dazzling array of talent on display and the winners can be found on the Diver website. It was encouraging to note that the winner of the “Best of British” prints category went to Alan James who took his award winning shot on a D100 Nikon. It is also somewhat ironic that the winner of the portfolios category this year, Pete Atkinson (runner up at this years’ BBC wildlife underwater competition) was given as a prize an Olympus digital camera and housing. Definitely a sign of the times.
Till next year.