Visions In The Sea 2003 Coverage

Organizer:   Ocean Optics [visions web site]
Itinerary:   Amos Nachoun
Big animal photography
  Tony White
Special speaker for An Evening with Tony White
    Roy Cash
Photography opportunities in the Philippines
  David Doubilet
Surprise guest, signing his newest book.
    Dr. Alexander Mustard
Digital imaging underwater
  Espen Rekdal
Adventures on Safari: Photography from his native Norway, and from Wakatobi

Martin Edge
Supermacro photography techniques

  Gordon MacSkimming
Traveling Western Australia
    Tribute to Colin Bateman
Presentation of images from the new book, Out of the Blue
  Paul Naylor
Adventures in Photographing UK Fish: techniques used to obtain illustrations of his latest book
    Visions in the Sea Award
Presented to Alex Mustard and the members of YUP
  Arthur Hunking
Taking land-based photography classes to improve underwater photography
    Charles Hood
Challenges to producing his first book, 100 Best Dives in Cornwall
  Paul Kay
Composing like a Pro: a talk on composition
    Elgar Hay
Live-aboard and shore-based diving in the Maldives
  Simon Christopher (Scubazoo)
Presentation about marine conservation, and about Scubazoo, a team of videographers and photographers based in Sabah, Borneo
    Simon Brown
Trials and tribulations of becoming a professional photographer
  John Collins
Using semi-closed rebreathers
    Pete Atkinson
Adventures in Life: living on a yacht, and photographing remote islands, atolls, and reef systems
  Leigh Bishop
Deep sea wreck photography as deep as 120 meters (equipment and techniques)

October 26, 2003: I had a wonderful weekend at the Visions in the Sea 2003 Festival here in London. The festival has been put on for the past seven years by Steve Warren and his crew at Ocean Optics, and was moderated this year by the esteemed Colin Doeg, who at 76 years of age leads the BSoUP, the British Society of Underwater Photographers. Incidentally, Colin is also the president of YUP (Young Underwater Photographers). Tickets to the two-day event were priced at £99, with an extra charge for a special evening event featuring Tony White and suprise guest David Doubilet. Although the festival's speakers and audience were mostly U.K.-based, almost all of the topics covered in the talks applied to underwater photographery in general. Main speakers spoke in 45-minute time slots, with 15-minute travel briefings and tea/biscuit breaks sprinkled throughout each day.

Memorable moments (for me):

Particularly eventful was meeting fellow YUP members Alex Mustard (a frequent contributor here at Wetpixel, and founder of YUP) and Espen Rekdal, whose wonderful photographs from Norway and Wakatobi seem to be second to none. Alex -- and all of the members of YUP -- were jointly presented with the 2003 Visions in the Sea Award, an award for outstanding contributions to underwater photography. Steve and the Ocean Optics crew showed a nice DVD they had put together featuring YUP members and our collective achievements.

Also memorable were the underwater photographs of Amos Nachoun. Amos travels to the extreme parts of the world looking to "push the envelope in photography," (how he describes it) and has shot benchmark images of many of the large animals out there.

In memory of the late Colin Bateman, his wife Lorraine has produced Out of the Blue, a book featuring his finest underwater photographs. All proceeds from the sale of his book go to the Scuba Trust.

Alex Mustard gave a concise, informative overview of the current state of digital photography -- a hard topic, given the wide range of knowledge present in such a diverse crowd. Surprisingly, Alex's presentation was the only one focused on digital photography. I would have liked to see more presentations about the state of digital photography at the moment.

Pete Atkinson gave an amusing talk about his 18 years living on a small yacht in the South Pacific. Specifically, he spoke at length about the pros and cons of hopping around from port to port, and at the same time he showed some of the absolutely gorgeous photographs he has taken during his travels. Aside from diving completely on his own terms, Pete is able to wait for the absolute best conditions in any given location; as a result, he shoots very infrequently, sometimes netting as few as 120 rolls a year. However, I'll bet he gets more keepers than the rest of us do. :)

Espen Rekdal showed some of the most breathtaking photographs I have ever seen. His photographs of Norway are unusual, partly because it is not a frequently photographed area, and his supermacro slides from Wakatobi showed a level of perfection that we should all aspire to match.

Leigh Bishop routinely dives to depths greater than 120 meters, and is one of the most respected deep sea wreck photographers in the industry. His wreck photography is ground-breaking because in addition to having mastered the technical challenges of deep-water diving, Pete takes a tripod with him to shoot long, ambient-light exposures using black and white film. They are quite striking. With typical decompression times of up to six hours -- which sometimes start at 80-90 meters in depth --, Leigh is really pushing the limits of non-saturation diving (which he plans to get into next year).

I also met with Peter Ladell, who makes custom housings, ports, and equipment for many of the attendees at Visions in the Sea. Particularly interesting to me was a rotating flash bracket (named after Espen, who came up with the original idea) that allows for landscape and portrait flash positioning by rotating a ring around a replacement macro port. His macro port also allows the mounting of Inon's ring flash (known as the "quad," here in the U.K.), and can be ordered for virtually any port mount.

Lunch at Visions: Charles Hood, Zoe Murphy, and Alex Mustard

Martin Edge critiques slides

Alex, with spectators, looking over images on his computer

Amos Nachoun, critiquing slides

Me, Lisa, Espen Rekdal, and Alex Mustard

Peter Ladell, posing with his home-made housings