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by Frederick Alan Butt

Reproduced from in focus 9 (April 1985)

Canary Islands (Spain)

This wasn't our first visit. but in a way it was. Since Brighton 83 and two BSoUP meetings, my suspicions that underwater photography was to be more than a passing interest were confirmed. A diving pal had loaned me his Nikonos Ill and flash and I was raring to go.

As a complete novice I had two months to learn. Should be enough time, if I read a few pages a day of the recent book I had purchased on underwater photography.

The more I read, the more confused I became, but the pictures helped as I could see the different results, and slowly it became clearer or should I say it came into focus better.

Most of my diving was in Puerto del Carmen, and due to the prevailing conditions, I was unable to travel further, but with Moray, Ray, Grouper, Barracuda etc., all waiting to be photographed, there just didn't seem enough film on the roll.

I had the first roll developed, just to see if I had made any mistakes. And would you believe it, the best shot so far is one of my right knee, taken accidentally whilst cleaning the camera.

On our last day, I went to the beach very early to have just one last snorkel. The sun was not at its best and a strong breeze made the water seem cold and uninviting. Visibility was not too good, as there was plenty of plankton. I was tempted to rush back to the apartment for a hot shower, but I persisted and found myself in about 10m of water on a sloping beach, to the right of the Hotel Fariones, where a small shoal of fish appeared, lazily feeding in midwater. These were joined by a shoal of what appeared to be mackeral or maybe small barracuda? The shoal was about 5ft x 5ft and probably 40ft long. It moved in the same way as a caterpillar, but faster, sections of the shoal moving as one, turning this way and then that. Jaws opening and closing - constantly feeding on plankton. There must have been thousands of these silver, sleek. greenish tailed fish, unconcerned but not unaware of the stranger in their midst. I forgot how cold the water was and just hung in the water fascinated, remembering how some of the best photographs are taken whilst snorkelling, and cursing myself for forgetting to take the camera with me. But then it I hadn't bothered to go in at all, I would have missed the best sight I have enjoyed since I took up snorkelling and diving.

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