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Workshop workout

by Mark Webster


Back in November 1987 I purchased some tickets for the Diving Diseases Research Centre Raffle, and them like most people thought no more of it. Imagine my surprise when in May this year I received a letter awarding me a one week diving holiday on board the 'Likely Lad'. This was prize number 27! What was prize number 1 - but that would be wishful thinking.

It was at this moment I recalled seeing an advertisement for two underwater photographic workshops on board 'Likely Lad', one with Peter Rowlands and other with Les Kemp. It was too late to consider Peter's week, but after a false start I managed to secure a place on Les Kemp's workshop during the first week of September.

Gradually the time passed and I arrived at Kingsbridge Watersports emporium to be greeted by Bill and Mary Bunting and meet my fellow photographers for the week. These ranged from a couple who had travelled all the way from Switzerland to a young lady from Ocean Optics (a possible spy in the camp?). Les and Bill had chosen the week to coincide with a series of neap tides and, as it turned out, a week of near perfect weather. These facts, mixed with the ingredients of the dive boat devoted to photography and a daily processing facility, provided by Les, should mean we could hardly fail.

The structure of the 'workshop' was very informal, with Les making suggestions for the technique of the day and offering advice as it was needed. For myself, I had planned to spend the week practising, and hopefully perfecting, the technique of double exposures. As it transpired, the facilities provided by the week were ideal for this, Bill Bunting, who is a keen photographer himself, was endlessly helpful in identifying suitable shallow water sites, although somehow the wreck of the 'Herzogin Cecile' seemed to develop a magnetic attraction! Each evening we were able to view the day's efforts after processing, share constructive criticism and plan rectification of mistakes or a change of technique. All this created a very relaxed and productive atmosphere. Further entertainment was provided by Les's presentation of his award winning audio-visuals and a picture-of-the-week competition., which I was fortunate enough to win -although not with a double exposure!

I feel the week was a great success and hope that it will be the first of a regular series of such workshops in the UK (in fact Bill is promising further dates for 1989). Although it has been said before, these style of events are essential in the promotion and advancement of underwater photography and really must become a regular feature to encourage those into the sport who cannot afford the attractions of more exotic locations. My thanks go to Bill Bunting for the diving and to Les Kemp for his able presentation, organisation and speedy processing ~ sixteen films a day is no mean feat, as I know from personal experience. In the meantime I'm hoping my luck with raffles stays with me.

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