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BSoUP Meeting - August 2006

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Wednesday 16th August 2006 at 7.30 for 8.00 p.m. in The Holland Club, Imperial College, South Kensington, London SW7.

PETER LADELL - International Shootouts


Peter Ladell

Peter is a veteran of both international and UK competitions alike and has a wealth of knowledge and experience to offer to anyone interested in taking part in one of these exciting and challenging competitions.

Even if you are not planning to take part yourself the subject is still a wonderful insight into these unique events.

Peter is a long standing BSoUP committee member, projectionist, film developer, housing builder, jeweller... you name it really.


No theme is being imposed on the participants this year, although the photograph must have been taken underwater. Please note that Aquarium and pool shots are not eligible. Entries must be in by Tuesday midnight August 15. Entry form.


Gavin Parsons picked up his first camera at the age of 11 and he hasn't really put one down since. He has travelled across the world on assignment for various magazines and his favourites include Cuba, Sudan, Djibouti, the Bahamas, South Africa and Egypt. Passionate about marine wildlife, Gavin has been diving since 1991.

He is an award winning wildlife photographer and his work has appeared in magazines around the world. He is perhaps best known for his articles in the UK based Diver magazine and as the editor of Sport Diver magazine which he left in 1999.

Gavin dives both in the UK and around the world and is almost never without his camera. He is also heavily involved with the internationally renowned marine animal rescue organisation British Divers Marine Life Rescue. He is the charity's London Area Coordinator and one of its Marine Mammal Medic Course instructors.

Gavin Parsons

is almost never without his camera. He is also heavily involved with the internationally renowned marine animal rescue organisation British Divers Marine Life Rescue. He is the charity's London Area Coordinator and one of its Marine Mammal Medic Course instructors.

With this rich background and list of achievements, Gavin will present a fascinating insight into the lives of sharks, a subject for which he has a great affection and holds a great depth of knowledge on.

Gill McDonald

International shoot-outs with Pete Ladell

by Alison Mayor

Reproduced from Focus On no. 86 (Winter 2006/7)

Pete began his talk by thanking BSoUP and its members for giving him the opportunity to represent them at international photo shoot­out competitions over the last six years via a contribution to the cost of attending. Pete has been a photographer for over 20 years and has entered a number of these events both at home and abroad. He went on to describe the nature of the competitions, identifying the differences to our own UK/ BSoUP 'splash-in' events.

The international competitions are much more commercial in their approach. Often accompanied by stringent rules, there are some big cash and goods prizes but the organisers usually wish to use the resulting images royalty free. Often the large diving federations like PADI and CMAS sponsor competitions along with diving equipment manufacturers and retailers.

Every two years, CMAS hold the 'World Underwater Photography Championships' in locations all over the world. All five continents are represented with over 27 entering, the next one being in Autumn 2007. The competition is very controlled in order to create a level playing field for all competitors. However, some entrants enjoy the advantages of much greater support from their sponsors who will go to great lengths and expense to win. The competition is fiercely contested. Some teams are afforded the luxury of being able to spend weeks at the venue and so benefit from exploring the potential dive sites and familiarising themselves with the waters and marine life, others can only hope to make the most of the two or three days of the competition.

Almost every photographer has a regular model to accompany them. The models are familiar with how and where to position themselves in order to get an image the judges will like and also with what dive kit to wear in order to look good underwater. For each dive, the images selected for judging are cut and mounted in front of the jury. There are five main categories judged in the competition:

wide-angle with diver
theme (recent competitions include sea grasses and nudibranchs)

The jury comprises up to nine internationally renowned photographers. In general, the winning images have a different style to those taken by UK photographers, especially those involving diving models. Pete explained that in the judging they look for clean/ slick lines and composition is very important. UK photographers do not normally dive or work with a dedicated model, but one who works regularly with the photographer can help create the sort of image the judges are looking for. The events are very well organised locally and are run very much with the involvement of the local population, councils and businesses, making the event a real pageant or festival for the townspeople and and their families. The media are also heavily involved. CMAS HQ organisation is very bureaucratic partly as a result of their bid secure Olympic accreditation

So far, all the competitions have been limited to film but it is now understood that they will be open to digital photographers in the  coming year. It is not yet known how the rules for digital competition will work, and whether competitors will be able to manipulate images before they are judged.Pete then showed a short film, produced during the competition held in Estartit, Costa Brava. The diving was centred in the Medas Islands but unfortunately there was not much in the way of marine animal life on that particular trip, though the Medas Islands are normally known for their prolific Mediterranean life.

International competitions are a great way to meet some of the best underwater photographers in the world and make new friends and Pete thanked BSoUP again for giving him the opportunity to take part

Reproduced from Focus On No. 86 (Winter 2006/7)

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