BSoUP's Open Portfolio Competition 2004
Winner - Alexander Mustard
My winning Open Portfolio 2004
by Alexander Mustard
I am very pleased to have won the BSoUP Open
Portfolio, which I, like many, regard as the premiere annual
competition in British underwater photography.
All these images were taken during 2004. 5 of
them with my Nikon D100 and one of them with film on my Nikon F100. I
have actually just sold my D100 and housing to our esteemed Chairman,
and while I miss it greatly (as I wait for my new camera) I think
that winning this competition is a nice send off for it.
It is great that BSoUP competitions are now
fully open to digital images and that digital and film images compete
side by side in a single category. This is a great step for the
future and I hope that it attracts more digital photographers to
BSoUP, while continuing to support those who shoot film. Personally,
it also allows me to start
entering competitions again - after not really entering much over the
last two years since I switched over to digital.
1) Red rope sponge and diver - Babylon, North
Wall, Grand Cayman. I
actually took this picture while I was running a coral spawning trip
for UK travel agent Divequest during September 2004. We had
visibility that week, so I did a lot of wide angle. The model's torch
was added in Photoshop - using a lens flare filter, which I think
lifts the image a bit, and gives it more depth.
Nikon D100, 10.5mm, Subal Housing. Subtronic strobes. F11 @
2) Diver in silversides - Eden Rock, George
Town, Grand Cayman.
During the summer the caves and shipwrecks around Grand Cayman
up with tiny silverside fish. On film I always struggled with
exposure, but shooting them on digital this summer, with instant
image review to help my exposures, made it much easier. Through trial
and error, I chose to slightly over expose the background to get
better separation of the diver to avoid him beiing lost in a dark
Nikon D100, 10.5mm, Subal Housing. Subtronic strobes. F8 @
3) Bohar snapper telephoto - Ras Mohammed,
Egypt, Red Sea. One of the highlights of my diving year is going to
the North Red Sea each
summer with friends from BSoUP. We go at that time for the
that gather at Ras Mohammed for spawning. In attempt to get a
different shot of the snappers I took this with a 105mm lens
equivalent on 35mm) from a camera to subject distance of 2 metres.
had my strobes pushed forward well ahead of my camera, and knew that
I would be able to adjust the white balance of the shot to stop the
image looking too blue. The telephoto lens flattens the
of the image, pulling the fish behind closer to the main subject,
also keeping them out of focus so they don't distract the eye too
much. This is a shot that I could not have taken on film -
the type of image that excites me about digital.
Nikon D100, 105mm lens (160mm equivalent on 35mm), Subal
Subtronic strobes. F13 @ 1/45th.
4) Jumping pygmy seahorse - Nudi Falls,
Lembeh Strait, Sulawesi,
March 2004. Pygmy seahorses are heavily photographed by underwater
photographers, so when I am photographing them I am always looking
for an unusual image. This shot is actually one of a series of 4 that
I took to create a composite image that won BSoUP's Focus On digital
competition earlier in the year. Divequest chose this shot for the
cover of their 2005 brochure, and since then I have liked it much
more! I prefer to shoot pygmies without a modelling light as it means
that they tend to turn away from the camera much less.
Nikon D100, 105mm lens +4 dioptre, Subal Housing, Subtronic strobes.
F38 @ 1/180th.
5) Circling divers - Turtle Farm Reef, Grand
Cayman, April 2004. This
image seemed very simple in my mind, but once underwater it was
real pain to try and create. This was because one of the divers
never used a scooter before! I chose to shoot this image on
(even though I had my digital camera underwater with me) because
believe that film captures the subtlety of a sunburst better
digital. As far as I am concerned, it is still a case of choosing
best tool for the job (even though I find that it is digital 9
out of 10).
Nikon F100, 16mm lens, Subal Housing, Veliva. F11 @
6) Mating shy hamlets - Wreck of the Oro
Verde, Grand Cayman, April 2004. Hamlets fascinate me as photographic
subjects because they are just so weird. Not only are the different
'species' indistinguishable genetically, probably because they have
evolved so recently, but also they are one of the few vertebrates
that are true simultaneous hermaphrodites. During a spawning
encounter the pair actually take it in turns to play each sexual
role. I have been watching and photographing hamlets spawning for a
couple of years now, and can predict where and when they will spawn
to the nearest minute. Now I have gained that knowledge, getting a
shot like this is pretty straight forward.
Nikon D100, 28-70mm lens @ 70mm, Subal Housing, Subtronic strobes.
F16 @ 1/180th.
BSoUP Open Portfolio