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BSoUP's Open Portfolio Competition 2004

Winner - Alexander Mustard

Red rope sponge and diver

Diver in silversides

Bohar snapper telephoto

Jumping pygmy seahorse

Circling divers

Mating shy hamlets

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.

Red rope sponge and diver

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 amazing
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 @ 1/30th.


Diver in silversides

2) Diver in silversides - Eden Rock, George Town, Grand Cayman.
During the summer the caves and shipwrecks around Grand Cayman fill
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 background.
Nikon D100, 10.5mm, Subal Housing. Subtronic strobes. F8 @ 1/90th.

Bohar snapper telephoto

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 schools
that gather at Ras Mohammed for spawning. In attempt to get a
different shot of the snappers I took this with a 105mm lens (160mm
equivalent on 35mm) from a camera to subject distance of 2 metres. I
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 perspective
of the image, pulling the fish behind closer to the main subject, but
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 - exactly
the type of image that excites me about digital.
Nikon D100, 105mm lens (160mm equivalent on 35mm), Subal Housing,
Subtronic strobes. F13 @ 1/45th.

Jumping pygmy seahorse

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.

Circling divers

5) Circling divers - Turtle Farm Reef, Grand Cayman, April 2004. This
image seemed very simple in my mind, but once underwater it was a
real pain to try and create. This was because one of the divers had
never used a scooter before! I chose to shoot this image on film
(even though I had my digital camera underwater with me) because I
believe that film captures the subtlety of a sunburst better than
digital. As far as I am concerned, it is still a case of choosing the
best tool for the job (even though I find that it is digital 9 times
out of 10).
Nikon F100, 16mm lens, Subal Housing, Veliva. F11 @ 1/350th.

Mating shy hamlets

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 Competition


BSoUP's Open Portfolio Competition Winners 1984-

2014 Mark Drayton

2013 Jackie Campbell

2012 Mark Pickford

2011 Dray van Beeck

2010 Giordano Cipriani

2009 Trevor Rees

2008 JP Trenque

2007 Shannon Conway

2006 Steve Jones

2005 Jane Morgan

2004 Alex Mustard

2003 Charles Hood

2002 Linda Dunk

2001 Tony White

2000 Gary Clark

1999 Guy Middleton

1998 Hilary Driscoll

1997 Malcolm Hey

1996 Linda Dunk

1995 Linda Dunk

1994 Linda Dunk

1993 Linda Pitkin

1992 Charles Hood

1991 Georgette Douwma

1990 Mike Wong

1989 Mike Wong

1988 Mike Wong

1987 Georgette Douwma

1986 Georgette Douwma

1985 Warren Williams

1984 Georgette Douwma


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