Splash-in Competition 1999
got one film, one day, a specified area to shoot in and a
judging session that night. That's a British Society of Underwater
Photographers Splash-in. Tony Sutton went to try his luck
at Bovisand, but found his luck trying him instead
"We've hired a RIB for the day. Local boatman included. He
knows his stuff, knows all the dive sites," said Mike Maloney,
one of my dive group, giving me the nod and stroking his nose.
mind flooded with visions of Aladdin's caves, and shoals of
fish appearing from secret locations. But as I assembled my
kit, I ruefully remembered that I hadn't checked it. To my
relief the camera system was functioning: flash OK, batteries
charged, O-rings sealing. My cylinder wasn't quite so straightforward.
The knob turned, but too smoothly; no air came out. As for
my spare cylinder, it was empty and out of test.
damaged the head. There's nothing I can do," said Bovisand's
man at the air station. Fortunately Martin Parker of AP Valves
was on hand. "No problem," he said as he took the knob off
and turned the air supply on with a hand wrench.
last it was onto the RIB, and away to capture those prize-winning
images. A swell and some white horses greeted us as we rounded
the bluff from the Fort and headed for the rocks. This was
obviously going to be a long trip.
a nice pool over there, lots of things to photograph," said
the boatman, pointing to rocks with waves crashing over them.
"Won't we be swept about a bit?" asked one of the divers,
gazing with horror at the foam and hanging onto his precious
photographic gear as the RIB pitched in the swell.
"Maybe," he said, eyeing his nervous passengers. "What do
you want to do then, the Mewstone?"
couple nodded. The RIB turned and headed for the Mewstone.
"Here's good for underwater photographs," said the boatman,
as he vaguely waved his hand at the sea.
the depth?" The boatman reached for his depth sounder and
shook it. "Err..." He shook it again: "7 metres." Not totally
reassured, someone asked if he ever dived this spot. The "no"
was drawn out, followed by a pause, and then the confession:
"I don't dive." "Then how do you know that it's a good spot?"
"Divers tell me it is." To that, there was no answer. We went
down to be greeted by kelp, more kelp and lots of tiny two-spotted
gobies that would hardly fill the frame of a microscope let
alone a 35 mm camera.
swell swept us back and forth. Two divers were realistic and
quickly gave up. But my buddy Ken Sullivan and I stuck it
out for an hour. I captured some images of small goldsinny
in a crevice - hardly frame-filling - and the mouthparts of
an enormous spiny spider crab. It was too big to get all of
it using my macro lens. Ken seemed pleased. He had photographed
jewel anemones and a cuckoo wrasse.
at the Fort at midday the tales had already started: winners
and losers, the worst and best spots. "I've never seen so
many fish. There were hundreds. And those two huge lobsters
out in the open," said one diver, lugging her gear back up
to her car. "Where was she?" I asked.
"James Eagan Layne - that's where we should have gone," said
one would-be winner from our group. "There were john dory
on the wreck this morning." "I've heard that one group came
across a couple of cuttlefish and played with them for hours,"
said another. "And someone's boasting he's got some beautiful
shots of a cuckoo wrasse," said yet another.
Pitkin - a former winner - just smiled at everyone as she
came up the slipway and then went back down the slipway and
then back up again. The harbour area was causing some concern
to Bovisand's operations manager, George Gradon. RIBs laden
with photographers were gridlocked - some trying to get in,
some trying to get out. And underneath them and all around
them were photographers, flashing away at the marine life
on the harbour walls, some with SMBs, others without.
it, hold it," shouted one RIB diver. "There are three just
under the surface by the bow." "Tough!" the cox'n shouted
back. "We've waited long enough. They could be there bloody
hours," he said as he revved up his twin outboard engines.
Bumping sounds came from the hull, but no blood. Gradon winced
day had started at 9am, when 46 competitors had queued up
at the "interrogation room" for their one roll of slide film,
Fuji Velvia (a choice of either 50 or 100asa), under the watchful
eye of BSoUP chairman Peter Tatton. It was reminiscent of
one of those war films in which people are lined up to have
their fate decided by inquisitors behind a trestle table.
"And your name is?" enquired Tatton, looking down his list.
If your name was on the list you got your film. If not, you
had to undergo further examination. "Address? Are you a member?"
film had to be exposed in Plymouth waters and returned by
4.30pm. That was when the waiting started. Processing supremo
Peter Ladell descended to the "dungeons" - one of the casements
at the Fort - armed with all the exposed film. Here he had
a bank of processing tanks and helpers. Competitors disappeared
into the bar.
the next three hours Tatton could be seen walking back and
forth anxiously from the dungeons to the interrogation room,
where the slides would eventually be viewed. "When do you
reckon we'll get the films back?" "8.30 at the earliest,"
he replied. After subsequent trips that became 9pm, then 9.30.
9.45 he announced with great relief that there had been no
cock-ups in the processing. "They're not scratched and they're
correctly processed. They're now drying. Give it 15 minutes."
queue reformed, names were called and films handed over. "Back
by 11 please. Up to two slides for the main event and one
for the humorous section," shouted Brian Pitkin, one of the
organisers, above the general din. "What about the slide mounts?"
wailed a few. "Sorry, we've forgotten them. You'll have to
beg, borrow or steal," responded Pitkin. So this was to be
an initiative test as well. Fine. I got no sympathy when I
bleated to a friend that I had no mounts or scissors to cut
out my shots.
to prepare, prepare to fail!" I was told. How right she was.
Viewing the day's efforts and voting for a winner finally
got underway at midnight.
voting for myself and so is my wife," announced one competitor.
"But that's cheating," spluttered a spectator. "No it's not.
It stands to reason. I wouldn't be submitting these slides
unless I thought they were going to win and as I'm voting
for the winning slides I must vote for mine!"
than 50 people were now waiting for Brian Pitkin to get the
show underway. There were some beautiful slides. Some of the
tales were true. Lots of john dory and cuttlefish appeared
on the screen and a spectacularly colourful cuckoo wrasse.
There were also plenty of candy-stripe flatworms and tompot
blennies. Ah, why hadn't I seen any of these?
winner in the "On the Day' category was DEREK HASLAM
with a colourful shot of a male Cuckcoo Wrasse. Derek started
diving at the age of 16 and for the lost ten years he has
dived with the Hartford Sub-Aqua Club. He has been a BSoUP
member for two years and dived on the day with Dave Buckley,
his regular buddy, another BsoUP member.
has been taking underwater pictures since 1991 and his winning
shot was taken off the Mew Stone using a Nikon F50 in a Sea
and Sea NX50 housing with a 105mm lens and twin 58105 strobes.
His film stock was Fuji Velvia shooting with an aperture of
F16 at 1/60th.
His favourite dive sites are Tref or Pier, Wales , Plymouth
and Cornwall. Derek was awarded the BSoUP Trophy and a gold
runner-up "On the Day* was GORDON JAMES with a photograph
of a John Dory. Gordon started diving in 1979 and is a founder
member of the Bristol UPG. He was the first person to do a
Natural History FRPS 'underwater'. Gordon's shot was taken
with a Nikon F70 and a 105mm lens in an Ikelite housing and
an Ikelite MV and 500 sub-strobe. Gordon was awarded a silver
place "On the Day" went to DAVE BUCKLEY with a photograph
of a cuttlefish. Dave is an engineer with Rolls Royce and
Bentley cars and he has been a BSoUP member for two years.
He is the current Chairman of the Hartford Sub-Aqua club where
he has been a member for 17 years. Dave's shot was taken at
the Mew Stone with a Nikon F90X and 60mm macro lens in a Sea
and Sea housing with one SB26 and an Ikelite 50 strobe.
His favourite dive sites are Northern Scotland, St Abbs, the
Forne Islands and Cornwall. Dave was awarded a bronze medal.
winner in the humour category was MARTIN PARKER with a photograph
entitled Jelly Fish. Martin was awarded the AP-Valves Trophy
and a gold medal.
runner-up in the hurnour category was JOHN SOUNESS. Third
place went to PAUL DAWSON.
winner of the Overseas Print category was PETER LADELL with
a photograph of a Geometric moray (Sidereagrisea) looking
out of yellow coral. Peter has been diving for some 16 years
and taking underwater photographs for 15 years. He is currently
a member of four photo clubs, including BSoUP, Photosub, 35
Postal Club and Vauxhall Chilterns Photographic Club. Peter
also came 4th this year and was a previous winner of this
category two years ago.
Peter's print was taken off Coral Beach, Eilat with a Nikon
F90X a 105mm macro lens and two strobes all contained in housings
of his own design and manufacture. Peter was presented with
a magnificent new "Alan James Photography" trophy
and a gold medal.
place in the Overseas Prints category was DAVID STEPHENS with
a photograph of a Manta Pay. David has been taking underwater
photographs since learning to dive six years ago. His shot
of the Manta Pay was taken at Jackson Peef, Sharm el Sheikh
while on an Alan James workshop, using a Nikonos 1VA and a
15mm wide angle lens. David received a silver medal.
place in the Overseas Prints category was MALCOLM HEY with
a photograph of a Moray and cleaner shrimp taken at Mosses
Rock, Eilat. Malcolm was last years winner and runner?up in
this category, he received the bronze medal.
winner in the British Prints category was BOB SOAMES with
a photograph of a Tompot Blenny. Bob is a BSoUP and Photosub
member and he started diving in 1981 and took his first underwater
pictures in 1984 using a Nikonos III and a 'home brewed' flash
gun. Bob's shot was taken in Weymouth with a Pentax LX, and
a 50mm macro lens in an Ikelite housing with a single Ikelite
Ain strobe. His filrn was Fuji Velvia taken at F1 I for a
quarter of a second. In 1996 Bob started to experiment with
digital manipulation and his own printing and says he "continues
the encleavour to become proficient at it ? the print of the
Tompot Blenny took days of work". Bob was awarded the
Ocean Optics Trophy and a gold medal.
runner-up in the British Prints category was KELVIN CURTIS
with a photograph of a male Cuckoo Wrasse. Kelvin is a design
engineer working in the lock industry. He started diving fifteen
years ago and is a BSoUP member a member of the Bristol Underwater
Photographic Group and the Natural History Photographic Circle
(35PC). Kelvin's picture was taken at the Eddystone in 28mts.,
using a Nikon 601 a 60mm macro lens in a Ikelite housing and
a single Y550 strobe on F16 at 1/125 th . Kelvin was awarded
a silver medal.
place in the British Prints category was CHARLES HOOD with
a portrait of a seal. Charles, an IT Account Manager, is a
SSoUP member and belongs to EXUL (ex University of London
branch). He has been diving for 18 years and taking underwater
photographs for 17 years. He took his seal photograph with
a Nikon 8015 with a 20mm lens in a Subal housing lit by twin
Sea and Sea Y550 flashguns at 1/125th @ f8 in the Farne
Islands. Charles' favourite British dive sites are Land's
End, Cornwall and the Farne Islands and he was awarded a bronze
THE DAY (45 Entries)
Buckley (7 firsts)
Standen (6 firsts)
Soames (3 firsts)
of flounder's eye
- OVERSEAS (29 Entries)
with cleaner shrimp