This month we look back at 50 years of the British Society of Underwater Photographers, but where does the society go from here? BRIAN PITKIN reports on the latest BSoUP Beginners Portfolio competition and hears from winner Simon Yates who, despite having been diving for 30 years, has just become a name for the future!
The ANNUAL BEGINNERS PORTFOLIO competition is held in November and is open to British Society of Underwater Photographers members and non-members alike – provided that they have not come first, second or third in a national or international competition, such as BSoUP’s Open and Beginners Portfolio Competitions, Image, Underwater Photographer of the Year, Wildlife Photographer of the Year and so on.
The objective of the competition is to identify photographers who can demonstrate a range of skills.
The portfolio should convey an overall impression of variety, not necessarily of subject but certainly of approach and technique. It has to comprise six images, set out in two rows of three and not overlapping.
Each image may, or may not, have a border.
All the entries were projected at the November BSoUP meeting, having been judged in advance by underwater photographers Martyn & Sue Guess. The winner was Simon Yates, who won a BSoUP Trophy and a £100 courtesy of DIVER.
“I’ve been diving and a member of BSAC for over 30 years, having learnt in my university days a long time ago,” says Simon, who manages an engineering company in the Midlands, and has two sons.
“My wife and I have been active members of several clubs over the years, including Totnes, Taunton and Wellington, and are now both committee members of Worcester BSAC.
“I am currently an Advanced Diver / Advanced Instructor and Diving Officer for the club.”
Simon pays tribute to the high standard of underwater photographers in the club, which includes among its members Trevor Rees, Charles Erb and Anita Sherwood.
“Although I’ve had various underwater cameras over the years, from an original Nikonos 5 to compact digital cameras, I haven’t really treated it seriously until the last few years.” he says.
“This year I took the plunge and upgraded to a mirrorless four-thirds system, and now have a system that covers fisheye to macro, all in Nauticam housings. I rarely find that I’m diving without my camera set-up accompanying me under water. This year I’ve really got the bug, as I’m now entering images in both BSoUP monthly competitions and have also joined the Bristol Underwater Photographers Group.”
Simon says that his favourite diving is in the UK, especially the West Coast of Scotland.
“Having recently purchased a VW Campervan, we’re often away on dive trips,” he says. “We still have a long list of UK sites earmarked for trips next year as well as several overseas trips – the last trip to the Red Sea was particularly enjoyable.”
“I liked this portfolio the minute I saw it,” said judge Martyn Guess, “although we wrestled a little with the positioning of the images, with the larger Yarrell’s blenny image in the bottom right.
“It hovered around the first three places all week, but in the end the vibrancy and colours and clarity of the images won the day – a great set of images that work extremely well together as a portfolio.” www.bsoup.org
“Shot at the Manacles in Cornwall with my previous camera, a Canon Powershot S90 in Ikelite housing (1/50, f4, with twin YS110 strobes). The model is my wife Janet, who was very obliging with aiming the torch in the slightly murky conditions.”.
“Cuckoo wrasse, shot as part of the last BSoUP Splash-In competition on Eddystone reef, Plymouth (Olympus 12-50mm, 1/80, f9).”
“Long-clawed squat lobster taken in Loch Carron, Scotland in August 2016. As with all of the following images it was taken with my Olympus OM D EM 10 Mk 2, this one with 60mm macro lens (1/80, f8). This was our second visit to Conservation Bay, and it will definitely be an annual pilgrimage.”
“Diver inside the wreck of the Doyle, taken on a 2016 club trip to Scapa Flow. The diver is fellow-photographer buddy Darren Ashford. (Olympus 12, 50mm, 1/80, 5f).”
“Flame shell taken at Strone Point, Loch Carron (60mm, 1/80, f9).”
“Yarrell’s blenny, another shot from Conservation Bay (Olympus 60mm, 1/80, f8).”
Appeared in DIVER February 2017