Beneath the Sea 2010, day 1 coverage

BTS 2010 Coverage: [day 1]] [day 2] [day 3]

Beneath the Sea’s Friday night opening of the exhibit hall runs from 6-9pm — an unusual opening time for a dive expo, but a welcome one because it allows eager beavers to get in before the Saturday rush and exhibitors to warm up before the floor is overrun.

BTS is held every year at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. Secaucus isn’t exactly known as a tourist destination. From our 16th floor view at the host hotel, we see — in addition to a glimpse of the Manhattan skyline — Giants stadium, an indoor ski ramp with fake snow, a toll booth leading to the New Jersey turnpike, and a river that evokes body-dumping scenes from The Sopranos. In fact, the most famous thing about this area is that it really is the place where The Sopranos was filmed. Still, thousands of dive enthusiasts from New York, New Jersey, and neighboring states flock to Secaucus every year to make BTS the largest consumer dive show in the North America; it is the people and the warm atmosphere (a stark contrast to the biting cold outside) that makes BTS such a successful show, and we’re looking forward to being a part of it.

After we set up the Wetpixel booth (#109 — come visit!), I decided that I should get an early start on booth coverage and started trekking down the exposition hall, aisle by aisle. It took me over half an hour to get out of our booth. Mary Lynn Price of DiveFilm HD and Steve Perez came by to say hi, as did Wetpixel member Karen Doody, with whom we may explore the cenotes near Cancun later on this year.

First, I was enticed to check out Arenui, a new luxury liveaboard operating out of Indonesia. I spoke at length with Luigi Russo and Rod Klein about how fantastic the boat is — and it certainly does look luxurious and enticing! I love that all of the cabins are unique, and that the boat caters to photographers and videographers.

Around the corner from us is REEF, the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (#220), where Ned and Anna Deloach (and team!) were showing off the Sensational Seas Two DVD, highlights of which will be shown at the Saturday evening film festival. They had the DVD running on a monitor, and it looks incredible; I can’t wait to watch it. Also, Anna gave me a lemon macaron she saved from earlier in the afternoon. Yummmm. Mike and Jody Elliot of XIT404 were at the REEF booth (just when Mike’s footage of flamboyant cuttlefish babies hatching showed up on the Sensational Seas monitor), and I caught up with them about tripods and other accessories.

I bumped into Frank Fennell, who quickly showed me Epoque’s underwater video housings for Sanyo HD cameras. They are tiny, and look to be perfect for shooters looking to take casual 1080p video, both topside and underwater. I love that in 2010, I can say “casual 1080p video” with a straight face.

A jet-lagged and well-bundled Marit Miners and her father, Richard, were at the Misool Eco-Resort booth (#225). I feel for those exhibitors who flew in from warm places — they all seem to be in a state of shock from the cold! Wetpixel is running a full charter of Misool Eco-Resort (in Raja Ampat, Indonesia) this coming November 20 - December 2, 2010.

Speaking of jet-lagged, Frank van der Linde was sitting red-eyed at the Worldwide Dive and Sail booth when I accosted him and tried to take his photo. He asked me to come back tomorrow. Their fleet consists of 4 pinisi-style sailing yachts, the smallest of which is 22 meters and carries only 8 guests (the S/Y Mandarin Siren). Their upcoming vessel, the S/Y Indo Siren, should have extremely quiet cabins — Frank has put concrete insulation in between every cabin! That will certainly be something to look out for.

Christian von Stetzsch manned the Sea & Sea booth (#315) and showed me the brand-new Sea & Sea underwater housing for the Nikon D300s and the YS-01 strobe (which we saw as a prototype at DEMA last year). The YS-01 has a guide number of 20, features optical slave sync in manual and TTL modes, and features simple operation with one switch and one dial (hooray!). An underwater housing for the Canon EOS 7D is coming soon (perhaps in early May), and there are rumors of a video light / strobe combo. Finally, Christian says that the RDX series housings are doing very well, with the Canon T1i housings selling completely out of their first run (they did a second run). Look for a T2i housing in the future.

At the ReefNet booth (#301), I visited with Kris, Daniella, Les and Any Wilk (and who knows — there may have been more Wilks there!). The popular SubSee macro diopter has been completely redesigned and is now machined out of a piece of aluminum, featuring improved quality. ReefNet is working on a new Creatures ID DVD, which will have a brand-new navigation and database engine. Although the Creatures content will be the first to be released, the engine will be designed so expansion sets containing animals from other areas can be downloaded and installed. Hooray for universal, extensible interfaces! Good news for Mac users — the next version will also be cross-platform, and will be installable with no DVD required for use.

Finally, at 1 AM, I ambushed Leandro Blanco as he came out of the elevator here at the Sheraton (the host hotel). He had his guitar in his hand, and must have been playing in a band at some party I didn’t go to. The only reason I didn’t get a photo of him was that I was unprepared! (in my pajamas, talking on the phone out in the hallway).

I’d like to thank Tony Granata, Drew Wohl (TheRealDrew), Sandrah Gulash, and Abi Smigel for being our incredible volunteers for this year’s Beneath the Sea. We certainly couldn’t have started the show so smoothly without you!

Photo Gallery:

The beautiful view from our hotel room in Secaucus, New Jersey
Abi and her date, Mr Universe Torso
Mike Degruy and Eric Cheng
Eli Woolery, Abi Smigel and Tony Granata dress Tony’s mannequin
Abi Smigel helps put a Wetpixel shirt on a handless mannequin
The Wetpixel team at Beneath the Sea: Ellen Bedrosian, Drew Wohl, Sandrah Gurash, Abi Smigel, and Eli Woolery
Mary Lynn Price with hubby Steve, doing “the mannequin.”
Eric Cheng, Mary Lynn Price, Eli Woolery
Eli asks What??
Eli says WHAAAAAA?
I am looking down at Matt Potenski. That doesn’t happen often.
Eric Cheng with Ned and Anna DeLoach of New World Publications and REEF
Misool Eco Resort: Marit Miners with her father, Richard
Christian von Stentzsch of Sea and Sea
Sea and Sea YS-01 strobe
Sea and Sea YS-01 strobe, with one handy switch for preflash, flash, and TTL modes.
Sea and Sea’s new underwater housing for Nikon D300s
Sea and Sea’s new underwater housing for Nikon D300s
Sea and Sea’s new underwater housing for Nikon D300s
Les, Kris and Any Wilk at the ReefNet Booth