Visions Conference 2005 Report

Unfortunately, as a result of transport issues, I missed the opening short talk by Jason Isley of ScubaZoo on Shooting Big Animals and most of Charles Hood’s talk on RAW vs JPG. So perhaps someone who was there can post a comment below? I was sad to miss Jason’s talk as I have never really met him and he has some great stills (even though he is better known for his moving images). I was less concerned about missing Charles’s talk! He probably takes the most attention grabbing UW images of any photographer I know, but I do not agree with his argument that JPG is better than RAW. But it certainly was a thought provoking talk to kick off the day.

Next up was John Collins from Ireland, who discussed the use of Photoshop plug-ins with UW photos. This was one of the best Post Processing talks I have seen, because John spoke from the point of view of the photographer - showing real images and real solutions. I had heard of most of the Plug-Ins before but had rarely seen before and after results on real uw images. John also had lots of practical tips on speeding up our workflow.

Then it was Dave Barnes from the British Antarctic Survey, who gave a general interest talk about his 15 years of diving and photographing underwater in the Antarctic. Nearly all of his photography is geared towards scienctific research, but nonetheless it was fascinating to see such unusual images. Dave also spoke about how digital photography and modern communications have totally transformed the role of the diver in polar science.

Lunchtime meant me and the other speakers going on duty doing image clinics. I love doing this as I always enjoy looking at uw pictures and saw some great stuff. So I came away with plenty of ideas to steal!

After lunch Pheobe Rudomino-Dusiacka who works at Pinewood Studios, UK, gave a very interesting talk on underwater shooting in the movie business. She started her talk with a stunning show reel from the studio and then gave a very real account of film making and working with the stars. By her own admission Pheobe is just starting out in this job, but this made the talk particularly interesting as we got to hear the real stories rather than the name-dropping and general corporate spiel.

Next up was Peter Rowlands, editor of UWP Magazine, who spoke about how to take extra-ordinary images with ordinary cameras. Peter showed a compelling variety of work all taken with an Olympus C40. This talk was full of useful tips on how to get the most out of compact digital, although there were plenty of ideas for DSLR shooters too.

Martin Edge, the UK’s top underwater photography teacher, spoke next. Rather than getting into the nuts and bolts of the technical side of underwater shooting, Martin chose to talk about the mental technique of composition. Discussing, with illustrations from his recent work, the decision making process that goes into how he composes his images. It was an honest and original talk.

We then had a break for tea, this is England after all, before I (Alex Mustard) got up to do the final talk of the day on filter photography. I talked about the how filters work, their limitations, the types of filter available, how to white balance both UW and in post processing and probably most importantly the techniques for getting good images with filters underwater. I also showed a range of uw images that I had taken with filters that I believed I could not have taken with traditional UW techniques. I tried to avoid doing a long Magic sales pitch and so that we could remain impartial Peter and I chose not to sell any filters at the conference!

After a break of about an hour, when we slipped out to the local pub, about half of the audience then returned for the special evening event - when Tom Peschak presented his new book, Currents of Contrast. This book illustrates and contrasts the marine wildlife on both coasts of Southern Africa. It is excellent book, filled with fantastically informative text and images of rarely photographed creatures. Tom is clearly an extremely dedicated photographer!