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Fotosub Gran Canaria


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#1 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 11:28 PM

Hey all!

I am out in the Canary Islands for the 5th Fotosub Gran Canaria, Costa Mogan. Fotosubs - controlled conditions (dive site, time of dives, no post processing) underwater photography competitions are particularly popular in Europe - with many European photographers seeing competing on the circuit as the pinnacle and ambition of what they could achieve as an underwater photographer.

Posted Image

It is big business too. The results hit the sport pages of the national newspapers, and the prizes are most generous. Even third place gets 1000 Euros cash!

This event is a little special too - as it is entirely invitational - and as a result I give it the nickname the Mogan Masters. The organisers invite and pay for 12 teams (photographer and model) to attend the event, flying them in from across Europe. There are plenty of big names here, many members here on Wetpixel (although not always regular contributors to the forums because of language).

Here is the list of competitors.

I am here as a judge and I am looking forward to the pleasure and challenge of the judging process. But I also want to share the fun of the Fotosub experience, which is not always well known outside of Europe. So I'll try and keep a regular stream of updates coming from the field. ALthough there will be no competitors' UW images, until after final judging.

Alex

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#2 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 11:37 PM

I arrived yesterday afternoon and got settled in at Puerto Mogan. Then in the evening we had a reception dinner. The social side is just as important and the photography it seems. And all the photographers talk of the importance of being able to exchange ideas at these events.

Here are a few of the reprobates.

CRY09_am_10002.jpg

Arturo Boyra (photographer), Esteban Toré (newly crowned Spanish Champion - the pressure is on, Esteban!), Enrique Faber (organiser)

As photographers we are treated incredibly well here. If only it was always like this!

Alex

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#3 davichin

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Posted 30 September 2009 - 03:37 AM

Aleeeeeeexxxx!!! I will arrive this afternoon, someone has to work during crisis! :D
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#4 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 30 September 2009 - 06:51 AM

I'll try not to finish all the beer or scare away all the fish. Alex

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#5 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 30 September 2009 - 07:40 AM

A fun first morning, today.

While the competitors went out for "training dives" those of us who don't need to train too the submarine instead. It was cool to watch the teams in action photographing on the wreck from the comfort of the submarine. Actually the sub was full of press - we had 4 big TV digital betacams in there (why aren't they just using 5D Mk2s like everyone else?) - but it was pretty cool. I don't remember the last time I went in one.

Inside the sub - that is Tauchen's Thomas Ritschek - for those who know him.
CRY09_am_10032.jpg

And here is the view out of the window. Can't believe I forgot to bring filters!
CRY09_am_10066.jpg

And this is the wet version - diving the site myself later in the morning.
CRY09_am_10233.jpg

Fine lunch and now a chance for a siesta? OK, I am lying - time to work on some articles in my hotel room with the curtains drawn.

Alex

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#6 davichin

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Posted 30 September 2009 - 07:56 AM

still working... :D
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#7 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 12:39 AM

So we are all together and the competition is underway. I am back on land having just done a TV interview.

The standard of the photographers and their dedication to this specific brand of underwater photography is deeply impressive. I think my abiding thought from diving with them - is that I wish their skills were known about more widely. The average keen underwater photographer, outside the Fotosub belt of Spain, France, Italy, is not even aware that these events take place. Which I think is a great pity.

It is also something that the organisers really want to address. The photographers here have spent a great deal of time perfecting their skills and, of course, they want to test them against the best around. However, the Fotosub club remains difficult to penetrate without some dedication. And this does limit their international appeal and the number of overseas photographers prepared to try them.

I have been to the Canaries several times now, and have enjoyed learning about the game and how it is played. I compare it to the gymnastics in the Olympics. It is photography where you learn and practice a routine, polishing every aspect, and then have to perform it under the pressure of a competition. It is about taking again those shots you have practiced, under limited time constraints, limited numbers of exposures and with no post processing. JPGs straight from the camera.

If Fotosub appeals it is well worth a trip to somewhere like the Canaries. The local photographers are very welcoming and will happily share all the secrets to success (away from a competition weekend, that is)!

I think that just turning up to a competition as a handy photographer is not likely to produce success. Even at this International event, the rules (of which there are several pages) are only in Spanish - myself and google translations knocked out an English version late last night. But if that is the first time you have seen them, as a competitor, then you are not going to do well. It is important to come out and learn the intricacies of this sport before expecting success at the top level. Even if you are Roger Federer, used to hitting balls with rackets, you wouldn't enter the Squash World Champs and expect to do well. You go away and train at the new sport.

As I was typing up the rules last night, people (very helpfully) told me several more that weren't in there. And there are some unusual ones! For example you are not allowed to delete any pictures and dives are limited to 45 minutes - and a dive computer can't be used as a timing device for this - you must use a watch! Of course, all the regulars know this, and having visited before, I do. But for first timers they have to learn all this - it is a lot to take in - when you are trying to think about your photography. Life is much more pleasant as a judge!

I guess that this is one of the big issues for Fotosub here to address if they want to attract and have proper international competition. That have to make the whole event much more accessible for overseas photographers - or at least circulate the idiosyncratic rules the night before the contest.

Right have to go and sample some more excellent Canaries diving. I am sure I'll have to delete lots of pictures!

Alex

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#8 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 08:16 AM

In the end I didn't dive today - so no photos, I am afraid.

But there is a Mojitos party right now, which I am guess I am going to have to go and investigate, for you, dear reader!

The sacrifices I make.

Alex

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#9 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 09:41 AM

Here are some pix from this evening.

British competitors enjoy the hospitality:
CRY09_am_10303.jpg

Carlos Suarez and Enrique Faber:
CRY09_am_10304.jpg

Spanish competitors also enjoy the hospitality:
CRY09_am_10309.jpg

The mojitos seem to work (names withheld to protect the guilty):
CRY09_am_10310.jpg

Fotosub Gran Canaria - Mogan. 2009
CRY09_am_10314.jpg

Alex

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#10 yahsemtough

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 11:31 AM

I have never heard of this competition till now. Sounds quite interesting.

Thanks for the updates and drinking a few Mojitos on my behalf too. Watch out for the Cheetos.

Todd
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#11 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 02 October 2009 - 11:36 PM

Sorry for the lack of updates yesterday. I was away diving for most of the day - had to do something about my shameful track record of only one dive so far!

Saw 9 seahorses on the first dive, yesterday, which I was very pleased about. This individual was the prettiest.
CRY09_am_10359.jpg

Then when I got back I was distracted by free (sponsored) bar, fantastic food and the small matter of judging! We finished the judging at 1am - and this evening the winners will be revealed.

Alex

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#12 MikeVeitch

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 04:04 AM

sounds like a fun event!
Say hello to Settimio for me!

Although the needing a watch instead of a computer is a bit strange... guess i can't enter, i don't own a watch :(

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#13 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 12:59 AM

All the rules are designed to make the playing field as even as possible between the photographers - although the strange nature of some of them leave you wondering. Everyone abides by them, but I do think that there is an advantage to those who are used to them.

I am waiting for the organisers to post the full results on their website, but this picture shows 1st, 2nd and 3rd placed photographers!

Posted Image
l-r: David Barrio, Arturo Boyra, Carlos Suarez and Carlos Villoch

I'll get more photos up later from the final evening party - they are still on my laptop.

Alex

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#14 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 12:17 PM

RESULTS

OK, the results are up! And congratulations to the Wetpixel members for sweeping the first three places and dividing 6000 Euros of cash between them.

1st David Barrio & Luisa Quintanilla - davichin
2nd Carlos Villoch & Maite Uriabarri - blueglass
3rd Carlos Suarez & Mercedes Cabrera - carlos_suarez

You can see their 6 image collections here - note that these were taken over just 4 competition dives - with a maximum dive time (surface to surface) of 45 minutes each. No post processing is allowed, images must be JPGs straight from the camera - so not cropping, backscatter removal or RAW conversion adjustments. These restrictions are designed to make a competely level playing field between the competitors and to put the emphasis on in-water underwater photography skills:

David's collection, Carlos V's collection, Carlos S's collection.

I'll post some social pictures in a second post.

Alex

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#15 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 12:28 PM

Spanish competitors enjoying one of many great meals:
Posted Image

Esteban and Julio:
Posted Image

Carlos, Arturo and David:
Posted Image

Spanish models:
Posted Image

Charles and Ludwig:
Posted Image

Sam and Richard:
Posted Image

Gilles and Jean-Philippe:
Posted Image

Margit, Thomas and Sophie:
Posted Image

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#16 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 12:39 PM

Then I went to the toilet - they kept bringing me so many drinks - and while I was gone apparently my camera was stolen. These are the pictures I found on my return!

Here Rui shows what skills are required to be Vice-World Champion in underwater photography:
Posted Image

Settimio, a former World Champion, gets himself in focus:
Posted Image

And Gilles strikes a pose:
Posted Image

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#17 Aqua_soul

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 10:00 PM

This has been an very interesting thread!

Thanks Alex and to all those whi have contributed....especially the models in the last few photos:)

Congratulations to the winners!

I hope that more of this style of competion will see the light (no pun intended)

Geo

#18 james

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 05:03 AM

Wow! I just had a look through the photo collections. Very interesting styles and unique perspectives!!! And that was all done in-water makes it even more impressive.

Great work and congrats to the winners.

Cheers
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#19 yahsemtough

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 05:16 AM

I am impressed by the images they were able to capture under the competition conditions. Outstanding achievements!

Congrats to all.

Todd
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#20 blueglass

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 12:15 PM

Hi,
I have just came back from the Red Sea where I went straight from the competition. I hadn't seen this thread yet.
Alex, it was a pleasure to meet you in person in the Canaries.
It's nice to see these photos now, we really had lots of fun during the whole week.
Missing the mojitos...
cheers,

Edited by blueglass, 13 October 2009 - 01:14 PM.

Carlos Villoch
www.magicsea.com www.villoch.com
It´s better down there...