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A big hello and welcome to you all from me Duxy, Scuba Travel's new boy. I'm typing this from home at the moment, just winding down from my very first Dive Show as a Scuba Travel staff member.Here's a link to a video showing me and the other boys putting our stand up the day before. And what a show it was, we had loads of you signing up for this newsletter, and I promise that as time goes on I will be writing hints, tips and scouring the world wide web for choice nuggets of photographic info with an underwater slant..

For this first newsletter I will give you all an overview of our new Take It Easy series of accompanied trips, workshops and expeditions. Some exciting product news from the world of underwater photography equipment,a piece on the benefits of using wide angle lenses underwater, and a regular section where I will give out some secret cool features lurking within the Adobe Lightroom interface, our favourite image editing tool.

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Take it Easy

We all want to take it easy, it's the main reason we book trips and holidays to warmer climes. More and more often though a significant percentage of you are travelling to your favourite underwater destinations, with a camera and underwater housing packed alongside your fins and suncream.
This can very often lead to variable and often disappointing results. And a common consequence of this is to either blame yourself thus knocking your confidence or to give up underwater photography altogether as a futile waste of money.
Over the years I have found some very simple and easy ways to teach people the fundamentals of underwater photography, without getting too bogged down with complicated kit or accessories. If started like this, then people will usually see a big improvement on day one or two, which gives them the necessary psychological lift to gently take things further.
The whole Take It Easy thing is a simple play on words, but the sentiment is exactly how best you'll learn. Here is the method explained in a paragraph.

The Take It Easy method


"A simple way of learning photography by using short lessons, practical exercises and quick reviewing.
With an emphasis on gradually learning by doing, having fun and demystifying the jargon"

We are putting this into practice in three distinct ways

 

Take it EasyTake It Easy on board, this is the best way to dip your toes into the water, and are not yet sure if underwater photography is for you. So I will be onboard a number of our regular liveaboard itineraries, dotted throughout the year. I will be onboard in an ad hoc basis to give help and advice.
I won't be having any influence over the boats normal route or routine.
It will enable those that want to find out about photography the chance to successfully integrate photography into their diving.
On these trips I will be able to carry out two or three day introductory courses in underwater photography to small numbers for a charge.
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Even if you don't already have a camera we have some hire models that you can use if you want to give it a go.An ideal scenario to try before you buy.
If you belong to a dive club and have some of your number that are interested in underwater photography, then get in touch, as this is a great way to have a club trip that allows the photographically inclined amongst you to develop their skills.
WorkshopsTake It Easy workshops, these are for divers who want to learn in an environment with other like minded folk how to take and edit underwater photographs. Our whole week is planned around photography, often staying at the same site for multiple dives. I try and pick times of the year to maximise marine life interactions.
My June and July workshops are timed to hopefully coincide with the large congregations of Snapper and Barracudas around the Ras Mohammed National Park area.

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I will give daily lectures and be on hand all day to help you with your photography
These trips are for all abilities from complete beginners to the more experienced.
I have two of these workshops planned for 2013, at the end of June and the beginning of July. The first is for absolute beginners and improvers, and the second is for those that have been on one of my previous trips, or already understand the basic principles of underwater photography.
Expeditions
The third type of our T.I.E. program are our Take It Easy Expeditions these trips are designed itineraries often centred around a specific type of underwater photography or subject matter. We have a trip designed to maximise Shark Encounters in the Southern Atolls of the Maldives so we have picked April for the Sharks and another trip to check out the Manta's in September.
Another trip scheduled is the Southern Red Sea areas of Fury Shoals and St Johns great venues for seeing the best in underwater landscapes, aquatic cathedral lit caves and a plethora of amazing marine life in May 2013.
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In November 2013 I have another trip planned to Indonesia, as this years was such a success. This expedition also includes some on land photographic opportunities, including a jungle trip to see Black Crested Macaques and Tarsier Monkeys. On these trips I will do occasional presentations,but there will be less of an emphasis on daily lectures, and more one to one interaction, addressing each and every ones photo needs as they arise.

So that sums up our Take It Easy itineraries and we'd love to have you along, you'll learn something, experience the undersea world at its most photogenic and have a great time.


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Kit News

At the Dive Show weekend I learnt some exciting news from one of the underwater photographic industry's big hitters, Inon. That promises to give wide angle lens potential to a lot more of the compact camera owners out there.
Lots of compact cameras, have powerful and physically long zoom lenses, this prevents the attachment of add on wide angle lenses that can make such a big difference to the quality of your underwater photographs.
Well, even some of those owners of super zoom cams can now attach a cool new add on lens from Inon that will give them the ability to go much wider than they previously could.
Meaning that they are able to shoot larger scenes from much closer in, thus making your pictures sharper clearer, and more colourful. (see article)
The new Inon UWL-S100 ZM80 is its name and it works by using the telephoto end of your cameras zoom, which seems counter-intuitive, but it has been specially designed this way.

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Inon has rolled out another useful innovation, the Inon DC45 adapter which means that the Canon Powershot D20 can now be used with a wide angle lens, making it probably the best all round, sports compact on the market.
Not only will this great little camera allow you to shoot white balanced stills and video. You can now also shoot decent wide angle using the Inon DC45 adapter in conjunction with Inon LD bayonet fit lenses.

The camera is also pretty good outside of the housing being already waterproof to 10m all on its own,and accompany that with FullHD 1080 video recording and you have a pretty powerful pocket sized tool.

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Why Wide Angle?

I have already mentioned a couple of times in the newsletter, how a wide angle lens added to your camera can make such a difference. Newcomers to underwater photography often don't quite understand exactly why an expensive wide angle lens is considered so vital. However when people do first use and then see what a huge difference to the quality of their shots, especially the scenic reef or wreck pictures, then the financial outlay definitely feels justified.Even super zoom compact owners can now get in on the act though as Inon have just made an adapter for some of them.

"It's still £500 quid or so" I hear you protest, "what will it really do for my pictures?"

Well, its all down to simple physics and understanding shooting in water. Water is much denser than air, and in that water is lots of visibility effecting particles. This combination of extra density and particulate both contribute to reduce the clarity between us and our subject matter. So with this in mind it makes sense to reduce that distance to as close as possible, thus reducing the water column.

If your subject is large, a wreck say, then without a wide-angle lens you may have to get back as far as 20 or 30m or so to get the whole of the boat in. With a wide angle lens attached, widening the field of view, then this distance can be reduced to only a few metres. This will dramatically improving contrast, clarity and colour in your shots.It's not just wrecks and larger reef scenes that will benefit though, pretty much anything will look better if you are considerably closer to it, perhaps even your buddy!

Here is a before and after example of the stern on the wreck of the Kingston the shot on the left is from around 10m away and the much clearer one on the right is with the Inon wide angle lens which has a field of view of around 100deg attached to the same camera.

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I heartily recommend that before you buy a new camera, and it's to be used underwater, then please get in touch, I might be able to save you some money and give you advice as to whether or not the camera you are thinking of buying is able to take a wide angle lens and is good for underwater photography or not. I still keep abreast of all the latest photography news, and I am only at the end of the phone for a chat, to ask about the latest UW photo kit or email me at duxy@scubatravel.com.

Better still come on one of my workshops and see what a difference a wide angle lens makes for yourself, before committing to a purchase. I have kitted out our hire kit with a wide angle lens, it was the main criteria before getting our hire kit that this would be possible, and for underwater toggery it comes very high on the list of essential features, pretty much above all else.

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The Light Fantastic

Adobe Lightroom 4 is a pretty powerful program and can be used for a big percentage of your photo editing and organisational needs.
One of the reasons its fast becoming the all round editor of choice is its dive-in simplicity when compared to more traditional photo editing solutions.
This belies its power, and a lot of its oomph is under the hood out of sight and not normally mentioned in tutorials.

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Over time and often purely by accident I have come across hidden features which make life using it even quicker and easier.

When teaching basic Lightroom I introduce my students to the concept of using shortcut keys to speed things up. A lot of these shortcuts can be modified though by using the Control(PC) key, or Command(Mac) to give a variation or modified control of that particular function.

Here's one I find useful and quicker than selecting the tool itself. If you are in the Develop mode pressing the 'R' key will take you into the cropping tool, you may know that already. If you then click on a point in the picture whilst holding down the Control or Command keys, it will automatically select the ruler tool, so you can now straighten that horizon or eyeline very easily and without having to directly access the menu. A real timesaver.

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Lightroom Event - 12th December

"Can you be bothered to edit your pictures or are you put off by seemingly complicated programs such as Photoshop?"

"maybe you're curious as to why lots of photographers are turning to using Adobe Lightroom as the editing program of choice?"

"would you like a quick and easy solution to editing your pictures, so they don't just sit on your hard drive and never see the light of day?"

If the answer is yes to any of these questions then come along to our exclusive pre-Xmas
"Introduction to Adobe Lightroom"

This will be a free ticketed event at Scuba Travel's offices in Godalming, where we are situated only a two minute walk from the train station and with convenient on-site parking.

I will give you an overview of the powers of Lightroom as a one stop photography solution, giving you unprecedented power to organise and edit your pictures.
I will also give a short presentation on our new Take It Easy series of photo workshops.

We will have some Xmas themed nibbles from our very own Swedish Chef, Martin who is definitely no muppet! And some mulled wine to wash it all down with.
My colleague Caroline will also be on hand to assist, and help answer any of your photo holiday enquiries.
So come and see why more and more of us toggers are using this useful program to smooth out all the bumps in what can be a complex workflow from camera to print or screen.

We have limited spaces so please email me to book your space - duxy@scubatravel.com
The date for this event is December the 12th from 7-9pm so if you can get here for 18:45 that would be great.

See you there.
Duxy
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Martin Edge & Alex Mustard

I probably don't need to point out that Martin Edge and Alex Mustard are two of the leading luminaries in the field of underwater photography.
And here at Scuba Travel we are very proud to have them onboard our itineraries running their popular and class leading workshops. Apart from running workshops and expeditions with us they are regular contributors to the specialist dive press. Martin has been contributing now for nearly twenty years, and his book on underwater photography is probably the most widely read on the subject in the world today.

Alex has a very unique style which sets him apart from his peers, and his background in marine biology combined with a fine art aesthetic has won him numerous plaudits around the globe, for his stunning pictures.
I will wherever possible include links to their latest articles in this section of our photo news letter so that you can keep abreast of what's currently hot in the world of underwater photography.

Watch out for our next months issue for there latest articles

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