Mark Mumford’s photographic talk

It is to Mark’s credit that he didn’t take one look at the snow falling outside and just stay at home. Luckily for us he didn’t, and he was welcomed by a good crowd of K&E members and visitors who had turned up to hear him speak.

Luckily for the non-technical amongst us, Mark’s talk was broad and aimed at improving our general photographic techniques rather than concentrating on the detail of which f-stop to use.

Mark began by making what may seem an obvious but vital point: If you aren’t any good at taking photographs on land then there’s little hope of producing anything good underwater in what is a far more challenging, and technically difficult environment.

He took us through a series of landscapes he had taken, exploring what makes a good photograph – particularly focusing on composition and framing of the subject. This prompted a great deal of audience participation as people were asked whether a change from black and white to colour or a change of orientation would make the photograph better. Using the ‘rule of thirds’ and a good use of diagonals were two of the secrets of better composition.

Moving underwater, Mark explained that the biggest problems arose from loss of colour – especially red – the deeper you go, the difficulties in maintaining even lighting and the need for patience as your subjects may not all be willing to just sit and pose (an obvious benefit of family and friends!).

Most underwater photographers have produced images which are essentially a mass of blue and green where the colour has been lost. Mark recommended ‘Magic Filters’ which are specially formulated for use with digital cameras underwater when using available light. He demonstrated the results that can be produced with these to stunning effect.

Mark also explained the benefits of using wide-angled lenses – the wider the better – which allow you to get closer to the subject while still being able to include the background. This is particularly effective in some of his photographs of wrecks and some recent shots of a whale-shark trip.

Specific topics and points were illustrated with a stunning array of images which provided something for everyone, with everything from the humble Neudibranch, popular wrecks to the largest sea mammals. Mark declared himself to be an ‘eye man’ and this was reflected in the incredibly detailed macro-photographs that he showed.

In short the evening was useful, instructive and prompted much debate. I suspect there may have been a sudden increase in purchases of Magic Filters in the following week.

Once again we’d like to thank Mark for taking the time to come and talk to us.

For those interested in learning more, BSAC run a skill development course on Underwater Photography.