The Sea and the Stars

Meeting Report

Meeting: 
Guest Speaker

Before tonight's talk, we had told other clubs about our speaker, Rob White, and as result we had a room full, including 10 visitors.

Rob was introduced to us by Chris West who used to work for a company in Horsham, and Rob started there as a boy straight from school. Chris left the company, and they lost touch with each other but eventually got reunited through Facebook. (Not all bad then?)

The first half of the evening was devoted to underwater photography, and Rob told us that he first became interested in diving in 1997 and enjoyed it very much and then decided that he would start underwater photography to enhance the experience.

He started using a compact camera in a housing, but after a time moved on to a Nikon D800 with a very much larger housing, which he brought along to show us. It has a large handle at each side and two quite long arms with floats attached with two big lights at the ends. Everything is controlled by buttons on the outside which are connected to the camera controls. Rob has to decide before diving which lens to use on his camera. He mostly uses either a wide angle lens or a 150 mm macro. He showed us a picture of all his extensive camera gear laid out, which he takes with him, on top of which of course he takes his diving gear. He uses a life jacket when diving which he uses to control his depth in the water by letting some air out of it. This allows him to stay at particular level and the floats on the camera housing help to keep it stable.

Rob started diving in the UK and his early images were of sea slugs, crabs and of course fish, some of which were very interested in seeing what he was up to and came right up to the housing. Lundy Island is one site he visits where there is a colony of grey seals, which again find him interesting and come investigating. He also goes to Scotland in much deeper water where he showed us some lovely pictures of Sea Anemonies and Corals.

He goes abroad and does blue water diving in Egypt where the water is warmer. He travels with a fellow diving companion a lady called Pash, who came with him tonight. She acts as his underwater model giving  scale where necessary to larger objects like ship wrecks and large shoals of fish for instance.

After the break, Rob talked about his other photographic passion - astro-photography - because he has been interested in the sky at night since his childhood.

He showed us a diagram showing the Milky Way and where it is in relation to well-known bright stars. It is a band of some 400 billion stars which stretch right across the night sky. It featured in most of his images to great effect.

Forward planning is paramount with the weather being the first consideration followed by what stars are going to be visible at a given location, (which Rob finds out from a website). He has to pick locations where there is a minimum of light pollution (caused by street lights in towns and cities). There are several dark areas in Sussex but Rob likes to include objects in his pictures and buildings such as windmills, barns and castles being some examples that we saw.

Rob uses Lighhtroom to post process his images. For his Astro work he uses high ISOs with long exposures, but not too long as this would elongate round stars because of the Earth’s movement. He talked about taking  pictures well into the early hours and then going to work the following morning.

During the break, lots of his lovely prints were on display and throughout his talk he showed us brilliant images which were of a very high quality as well as being very interesting, as was his entire talk.

Thank you Rob.