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BSoUP's Theme Portfolio Competition 1999

Winner - Bob Allen



'Ginny Springs' © Bob Allen

My winning portfolio

by Bob Allen


All the portfolio pictures were taken in the crystal clear waters of the Ginnie Springs Resort at High Springs in the centre of Northern Florida, just north west of Gainesville, approximately two hours car journey frorn Orlando.

Nature is preserved here in this wilderness resort which rests in 200 acres of unspoiled, northern Florida forest. Eight freshwater springs form beautiful basins that overflow into the Santa Fe River at a constant all year round temperature of 72*°F. Ginnie Springs is perfect for individuals, families or groups to relax in and have fun, from camping, picnicking, swimming, snorkelling, canoeing, tubing and volleyball, to scuba diving. Instruction can be obtained from beginner though to cavern and cave, and open water training, and all equipment can be hired from the comprehensive full-service dive centre and country store.

All the pictures were taken at Easter time in two of the springs, Ginnie Spring and Devils Spring and the narrow stream between Devils Spring and Devils Eye Spring. The depth of each location does not exceed 20ft and in some cases its only 4 to 5f t and, therefore, does not present any serious diving problems.

Equipment: Subal Housing, Nikon 801S Camera; Nikon 16mm Fisheye Lens; Fisheye Mini-Dome Port (Ken Sullivan); Nikon SB25 Flash in Custom Housing; Film Fuji Provia 100ASA

Picture #1 was taken half way along the narrow stream, which joins the Devils Spring to Devils Eye Spring, and then flows out into the Santa Fe River. It shows the sandy bottom of the stream, and a diver back-lit by the sun shining through the water surface and the surrounding trees. The shallow depth, (4 to 5ft) can be seen by the surface ripples from the diver's bubbles. The difficulty here, and with all shots into the sun, is recording something of the surroundings without them becoming total silhouette. Using manual exposure control I metered off the bottom/sides of the framed area and then gradually reduced the aperture size taking shots as I went (i.e. bracketing). Nominally I would think the exposure is f11/16 at 1/60 second with no fill in flash.

Picture #2 was taken from the entry point into the basin of Ginnie Springs. The diver is shown crossing the gently shelving bottom to the deeper (18ft) basin and entrance to the Ginnie Spring Cave. Overall the view is from the head of the spring looking towards the stream which leads to the Santa Fe River. There is no difficulty here with exposure, I would have used aperture priority and, as in land photography, kept a small aperture to maximise depth of field (i.e. f8/11) and used no flash. The beauty of this picture is in its composition, the reflection of the bottom of the spring basin in the surfaces, the diver and the absolutely crystal clear water. The surface mirror effect is common in Ginnie Springs, and is only broken by the ripples caused by diver's exhaled air bubbles.

Picture #3 is the most satisfying, for me, of all the pictures I have taken in Ginnie Springs. Here I am trying to capture the view that a fish might have of a diver entering its aquatic world. It is a shot from the bottom of Ginnie Springs' basin looking vertically up to the surface. There are two difficulties here to overcome, the one of recording some non-silhouette detail of the surrounding whilst looking straight up at the sun, and the other of eliminating bubbles from my expelled air as it rises 18ft to the surface. The first is solved by manual exposure and bracketing, as in picture #1, with an attempt to hide some of the sun behind the overhanging trees. The second is holding ones breath for long periods, which is okay for once but for many times is quite difficult. Both difficulties generally mean that the picture is a compromise, and, to anyone observing the activity, very humorous. Again I would expect the aperture to be f11/16 at 1/60 second with no flash.

Picture #4 shows the entrance to the cave in Ginnie Springs and I am shooting from inside the cave at 20ft out into the basin. I have deliberately tried to create a silhouette of the entrance to produce an outline mask in the shape of the Florida panhandle map. With some gentle digital massaging and enhancement I think it could be made geographically correct. Here again, there is no difficulty with exposure; I would have used aperture priority with a small aperture to maximise depth of field (i.e. f8/11) and no flash. Incidentally, if flash were to be used then the whole of the entrance can be shown, but the shots produced are very unnatural. In all clear water shots it is essential to get diver exhaust bubbles in the picture to illustrate the under water aspect of the picture.

In picture #5, 1 have moved back to Devils Spring and I am positioned just inside the vertical shaft entrance into this complex of caves. It shows the very dark entrance crack in the rock bottom at 15ft and the diver back lit by the sun and sky through overhanging trees. The only difficulties here are that of exposure and again I would have used manual exposure metered off the dark areas, and bracketed to reduce the bright sky and sun colours (FS/FU). The beauty of this picture is in the simplicity of the scene, the above water reflections and colours.

Picture #6. As a complement to the previous picture, I have included this shot taken from down inside the vertical entrance to the cave complex. It also balances with picture #5 in the landscape format. The picture is taken vertically as in the Ginnie Spring basin shot and the silhouette mask of the cave entrance is used to create the effect of a cat or devil's eye. The less successful positioning of the diver was an attempt to create the slit shape of the pupil of the eye of a cat. With a little massaging and enhancement digitally the full effect might be realised as a print, or with much more time on location by straight shooting. The main difficulties here were to create the full silhouette and eliminate my bubbles. The silhouette would have benefited from the sun being more overhead, later in the day, (something for a return trip) and no bubbles in the picture. You can see some top left, but the increased depth in this site really does not help me, not being a breath-hold specialist. The exposure for the shot was best served by manual exposure and bracketing, setting a speed of say 1/60th and then bracketing by aperture. If the overall brightness of a scene cannot be accommodated by the speed of 1/60" then increase it to 1/125th or 1/250th and continue to bracket by aperture.

BSoUP Theme Portfolio Competition

Theme Portfolio Winners




2019 Laura Storm

2018 Terry Steeley

2017 Martyn Guess

2016 Mikko Voipio

2015 Pash Baker

2014 Robert Bailey

2013 Martyn Guess


2012 Keith Lyall

2011 Trevor Rees

2010 Martyn Guess

2009 Trevor Rees

2008 Arthur Kingdon

2007 JP Trenque

2006 Alex Mustard

2005 Alex Mustard

2004 Jane Morgan

2003 Linda Dunk

2002 Linda Dunk

2001 Linda Dunk

2000 Sue Heaps

1999 Bob Allen

1998 Bob Allen

1997 Anne Owen

1996 Ken Sullivan

1995 Anthony Holley

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