Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The long weekend of June 12-14 was a blast (save for Saturday, which I spent sick dangit), as Cat and I got to attend Celebrate the Sea 2009 and meet one of my personal heroes in photography and exploration. I’m talking about David Doubilet, whose photos in National Geo have been inspiring me since I was in high school.
I’ve also gained some new inspirations: Michael AW, another celebrated underwater photographer and author of Heart of the Ocean, a book photographed entirely in Philippine waters; Peter Scoones, cinematographer of the ground-breaking Blue Planet BBC series; Lynn Funkhouser, whose beautiful shots reassured me Puerto Galera where I spent so many great summers is still as beautiful underwater as I remember it; Joe Moreira, the uber-cool managing editor of Ocean Geographic; and our own Undersecretary Cynthia Carrion, who’s very active in environmental preservation.
Cat and I got to view some really awesome films and presentations, and sit in on some thought-provoking forums on current environmental problems. I missed one forum on Saturday, though, that I had really wanted to attend – a debate on whether oceanariums are beneficial for the environment or not. Cat and I got to sit in though on a forum on ‘changing the face of terror,’ Michael AW’s advocacy to reform the image of the shark, which interestingly morphed into a discussion of the dynamics between environmentalism and deeply entrenched Asian cultures (specifically, the Chinese appetite for sharks’ fin soup).
The presentation I enjoyed the most was Doubilet’s talk on his evolution as a National Geographic underwater photographer, where he kinda let us into his head and showed how he learned to see as an underwater image-maker. Very fittingly, Doubilet noted that light is still the first and most important ingredient to his vision, and talked about how he learned to shoot underwater using available light and monochrome film. Now B/W and underwater don’t often get associated together, because most underwater shots nowadays are all about the psychedelic colors of reef life; but Doubilet’s shots really illustrated how you can get stunning visuals from shafts of light and the way water refracts and diffuses light. (I think I’m gonna end up grabbing that second hand Nikonos I saw downtown next payday …)