Divernet

An early start left me yawning as I approached Stoney Cove at barely 8am on a cold Saturday morning in November.
     But 8am is laughably late by the standards of Leicestershires celebrated inland dive site - the bottom car park was already heaving with huge vans, all packed full of dive gear and eager trainees.
     I was there for Divers Stoney Cove Splash-In event - the photographic equivalent of three-legged fell-running, and a challenge for only the very brave or the hideously foolhardy. This was the new live section of Divers Image 2001, the biennial International Festival of Underwater Photography and Film.
     Competitors reported to the Diver tent to be issued with a roll of ASA100 or 400 transparency film.
     Their task was to enter the enticingly photogenic depths of the quarry, and return within six hours to hand back the film.
     In this competition the photographers would have no chance to select their favourite shots - these would be processed and judged as they came, during the following week, by Diver staff.
     It was a far cry from the usual photo-fests, dominated as they are by images of exotic nudibranchs from Sulawesi. UK diving is a great leveller, as I soon rediscovered as I stepped out from the Diver marquee and into a pile of duck poo.
     Dodging the splashes of trainee divers launching themselves into the lake, I wished the photographers well and kept my fingers crossed that the Stoney Cove pike would be ready for their close-ups.
     As you can see from the results, our hardcore photographers were more than a match for the conditions. It was only the ducks and the pike which were playing for laughs.
     The winner, David Stephens, all the way from Newport in South Wales, probably came up with the widest range of varied and largely successful shots. At Diver we see many, many images of underwater creatures but are always on the look-out for good shots of divers. The unusual image of a model framed on the Nautilus wreck wins David not only the Gold medal but also a Dacor Fury regulator supplied by Stoney Cove. He used a Nikon F90X camera in a Sea & Sea housing.
     Winning the Silver medal, and a Bonica watch from Hydrotech, was the excellent close-up of one of Stoney Coves pike by Cathy Lewis of Clifton, who was also using a Nikon F90X.
     And one of the much-photographed crayfish proved photogenic enough to secure Bronze for local entrant Linda Napper, using a Nikon 801s.
     Two other photographers, Trevor Rees and Terry Goldie, are commended for their entries. Trevor thoughtfully brought along his own tinned wildlife - just in case - and Terry managed to get in among the pike. We were also entertained by the many shots of ducks backsides.
     Distributor Hydrotech, which is based at Stoney Cove, ran a parallel competition for Bonica camera-users. It was won by Neil Barnes from London.

Pike
Pike by Cathy Lewis (Silver)
Ducks
Ducks by Cathy Lewis
Perch
Perch by David Stephens
Stanegarth
Stanegarth Plaque by Linda Napper
Crayfish
Crayfish by Linda Napper (Bronze)
Pike
Pike by Trevor Goldie
Tinned
Tinned Crayfish by Trevor Rees