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A Wet Night In

A Wet Night In was the curious title for the talk given to Dawlish & Teignmouth Camera Club by Penny & Spike Piddock, from Dorchester Camera Club. However, as soon became clear, they are both keen underwater photographers – Penny is a Snorkeller and Spike is a Diver.

Napoleon Wrasse © Spike Piddock
Napoleon Wrasse © Spike Piddock

He then moved on to the Maldives where the fish became much bigger and very colourful, including the rather grand Napoleon Wrasse (pictured). One piece of advice he shared when showing a photo of a Giant Barracuda is not to wear anything shiny (such as a diving mask) as they think it is an edible fish! With a great understanding of the creatures, their habitats and purposes, Spike explained about the symbiotic relationship of the shrimps whose job it is to clean the teeth of the Honeycomb Moray Eel, and the cheekiness of the Remora fish who regularly hitch a ride on passing Hawksbill Turtles.


From Indonesia he showed images of long-nosed Hawkfish, which are the same colour as the coral they live on, together with brightly-coloured and patterned Mandarin fish, but the most bizarre was the Frog fish, which measures three inches long, walks on its flippers and uses the fishing rod-like appendage which grows from its head to bait other fish.

Another popular underwater activity is wreck diving. From a diving trip to the Red Sea, Spike showed photos of the SS Thistlegorm, which was sunk by the Germans in 1941, whilst carrying train engines, aircraft bits and ammunition. Surprisingly, it is the second most visited place in Egypt after the Pyramids.


When asked about the equipment he uses, Spike joked that he started out with a camera in a tin can during a posting to Cyprus in the late 1960s. He then went on to use a Nikkonas Viewfinder Camera and a strobe flash gun and progressed to various macro and wide-angle lenses. Nowadays, he has trimmed down the kit he takes out to a mirrorless camera – the Olympus E Mk5 – and a lamp.


Penny took the helm for the second half of the evening to show seascapes from a snorkeller’s point of view. Like Spike, Penny was very knowledgeable about the various marine life and noted how the mood underwater changed at dusk when the predators started hunting for food.

Over the years she has developed her own distinctive style of photography to encompass what she sees above and below the waterline. It is not possible for the camera to focus on both aspects at the same time because of distortions, so she combines her images two frames apart and tweaks the colours. These beautiful images have won many awards, including Travel Photographer of the Year.

Passing through © Penny Piddock
Passing through © Penny Piddock

Passing Through (pictured above) shows a seaplane coming in to land and a dazzling shoal of fish just below the surface. Whilst other scenes from the Maldives included wooden huts atop the water and a sea turtle waving his flipper below.


Members were clearly inspired by Penny and Spike’s presentation and many questions were asked, followed by a very warm round of applause for their enjoyable talk.


Dawlish & Teignmouth Camera Club meets on Wednesday evenings and offers a packed programme of guest speakers, club nights and competitions. For more details see www.dawlishteignmouthcameraclub.co.uk

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