Saturday, June 19, 2010

Digital Master Class in Key Largo

I just wrapped teaching a really productive Digital Master seminar in Key Largo. We had slick calm seas for 6 days, and a really engaged, talented, and interesting group of students to make it all the more fun. Eddie Tappp was on hand to teach us all the new functionalities of Adobe CS5 and I got to experiment with Lightroom 3.0 as well.

The most exciting part for me was the quality of diving. Especially, since I was wondering if we were going to get this week of diving in at all, given the dire predictions of an ecological calamity befalling the Florida Keys from the Deep Water Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Not to minimize the horrible situation in the Gulf of Mexico right now, but the mass of the Florida Peninsula and favorable currents have kept the spill completely away from our waters. Totally. In fact, we just received this very reassuring advisory from NOAA on June 23rd:

The offshore trajectory maps (previously showing oil interacting with the Loop Current) have been temporarily suspended because the northern end of the Loop Current has been pinched off into a large eddy (Eddy Franklin) so there is no clear path for oil to enter the Loop Current from the source. Also, there have been no reports of recoverable oil in the Loop Current or Eddy Franklin and the oil has moved to the North and away from the Eddy Franklin. We will continue to monitor the area with overflights, vessel observations, and satellite analysis. When the threat of shoreline impacts to the Florida Keys increases, we will resume producing the offshore trajectory maps.

On June 21st, NOAA offered the further advisory "Surface and aerial monitoring of waters off the west coast of Florida, south of the panhandle and the Florida Keys, continues to show the risk remains low for near-term Transocean/BP oil spill pollution threats to the Florida Keys, officials at the Florida Peninsula Command Center said Thursday. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration oil spill trajectory maps produced for Friday, June 18, continue to show light sheen and tar balls positioned away from the Keys. According to the Saturday forecast, the closest patch is to be about 170 miles west of Key West. The forecast also states “satellite imagery analysis no longer shows the persistent patches of sheen to the south, southeast of the main slick.”

While no one has a crystal ball to predict the long term effects of near-shore habitats and marine life lost in the Gulf of Mexico, or the effects of chemical dispersing agents being injected into the oil plume; my reality the first week of June, diving throughout the Florida Keys presented an environment of coral reefs and shipwrecks totally unaffected by the disaster in the Gulf.

If there is any good news anywhere in all of this, it is that one of this nation's greatest treasures, the coral reefs of the Florida Keys, is alive and well.

As for photo instruction in Key Largo, dates are now announced for our 2011 Seminar Season:

June 4 - 11, 2011 for Digital Master Class (Advanced)
July 30 - August 6 for Digital Immersion Class (Advanced Intermediate)

Here are a few memories of last week.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Oceanic Armegeddon

The cover of this week's Newsweek magazine is one of my shots, a loggerhead turtle shot off Molasses Reef in Key Largo. This is one stock photo I never wished to sell for this kind of a story: "What the Spill Will Kill". I've heard that nearly 500 turtles have already been killed in the Gulf of Mexico. The count of marine mortality will be coming for months and years from now. Whether the bluefin tuna spawn, or the dolphins, or the whales sharks, or simply the seafloor critters that are less "marquee" but no less critical.

This is a disaster of Biblical proportions.