Every ten years, the Professional
Aerial Photographers Association (PAPA) holds their annual convention
on a cruise ship. This was the year, and the cruise, although a short
four day, three night affair, was a great learning experience and a
lot of fun, too. This year Stan and I brought our wives along because
there would actually be things for them to do on the cruise, and
spending a few days with my wife away from work is a rare occasion.
We left Salt Lake in between winter storms, and after a short layover in
Atlanta, we arrived in balmy, 85 degree Miami, Florida. We tracked
down the bus to South Beach and half an hour later we checked into
our hotel a block from the beach. On the bus we were surprised to
meet Yves Tremblay of PhotoHelico, a Montreal, Canada based aerial
photographer and friend. He was also staying in South Beach with
another aerial photographer, Jesper Larsen from Denmark. One of the
great benefits of PAPA is the camaraderie of fellow photographers from
around the world.
The next morning we went for a swim in
the ocean. The water was great, but the waves were too small for any
serious body surfing. We cruised the beachfront stores then flagged
down a taxi and headed to our ship, the Carnival Destiny. I had never
been on a cruise before and the sheer size of the ship amazed me. The
power it takes to move the ship at 20 knots and the number of crew
members (over 1,000) is simply astounding. We found our room, walked
around the ship and settled on the deck with a couple of ice cream
cones. As the ship disembarked, a local PAPA member who was not able
to attend the conference flew over in his helicopter and shot
pictures of our group on the deck of the ship. We then reconvened in
one of the lounges and kicked off the 2012 PAPA conference.
We had aerial photographers from all
around the country, and quite a few from around the world too.
Canada, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand were all represented. Stan
is on the Board of Directors as the Western Regional Director, and I
am the Image Competition Chairman, so we had some business to take
care of. This year, for the first time, the Image Competition was all
digital. In the past, aerial photographers from around the world
would print, mount and ship their best work to the conference. With
the limited space and logistical concerns a cruise setting brings, a
print competition was out of the question this year. I orchestrated
the new rules, the new online Peoples Choice judging system, and
hand-picked and supervised the five Image Competition Judges and the
new methods of judging an all digital contest. Everything went
perfectly and the competition was a great success. But more on that
That night, after the official start of
the conference, Noreen and I walked around the boat and spent some
time on the upper deck enjoying the warm weather, the cool breeze and
the beautiful night sky. In the morning, we docked at Key West,
Florida. We boarded the shuttle bus into town and rented a couple of
bicycles. Noreen and I cruised around to a few museums and tropical
gardens and found a local beach with a very, um, interesting group of
locals. We didn't stay there long. We found the Key Lime Pie Factory
and shared a piece of delicious Key Lime Pie, which was not as green
as I expected, but was very good. The owner of the shop directed us
to a local hair salon because I was in desperate need of a hair cut.
After that, we biked around a bit more, did some shopping and headed
back to the cruise ship.
The afternoon conference sessions
included a discussion on marketing techniques, a presentation from
Hasselblad, and an interesting discussion from the photographer who
co-ordinated and photographed Swiss Rocket Man Yves Rossy's rocket
powered flight over the Grand Canyon. If you don't know who Yves
Rossy is, check out his web site - http://www.jetman.com. He straps a
rocket-powered wing to his back and jumps out of helicopters and flies
around using his body to manipulate his flight path. It's pretty
incredible to watch.
Dinner that night was our Formal Night.
Noreen looked fantastic in her evening gown, and I looked presentable
in the tux I borrowed from a friend. I don't wear tuxes very often,
but it was a lot of fun. We sat at the table with a new PAPA member
from Australia, Noel Dawson and long time PAPA member John Mooney and
his wife from Houston. I had the alligator appetizer and the Maine
lobster dinner, with a delicious chocolate warming cake and ice cream
The morning conference sessions were
busy. First, John Mooney led the session on adding ground
architectural photography to your portfolio, and I demonstrated a few
techniques such as using a Perspective Control lens, HDR photography,
Photoshop techniques needed for interior photography, and how to make
good shots even better. Next, I led the Advanced Photoshop class and
focused on non-destructive editing, advanced color control and
changing, adding local contrast, blending modes, etc. We took a
little longer that we had planned, but it worked out fine as the ship
had encountered strong headwinds all the way from Key West to Cozumel
and was late arriving in port.
Cozumel was amazing. We had arranged to
go scuba diving through my brother-in-laws scuba shop,
Noreen and I, Stan and Corinne, Jesper and Lisbeth from Denmark,
Yves and Lisa from Canada, and Noel Dawson from Australia all jumped
in a taxi and headed to the pier where the great guys from Scuba
Cancun were waiting for us. We were late getting there because of the
ships late arrival, but Carlos and his crew were fantastic. We ended
up only having time for a single dive, but it was well worth it. I
put together a short video of the dive that you can see here:
After the diving, we went back to the
ship for dinner, then back to Cozumel to look around the shops. At
one shop, a man was weaving custom bracelets with your name or
anything else you wanted woven right into the bracelet. I was looking
through his selection to see if he had a bracelet with Noreen on it,
not very likely, when he asked me,
"What you looking for? I can make
anything in four minutes. You wait."
"Oh, I'm just looking" I replied.
The man smiled, reached into his display and handed me a bracelet
that had "I'm just looking" woven into it. I think he's heard that
before. We bought a few small things for keepsakes, Yves and Lisa had
the guy make custom bracelets for their kids, and Jepser and Lisbeth
bought hammocks for her parents summer home.
The following morning after breakfast
was the annual business meeting and election of officers. Chuck Boyle
from Charlotte North Carolina was elected President to take Pat
Belanger from California's place. I hear a lot of other things were
discussed, too. I slept in. Next, Susan Hedenberg let a great
discussion titled "20 Hot Tips & Tricks for Aerial
Photographers". Lots of great things were discussed, from shooting
tips and equipment suggestions to which apps on the iPad are useful
After lunch, Julie Belanger let a
discussion on aerial video, including what sells, which equipment is
popular, stabilization techniques, etc. Steve Boyko then led a
beginners Photoshop class. We also heard a brief experience someone
had with a copyright infringement problem, that led to him getting the
use of a huge sailboat and crew for the weekend! It was an
interesting resolution to a legal issue.
After that, we had the print Critique.
I briefly went over the rules of the Image Competition and what the
judges look for in a quality image. Then I introduced our judges and
they each had several images from the competition that they wanted to
critique. They offered advice on composition, suggestions on what
would make some images better, and also why some of the images were
great pieces of art. It's a highlight of the convention because its a
great time to learn what we can do to improve our imagery from those
in the business with experience and experience.
Noreen had been doing her own thing,
but was driven off the deck during a rain squall that had the ship
tipping 20 degrees in the wind and rain. We dressed in our formal
attire because the next session was very important - the Awards
Ceremony. I donned my tuxedo and prepared the presentation of the
awards. As the Image Competition Chairman, it is my privilege to
announce the winners of the Judges Individual favorites, the Peoples
Choice winners, and the Judges Choice winners of the competition.
Here is a list of the winners:
Starting off with the Judges Personal
Judge Yvonne Sanderson chose Little O's
by Paul Cardel, Jr.
Judge Yves Tremblay chose Rain -
Oxnard, CA by Marvin Derezin, MD
Judge Debbie Hooper
chose Fibonocci by David Margolis
Harris chose Elemental Fudge by Allen Macbean
John Condreay chose Panorama by Twilight by Andrew
The Peoples Choice Winners, picked by you
In the Air to Air category: Are You OK? by
In the Artistic category: Alligator River
by Noel Dawson
In the Commercial category: Panorama by
Twilight by Andrew Griffiths
In the Construction
Progress category: Teamwork by Jesper Larsen
Scenic Category: Rain - Oxnard, CA by Marvin Derezin,
And the Overall Peoples Choice is: Alligator River
by Noel Dawson
And finally, the winners of the judged
2012 PAPA International Image Competition:
In the Air to Air
category: Twin Turbo Legacy by Stan Macbean
Artistic category: Little O's by Paul Cardel, Jr.
the Commercial category: Panorama by Twilight by Andrew
In the Construction Progress category: Teamwork
by Jesper Larsen
In the Scenic Category: Rattlesnake
Summer by David Wyatt
And the Overall highest scoring
print goes to: Panorama by Twilight by Andrew Griffiths
was a great event. The only
thing that would have made it better was if more of the winners were
on the cruise with us. However, seeing the excitement on the faces of
the winners as the came forward to accept their awards was priceless.
For me, it was a special experience and a highlight of the trip.
next morning we docked back in Miami and made our way to the airport.
A short flight to Detroit and the on to Salt Lake City. The next
day, we had a snow storm. Hmm, Key West looks like a nice place to
live and fly...
the conference was great. I can't thank enough those who put it
together and do so much for the PAPA organization behind the scenes.
It's a great group of people, and there is always more to learn.
was my first cruise, and I am looking forward to doing another, but I
think it needs to be at least a week long. Maybe an Eastern Caribbean
cruise next, or maybe Alaska in the summer. I'll start saving now.