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Backscatter in the Channel Islands

No, not that kind of backscatter…. the kind that sells underwater photo gear including Nauticam housings. The guys from Backscatter Underwater Video and Photo recently invaded the Channel Islands of California to do some staff training and gear testing. This once a year trip allows the staff to get together to get some diving in, work on their skills, and yes, have some fun in the process. They invited me along to which I happily said yes, and after packing about 220 pounds of Nauticam, Zen Underwater, and cold water diving gear, I went to California.

Did I mention that I brought my drysuit? Well, good thing I did as the water was quite cold, even by California standards. On two of my dives, I registered a nippy 47 degrees at the bottom. Visibility was not the greatest, so yes, there was some of the other kind of backscatter to deal with. Despite the less than perfect conditions, there were plenty of great subjects underwater; everyone did around 4 dives a day and enjoyed the trip very much.

Nudibranch from Santa Cruz Island. Shot with Canon 7D in Nauticam with Canon 60mm macro and Nauticam C60 port
Nudibranch from Santa Cruz Island. Shot with Canon 7D in Nauticam with Canon 60mm macro and Nauticam C60 port

The boat was the Peace, out of Ventura. The Peace is well suited to the Channel Islands, with a wide beam and plenty of room for all that gear needed for cold water diving… not to mention a huge amount of photo gear.

The Peace

The new Sony NEX-5 came along for the trip for topside shooting. This is a cool little camera that packs an APS-C sized sensor and interchangeable lenses into a point and shoot size. It has a built-in panorama mode which entertained me for a long time.

Panorama shot with Sony NEX-5
I brought 3 complete Nauticam setups for the Backscatter guys to use… Canon 7D, Canon T2i and Nikon D300s. I also brought Nauticam ports to support some different lenses, plus a couple Zen Underwater 100mm mini fisheye domes. One of the Backscatter guys already owns his own Zen Underwater 230mm super dome, so that was in use as well. It was great to see how eager these guys were to try and get experience with the different Nauticam products.

Some of the photo gear
One more comment about the Peace… the food is awesome! (Sorry, no pictures of the food).

Peace dive deck panorama with gear. Photo by Berkley White.
Diving the Channel Islands is a unique experience, with some creatures and scenery you just don't see anywhere else. From Purple Hydrocorals on Farnsworth Bank to the ubiquitous kelp forests to the myriads of nudibranchs on Santa Cruz, there is an amazing amount of life underwater here. This isn't the first time these guys have been here and they know the best spots.

Horn Shark. Shot with Canon 7D Nauticam with Tokina 10-17mm fisheye behind a Zen Underwater 100mm mini fisheye dome

Shot with Canon 7D Nauticam with Canon 60mm EF-S.

Nudibranch from Santa Cruz Island. Shot with Canon 7D in Nauticam with Canon 60mm macro and Nauticam C60 port
Backscatter Underwater Video and Photo has a beautiful showroom located in Monterrey, California (and one in Derry, NH). Besides being an authorized Nauticam dealer, they are authorized to perform service on Nauticam gear, plus can service just about anything else related to underwater photo/video gear. They have a large staff, all of whom are divers and photographers. Their extensive website is packed with Nauticam housings, ports, and accessories, plus gear from many other vendors. Visit the website here: Backscatter web site

The Backscatter Channel Islands Dive Team 2010. From top then left to right: Berkley White – Owner; Rusty Sanoian – Product Manager; Sean Boone – Web Sales; Rob Duncan – Sales; Mike Tamayo – Accounting / Sales; Craig Dietrich – Sales; Sterling Zumbrunn – Technical Support.