Berkley White:In place of our regular afternoon photo lectures, we mixed it up today and took the group back in the water to practice splits and test drive the Dive-X scooters. We started the session with a quick review on shooting techniques and passed around the dome polish to minimize the drips and drops. Russ from Backscatter demonstrated scooter technique and mounted cameras to the scooters for the more experienced riders. Special thanks go to Jen, Mickey, and Sean who did an amazing job modeling for everyone throughout the afternoon. What a fun way to spend the day and try out some new techniques!
The photos and video submitted for the evening critique showed serious improvement. All of the first time compact and SLR users were getting tighter compositions and dialed in the strobe exposures. Many guests dialed in their MacroMate lenses and achieved perfect focus on the smallest of subjects. A few of the shooters had only 6-8 photo dives under their belt, but produced fantastic images!
We prefer to keep the guests focused on education, but a little competition helps reward the hard workers. Tomorrow we're back in the water for the final shooting day before all contest entries are due. The crew here seems pumped up to dive a little longer and shoot a little harder. Click the sponsors link and you'll understand why these guys are motivated to pull out all the stops.
Daniel Brown:Knobs, gears, dials, switches, cords, strobes, ports, floats, extensions, diopters, Macro Mates, domes, arms, elbows, cases, adaptors, converters, lenses, filters; the options are overwhelming. In this environment, any (or all) of those items can be discussed (philosophically or factually) at great length at breakfast, on the dock, on the boat, less-so underwater, at the rinse tank, at the gear lockers, on the walk back to the rooms, at lunch or dinner, or at the evening slideshow presentation.
Mary Lynn Price:Dan and I have now wrapped up our presentation portions of the video workshops. The filmmakers are continuing to work on their editing skills in the hands-on video workshop sessions where Dan and I are both there to help out, answer questions and give feedback. A couple of the newer filmmakers produced their first edited videos to much jubilant celebration (always one of my favorite parts of these shootouts!) And I know that all of the video folks are starting to think more and more about the final three minute piece they will create for the contest and film fest that takes place at our last evening gathering and award show Friday night.
Apart from the classroom and in-water practice sessions, it’s also the social aspect that is very much a part of “The Shootout” culture. Strangers arrive, friends depart. There is a camaraderie that inevitably forms; some struggle with wide angle, others with a particular brand and model of camera. Others see a shiny new strobe and have a few days of “gear lust”, only to hear lukewarm reviews. Still others have the reverse experience; that gear they’ve witnessed from afar can be placed in their hands by another trusting attendee, and the lust is complete. A few positive words, and a mental sale has been made (or prevented), and a key piece of information is exchanged.
In short, there is much to learn from the staff here, but there is no substitute for the pool of experience a group this large and diverse brings.
Today is a free day where participants can choose to take part in a variety of activities, including just taking it easy! Many of the video group attendees are heading out on a special island topside excursion. Road Trip! One of the stops on our field trip is a particular favorite of mine: the Donkey Sanctuary. This is a place where some of the wild donkeys of Bonaire are cared for. Visitors help support the care of the animals through their entrance fee donations. Maybe we'll even make a short YouTube piece about our visit to the Donkey Sanctuary!
Dan Baldocchi:Field trip! We took a break from sitting in class today to get out and
cruise around the island. If you want to make a good dive trip video you
have to get more than just the underwater shots. You have to go out and get
some topside stuff too; people gearing up, loading the boats, general shots
around the resort, that kind of stuff. Well, Bonaire is a pretty cool island
and has a lot to see, so we all got into a van and visited the donkey
sanctuary, salt factory, slave huts, and just cruised along the cost to
enjoy the scenery. We're now going to be able to tell a pretty good story
about Bonaire, both above and below the water.
David Fleetham: Wow! The gang this year is blowing me away with their daily images.
We are going to have our work cut out for us comparing all the
splendid pictures we are getting. I have seen some impressive shots
with the optically agonizing macro-mate. On a Canon 100 macro or
Nikon 105 macro this thing gets you down to an image about the size of
a dime with paper thin depth of field. Every night we have seen some
great compositions with this very difficult to shoot piece of glass.
My day started with a wonderful dive on the Hilma Hooker, Bonaire’s
premier wreck dive. At over 200 feet in length this is an impressive
sight and a fantastic photographic oppourtunity. Our second dive
brought several barracuda, a very cooperative hawksbill turtle, and
terrific schools of fish in the shallows. The afternoon was spent in
front of the resort with a dozen shooters honing their skills on the
difficult task of getting half above, half below (split) water shots
with three fabulous models.
Lenny Bucko:Over-Under... Under-Over... Splits and Half and Halfs...
Call it what you want. We mastered it today in the beach side classroom right out the door from the main classroom. We did our two great morning dives with bait balls, turtles, frog fish (that we are seeing on every dive now), and lots of other subjects that are providing talent for all of us to photograph. The beach dive classroom found 12 of us in chest deep water working on balancing available light topside and strobe fill underwater as models swam by or zipped through the scene on the test drive underwater scooters. No traffic citations were issued, but I am sure that the fish were amused as we lit up the waters with all of our Transformer looking rigs. Everyone had a blast and the learning curve is spinning out of control as each night's pictures get better and better.
See you on the bottom tomorrow!