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10:00 AM Gear Prep Session (for early arrival guests, photo classroom)

Open Arrival Day - Some attendees on Boats. Check back Sunday for the first official day of Diigital Shootout Boat Dives.

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Welcome to the 8th annual Digital Shootout, presented by Under Exposures! Returning to beautiful, tranquil Bonaire, underwater photographers and videographers will be descending on its lush reefs to capture stunning images during the coming week.

In addition to diving-diving-diving, photo and video seminars will be given all week by some of the industry's top pros. Some of the featured seminars include: Photography Techniques by Berkley White, Composition by David Fleetham, Core Concepts of Video & Planning Your Video by Dan Baldocchi and Mary Lynn Price and the Essentials of Lightroom by Daniel Brown. Not only is this highly anticipated event a week of taking one's imaging skills to the next level, but it culminates in a photo and video contest with spectacular prizes! Check back daily to see the fun, excitement, diving and imagery going on at The Digital Shootout!

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Berkley White: The crew at Backscatter sent us out the door with 13 check-on bags of demo gear weighing 69.9 pounds each. From point and shoot cameras to video rigs mounted on scooters, we are only missing the kitchen sink. We made friends with airline clerks and returned the custom agents stink eyes with beaming smiles. It was great to finally see the friendly faces at Divi Bonaire with all our bags in tow.

We've now received 70 percent of the Shootout guests and spent the morning helping folks set up their gear. Gear set up was mostly a breeze and only had to break out the tools a few times. Jim Decker prevented unnecessary surgery on a clients rig, by remembering a sneaky camera setting. This is what the shootout is all about... helping people keep their gear running so they can focus on techniques.

At our staff meeting tonight, I was struck by what a great crew of pros we have this year. Digital Shootout guests are in for a treat. This enthusiastic crew is ready to get everyone to the next level... no matter their incoming skill set.

After our airline exposure our gills are finally wet and island time is starting to sink in. Bring on the nitrogen and flash cards.

Daniel Brown: Okay, it's good to finally be here. Long plane rides, invasive or overly-chatty seat mates seem a distant memory. Familiar faces appear from dive shop, lobby, a room or two and - in some cases - from the bar after that all-important "I'm on vacation NOW" beer. Gear works (aside from a well- chewed and now replaced mouth piece), now it's time to assemble the camera and housing...

Jennifer Penner:While many of you may be questioning the condition of Bonaire's reef's after Hurricane Omar's destruction, I can report that the reef is still healthy. Today I saw a school of 19 squid, lined up from smallest to largest! In the last couple days, I've seen many small eels, octopi and a ton of juveniles in the shallows. Pool's open! Let's go diving!



Dan Baldocchi: Welcome to the Shootout! I'm glad to see everyone arrived today safe and sound, and with all your luggage. That's a good start! After a thorough dive briefing we set up our gear and did a check out dive to make sure we're all set to start boat diving tomorrow. Let the fun begin.

Tomorrow we'll kick off an action packed week of diving. 2 tank boat dives in the morning, photo and video classes in the afternoon, and an slide show critique each night. I can't wait to see the great images we have by the end of the week! Stay tuned....

David Fleetham: Last year at the shootout here there were two dive sites with schools of squid. I loved them. This afternoon I found twenty squid in 14 feet of water just 50 yards off the dock right in front of the dive shop. I spent the last half hour of my dive with them. By the end of the half hour they had calmed down and were getting used to my presence...and I was running out of air. I know where I'm diving tomorrow now.

Lenny Bucko: I finally arrived back in Bonaire after a year away. Hard to believe the time has flown by but we are back in the warm ,clear water again. Jet lag surrounds me as I look at my fellow shooters who have been up all night to get here but as crazy as it sounds we all went diving instead of going to bed to get back on schedule.

How much weight do I need,are my stobes working,where is my mask defog???????? All important questions but getting in the water was my first goal like a duck freshly hatched from the egg. The second half of the team arrives tomorrow and then the games begin. Stay thirsty my friends. Len Bucko


Jim Decker: If your TTL isn't working, one thing to keep in mind before you change bulkheads, hotshoe boards, TTL converters, strobes, and cameras in an attempt to fix the situation, is to check to see if your camera is set to rear curtain sync for your flash setting. We had this problem today with one of the guests in the gear prep seminar. TTL doesn't work in rear curtain sync with digital cameras because of what is called a pre-flash. The pre-flash is how digital TTL judge exposure. The camera puts out a weak "pre" flash to judge lighting conditions, then follows with the main flash for the photo. Since the purpose of rear curtain sync is to have the flash fire just before the second curtain covers the sensor and stops the exposure, a pre flash would have no way of accurately judging the correct amount of flash on a long exposure, and therefore the pre-flash does not fire in rear curtain sync. Therefore there is no TTL with rear curtain sync.

In other news, I'll be getting in the water tomorrow with the Canon 5D Mark II camera to shoot ambient light video. I installed the latest firmware update to do manual exposure video and will try to get some footage with the 15mm fisheye lens. To be honest I don't even care about taking my still photos with this rig. The 1080p video with a full frame sensor just too intriguing...

Russ Sanoian: Today I dove the Canon MKII 5D camera in the new Aquatica housing on a wreck I have wanted to dive here in Bonaire for a very long time. The wreck of the Windjammer lies in 200 ft of water on the west end of the island and is diveable by permit only. I mounted the Aquatica housing on my Dive-Xtras Sierra scooter, The X scooter allows you to cover great distances that would not be possible with fins alone, I was diving a CCR(closed circuit rebreather) and slinging an aluminum 80 under each arm for bailout plus the Aquatica housing with video lights so I was not exactly streamlined...more like a whale so I needed all the help I could get. We brought along Dive Xtras Sierra scooters this year with us to the Digital Shootout for guest to try out at no charge. If you have never used an expedition quality DPV like the X scooter you will not want to dive without one, once you experience flying over the reef feeling more like a bush pilot in Alaska than a diver. Your air consumption is half of what it would normally be as your workload is much less as you are pulled along flying with nothing but your fingertips. The X scooter is different from many other commercial DPV's because it pulls the diver from a crotch strap and requires very little input to change direction.

I was very excited to see what the camera was capable of in video mode at this depth and how it handled low light at 200ft. The Canon MKII 5D shoots HD video in addition to being a 21 Megapixel full frame Digital SLR. We dropped off the reef at around 35 feet and descended towards the ship as it materialized out of the darkness at around 90 feet. The Windjammer is a 3 masted schooner was carrying coal for cargo and when she sank in 1912. She sank and slid down the reef, rolled over and the tar(asphalt) spilled from her insides and onto the seafloor creating a football field size of frozen tar that is now overgrown with corals and sponges, you can still twist pieces out of the blob as it has never solidified due to water temperature. The camera worked great at depth and was able to pick up light even in the dark conditions, it was a good first test and I am excited to see what we can put together by the end of the Digital Shootout with the Canon MKII 5D. Tomorrow is more scootering and testing of the Canon MKII 5D and Fisheye G10 housing with the new Fisheye 165 degree lens!!


Jean Bruneau: Jean survived delayed flights and hit the ground running. He set-up his Aquatica D90 and 5DmkII demo systems while helping others assemble their systems. We took away his tools and sent him on a dive. He was still wet at our publishing deadline, but stay tuned for his dive report. Aquatica is in the house!