8:00 AM All contest entries due - Last call 09:00:00!
Free Morning - optional diving, napping, land adventures
12:00 PM Lunch Buffet
6:00 PM Balashi Beach Bar Party
7:00 PM Awards Presentation

Bonnie said:"I had a great time! I learned so much! And I got to use the Macro Mate, (demo-ing the gear) it really makes a difference."

Terrence said:"I spoke to my girlfriend today and she really enjoyed following the Shootout on the Web"


©2009 The Digitial Shootout
Site by newmediasoup, LLC


What an incredible week this has been! Diving in the warm, clear waters of Bonaire. Learning essential techniques of photography and videography from some of the industry's top pros. A friendly, week-ending competition with spectacular prizes. And the camaraderie gained between fellow shooters, supporting each other to improve their imaging skills. A very big "thank you" to everyone that attended the 2009 Digital Shootout - you are the ones that make this event great!

The judging is over, and the votes are in to determine the winners of the 2009 Digital Shootout. The top place finishers for video and still images can be viewed in the galleries below. Congratulations to everyone that attended this year's Shootout! You all worked diligently the entire week, which is evidenced by the improvement shown in your images. Keep diving and keep shooting!

Video Contest Guidelines
Video participants were asked to submit one movie up to three minutes in length. All footage had to be shot during the Shootout week, and be composed of at least seventy-five percent underwater footage. There were no restrictions on video format or editing system.

Photo Contest Categories
Participants were asked to submit their best three images into each of our five categories. Images entered in the Traditional categories could be optimized in Photoshop or Lightroom for brightness, contrast and color, but could not be cropped, cloned, or receive localized manipulation like dodging or burning with layer masks or the removal of backscatter. Anything goes in the Unrestricted categories. The Compact or Point & Shoot category was added this year to highlight the hard work from our high number of new shooters.

Judging Guidelines
The judges were asked to rank the photo entries primarily on the question, "Would I want this image on my wall?" Thus artistic value ranked higher than uniqueness of subject and technical difficulty. For video, the judges were asked to rank entries primarily on artistic appeal, technical image quality, editing creativity (concept, transitions, tempo, storytelling) and the overall entertainment value of the piece.

Environmental Rules
Dive operators in Bonaire have always been conservation-minded. They respect the marine life and we believe that photographers should be the best ambassadors for reef protection. No image is worth damage to the reef or its critters. Our policy is to give a warning to a small offense, disqualify repeat offenders, and support the dive staff's decision to remove diving privileges.

Our Share the Wealth Policy Regarding Prizes
If a participant wins more than one prize, he/she has to choose their favorite prize. All extra prizes are raffled off to the rest of the group. Winners that were ambitious enough to compete in both photo and video can keep their favorite prize selected from both the photo and video contest.

Join us next year!
The next Digital Shootout will be in Little Cayman June 19-26, 2010. Please join us for another week of great diving, learning, and fun with fellow photographers and filmmakers!

The Digital Shootout 2009 Group Shot
View Large Image

  VIDEO WINNER - First Place



Video Prizes
Light & Motion SunRay 1000 Light System, Aquatica HD Wave Video Housing for Sony 520, Backscatter $200 Gift Certificate



Jim Watt was more than a friend to the Shootout. He was a living example of our mission statement. Jim was one of the first professional underwater photographers to adopt digital photography and was thrilled to share all his shooting secrets with first time shooters or fellow professional photographers. His passion and skill in creating new images was infectious and inspired hundreds of Digital Shootout guests over the years. Our Best of Show image is honored with the Jim Watt Award of excellence. View Jim's Images

Kararu 7 Night Charter to Komodo, Indonesia


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Aquatica D90 Housing, Sea & Sea RDX450 Housing, Sea & Sea YS-110 Strobe, (2) Backscatter $100 Gift Certificate


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Manthiri 7 Night Liveaboard Trip, Sea & Sea YS-250 Strobe, Backscatter $200 and $100 Gift Certificates, Marine Key Words


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Sea & Sea YS-250 Strobe, Divi Bonaire 4 Night / 5 Day Package for Two, Backscatter $200 and $100 Gift Certificates, Wetpixel Quarterly 1 Year Subscription


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Minahasa 4 Day / 3 Night Package, Sea & Sea YS-250 Strobe, Fisheye FIX LED 1000 Light, (2) Backscatter $100 Gift Certificates, Wetpixel Quarterly 1 Year Subscription


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Fisheye G10 Housing for Canon G10, Ikelite $300 Gift Certificate, Backscatter $200 and $100 Gift Certificates, Wetpixel Quarterly 1 Year Subscription


Berkley White:It was reward day here in Bonaire! Amazing prizes were handed out to shooters that labored all week to create amazing images. As staff, we were equally rewarded with great feedback and watched many first time shooters transform from confused to confident in their new learned skills. It was one of those proud parent moments.

Judging the video and photo submissions this morning was difficult, but very enjoyable. What a great group of images. We relied on our judging guidelines of "Would I put this on my wall?" and ranked the videos by story line and technical merit. Judged contests are really a statement of the personal tastes of the judges and it's normal to hear "Why did they pick that image over this image?" As you look over the winning images, you'll see a theme of clean compositions and great backgrounds in macro images. We gave Ron Watkins top honors with the Jim Watt Award because his image was surreal, open in composition and allowed my eye to float around the frame. Unlike more direct critter portrait compositions, the unusual composition is more like an abstract painting and encourages me to study it again and again.

Thanks again to all the hardworking staff that made this week possible. Serge and the Divi dive staff ran like clockwork with smiles on their faces. Jim and Russ, the Backscatter demo crew, and Jean from Aquatica were up early and stayed up late handing out demo gear to all the hungry shooters. David, Daniel, Mary Lynn, and Dan gave great support and high quality seminars. Lenny was the head top-side photographer and dived in deep with all the guests insuring all our bases were covered. My MVP staff award goes to Joel and Jen Penner of Newmediasoup, who designed and produced this amazing website. You guys rock!! Thanks also to the Backscatter home team that held down the fort and made it possible for us to serve our people and test the new gear here in Bonaire. Finally, my hat is off to all of the hard working guests that joined us this year. The excitement and drive you exhibited this week has inspired me and will hopefully spin each of you on a new creative path in image making. Thank you! I hope to see you underwater again soon!

Mary Lynn Price: What a fantastic event this has been! The video judges had very difficult decisions to make this year as there were a lot of good films. We had eight filmmakers submit final entries this year, which is great! And, of course, one of my favorite aspects is seeing new filmmakers produce their very first videos. And this year was a bumper year for that! Congratulations to all the filmmakers who participated this year--your commitment to honing your art really paid off! Hope to see you all at another Shootout in the future. And in the meantime, happy imaging and keep on editing!


David Fleetham: What a week! Berk, Dan, Mary-Lynn and I had our work cut out for us. We started the judging with the videos and debated…watched them again…arm wrestled…and watched them again. We still photographers have it easy compared with the number of computer hours it takes to put together a fully edited show that tells a story, and this weeks' gang did a great job. Not to say that the photo judging was a piece of cake. We debated art, difficulty of the subject, lighting, focus, compostion…but in the end we kept bringing it back to art. Would we print this image, hang it on our wall and be able to keep looking at it years down the road. This years Digital Shootout’s shooters worked it and then worked it again. Helping out before hand, I saw subjects shot not once, not twice, but 80 or over 100 times and in the end that was one of the shooting strategies that payed off with unique angles of common subjects that we had not seen previously and some magic lighting.

I would like to pass along a big aloha and many mahalos (that’s thank you in Hawaiian) to all the participants on a well spent week of pixel gathering. It was pointed out by our dive guides that this group was not only talented photographers, but also the best they had seen with buoyancy control and non-distructive diving techniques that left Bonaire's reefs as we found them. I hope to see some of you again next year in June when we do this all over again in Little Cayman.

Lenny Bucko:OH WHAT A NIGHT !!! That was a show of some of the best images that I have ever seen and some of them were from first time shooters. Once again we proved that with a little coaching and some technical support you can become really good at a skill in a very short time. I would like to congratulate all the winners and also say how nice it was to meet and dive with some very great new friends . My experiences from breakfast, through the day on the boats, and in the evening with a group of people eager to learn is what makes teaching a reward for an educator. Special thanks to Berk, Dan, Jim, and Russ for allowing me to be on the team and run with the big dogs . Hanging with David, Mary Lynn, Daniel, Joel and Jen was a technical treat and my learning curve went off the right side of the Histogram. I hope that you have enjoyed our journey on line as much as we have enjoy living it here for real. Hope to see you on the bottom soon. Uncle Buck


Jim Decker: Well, we are at the last day of the Shootout for 2009. Most guests are leaving either Saturday or Sunday. Russ and I have the daunting task of packing up the demo gear on Saturday. Packing it up is nowhere near as fun as taking it all out to play with.

Russ and I have the job at Backscatter of testing out new gear and today we did a unique test with the Sony XR520 and Canon HFS10 HD camcorders. They were both in Light & Motion housings. The XR520 housing is a production model, while the S10 is in a prototype housing, but is production ready. We literally did a side by side test with the scooter. We still have to download the footage from the cameras for comparison, but we will be preparing an article for the Backscatter website soon.

Tonight we had the final slideshow presentation with the winning images and videos. I have to say that there were a lot of fantastic images shot this week. If you don't believe me, judge for yourself by looking at the shots. We have a topside show and an underwater show on the site for all of you in web land to check out. Hopefully next year you can join us!

I have to thank everyone who came out to the event and also the staff and divemasters at Divi for all of their hard work this week to help pull this thing off.

I had a great time here this year and I'm looking forward to the Digital Shootout 2010 in Little Cayman.

Russ Sanoian: Today we boarded my favorite boat at Divi the Alice H and headed towards the salt flats to a nice dive site called "Salt City ". Jim and I were testing two new HD cameras today: the Sony XR520 and Canon HFS10, both are handycam size and record to a hard drive. We wanted a comparison between the two to see if there was a noticeable difference in the quality of the video. The Canon S10 has 24P frame rates in addition to the standard 30FPS which is the frame rate the Sony cameras record in. The 24P mode may give the Canon an edge over its competition. We made a mount that would allow us to shoot both of the cameras side by side while mounted to one of our Dive-Xtras scooters. We rolled over and descended to 30ft where we set white balance and locked focus and then started the run. We will have video posted on our website so stay tuned for a detailed report and video of all the cameras we tested this week.

The crew at Divi were outstanding once again and their service is outstanding, they make diving and shooting here a real pleasure!


Jean Bruneau:Well, it’s a wrap up. The competition, a friendly rewarding challenge amongst underwater photographers. Prizes have been awarded and to deserving individuals, I must say. The level of entries left me really impressed. Not everybody won a prize, but they certainly gained a ton of experience with everyone walking away with satisfaction. Monday morning is coming and punching up for some will be a tough one. Their brains still processing the images, the "I should" and the "I forgot this or that" and "the one that got away", but mostly, the keepers, are going to be the ones mostly talked about. And I’m convinced they are more numerous than when these folks first showed up for the Shootout. Enough said, let the images convey the message. I invite you to review the images of the week and hope to see you in Little Cayman for the next edition of this annual classic.



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