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©2019 The Digital Shootout
Event Coverage and Web Site by:
Newmediasoup, LLC

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The Underwater Photographer's Working Vacation
Teaching underwater photography and video to ocean lovers for nearly 20 years, the Digital Shootout has expanded into a learning-rich two-week event for underwater image-makers wanting to improve their shooting and editing skills. While you are on vacation, it's not a relaxing vacation by any means. It's a dive vacation for those wanting to immerse themselves into all things related to capturing images underwater. The daily schedule goes something like this: breakfast, morning boat dives, lunch, afternoon boat dive, seminar, dinner, slideshow image critique on the big screen or one-on-one help from the pros. Reset and repeat every day. The entire resort is taken over with conversations about gear, tech-specs, techniques, best editing practices and most of all, our shared love of the ocean. This year's 18th annual event was graced with father/daughter and father/son duos, international guests and staff from Maldives, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Italy, Spain and Brazil, and more female participants than ever before.

What sets the Digital Shootout apart from other underwater photography workshops is the demo gear. Literally, a ton of the latest equipment is flown to the event by manufacturers' reps for guests to put through the paces in real life diving scenarios. Not only is there a vast assortment of camera systems and accessories on offer, but the manufacturers' reps are also on-hand to answer any questions and share their wealth of knowledge.

Toward the end of the Shootout, participants have learned some new techniques for their shooting and editing, feeling confident enough to enter images into our competition. Make no mistake, the Digital Shootout is first and foremost a learning event, but the organizers like to give away cool stuff, like underwater photography gear and trips, and the friendly competition format is a fun way to do so.

A Day-in-the-Life at the Digital Shootout
Underwater, Aerials & Timelapses Video - by Joel Penner, Newmediasoup, LLC A Day-in-the-Life at the Digital Shootout  |  © Joel Penner  |   Canon 1DX MKII Camera, Canon DSLR Cameras, GoPro Hero7 Black Cameras, Motorized Kessler Slider 

Topside Slideshow "Topside Slidseshow"   |   © The Digital Shootout

Topside Slideshow "Underwater Lifestyle"   |   © The Digital Shootout


The Digitial Shootout Demo Gear and Tech Support Staff

No other underwater imaging event in the world has the amount of demo gear that is showcased each year at the Digital Shootout. Dozens of camera systems on-offer from Nauticam, Olympus and new to this year's event, Isotta. Pegasus Thruster once again brought their very popular tank-mounted DPVs for participants to zip up and down the reef, and Canon brought along some of its newest cameras and lenses to check out.

Not only is there demo gear to try, but the manufacturers' reps are also available to answer questions and share their expertise with attendees during meals, on the boats, in the camera room, before seminars, after seminars, over a beer at the bar. Talking tech and specs is what the manufacturers' reps love to do!

See the latest cameras in action on our gear test page.


The Digitial Shootout Event Staff

While each participant is attending the Shootout to learn something new, he/she is also on vacation. The schedule, admittedly packed full of activities, is designed for each attendee to take it all in at his/her own pace, whether it be slow and easy or full throttle. The seminars during the first week of the Shootout cover the essentials of underwater photography, as well as getting started in Adobe Lightroom. More advanced photo and video techniques are covered during the second week, including Lightroom essentials and special editing tips in Photoshop. The learning is not isolated to the classroom however; every day the Help Desk aka: the Creative Cave has office hours where participants can drop in for one-on-one or small group help with their photo or video editing. After hours learning is also a thing at the Shootout where the transfer of knowledge related to underwater imaging occurs at the bar! The learning and fun never stops!

Backscatter Sponsors Beneath the Sea Scholar to Join Shootout

Molly Alvino - 2019 Beneath the Sea Scholar

2019 Beneath the Sea Scholar
Our World Underwater Scholarship Society

As the Beneath the Sea scholar, I was able to attend Backscatter's annual Digital Shootout event, hosted this year in Little Cayman at the Little Cayman Beach Resort. After three different flights, I arrived to the island armed with two shiny, new memory cards and a mix of nerves and excitement as I did not know what to expect. Before the Shootout, the extent of my underwater photography experience included the use of a GoPro Hero 4, so when I arrived and saw my rig for the week: a Canon 5D Mark IV, I was a little overwhelmed with the sheer size and the professional look the camera, housing, and strobes presented. The night before the first dive, I was given a quick, but very thorough introduction to everything I would need to know about the camera; from vacuum sealing the housing to adjusting the strobe's light output. Throughout the entirety of the week, the Backscatter team was more than willing to answer any question I had, no matter how simple, as they helped to guide me through the week with advice on things such as shooting techniques, photo composition, and strobe placement.

Before my first day of diving, I was told "not to shoot anything that moves faster than a sponge." I took this advice to heart, and after getting used to the buoyancy of the camera underwater, I stuck to barrel sponges and sea fans. Upon reviewing these photos, I discovered that I had my strobes placed too far forward, as they burnt out nearly 80% of my photos shot that day. After figuring out strobe placement, I progressed from sponges to very cooperative Nassau groupers to squid and schooling fish, able to explore all that Little Cayman had to offer through a camera lens. As the week continued, I became more and more familiar with the different camera settings and when / why they would need to be adjusted, allowing me to experiment with different amounts of ambient light and the infamous "sunball" shot. Not only was the diving incredible, I was able to use the information presented during the afternoon seminars, nightly critiques, and one-on-one sessions to work on things the following day. The topside time was as important in the progression of what I was able to learn during the week. As a new shooter, the support and encouragement from not only the Backscatter staff and classroom instructors but also my fellow Shootout participants was something I was so appreciative of and I'll always remember from this trip.

My week at the Digital Shootout was unlike any I've ever experienced; from the knowledge I was able to gain to the friendships and connections I was able to make, it felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity. Coming in as a beginner, the Shootout provided me with the basic tools that I'll be able to build upon with more time underwater. Even after being out of the water for only a week, I'm ready to dive right back in as I can't wait to see where this new-found passion takes me!



Shot with Pegasus Thruster - 2019 Digital Shootout

View the Contest Results Page»