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The 2015 Digital Shootout Group Photo

The Digital Shootout is a combination tropical dive vacation and bootcamp for underwater photographers – you can take it easy, you can full throttle it, or, settle in somewhere comfortably in between. This IS the world's best learning event for underwater image-makers, packed with seminars, free demo gear and world-class diving. This year, we brought the Shootout to Roatan, Honduras at the CoCo View Resort. Popular with dive clubs across the country, CoCo View boasts one of the largest house reefs, affectionately known as their "Front Yard". Their house reef is also the final resting place of the Wreck of the Prince Albert, a 140 foot tanker sitting upright at a 65 foot depth. 24/7 shore diving with a classic wreck on the house reef makes for an outstanding backdrop for enthusiastic underwater shooters.

TopSide VIDEO: "THE Shootout LIFE" Topside Timelapse and Video - by Joel Penner "The Shootout Life" Timelapses and Video   |   © Joel Penner  |   GoPro Hero4 Black Cameras, DJI Phantom 3 Professional, Canon DSLR Cameras & Motorized Kessler Slider 

Topside Slideshow "Topside Slidseshow"   |   © The Digital Shootout

You want demo gear? We brought demo gear! This year's Digital Shootout had more demo gear than any year before. And the manufacturers were out in force. Aquatica, Light & Motion, Nauticam, Nightsea, Olympus, Pegasus Thruster, Sea & Sea, and Subal were all on board to hand out gear for participants to use on their dives. A HUGE THANK YOU to these folks for their time and efforts to tote thousands of pounds of gear to Roatan for our guests. Subal wins the Most Ardent Traveler award, as their reps traveled 42 hours to get to the DSO!

There were many different housings models to pick from ranging from GoPro and the Olympus TG-4 to cameras like Canon 5D Mk III and Nikon D810, and anything in between being supported. Most had the option for wide angle or macro setups to use. There were even strobes or video lights set up on these camera systems to give the guest the complete experience of shooting a fully outfitted rig. Sign-up sheets were filled, with this gear out in the water every day, and night. Winning the popularity contest was the Canon 7D MKII, with the Nikon D810 a close second… these systems stayed wet all week! Be sure to check out our GEAR TESTS section for the pros thoughts and findings on the latest underwater photo gear.

You will not find a larger collection of the latest in underwater imaging gear to demo anywhere else on the planet, except The Digital Shootout. Sign up early for next year's Shootout as it does sell out so that you can get YOUR hands on the latest and greatest underwater imaging gear!

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

The Digitial Shootout Demo Gear and Tech Support Staff

In the Classroom

Going back to school on your tropical vacation is not anyone's idea of a great time, unless you are an underwater image-maker motivated to elevate your skill-set. Professionally structured seminars are taught each afternoon of the official Shootout week by Berkley White, Erin Quigley and Mary Lynn Price – techniques and tips to improve your photo and video shooting, the Lightroom essentials that every underwater photographer must know and video editing basics to transform your short clips into a short movie.

Outside of the classroom, the GoAskErin and GoAskMaryLynn "help desk" set up shop daily, adjacent to the bar. A very convenient location to keep their students well-hydrated whilst working on post-production! All kidding aside, these two post-production powerhouses made themselves available to all comers, throughout the day, and well into the night. They are two of the main reasons why The Digital Shootout really is The World's Best Learning Event for Underwater Image Makers!

Timelapse - by Joel Penner Timelapse of the GoAskErin Lightroom Seminar  |   © Joel Penner  |   Canon DSLR Camera & Motorized Kessler Slider 


It seems there's always a new software release just before the DSO. This year was no different, with Photoshop CC 2015 and Lightroom CC arriving on the scene just a few weeks before the event. I was dreading the chaos that new, often still buggy software can cause, but people were eager to take on old and new features alike, even in the face of an already jam-packed week. The fact that the Go Ask Erin/Go Ask Mary Lynn help desks were immediately adjacent to the Coco View bar probably didn't hurt, and an impressive number of people made their way in for some one-on-one help from me, Mary Lynn and Willy the bartender. Nothing goes better with editing than a refreshing adult beverage!

Also new this year was an educational "warm-up" week for the DSO. Intended to provide a customized pre-shootout learning environment, the week also proved to offer much-needed time to dial in camera and computer gear. The Backscatter education team was on hand to help folks get their shooting and editing setups prepared, and in some cases repaired before the formal shootout began.

After attending eight Digital Shootouts, it's clear that becoming more fluent with editing isn't just about "fixing" problem photos. The techniques we teach at the DSO don't only improve images in post - they also inform and improve shooting techniques. Adjusting lighting in post results in better initial exposure and strobe placement. Cropping teaches composition. There's a definite correlation between improved editing skills and better straight-out-of-the-camera images.

I'm so proud of the many DSO participants who, over the years, have taken huge strides in both shooting and post. Their images show it, and I hope they're motivated to keep moving forward, whether they take home a prize or not.

— Erin Quigley

GoAskErin Before and After


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