Nikonos Shootout Winners

By Tamara Collins

During four special events last summer, divers converged on the shores of islands notorious for clear, warm water and colorful coral reefs. They came for the diving and the chance of taking a prize winning photograph but found much more. The Nikonos Shootouts offer amateur underwater photographers incredible prizes, parties, education and camaraderie in the spirit of healthy competition.

They also offer the opportunity for worldwide recognition of photographic excellence.

Gracing these pages are nine images from photographers who have earned the distinction of being the Nikonos Shootout winners. Their eye for composition, exposure, focus and framing caught the attention of the Shootouts' judges; professional photographers who have the exacting job of choosing a handful of winners from thousands of entries.

Singling out a Grand Prize winner is even more difficult, but one image stood out from the rest. Ryan Boerma's photograph of Slender Filefish suspended in the safety of sea rod branches won First Place Macro in the Bonaire Shootout. As Grand Prize winner, he and a friend will be traveling to Papua New Guinea, where they will explore the Bismarck Sea aboard Peter Hughes' Star Dancer.

The eight first place winners featured here are to be equally commended for their prize winning photographs. Lloyd Tucker won in Bonaire; Robert Black and Frederico Cabello found their luck in Cayman Brac; Susan Schermer and Mike Borne were chosen in Key Largo; and Mike Kennedy, Russ Haeberle and Barry Heller were selected in Curacao. Each of these contestants will have the chance to once again explore the reefs where they snapped their ideal image; their prize is a return trip to the island, plus accommodations and diving for two.

1998 Nikonos Shootouts

For the past 12 years the Nikonos Shootouts have reigned as the world's most successful underwater photographic celebration. The winning formula for this event combined instruction from several of underwater photography's leading professionals, competition in multiple facets of underwater photography, generous prizes and an appealing social element. This is the premier photography event of the year for underwater photographers of all skill levels.

In 1998 two exciting Shootouts are scheduled, both will be held in the fall: There will be one on Bonaire from September 26 to October 3; one on Grand Cayman from November 7 to 14.

The 1998 Shootouts will combine the best of past events, as well as some exciting innovations. Photographic competition will remain the focus, with the traditional categories of macro/close-up photography and wide-angle, plus additional new categories ideally suited to both Nikonos cameras and SLR systems. There will be activities for snorkelers, novices and the opportunity for night photography. Professionals such as Rick Frehsee and Stephen Frink will be on hand to teach the fine points of underwater photography, and photo repair gurus Bob Warkentin and Fred Dion will be in residence to lend helpful maintenance hints (and make repairs when necessary). U.S. Divers, the leading manufacturer of dive equipment, will have sample gear for loan and to accessorize underwater wardrobes. And, of course, there will be prizes-lots of prizes-underwater camera gear from Nikon, wetsuits from Henderson Aquatics, free film from Kodak and travel prizes courtesy of the host hotels in each destination. There will even be a Peter Hughes live-aboard dive adventure for two awarded as the Grand Prize.

Yet, for all the similarities, there are unique aspects to the 1998 Shootouts. There will be a single day Fish ID Challenge, where participants are given a list of species and behaviors and asked to shoot as many different fish as possible with a single roll of film. Photographic excellence is less important than fun and education in this competition. Expanded informational lectures will be given by REEF's Laddie Akins to help participants prepare. Night photography will be a part of the macro/close-up shoot and informative lectures about underwater modeling will help prepare those on the other side of the camera for the wide-angle competition. There will be conducting buoyancy control seminars, and general photo information will be available from Nikon staff on location.

In order to conduct the quality event the Nikonos Shootouts are designed to be, all participants must preregister and make their travel arrangements through WaterHouse Photo Tours, the official 1998 Nikonos Shootout coordinator. This is a full service tour operator working with all Shootout host properties, including Bonaire's Sand Dollar, Captain Don's Habitat and Harbour Village and Grand Cayman's Sunset House, the Hyatt Regency Grand Cayman, Grapetree Condominiums and Treasure Island, among others.

WaterHouse has arranged special Shootout Packages with each host property, designed to meet a wide range of budgets and preferences. But remember, all participants must preregister and book through WaterHouse Photo Tours. There will be no on-island registration. Please contact WaterHouse Photo Tours at (800) 272-9122, (305) 451-2228, fax (305) 451-5147. Send e-mail to photo tours@aol.com or visit the Web site at www.waterhousetours.com.