The Digital Shootout – Roatan, Honduras

While waiting in the Miami airport, eating my delicious airport chinese food, Sea Rover Woody Tinsley walked up, also on his way to Roatan for the Kids Sea Camp, while I was on my way to The Digital Shootout. It’s a week long photography competition and is hailed as the world’s best learning experience for underwater photography. This year’s shootout was held at Coco View a lush tropical resort with plenty of diving. The event is hosted by Backscatter Photo and Video the world’s largest underwater camera retailer, founded by Associate Sea Rover, 2017 Master of Ceremonies, and Diver of the Year, Berkley White. His team and others from Nauticam, Olympus and Light and Motion were on hand with demo gear and and they could help you with anything you wanted. I’ve had years of experience in photography but none with an actual underwater camera rig, and I was ready for some learning!

As the plane landed I was hit with a wall of dense humid heat, and all of a sudden the only thing I could think about was that I was going to be doing my first warm water dives here! Boy was I ready, but first I had to get my gear set up back at the room. I was golf carted back to Coco Villa, the house I was staying in with two roommates. I was the first to get to the house, so first come first serve, I took the master bedroom, which had a private bathroom and a walk-in closet that twenty of me could have fit in. I went back down to the center and rented a 3mm shortie wetsuit. It was like I was on another planet so different from the 45 degree water in New England, and headed out on my first dive.

Photo by Jennifer Penner of me photographing a neon goby on some coral


We headed out to Osman reef where I was introduced to the multitude of life that Roatan hosts. Dropping down to the reef I was greeted by hundreds of fish – everything from damsels to neon gobies. I was shooting macro because some of the people said it would be good to start with macro because it’s a little easier than wide angle. It was my first time using a camera rig. The rig, an Aquatica for the Canon 5d mark III, with Sea & Sea strobes was graciously donated to me for the summer by Backscatter. I fumbled around with settings and got pretty bad shots. Honestly, I wasn’t too happy with my work in underwater photography and began to wonder why I wanted to do this. Back on the boat I threw up from sea sickness, adding to my joy. We headed to the next site and thinking my sickness would wear off in the water I plunged in swimming around looking at corals. I took a few better shots after Associate Sea Rover Erin Quigley told me how to get some better shots and settings, during the surface interval. I was swimming along when I saw this amazing green moray eel that Roatan is known for. I got a few good shots of it and began swimming back to the boat. I was feeling pretty good about seeing my first moray and was super happy till all of a sudden I got sick right in the middle of the water column. Needless to say I made some fish very happy. We docked back at Coco View and I took it easy the rest of the day. 

Photo by Jennifer Penner of me swimming around