KAILUA-KONA — There’s a shootout coming to Hawaiian waters, but it doesn’t involve weapons.
All that’s needed to join in the fun is an underwater camera and the passion to capture images of amazing creatures living in the sea.
Photographers of all ages and skill levels are invited to showcase their skills Friday through Sunday at the third annual Kona Underwater Shootout.
Scuba or free divers can head to their favorite dive destination competing in categories including wide angle, macro, model, natural light, black water, compact, SeaLife camera and video.
“We have such a wonderful community of underwater photographers,” said Underwater Shootout coordinator Bo Pardau. “We all get together to compete but develop a sense of community, at one place and at one time.”
Co-coordinator Jeff Milisen described the underwater photography community as a family.
“We get to hang out together and shoot underwater,” he said. “It’s a blast to watch everybody’s approach. We’re prepared to present something awesome.”
Kona Honu Divers owner Byron Kay, who organizes the event, said he’d like to see Kona become an underwater photography destination. He put in the money, time and effort to put it together, and it’s all right here in his own backyard.
The shootout is modeled after the Kona Classic competition, which ran from 2002-11.
“Although the Kona Classic was a good idea, we have revived, rehashed and improved on it,” Milisen said. “We want to take over the world. We love the community aspect and want to make Kona a destination once a year.”
Thirty-six competitors took to the ocean for last year’s event, coming from around the state and mainland.
It was Ryan Brennan’s first time competing. He walked away with first place in the compact camera category using a GoPro. This year, he would like to enter the video competition as well.
“Capturing a moment and making a video is a lot more work, but the possibility of motivating someone to get into the water is rewarding,” Brennan said. “You just have to be at the right place at the right time.”
Photographers, who must be present for opening ceremonies in Kailua-Kona, can hunt for captivating images starting Friday evening. All images must be submitted for judging by 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
The judges, which include Pardau and Milisen along with Doug Perrine and Michael Aw, have the tough task of picking the winners in each category. Entrants can submit photos in more than one category, with up to three photos per category.
Milisen’s advice to competitors?
“Everyone is there to compete. Keep your expectations realistic. Get to know the people around you and learn from them,” he said.
Prizes include dive trips, cameras and dive equipment. The grand prize is a one-week diving trip in Fiji. Award winners will be announced during a banquet Monday at My Bar.
“For me it wasn’t about a prize or a medal, it’s about making new friends,” Brennan said.
Register at www.konahonudivers.com. A $75 entry fee includes T-shirt, medallion and awards banquet. Registration continues up until the event starts Friday.
Email Laura Ruminski at firstname.lastname@example.org.