Kona Underwater Shootout 2016

Last weekend, my friend Francois and I traveled the Kona and Hilo coastlines looking for interesting underwater subjects. The goal: take my best (first) underwater photos ever!

Francois and I returning from our last Honokohau dive on Sunday.

Francois and I returning from our last Honokohau dive on Sunday.

I participated in the first annual Kona Underwater Shootout, a 54-hour ocean photography competition put on by Kona Honu Divers. After a wonderful dive on Friday at Honokohau Harbor (video coming soon), I felt confident that I could find some large animals. At 6pm, 20+ local and traveling amateur photographers were released to compete for the best shot.

On Saturday, I focused on what I knew along the Hilo coast. Turtles, tangs, butterfly fishes, trumpet fish, and more. That evening, we experimented with some long exposure photography using a tripod, some weights, and the shallow waters of Onekahakaha.

Yellow Tangs and Hawaiian Dascyllus, both endemic fishes of Hawai'i, gather around a coral head.

Yellow Tangs and Hawaiian Dascyllus, both endemic fishes of Hawai'i, gather around a coral head.

Sunday was the big day. Big animals were my targets, so we returned to Honokohau. Unfortunately, only a couple of sand bar sharks showed throughout three 1+ hour dives. However, the sea cucumbers were breeding and the eels were out! With some success and good shark sightings, we settled for a round of beers in Kailua and I submitted my photos.

A sea cucumber "standing upright" and releasing gametes into the water column.

A sea cucumber "standing upright" and releasing gametes into the water column.

On Monday, I gave a talk on underwater videography for the competitors at Kona Honu Divers. Shortly afterward, the awards ceremony took place. With a few scoring images in the wide-angle category, I placed within the top 10!

To see the rest of the images from the shootout, visit the Alexander Finden Cinematography Facebook page.