Epson Red Sea 2008- Day By Day

Day 4

Since the “Eilat Shoot Out” competition had officially ended yesterday night, and photographers were requested to submit their final images by 10 o’clock this morning, today was a relatively relaxed day in the Manta diving center. Apart from being busy with uploading their final images, participants finally had a “day off” to catch up some sleep,

to carry some small talks and other essential activities which were placed somewhere in the bottom of their priorities list during the three days of the competition. Most of these photographers chose not to enter the water today, although there were a few who decided to take the opportunity and conduct a relaxed camera-free dive in the Red Sea, viewing the underwater environment perhaps for the first time through their own eyes and not through the lens. 

For those that did not feel like resting, today’s schedule offered quite a few attractions, including a unique underwater photography session conducted by Kurt Amsler, one of the judges in the competition and a professional underwater photographer, a lecture conducted by Oren Fleisher, the general manager of Epson Israel and more. However, the main attraction of the day turned out to be a Cypress party which was carried out in the afternoon at the Manta diving center.

 The event included a live show playing happy music, traditional Cypress snacks and of course the traditional Cypress Anis called “Uzo”. According to Dudu Vered, the general manager of the Isrotel Red Sea Sports Club, more than 20 liters of Uzo were consumed during this party, which might explain the large

Keri Wilk

number of people on the dance floor (and their very innovative dancing style…). The party was so happy and delightful that even when Aya Grunman, the general manager of the Isrotel Yam Suf hotel, arrived at the diving center especially in order to ask for the volume to be lowered, she eventually found herself drinking and dancing, surrendering to the irresistible charm of the Epson Red Sea mood.  

Alberto Muro Pelliconi

Almost everyone around took part in this wild party. Well, everyone but the judges. While the party was reaching its pick, the judges were busy coping with the extremely difficult task of deciding upon the winning images in the different categories of the competition. Based on my acquaintance with the judges, missing the party was probably especially hard for  

Alberto Muro Peliconi, our Italian judge who constantly seeks for a reason to fool around. No worries guys, Alberto wouldn’t dare to miss such an event, and somehow he found a way to join the party towards the end of the evening, immediately becoming a main attraction. 
 Although for a moment there it seemed as if the tension had dropped, tomorrow it is definitely going to increase again, BIG TIME! Tomorrow evening the winning ceremony is going to take place at the Isrotel Yam Suf hotel, and we will finally find out who are those lucky fellows taking some very valuable prizes
back home. This year, aside from announcing the winners and handing out prizes, we have some other special surprises planned for you. So stay tuned with us or even better, go Google for a quick and cheap flight to Eilat, Israel, and witness this all in live!


Day 3

Today was the last and final day in which photographers who participate in the “Eilat Shoot Out” category were allowed to take images and to submit them to the competition. Since most photographers work with a check list for their portfolio, which usually consists of a few macro shots, wide angle shots, day and night shots and so on, they were quite aware of what is missing for a complete portfolio and worked under great pressure to finalize their planned ahead shots.

In addition, a session was conducted a night before by the judges of the event, who provided information regarding the general guidelines of the judging process and how to choose the final images which are submitted to the competition. Participants, who were now more educated than ever, did their best in order to adjust their selection of images according to this essential information. 

Aside from macro and wide angle images, some underwater photographers also like to enhance their variety of styles by submitting images that involve human models. This is generally a great thing to do, but only if one ignores the low temperature of the water here in the Red Sea in the month of November. Since underwater models look so much better in a bathing suit (or nothing, if you were really lucky to find such a dedicated model) rather than in a wetsuit, this task becomes somewhat more complicated during this time of the year, though I did find myself modeling for two photographers eventually. What can I say? They’d better win a prize and make me as my nose is still dripping and as much as I admire polite people, I cannot bear to hear another “Bless you” tonight…

Oren Fleisher and Private Model

 Adam and Louisa Butler

I got the chance to have a short conversation with Adam Butler today, a talented English photographer who tends to shoot artistic underwater shots. Together with this beautiful wife, they keep coming up with creative ideas which spice up the traditional compositions usually adapted by underwater photographers. This year they came up with a few unique ideas, which integrate the natural beauty of the Red Sea with imaginary concepts. I think that the great thing about this couple is that aside from their obvious desire to go back home with a prize, they also enjoy the process and therefore make the most out of this competition.

Another person I had spoken with is Noam Kortler, an Israeli well known underwater photographer who had won many international competitions in the recent years. Noam was chosen to represent Israel and the “Yam” magazine in the “Winning & Donating” category, and was quite disappointed with the fish he had allotted, as it is black, small and fast moving (were you expecting a blond?!). After having a short glimpse in his wonderful pictures, I can confidently and officially declare that it is really all about the photographer. I guess you could say that like humans, each fish has a certain potential, and it is up to the photographer to reveal its beauty.


The Happy Hour today was the happiest ever, as at some point we went out of beer, and therefore had no choice but to proceed with Vodka instead. This resulted in a great mood, loud laughter and photographers who finally revealed their most confidential professional secrets.
Tomorrow the judging process begins, and photographers are finally free to enjoy a day in the sun, doing nothing but hoping for a fat check. Good luck to you all!



Day 2

The second day of the competition began with a festive ceremony, in which the 11 photographers, who were chosen to represent 11 different countries from all over the world in the “Winning & Donating” category, were assigned to a specific fish which they should make a modeling book for during the competition. This category

was conceived several months ago, when 11 underwater photography websites and magazines from 11 different countries announced an annual competition open to all underwater photographers in their respective countries. Eventually, each magazine chose its winner. The winners from all 11 countries are now representing both the country and the magazine in the “Winning & Donating” category.
 During the ceremony, each of the photographers was asked to draw a note out of an Epson printer. Each note consisted of a name of a fish that the photographer should make a modeling book for (5 images) during the competition. As if this idea isn’t innovative (perhaps even subversive) enough, David Pilosof (Pilo), the producer of this event,

decided to spice it up even more. Therefore, when opening their notes and reading the name of the fish that was chosen for them to focus on, poor anxious photographers all found out that they were assigned to rare species that can be hardly found in the Red Sea, if at all, as Hammer Heads, Manta Rays and so on.

Pilo, who seemed to enjoy this moment very much, gave the photographers a few seconds to feel miserable with their impossible assignment, and eventually revealed that this was just a (great!) joke on their expense. However, he promised that the winner WILL be photographing these fish after all, as he will be sent to a diving safari in Fiji islands,  

where many of these great living creatures can be found. After everyone calmed down (and began breathing again), photographers were asked to draw notes again out of the Epson printer, this time with their real assignment. This was indeed a brilliant way of breaking the ice and inspiring the photographers who compete in this category.
During the day, photographers were extremely busy underwater, till a Happy Hour was announced again in the afternoon, and free beer was provided to all participants. You would be amazed what a happy (and sometimes even slightly insane) atmosphere is created when providing free beer to a group of serious,
devoted, mission focused underwater photographers.

Later that evening, the opening ceremony took place in the underwaterobservatory of Eilat. Food, soft drinks, wine, beer and sweets wereffered to all the attendants, followed by a few short speeches, conducted by the show organizers and key players. Some important guests also attended this opening event,
like the Egyptian Ambassador in Eilat, the general manager of Epson Israel and more,  
prestige of this evening even more.

By the end of the day, all underwater photographers were either totally drunk or getting ready for their night dive. Actually, I cannot guarantee that there weren’t any photographers who were busy doing both…
Tomorrow is the last day in which photographers who participate in the “Eilat Shoot Out” category can take shoot their winning images. The clock is ticking, the tension arises and the beer… Oh, well. Let the beer go on!


Day 1

  Today was the first day of the Epson Red Sea 2008 competition, which is held for the 4th year in a row at the coast of Eilat, Israel. Prizes this year are valued over $80,000 and include valuable checks, diving trips to dreamy destinations, expensive diving and underwater photography equipment, and much more.

The Epson Red Sea event is divided into two main categories. The first is called “Images of the World”, and participants in this category were allowed to submit images that were shot anytime anywhere in the world, without even attending the competition.

The second category is called “Eilat Shoot Out”, and participants in this category will submit only images that were taken during the three days of the competition in Eilat. Up until now, over 100 photographers from all over the world arrived to Eilat especially in order to take part in this competition. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that the first prize in the “Eilat Shoot Out” category is valued not less than $25,000, while other winners in this section are greatly awarded as well.

Some major upgrades have been introduced since last year’s competition. The Manta diving center, where the Epson Red Sea takes place, has been dramatically renovated, the computers room, specially established for this event, was equipped with high technology Apple screens and keyboards and innovative categories have been introduced to this year’s competition. 

  Yonatan Nir

 Since the “Eilat Shoot Out” is a three days only opportunity, photographers who participate in this category do not have any time to waste. The most motivated ones even geared up the night before and rushed into the water at midnight, the official time in which photographers are allowed to start taking their winning shots. Based on my experience in previous competitions, participants will spend most of those three days underwater and by the end of the week, each and one of them will be able to draw a very accurate map of the area and it’s marine life, probably even better than what most diving instructors who work in this region will ever be able to do. 
 The Manta diving center, where the competition takes place, was extremely busy today, as underwater photography equipment of all kinds, sizes and brands was spread all over the place. It didn’t take long till satisfied photographers came out of the water, proudly exhibiting their images of unique and hard to be found underwater living creatures.

 Although it is quite obvious that such a question should never be asked, if you did happen to (rudely) investigate a photographer regarding the location of his rare looking frog fish, in the best scenario, you were granted with a polite smile in response. Aside from that, a friendly atmosphere stated among the photographers as they assisted each other with gearing up, getting familiar with the area and fixing equipment errors.

  In the afternoon a “Happy Hour” was announced and free beer and snacks were offered to all participants, some of them, clearly, still in their wetsuits. This is one of the best parts of the day for many of the photographers, as it is a great chance for them to finally take a break, rest a little,

 ease up and mingle with other photographers. This way or another, one could never have been mistaken regarding the main theme of this event,  as cameras were raised and pointed everywhere even during the happy hour.  
 Driven by the (legitimate) hope that beer enhances creativity, after having a few drinks, most of the photographers rushed back into the water. Late at night, it is still quite busy in the diving center, and I can’t help but being amused with the thought that while writing this report, someone might have just taken his $25,000 winning shot.


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