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Milazzo, Sicily

Underwater Photo Fish Hunt and Underwater Photographic Competitions

by Greg Cassar

Reproduced from in focus 54 (March 1995)

Following our participation in the photo fish hunt competitions held in Malta and Italy in 1993 (see In Focus No. 50), Les Kemp and I were invited to participate in a further event billed as the first world championship and to be held in Milazzo, Sicily in late 1994. Unlike the previous events, however, all photographs were to be taken whilst snorkelling!

For us the event started in late September when we received our invitations. At that time we came up against our first problem - we could not practice, due mainly to the weather conditions at that time of year. The second problem was one of language, as the invitation was in Italian and required translation and to a certain extent interpretation. The bare minimum information was given and it it was not until we reached Milazzo that it became evident that aside from the fish hunt there was also a second completely separate underwater photographic competition involving the use of SCUBA. Needless to say we were totally unprepared for this, as we believed we would only be participating in a fish hunt using snorkelling gear and had only taken lenses and other equipment appropriate to that event! Panic set in. Persornal and national pride were at stake.

Like the competition in Cefalu in 1993, the timetable was fairly hectic. We left the U.K. on Friday morning and, after a change of plane at Pisa, arrived in Cattania, Sicily late in the afternoon. From Cattania we had a 100 mile white knuckle ride to our hotel in Milazzo. At 9. 00 p.m. the organisers gave us a briefing for the photo fish hunt and issued film. We then adjourned to our room to prepare cameras at close to midnight. We were awakened at 6.30 a.m. and after breakfast at 7.00 a.m. were on the beach ready to get on our boat (each country was allocated its own small boat). We were on site at 8.45 a.m. and the competition began at 9.00 a.m. and finished at 2.00 p.m. This event was particularly exhausting because the entire five hours was spent snorkelling. Add to that, we were stalking fish and taking photographs. You may begin to get an idea of what we were up against.

We returned to the hotel later that afternoon and ate a hearty lunch. Around 7.00 p.m. the processed films were returned to the competitors to select their entries and identify the species of fish they had photographed. After this a late dinner before the briefing for the next day's competition. We adjourned to our room to consider our strategy and cobble together enough camera equipment to make a reasonable showing. Luckily Les had thought to bring a 20 min lens and dome port. I had brought slave flash guns and various other bits. Both of us had brought DVs. Luckily, the organisers were able to loan us back packs. We were in business.

The second competition was of a more general nature. Each country was allowed two participants and each participant allowed to enter a portfolio of four photographs - two macro and two wide-angle. The situation was not ideal, but we could compete. As on the previous day, we began the competition at 9.00 a.m. and finished at 2.00 p.m. Our processed films were returned at 7.00 p.m. Les had been asked by the organisers to bring one of his audiovisual presentations with him and, at this point, he had to go and set up. Whilst he did so, I made an initial appraisal of our work and then assisted Les with his presentation. We were later granted twenty minutes to make our selection for entry into the competition.

Les presented his show 'Eye Witness' at about 9.00 p.m. and I have to report that the Italian audience were spell-bound, not only by the standard of photography in the show but also by the wizadry employed. The show received a standing ovation and certainly demonstarted to the Europeans where the expertise in this medium lies.

The results of both competitions were posted on Sunday morning. In the photo fish hunt, Les won the award for the most beautiful picture and together we came fourth. In the second competition we acheived another fourth place. A formal presentation followed with members of the press and television present. We departed the hotel later that Sunday and were back in the U.K. by 11.00 p.m. that night, ready for work on Monday morning.

Our thanks go to our Italian hosts, whose hospitality was superb and who paid all the expenses for all competitors.

Milazzo Photo Fish Hunt Results

Individual awards

Most beautiful picture Les Kemp (U.K.)
Best natural picture Massimo Nicosia (Italy)
Most significant picture Chris Borg Cardona (Malta)


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