Celebrate the sea 2018 Manado – The Story

I never really wanted to wrap my vacation around a photo contest for many reasons.

1. I know, the pictures, that i take are ok and a lot of people like them a lot. But for me, they have never been good enough, to take part in a contest.
2. You never know, what the Judges are up for. Will they like the Style of your pictures, what animals would rise your chances and have you left a good impression.
3. Will the environment be in my favour for the time of the contest?

So, this always seemed too much stress, for giving up two weeks of your holidays, with not knowing whats gonna happen….but….haven’t I started travelling that way? Jump on a plane to somewhere and see whats gonna happen and where you gonna end? Guess I’m turning old…;)

October 2018 came, so the end of my trip to Sulawesi and I was about to leave the beautiful Island of Sahaung. I stayed the second time at Blue Bay Divers. The last day Anke, the owner, told me about the Celebrate the sea shootout and asked me if I could imagine to take the Slot for Blue Bay. I felt quite honored but my plan was not again taking a trip to Indonesia. Anyways, I studied the Contest Rules and there was a Category for Compact Cameras, my Category. My Wife and my family finally convinced me, to just do it.

So, registration and planning followed. For warmup, I decided, to take trip to Lembeh first and booked a week at Two Fish Divers. It’s always funny and exciting to go somewhere new. You don’t know the guides and of course, they don’t know you. And they don’t know about your skills with a camera. I think after the first day, I was able to prove, I’m not one the bumpy guys under water and a really nice form of Respect and Trust developed. The week there was just awesome. Besides Diving, I met such great and interesting people from all over the world again. There should definitely be more divers on this planet….world wouldn’t be such an awful place. When I left, I felt ready to take on the contest.

The driver took me to the north coast, where the boat of Blue Bay was already waiting for me. When I got up there, it seemed Anke was more nervous then me. 😀 I had still a day to prepare and made two dives to check the reefs and talk to the Guides, what I would like to see. Two divers I met before and declared Blue Bay to their second home offered their help, too. In reality, they just wanted to compare their pictures to mine…;-P…kidding…Thanks again to Ebsy and Volker. Again two unique individuals.

The first day of the contest was on Easter Sunday and started with a church session. I’m not a spiritual person, but it anyways was a special experience. That moment of peace at the end, everybody was hugging… cool…

Dives in these waters, normally brings up 3-5 good pictures per dive. Well, on that first dive spot, I had….NONE…not even a bad one. The day before there had been so many small creatures and different motives. Guess it just was that “Life’s a beach”-moment.
The next two days it all went normal. In the end I had 30 pictures to choose from. I was only allowed to upload 10. Gathering-Time…. Everybody in the Resort was called to sort out the best. I was able to break it down to 18. Then I needed help, cause I was unable to sort out the rest. It almost took an hour to have a final result. Not everybody was convinced and satisfied with the selection but it had to be done.

I had time until 9pm to upload the pictures to the jury. I started at 5pm, as you cannot rely on the Internet-Connection in such a remote area. I was done at around 8:30 and it cost me a lot of nerves. In the middle of the night, I woke up and looked at my emails. The Jury wrote me, that they had problems, opening up the files and gave me time for the upload until 9am. Of course, I was suddenly awake. Took the Laptop again, sat at the beach before sunset and was hoping for a good Connection. Didn’t work. At 7am the Generator started and Wifi came back on. Then I was able to get em out…Puh….Good Morning.

Later that day, we had to drive to the Mainland to Manado to deliver the RAW-Files. A three-hour ride by boat and car. Anke made a reservation in a beautiful hotel. We used our spare time until the Winners Ceremony for a bit shopping.

The show should have startet at 6pm in a Mall nearby. After the Tourism Minister was delayed it started at 8pm. I was getting bit nervous now, my Category was last and I didn’t win in one of the others. Then it was time. To be honest, I missed the moment, when my picture popped up as the winning one. Everybody around me was just shouting, then I realized. Congrats, shaking hands, smiling for the cameras and a big Cheque in my hand…surreal.

The day after, we went back to Blue Bay for my last day on the beach. The whole stuff was already waiting and was happy for me as I was happy for them.
Later on the beach I think had my first beer of this “holiday”.

These two weeks had been an awesome but also quite exhausting experience. Keeping up your focus for 14 days, doing a lot of dives without a break…but in the end, it doesn’t matter.

I would like to thank a couple of people, especially Anke and the whole Blue Bay staff for the Accommodation (beautiful bungalow, I didn’t expect that), the familial atmosphere, for organizing Nitrox, the good Vibes, favor my wishes on diving, the trip to Manado,etc…priceless.
Ebsy, Volker and Katrin for your support
The phenomenal Boatcrew
Two Fish Divers

At last the 10 pictures, I sent in:

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