WINNER CHOSEN AND REVIEW BY SCUBAVERSE.COM’S UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY EDITORS NICK & CAROLINE ROBERTSON-BROWN
WINNER: Elevation by Marco Gargiulo
When judging any underwater photography competition, the first thing we do is ask of each image: Is it in focus? The main subject has to be pin sharp. Is it exposed correctly?
We then look at lighting (photography is all about light) and composition. Backscatter, hot spots of light, messy backgrounds all might see your image lose out.
Then there are other considerations that might get you knocked out of the first round: Was the image taken underwater? After all it is an underwater photography competition! Were any animals distressed or harassed to get the image? Was any environmental damage done to get the shot?
Once we have whittled out the images that do not pass these criteria, it is time to get down to picking a winner. A shot that makes us both go wow – I wish I had taken that!
After a slow start to the competition with only a handful of entries at the beginning of the month – wow – it seems that everyone likes to enter at the very last minute. We had over 60 images to go through and many of them are absolutely fantastic! This was one of the toughest months ever – so if you made it into the images listed here – well done indeed.
Psychedelic Crazy by Aldo Galante – what a frogfish! We love these fish, and even named our company after them, but this one is special.
Aarrgghh by Marco Gargiulo – a great behavioural capture with excellent lighting on the inside of the mouth. A real anatomy lesson.
Jellyfish under Vesuvius by Marco Gargiulo is a stunning split shot of a beautiful jellyfish with an amazing backdrop. Well Done.
Elevation by Marco Gargiulo. This is my favourite by Marco though. The sunburst behind the seahorse with the pink corals at the base make this an exceptional shot. Fabulous.
Nativo by Agustin Rebora. A beautiful image filled with character and a lovely soft dreamy feel to it.
Window to the Sea by Paula Herman. A lovely underwater scene. Lots of colour. The lighting is well handled. This shot really shows why we go diving in the first place.
Meals on Wheels by Bob Weybrecht. I struggle with images like this, as I worry that the subjects have been man-handled in some way to arrange this sort of shot. But if no critter has been disturbed to make this shot, then bravo, what an amazing bit of behaviour.
Flowers by Deniz Muzaffer Gökmen. A simple yet beautiful composition. Lovely.
Toothbrush for White Teeth by Tomas Jansson. A striking shot of a dramatic subject. Great angle, with the shot depicting movement in this shallow water.
Gobi White Blue by Johnny Schepens. An excellent macro shot, head on with great eye contact and pin sharpness. A lovely blue background really sets off this shot.
Bad Hair Day by David Spinks. If we had a comedy award – then this would be right up there 😊
Silky Sunset by Sean Chinn. This is gorgeous. The soft evening sunlight breaking the surface of the water right above the silky shark makes this a really special shot.
Hypselodoris by David Niddam. A lovely nudi shot with bokeh background. Lovely angle, taken low enough down to feel you are on the same level as this beautiful sea slug.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder by Hayley Eaude. These dark frogfish are really hard to photograph but Hayley has nailed this shot by getting low down compared to the subject and isolating the frogfish, making it stand out. This is lovely.
Learning to Hunt by Dragos Dumitrescu. Wow. I love this shot. The movement of the fish; the lighting on this tiny frogfish; the blue water. This show real talent and superb control of the camera setting, with, I am guessing, some patience to get the shot.
Symbiosis by Aldo Galante is a really interested in well executed animal behaviour shot. It is used. A large depth of field to show the shrimp and its surroundings. I would, though, like to see more of the shrimp.
Small black and yellow clown frogfish, also by Aldo Galante, has, once again, used the depth of field to obtain the best results. This time he has used a small depth of field, so the beautiful black and yellow frogfish pops out of the image.
The third submission this month by Aldo Galante is another beautiful macro image of a psychedelic frogfish. While still capturing the creature’s environment, you are left in no doubt as to what the subject is, with perfect focusing on the frogfish.
Big Blue Eyes by Anne Medcalf. Lovely use of black background. In this simple shot, the big eye entering the frame. It is very nicely done.
Thomas Clark’s lion of the deep is an interesting take an image of a subject that is too large for the camera to capture without losing some of the sharpness. It’s well done.
The anglerfish taken by Marco Gargiulo on a night dive in the Mediterranean is simply stunning. Whilst it a lot easier to get a black background on a night dive, the rest of the lighting is perfect; super shot.
The second shot by Marco Gargiulo is another super shot. The split shot of a jellyfish under the Vesuvius Volcano is really striking. The colour and light of the sky is perfect and the underwater lighting is once again, exceptional. Well done.
Elevation, again by Marco Gargulio, is a great example of how to shoot into the sun. The balanced lighting is perfect, with the Reds in the foreground and the Sunburst breaking out from behind the seahorse. Another really nice shot.
The young seal coming straight down to the camera by Agustin Rebora is a cute yet beautiful shot. The eye contact and focus on the face is perfect and the softening around the edges of the frame really create an individual style.
The Blennius Cocktail by Mario Pesce looks very much like a shot that has been tampered with and set up but I really don’t see how that could have been done. It certainly makes for an interesting image.
Please smile, also by Mario is a lovely close-up macro shot, again of the blenny. I really like the use of the shallow depth of field, creating the blocker background but I think it just needs bit more light on the right eye.
Acrobatic dive by Mario Pesce has beautiful colours, and it really stands out in the black background.
Eye of the lionfish by Angie Turton is a really lovely image focusing on patterns in the eye. Macro lens has been used to great effect in a large subject. Well done
Peekabooh by Paula Herman is a lovely capture from a night dive at blue Heron Bridge. Nice eye contact.
Window to the sea, again by Paula Herman, is a beautifully lit close-up wide-angle shot of a Queen angelfish. It’s easy for me to say, sat in an armchair, studying the images but I really would have liked to see the angelfish isolated a bit more from the superstructure.
The image Meals on Wheels by Bob Weybrecht is an amazing capture. To see an emperor shrimp eating a tiny scorpionfish, whilst a stride and nudibranch is not the kind of thing you see every day. It really is an amazing behaviour image.
Curious baby humpback by Thomas Jansson is yet another striking image from this month’s amazing entries. Must have been an amazing moment as the juvenile turned in front of you. Superb capture, well done.
The saltwater crocodile taken while snorkelling in Mexico by Thomas Jansson is a lovely portrait of a much feared animal, that is actually relatively safe to approach. And do, however, find the backscatter on the right is somewhat distracting, but it is still a super wildlife shot.
I love this shot of a whale shark, again by Thomas Jansson. The depth of field runs all the way along the body of this magnificent fish and the face is perfectly in focus. Can almost feel the motion of the water as it enters its mouth.
Gobi on the whip coral by Johnny Schepens is a lovely example using a very small depth of field, and I love the way the goby seems to melt into the whip coral. Nice shot.
Anyone who knows me will know how much I love silky sharks, and this shot by Sean Chinn is a great example of balanced light. Sean has put perfect amount of strobe on the side of the silky and the dappled sunlight creates the perfect backdrop. Love it.
The Snacking Turtle by David M. Niddam taken in Komodo is a lovely shot which captures one of those moments when your subject is so preoccupied that you are allowed to approach and get the angle you really want to. The lighting is really good too.
The giant frogfish by Hayley Eaude is beautifully lit, has a good use of depth of field and proves that you can get a black frogfish in focus! Somehow this picture shouldn’t work, with the sea squirts surrounding it, but I think it’s the contrast of the white and black, the red and yellow in the frogfish that really make it an excellent image. Well done Hayley.
Learning to Hunt by Dragos Dumitrescu is a brilliant example of how breaking the rules, or at least not following them can create a super image. The frogfish is entirely the wrong place to be the subject and the blurry glassfish should just be a distraction. They are, however, not – and the image is a beauty.
Fire Shelter by Dragos Dumitrescu is a super image of a backlit tube anemone, but the red light coming off the anemone, reflecting off the silver fish create yet another superb image. This is creative photography at its best.
Cranberry and Eggs by Christian Llewellyn is a lovely example of a close-up abstract shot. Think it’s the contrast of colours that really help make this shot a bit special.
Whilst Tompot Blennies under Swanage Pier are as common as vermin, using a black background is a great way to make a simple subject pop out.
The black and white lionfish, also taken by Christian Llewellyn, is a good example of how to use monochrome imaging. The contrast is exceptional, but I’m not too keen on the angle and a similar image taken from the front would, I think, have worked even better.
After much deliberations between our two judges….
This was, by far, the more difficult set of images to judge that we have had. Many of them were superb.
And the winners this month are:
1st Place: Elevation by Marco Gargiulo
2nd place: Fire Shelter by Dragos Dumitrescu
3rd place: Learning to Hunt by Dragos Dumitrescu
However, this month we are also going to give two Highly Commended awards, as these two images only just missed out and we really love them:
Highly Commended: Silky Sunset by Sean Chinn
Highly Commended: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder by Hayley Eaude
Well done to you all. We’re looking forward to what you have in store for us in May!