August 2018 Photo Contest Winner and Review



WINNER: Turtle in Fishswarm by Margit Sablowski

When judging any underwater photography competition, the first thing I do is ask of each image: Is it in focus? The main subject has to be pin sharp. Is it exposed correctly?

I 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 I 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 me go wow – I wish I had taken that!

August 2018

Wow! Loads of images entered into the competition this month, with just under 100 entries it was a tough month to judge. There were some fabulous images to pick from. Here are the ones Nick picked out:

My Favourites

Macro (Portula / Apomatus) by Artan Nergjoni: this is a lovely macro image using the texture and red & white colours of the subject against the black background. Simple but effective.

Weedy in the Weeds by Rob Paule: super composition of this iconic creature in its natural surroundings. The background is a subtle bokeh of the weeds it lives amongst.

Moray while eating by Margit Sablowski: this is a stunning example of how a behaviour shot does not have to be without art and style. All the important components of this shot are in focus and the bokeh and motion-blur effect really force the viewer to engage with the subject and motion.

My husband in a fish swarm by Margit Sublowski: is a lovely. Clever shot that draws you into the centre of the fish ball along with the “husband”.

Turtle in fish Swarm by Margit Sublowski: is another captivating image by Margit. The lighting on the turtle is excellent and with the eye-contact, the image created is superb.

Spikes by Cristina Fernandez: this shot uses complimentary colours against a black background to create a beautiful image from a relatively ordinary subject. Using a torch as a snoot is a great way to isolate the subject.

The elusive seadragon by Cristina Fernandez: this is another shot of Cristina’s that is wroth a mention. The whole subject is in focus, yet the background is in bokeh, creating a really interesting and unusual image.

Mantis Shrimp by Debbie Holroyd: is a cleverly created image. The eyes look detached from the shrimp’s body and are perfectly focused whilst only a few millimetres behind them is a bokeh’d surround. Nice Capture.

Giant Australian Cuttlefish by Tracey Bremner: is one of those shots which appears to break all the rules yet is still an endearing image. It is almost lost in the grass and soft coral and the snorkeler is a distraction but yet, it works.

On Fire by Severin Benz: is a classic low-down, head-on shot of a nudibranch but the contrast of colour helps it to stand out.

Please after.. by Emilia Acosta: this shot caught by eye for it’s very simple nature. Emilia has used a large depth of field to show the scene of a barracuda cruising around a school of snapper.

In Love by Niels van Fessem: is a lovely composition and capture as frogfish tend to be solitary animals. Personally I think the saturation has been overdone, but the image is still appealing.

Cowries by Jonathan Ong: I really like this simple pink and white image. The subject has been isolated by the white of its environment and the black background created by the photographer.

Turtle in Bimini by Therese Redaelli: This is a super shot of a turtle, head-on against a blurry blue sea background. The eye contact is minimal but the overall effect created a really attractive image.

Shaun the Sheep grazing by Daryll Rivett: excellent shot! These nudibranchs are so small that they are difficult to spot, let alone get an in-focus shot of. I like the angle, which is suspect was achieved by rotating the camera and the background blur from using a macro lens very close to the subject helps to make the nudibranch pop out of the screen.

You’re only supposed to blow the bloody door off by Simon Morely: I love this behaviour / comedy shot. The background is suitably lost and I can imagine Michael Caine in the open-mouthed snapper.

Crocodile Flathead by Stephen Wolborsky: is a nice shot and I love the eye contact. Apart from slightly overcooking the light in the bottom right corner, everything else works well.

Gone Fishing by Mark Chivers: is a lovely behaviour shot of a frogfish using its lure to attract prey. The black background works well to isolate the top of the subject but the rock at the bottom is an unfortunate distraction.

Hiding Nemo by Mark Chivers: is a great example of how effective snoot lighting can be. It is a super image.

High Ground Advantage by Rob Paule: is a great example of that can be achieved with a compact camera (Olympus TG4). The lighting is very good, and I like the way the subject has been isolated against the water, yet its environment is still in the frame.

Enjoy your meal by Marc Eeckhaut: is a lovely composition of two of the undersea world’s iconic critters. Focus, lighting and use of depth of field are all excellent.

2 for one by Ludovic David: is interesting as there are three mandarinfish in the same shot. The background is blurred to give them prominence and it is well lit.

After much deliberation by our judge….

There were so many great shots, it was impossible to comment on them all, let alone select the top three! It was a tough call, but the results are:

Winner: Turtle in Fishswarm by Margit Sablowski

Runner-Up: Hiding Nemo by Mark Chivers

Third: High Ground Advantage by Rob Paule

There were so many to select from this month, and with Caroline working on other projects, I also want to give a couple of Highly Commended awards:

Highly Commended: Moray while eating by Margit Sablowski

Highly Commended: Cowries by Jonathan Ong

Congratulations to the those who were placed – some really nice images here, and well done to all those that entered. We cannot wait to see what September has to offer.’s September 2018 Underwater Photo Contest is now open! Enter as many as three of your underwater photos here.

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown are a husband and wife team of underwater photographers. Both have degrees in environmental biology from Manchester University, with Caroline also having a masters in animal behaviour. Nick is a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in underwater wildlife photography and he also has a masters in teaching. They are passionate about marine conservation and hope that their images can inspire people to look after the world's seas and oceans. Their Manchester-based company, Frogfish Photography, offers a wide range of services and advice. They offer tuition with their own tailor made course - the Complete Underwater Photography Award. The modules of the course have been written to complement the corresponding chapters in Nick's own book: Underwater Photography Art and Techniques. They also offer equipment sales and underwater photography trips in the UK and abroad. For more information visit

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