WINNER CHOSEN AND REVIEW BY SCUBAVERSE.COM’S UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY EDITORS NICK & CAROLINE ROBERTSON-BROWN
WINNER: What happens under the waves by Timothy Baxter
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!
June brought us some really high-quality images, once again. Whilst we cannot comment on all the images, as we keep getting high numbers of entries, we do try to comment on a good number, to say what we like, and suggest ways the image could have been better.
Velvet Nembrotha by Dan Shipp – you can almost feel the velvety texture of this sea slug just by looking at the image. They are always a lovely subject as the orange and green patterns always jump out from the image.
Beautiful but deadly by Hayley Eaude – lovely shot of this small but deadly critter. Nice to see it on a natural background, and yet it still pops out enough to get a clear view of the octopus, and its famous blue rings.
Cowfish by Hayley Eaude – I like this one too Hayley. The sea grass might be a distraction, but you also get the feel it is trying to camouflage itself on the sea-bed. Great eye contact.
Smiling Shrimp by Colin Salmon – there is something quite dreamy about this image. The light tones of the sea squirt and the shrimp work perfectly together. Good lighting on a difficult subject.
Jelly in the Sun by Rob Paule – love that you have the sunburst and the surface of the sea in this image of a jellyfish. It is hard to perfect and the sun might be a touch too bright, and the very edge of the jellyfish is clipped.
Whyalla Cuttlefish Migrations by Jonathon Di Cecco – This is stunning. A great behaviour shot with lovely natural sun beams and excellent underwater lighting of the subject. The cuttlefish pop out of the frame. Love it.
Farne Island Seal by Craig Morris – Seal and Sea Lions make such great photographic subjects! This is a nice example.
Dreamgate by Chris Sterritt – wow you can hardly believe this is underwater it is so clear!
The Fightback by Luke Gordon – love the composition of the crab attacking the camera in this shot (I always back off!) It is a shot that grabs the viewers attention.
Puppies by Marisa Engelbrecht – again these are some of my favourite underwater photography subjects as they have such character. It looks like this puppy stirred up some sand, and the lowered vis has not helped you take this shot, but it is lovely.
Inquisitive Sea Lion by Andrea Caplan – you all seem to be tapping in on my favourite marine creatures this month! This is, I think, my favourite of the lot. Great eye contact, even though the seal (or diver) is upside down. This image really portrays how playful they are. Great shot.
Red Sea squirrelfish by Andrea Caplan – I like this shot by Andrea too. Again, good eye contact and a facial expression.
Flying Sailfish by Marc Eeckhaut – I love the use of Snell’s Window to see through the surface of the water and up to the clouds above. To have a sailfish in the shot swimming above you is incredible.
From the Below by Raffaele Livornese – a smashing manta shot from a night dive. Beautifully lit. Very atmospheric.
Agility by Sean Chinn – Another Sea Lion and another stunning shot. I love the diver in the background, the sea lion blowing bubbles as it sweeps past. There is movement in this striking shot. Well done Sean.
Close Friend by Max von der Becke – I love this shot of a small cuttlefish in Lembeh. The eye of the cuttlefish and the diver are perfect. This is a tough shot to get right, and you have done so!
Spotted Bumblebee by Caner Candemir – Great macro shot of an unusual subject. The orange background makes this jump out at the viewer.
The Three Stooges by Timothy Baxter – Perfect timing for this shot, to get all three in different positions. This image really jumped out at me when first looking through the competition shots. It is unusual, striking and shows some great behaviour too.
What happens under the waves by Timothy Baxter – another striking image, this time of two turtles. The waves crashing above make this a shot I keep coming back to.
Yammi! By Martin Klein – This is a super shot of an unusual subject.
In the Spotlight by Martin Klein – another unusual and striking shot by Martin, again in fresh water, and finding an artistic way to portray the macro life that lives there.
Land of the Giants by Simon Morley – a super shot showing just what it is like to encounter the giant mantas of Socorro.
Komodo 2 by Fredrik Jakobsson – I love this shot. The reef, the diver, the huge school of fish, all make this a pleasure to view. The lighting is lovely.
Walk Tall by Sean Steininger – A smashing shot of a coconut octopus posing for the camera.
Cruising turtle by John Arden – this is a nicely composed image, but the subject could really do with more light on it.
I‘m your biggest fan by Dan Shipp – this is a nice idea for a photo, but I would try to have got the diver in the negative space top left in order to be able to put some light on him/her.
Velvet Nembrotha by Dan Shipp – this is a nice close-up of a nudibranch, but I feel the really should be more light on the subject.
Caloria Indica by Hayley Eaude – another nice colourful subject, but as everything is pastoral. I feel the nudibranch needs a dark background to bring it out of the image.
Beautiful but deadly, again by Hayley Eaude. Shot from a nice angle, but I would like to have seen the light on the front of the subject rather than the back.
Smiling shrimp by Colin Salmon – this is a really good attempt at providing something a bit different. The background is almost over exposed and everything is in Bokeh apart from the eyes and the face of the shrimp. Nicely done.
Jelly in the Sun by Rob Paule – this is a really striking photograph with the image, perfectly in focus, taken against the Sun, creating a superb burst. It really pops out against the blue water too.
Dreamgate by Chris Sterrett – this is a well-lit shot showing why so many people find this kind of diving so attractive. From a composition point of view, the diver is right in the middle; a bull’s-eye. The rule of thirds may be a cliche, but had the diver been at one of the crosses, I think it would have improved the picture.
Lanterns by Luke Gordon – I love the originality and colours in the shot. I don’t know if it was possible to put more light on the subjects, but it still works.
The Fightback by Luke Gordon – this is a nice, head-on shot of a kelp crab, and the bright red against blue green background really helps to make it stand out.
Genie in a bottle by Luke Gordon – I love the idea of the shot, but it really does need more light on the subject.
Cenote Chat Mool by Craig Morris – this is another cavern shot this month, but this time showing the shards of light coming down from the surface. I think the diver is lost in the far left-hand side and it looks as if he’s trying to attack something to the pointed rock. There is a large area of negative space to the right, which would probably have been a better place for the diver.
Lionfish by Marc Eeckhaut – difficult trying to get the lionfish head-on; they always seem to turn their backs if you approach them, but this is a nice shot. I like the coral along the baseline, supporting the whole picture.
From the Below by Raffaele Livornese – using the ambient light from the boat spotlight is a brave shot and trying to get the camera to focus under these circumstances can be difficult; however, the shot works and the focusing on the manta is perfect.
Close friend by Max von der Becke – this is a lovely close-up small cuttlefish, with a human face providing a sense of scale.
Spotted bumblebee by Caner Candemir is a really close-up shot of an unusual subject. The composition of this shot lent itself more to a species identification shot than a competition shot – this really does show the pattern on the critter’s back.
Three stooges by Timothy Baxter is a beautifully lit shot of three cuttlefish in the same frame. Whilst it’s a shame that the bottom left has been clipped, trying to get three cuttlefish all facing towards you into the same frame is an achievement in itself. Lovely shot.
What happens under the waves by Timothy Baxter is another lovely shot. You can almost feel the waves pushing you backwards and forwards, and the large depth of field really works in this image.
Gimme Five by Martin Klein – I love to see people try different ideas in an effort to try and create unique images. This is a lovely simple shot on a black background with a five split filter and circling the subject.
Snooted Octopus by Gary Wingate – this is a simple close-up of an octopus’ eye using a snoot to light a small portion the photographer wants us to see. It is nicely done.
Robust ghost pipefish by Gary Wingate – these can be tricky critters to get out in the open on a fairly neutral background and the focusing on the prime subject is perfect. If I have a minor criticism. It is that you could have moved the camera a centimetre to the left, so not to clip the other pipefish.
Walk Tall by Sean Steininger – octopuses are particularly difficult subjects to be able to isolate in order to create an image where the subject pops out. Using a black background has become increasingly popular, and this image uses that to great effect, as well as including its environment in the foreground.
After much deliberations between our two judges….
Once again we were amazed by the diversity and quality of the images this month. We picked out, between us, many of your images to comment on and there were plenty more we could have done. But, our job is to pick the winners and runners-up and this month they are:
2nd place: Smiling shrimp by Colin salmon
3rd place: Three stooges by Timothy Baxter
Highly Commended: From the Below by Raffaele Livornese
Congratulations to the those that were placed – some truly amazing images here, and to all those that entered. Keep the images coming and we look forward to seeing more in July.