WINNER CHOSEN AND REVIEW BY SCUBAVERSE.COM’S UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY EDITORS NICK & CAROLINE ROBERTSON-BROWN
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!
The May entry numbers were on the up again and it was great to see such a wide range of images in the competition with plenty of excellent wide angle and macro images in the mix. Here is what our Judges thought…
Angelic Alligator by Hannes Klostermann: Hannes has entered three stunning images of American Alligators into the competition, but I think this one is my favourite of them because of the angle and the sunburst. But I would be delighted to call anyone of these shots mine – they are beautiful. Well done.
Snell’s Bass by Laura Tesler: This is an interesting shot, with vivid colours brought out in the processing. I like the use of Snell’s Window to see the trees lining this river. Good composition.
Ferd by Marc Eeckhaut: Lovely shot. This is hard to get right, but you have nailed it here. I like that the ghost pipefish’s eye just manages to sit over the black of the mask behind, making it stand out.
Backlit Hairy Frogfish by Marc Eeckhaut: Another lovely shot, with backlighting the hairs on the frogfish and just enough front lighting to pick out the subject. Another tough shot executed well.
Just Below by Sean Steininger: A lovely capture of the biggest fish in the sea. You got the whole whaleshark in the shot and beautiful sunbeams too.
Porcelain Crab by Wesley Oosthuizen: I love these crabs and could spend whole dives photographing them. This is lovely with good colours and focus.
Skirt Lifter Nudibranch by Wesley Oosthuizen: Smashing nudibranch shot. Perfect timing and lovely vivid colours pop out from the black background. Perhaps a bit central?
Moose by Joni Vehmassalo: There is something about this shot that I like. The subject matter is tiny and so to get this shot in focus is a challenge. I love the almost old-fashioned sepia feel it has.
Cowrie in Red by Steve Wright: Beautiful! Great use of depth of field and lovely rich colour & texture to the shot.
Nudibranch and Parasite by Walter Bassi: This is a super shot. It is as if the nudibranch is lit up from within and it really jumps out from the black background. Perhaps just a little central.
Red Elegance by Walter Bassi: The focus on this is pin sharp and it really stands out from the crowd. A simple subject, photographed very well indeed.
Casper’s Window by Hannes Klosterman: A Snell’s Window shot of a crocodile – this is nicely lit and creates a lovely, unique perspective. I love the S-curve created by the motion of the croc.
Bulldog by David Ludovic is a nicely worked shot of a difficult subject on difficult terrain. Getting low and good lighting helps to isolate the subject.
Wolf Eel by C. Baer: This is a lovely shot of a shy subject with the focus on the mouth and teeth. I, personally, think it would have been superb with a slightly larger depth of field and the eye taking the central point of focus.
Visitor from another planet by Laura Tesler: These shots can be really tricky to capture well but in this image there is a diagonal, bokeh’d background and perfect lighting on the subject. Well done.
Backlighted Hairy Frogfish by Marc Eeckhaut: This is an image that uses off-camera lighting to create the “halo” and a touch of strobe light to balance the lighting. It looks as if the light is coming straight through its eye.
@home by Marc Eeckhaut: I love these cute shots of creatures living in human debris. Nice lighting and bright subjects really help.
Skirt lifter nudibranch by Wesley Oosthuizen: This is an image of beautiful colours on a black background. The depth of field is very small, just focusing on the front lip of the skirt.
Moose by Joni Vehmassalo: this is a lovely close up portrait of a pipefish. The depth of field almost spirals out from the centre focus on the eye.
Cowrie in Red by Steve Wright: this is really well done. The pink and white really stands out against the pink/orange of the background in bokeh. The cowrie is probably a bit too central in the image but it still works well.
After much deliberations between our two judges….
There were lots of excellent shots this month, with stunning macro and wide angle stots to choose from, and as always we picked out many different shots from each other. We deliberated for quite a while, as it was a tough decision to place our favourite three in order! Here are the results:
Runner-Up: Backlighted Hairy Frogfish by Marc Eeckhaut
Third Place: Skirt lifter nudibranch by Wesley Oosthuizen
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 June has to offer.
Scubaverse.com’s June 2018 Underwater Photo Contest is now open! Enter as many as three of your underwater photos here.