September 2019 Photo Contest Winner and Review



WINNER: Flying in the Mangrove by Francois Baelen

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!

September 2019

What a month! The quality of the images was outstanding so well done to all those that entered. Whilst I cannot comment on all the images, I have picked out quite a few this month.

Face to Face by Francois Baelen

I love the way bokeh has been used so effectively in this portrait. The eye is pin sharp and everything else slips quietly out of focus leaving the viewer’s eye drawn to the subject’s eye.

The girl and the ball by Francois Baelen

This is a super shot of a bait ball, which is exceptionally lit, with a freediver in the sunlit blue. Excellent capture.

Flying in the Mangrove by Francois Baelen

Superb use of Snell’s Window creating the effect of a batfish flying through woodland.

Blue by Miguel Ramirez

A pod of dolphins playing in the shards of sunlight just captures one of those moments we all look forward to as divers. I think I would have cropped in a bit, but that is just personal taste.

Eyes by Marc Eeckhaut

Flat fish are notoriously difficult to photograph and make a stunning image. Marc has used the eyes as the focal point and it really works well.

Emperor by Marc Eeckhaut

Trying to hold the camera still to focus on tiny critters is never easy. The focus on the eyes and the head whilst the rest blurs into bokeh is beautifully done.

On the edge by Marc Eeckhaut

The style of this image of a shrimp on coral is in total opposition to the Emperor shot by Marc. A higher f-stop gives the immediate surroundings of the critter but the background is in bokeh to create a clean image.

Thorny Seahorse by Jack Pokoj

This is a beautifully created image by Jack. The tiny piece of its environment and the 3/4 shot of the seahorse against a black background really does justice to the subject.

Laying Eggs by Jack Pokoj

Beautiful patterns, colours, curves, framing and behaviour are all present in the wonderful capture. The action is accentuated by the black background.

Fishing by Jack Pokoj

A camouflaged yellow frogfish in its environment waiting for prey to be tempted by its lure. This behaviour shot has it all. The black background forces the subject into view.

Peeking by Pauline Walsh Jacobson

This is an interesting abstract shot of a conch eye. Not entirely sure about the graduated lighting but the overall effect is very good.

Bobbit Worm by Pauline Walsh Jacobson

These are really quite grotesque critters and it is easy to see why so many space monsters have been based on the likes of the bobbit worm. LOve the small depth of field and black background.

After much deliberation by our judge….

There were some great shots to select from this month it made judging very tough indeed. Well done to all those that entered and sorry I could not comment on every image.

The results

Winner: Flying in the Mangrove by Francois Baelen

Runner-up: Laying Eggs by Jack Pokoj

3rd place: The girl and the ball by Francois Baelen

Congratulations to the those who were placed – some really nice images here, and well done to all those that entered. I cannot wait to see what October has to offer.’s October 2019 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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