April 2015 Photo Contest Winner and Review

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WINNER CHOSEN AND REVIEW BY SCUBAVERSE.COM’S UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR STUART PHILPOTT

WINNER: Andrey Narchuk
PHOTOLINK: https://www.scubaverse.com/contestants/toy/

My sincere apologies for the late results to last month’s competition. I have been away on a magazine assignment to Belize in the Caribbean and had a few problems with the internet. I also had a few problems with the weather and the marine life. I was supposed to be photographing whalesharks and manatees but the whalesharks didn’t appear. As for the manatees, well, after a few disappointments I did actually spot a mother and calf but the underwater visibility was worse than pea soup! This goes to show that good underwater pictures don’t come easy and take a lot of hard work and effort as well as time and money.

I’ve had a good look at last month’s entries and all I can say is ‘wow’ nice pictures, and not just one, mostly ALL of the images submitted in this month’s competition are of an exceptionally high standard. I hope everybody who has looked at the website will agree with me? I also hope that this hasn’t frightened anyone away from entering. As the competitions become more popular we will have different categories, for macro, wide angle, compact, beginners etc, but for now I will judge each picture on an individual basis.

When I spoke to Dave, the editor in chief of Scubaverse.com, I thought he was playing an April fool’s joke on me! There are so many good pictures. I guess this is my fault. I wanted you to put forward some great images and you’ve done just that, but this hasn’t made my job easy. Choosing an overall winner was extremely hard work this month. There are so many I personally liked and photographically the compositions were spot on. I’m sorry I haven’t given comments to everyone, I just haven’t had enough time but this doesn’t mean they weren’t worthy.

We have some good news, too: as of next month there will be a prize for the winner! I will let Dave explain in more detail. But I’m hoping this will increase the amount of entrants which will inevitably make my job even harder. And now for this month’s picture results….

There seems to be plenty of of ‘big fish’ pictures including sharks. First off we have the nurse shark on Molasses Reef in the Florida Keys and it’s on the move and heading towards the photographer which makes a really nice composition. In this case missing off the tail doesn’t detract that much from the image. Nice shot Chris.

Then we have Alex’s tiger sharks which in my mind are most attractive looking shark in the ocean.  Both shots are head on with eye in focus. I’m not sure if the pictures have been cropped but the subject looks quite close to the camera. What lens are you using Alex?  I’m guessing you’ve submitted 2 different views of the same tiger? I prefer the slightly nose up version called tiger shark leader. I think the shark is almost too central in the 3-sharks picture although the addition of 2 reef sharks makes the background more interesting.

Tam’s Eagle Ray shot is crystal clear and close up.  I personally know how difficult it is to get close to these shy creatures. I have had better luck snorkelling or using a rebreather. Are you using one or two strobes? It looks like you are using one from the left? I like the soft coral in front of the ray; it looks as though the ray is peeking out from behind. I also like the big green moray eel ‘mouth open’ composition, nice action shot.

Both of Andrey’s images are stunning. I would love to know what camera you are using and the settings? The steller sea lion shot taken in the Bering Sea really does tell a story. I guess the sea lion in the foreground is playing with the jelly fish? The flashgun is highlighting the sea lion’s face and having multiple sea lions silhouetted in the background really does give the picture so much more depth of field.  So I’m choosing this picture as this month’s winner.

The Dahab squid image is equally impressive.  The strobes have really picked up the detail and colour of the tentacles and it’s perfectly in focus including the eyes. The position of the tentacles gives it movement. Personally I think it’s 50/50 whether the 3 white blobs make the composition more interesting. I would probably blacken them out in photo editing software and just leave the squid.

Joseph’s blue shark is one of my favourites. I like the sun’s rays filtering down from above and the shark is head on looking into the camera. Thanks for adding the camera settings. I too use a Sea and Sea housing with a Nikon D800. What time of the day was the shot taken?

I think the ‘freediving’ in Eluethera, Bahamas picture should be titled spear fishing in Eleuthera, Bahamas. Mr maverick mickle, thank you for the picture and I’m sure the Hogfish tasted really great but it’s not politically good to put this picture in an underwater photography competition – maybe it was April 1st after all?

The Hammerhead shark is a nice composition but a bit dark for my liking. Is there a diver hidden behind? I can see the bubbles rising to the surface? But all in all good shot Alex. I haven’t got a good shot of a Hammerhead; I have seen them in the distance but never close up.

The Dolphins of Sataya is also a nice ‘interactive’ shot. I couldn’t help but look twice! The water looks extremely clear. Were you using flash or just natural light? Flash would have probably disturbed their intimate liaison!

I’ve never been to the Zapote Cenote in Mexico so enjoyed seeing the unusual rock formation by Jean – Francois Gregoire . Putting a diver somewhere in the composition would have made it more arty and maybe using some backlighting inside the cave to highlight the scenery would also improve the overall effect, but this does takes quite a lot of planning. I like the El Eden shot, really atmospheric and this time there is a diver in the picture. The rays of sunlight angling through the water work really well.

So just to recap, Andrey’s seal picture has won this month’s competition. Well done Andrey. Thank you for this month’s entries and my apologies again for the late result. I really enjoyed looking at them and I hope you did too. Let’s see what next month’s entries bring…

Stuart Philpott

Stuart Philpott

Stuart has spent the past 26 years taking pictures and writing stories for diving magazines and other publications. In fact, this equates to more than a year of his life spent underwater. There have been plenty of exciting moments from close encounters with crocodiles and sharks to exploration of deep wrecks and more recently rebreathers. He lives in Poole, Dorset and is very much an advocate of UK diving.

One Reply to “April 2015 Photo Contest Winner and Review”

  1. Travels with Tam says:

    Thank you! On the Eagle I was using two strobes, and this was the first time I ever had a single Eagle Ray hang out with me on scuba. It was very exciting!

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