April 2018 Photo Contest Winner and Review



WINNER: On the Throne by Natalie Bondarenko

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!

April 2018

The April entries showed an amazing & high-quality set of images for our judges to work through. A good mix of macro and wide-angle shots on offer. Here is what they thought…

Our Favourites


The Mardi Gras Queen by Craig Beasley: Superb detail in this shot of a tiny crustacean on top of coral. Isolated using a black background, this really pops.

Coming up by Sean Steininger: Beautiful shot showing the intricate pattern of spots on the back of a Whaleshark. Lovely natural light.

Blackwater Beauty by Laura Tesler: Simple yet beautiful – well done.

Basket Star Shrimp by David Ludovic: Superb detail in the shot of a tiny shrimp living in a basket star. Focusing is spot on.

Underwater Poppies by Natalie Bondarenko: Lovely shot of water lillies at the Carwash cenote in Mexico. Love the Snell’s Window view to see the world above the water.

Whale Shark and Freediver by Natalie Bondarenko: Another smashing shot of a great subject. Love the motion and shape of the freediver and the yellow fins really assist the image too.

On the Throne by Natalie Bondarenko: Natalie has put in 3 lovely shots into this month’s competition, all of them very different. I love this shot of the glassfish sweeping around the coral head and the grouper. Super shot.

Puppy Dog by Martyn Jakins-Pollard: What a gorgeous portrait of this sea lion. I love that it has turned its head towards the camera, engaging the viewer.

Smile! by Hannes Klostermann: Fantastic shot! Head on shot of the alligator, with the white teeth and eye contact, in gorgeous clear water – brilliant.

Godzilla by Hannes Klostermann: I think this one is even better. I love this unusual angle to shoot an alligator looking up and seeing the above water world through Snell’s Window. The lighting is handled perfectly with the underside of the subject lit, and yet we can still enjoy the natural light sunbeams. Gorgeous shot.

Open Mouth Grouper by Ifj. Lőrincz Ferenc: Lovely behaviour shot with complementary reds and blues on a black background.


Mardi Gras Queen by Craig Beasley: with a black background and a small depth of field, this image really pops out at you. Love the way the crab is sat on the very top of its domain.

Coming Up by Sean Steininger: This head-on shot of a whaleshark in dappled sunlight is really striking. The shards of sunlight in the water behind the whaleshark complement the subject and helps create a striking overall image.

Blackwater Beauty by Laura Tesler: This is a truly striking image with such a small depth of field and the focus in the centre of the moon jellyfish.

Closer by Laura Tesler: This abstract close up shot of a crimson anemone really draws the eye to the centre of the critter. I particularly like the variations in colour tones and the lighting is spot-on.

Basket Star Shrimp by David Ludovic: This orange shrimp is almost totally in focus against a background of mostly out of focus basket star. The orange stands out against the bland colour of the star and the overall image is delightful.

2 Beauties by Marc Eeckhaut: This shot of two harlequin shrimps facing each other is endearing and technically excellent. The lighting on the critters really brings out their colours and the bokeh’d background makes them almost pop out of the screen.

Underwater Poppies by Natalie Bondarenko: This is subject has been captured a fair bit recently but this image has nailed it beautifully. The central leaves are rusty red against a blue background and the complimentary colours really work, particularly against the blue sky in Snell’s Window.

Whale Shark and Freediver by Natalie Bondarenko: This is a lovely clean composition and the shape of the diver looking up at the whaleshark sums to balance the overall image very nicely.

On the Throne by Natalie Bondarenko: I love this shot. The lighting is amazing with the colour of the grouper and coral perfectly balanced against the silver glassfish swopping across the image.

Smile! by Hannes Klostermann: This excitement of being so close to a large predator is almost tangible in this shot. There is eye-contact and the whole front of this pre-historic beauty is in focus.

The Old Woman by William Goodwin: I really like this abstract close-up of this turtle, which shows the patination and colouring. It also captures the barnacles which have found their home on this transient host. I would have preferred the whole image to be in-focus through, as there is no specific focal point to the image.

Godzilla by Hannes Klostermann: lovely curve, implied motion, Snell’s Window and an unusual angle on an uncommon subject. Fab!

After much deliberations between our two judges….

There were lots of excellent shots this month, 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:

Winner: On the Throne by Natalie Bondarenko

Runner-Up: Godzilla by Hannes Klostermann

Third Place: Whale Shark and Freediver by Natalie Bondarenko

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 May has to offer.

Scubaverse.com’s May 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 www.frogfishphotography.com.

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