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Winners - Underwater Photography Contests

April 2020 Photo Contest Winner and Review

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WINNER CHOSEN AND REVIEW BY SCUBAVERSE.COM’S UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR NICK ROBERTSON-BROWN

WINNER: Soaring into the Sun by Jay Clue

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!


Wow – what a month! A record breaking number of images in the competition in April – sorry I cannot comment on them all, but there are well over 100! Here are some I picked out:

Curious Squid in Bonaire by Don Trumbell. This simple image of a squid is really well done. I love the fact that the background is in blur, yet still clear enough t show its environment. The in-focus coral in the foreground helps create a nice framing too.

Trying to get ahead by Josh Shellenberg. Super action/behaviour shot. It tells part of the story of a baited shark dive. Baiting is controversial, but as Rodney Fox once told me, “no bait, no shark”.

Curious Sea-Potato by Josh Shellenberg. Manatees make great models for underwater photographers, and not just that they move slowly. Their faces are full of personality and they seem to love human contact. This is a lovely pose too.

Lurk in the Dark by Erlanga Septama. I think this “snooted light” works really well on a subject that most people find hard to capture an interesting image with. The harsh shadowing creates an image that is quite spooky.

Hiding by Yosi Hirosiadi. I was drawn to this shot by blurring of the shell to help the octopus stand out. Personally, I would have cropped out some of the black negative space, but the idea is good, and the image works well.

Longnose Hawkfish in Black Coral by Chris Snyman. I love the way the photographer has captured the two subjects chasing each other’s tails. I have never seen more than one of this species together so I think this is unusual. The colours work really well too.

Magic Eggs by Jacek Bugajski. I really like these shots of fish guarding their eggs in their mouths. If you look closely, I’m sure you can see the faces of the young inside the egg cases. Love the black background.

Merry Christmas by Hugo Andres Cisternas. Janolus sp. has to be my favourite amongst nudibranchs. They vary slightly in colour, but as this image shows, the shape and colours are amazing. I do like the way the photographer has captured the subject on its habitat but brought it out by using a black background. Excellent.

Soaring into the Sun by Jay Clue. What a fabulous place to be with these majestic creatures. I have been to Baja twice and only managed to spot a couple leaping out of the water 10 metres from the boat. This is an amazing image, with sun bursts, an endless stream of mobulas and depth of field is perfect. It is one thing being lucky enough to be there for this aggregation, but getting the shot right is another story. Well done.

Hide & Seek by Mike Leeson. Every seasoned, travelling u/w photographer has lots of shots of these iconic critters. This one, however, stands out as being particularly good. The inclusion of the anemone (in focus) and against a black background really brings out the character and beauty of this guardian. The catchlight in the eye is a nice touch too.

Hawkward by Amy Wessels. Getting this close to a hawkfish is always a challenge but this shot has the subject head-on, with both eyes making contact with the camera. The fading of dof is accentuated by the loss of the red coral as the light dies away.

Bioluminescence by Temy Loing. I love the aggressive pose these guys give you when you put a camera in their faces. The colour is superb, and the black really shows it off. Nice.

Out of the Dark by Elizabeth Johnson: Really vibrant blue against the black, super focus on the eyes, superb! I just wish that the bottom jaw was not clipped. But bravo.

80s Nudi by Hunter Munson: Love the title and the image. Rare to see a nudi shot with a blue background like this.

Fuzzy by Kirstie Harris: These guys always look so sad! They are also a challenge to photograph at times. But they are super subjects.

Follow the Leader by Dylan Driscoll. A lovely image showing the behaviour of these fish leading the way.

Clownfish by Marco Tagliabue. This is a lovely shot of a common subject. The lighting is just lovely and the expression and fin position really sets this image off.

Underwater Tornado by Ryan Koh. Wow – what an experience to see this huge tower of baraccuda reaching from the seabed up to the surface. I love to see shots that make me wish I was there and this is certainly one of those.

Gorgonian Garden by Mok Wai Hoe: Super colours give this a dreamy quality. The light has been handled really well with the sun beams coming down and the pink gorgonian lit well.

Barracuda Party by Anastasia Kantzidou. Another lovely schooling barracuda image. This is really moody and it is always a challenge not to overexpose the shiny scales of the fish in a shot like this – well done.

Stairwell by Christian Llewellyn. An iconic shot of the Karwella wreck that shows off the staircase very well indeed, making the most of the natural light that reaches down to this wreck.

Endangered Leopard by Clayton Harris. This is a dive that is on my wish list and I would love to come home with this shot. I love the shark leaving the shot on the left of the frame.

Show off by Andre Talahatu. Love the colours, and the use of depth of field in this amazing macro image. Just gorgeous.

Takeoff by Karlo Macas. I love the simplicity in this shot. It shows movement. I especially like the surface texture. It really sets off the main stingray subject.

Confined to my sofa by Miguel Ramirez. This looks a really chilled out poreclain crab! One claw hanging off the anemone. Super composition. Sharp focus and super colours.

Home Sweet Home by Nicola Jaeger. I like this shot because it shows an interesting envionment and the detail is incredible.

Sweetlips by Luc Eeckhaut. Lovely colours! The yellow on blue, with the diver in yellow, really makes this a striking image. Well done.

Mirror by Sylvain Camps. The reflection of this shark really makes this shot stand out from other similar shots I have seen. I do just wish the shark was swimming more towards the camera, but you can’t always have what you want!

Two Peas in a Pod by William Goodwin. This image has a surreal quality to it, which I think is caused by the lighting through the sponge. It really catches the viewers eye. To get two shrimps together both facing the camera is a real bonus to what is already a super shot.

Dragon Portrait by Cristina Fernández González. Super image of a gorgeous nudibranch. You can almost feel the texture just looking at this image. The black background really makes the subject pop out.


After much deliberation by our judge….

The results

Winner: Soaring into the Sun by Jay Clue

Runner-up: Magic Eggs by Jacek Bugajski

3rd Place: Gorgonian Garden by Mok Wai Hoe

With so many images this month I have decided to add a couple of Highly Commended shots too. These are:

Highly Commended: Sweetlips by Luc Eeckhaut

Highly Commended: Confined to my sofa by Miguel Ramirez

Congratulations to those who were placed – there were a huge number of excellent images, and well done to all those that entered.

Scubaverse.com’s May 2020 Underwater Photo Contest is now open! Enter as many as three of your underwater photos here.

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

Winners - Underwater Photography Contests

February 2021 Photo Contest Winner and Review

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WINNER CHOSEN AND REVIEW BY SCUBAVERSE.COM’S UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR NICK ROBERTSON-BROWN

WINNER: Sepiola in motion by Yann Toso

Wow! Another bumper month with incredible images, both macro and wide angle, from all around the world. 

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!


Alas I cannot discuss each and every image but here are a few that caught my eye and why:

Mars Attacks by Pietro Cremone: A great title for a super blackwater shot. I might have cropped  in a little I think and reduced the negative space just a touch. A difficult subject captured very well.

Predation by Pietro Cremone: Amazing behaviour shot of a squid feeding at night. Bravo!

From the Below by Raffaele: Stunning Manta at night shot. Time the shot just right to get a lovely pose and the lighting from the boat above illuminating the underside of the manta.

Mobulas of Misool by Patricia Dusman: A striking high key image of mobulas swimming under a bait ball. Very creative and an image that really catches the eye. Another excellent image.

Lembeh Nudibranch by Patricia Dusman: Lovely depth of field on this nudibranch shot. The blurred background really makes the head and especially the rhinophores stand out.

Poetic gorgon’s head, and a flying little nudi by Miguel Ramirez: I love a basket star image and the little critter flying across the background adds a little extra to what was already a lovely shot.

Jewel Nudi by Miguel Ramirez: Stunning nudi shot with blurred background.

Odontaspis ferox by Claude Lespagne: Really engaging portrait of a Smalltooth Sand Tiger Shark. A great view of the teeth too.

Nudibranchia by Claude Lespagne: Lovely texture on this image. The nudibranch looks like it is make from blue velvet and you can almost feel it by just looking at the photo. Focus is perfect.

Crevette nettoyeuse by Patrice Privé: Lovely macro shrimp shot. They detail and the catch light in the eyes is just stunning.

Hippocampes by Patrice Privé: Wow – this image just jumps out from the page. The focus on the eye and the punk hair do really work in black and white. I might have just tones down the overexposed nose a little. But this is a stunner.

Lady Bug on Tunicate by Olivier Martinez: I am always amazed at these super macro shots capturing the tiniest of critters on the reef. The blue is beautiful and it is great to have the subject with both eyes in shot.

Dancing of humpackwhale by Benjamin Bersans: The snorkeler in the top corner of the image really makes this shot, as it makes you feel like you know just how special it would be if that was you!

Goliath by Bruno Labins: The light on the surface of the water, just above the main subject, is lovely.

Crocodile by Bruno Labins: All legs and teeth.. this croc shot made me smile. Great that the shot show the seagrass environment too.

The color purple by Marc Eeckhaut: Love these flamboyant cuttlefish. They are always tough to shoot on dark and difficult backgrounds, but this image really shows how lovely they are.

Humpback Whales in Bora Bora by Stephan Debelle: Lovely shot with the mother and calf at the surface. Must have been an amazing experience.

John Dory by Colin Garrett: These really are a lovely looking fish and this side on shot, with a black background, shows off their unusual pattern and shape.

Bottlenose Dolphin by Colin Garrett: Lovely eye contact and detail on this close encounter with a dolphin.

Surfacing after a relaxing dive by Kristof Goovaerts: We do not see many diver portrait shots in this competition and this is a lovely example with the sunlight shining down perfectly on the diver’s face. I like that the diver is looking up to the surface rather than directly at the camera.

SS Thistlegorm by Christian Horras: This shot is so atmospheric. A great take on a well photographed wreck. I love the anchor, the diver is in a great position and the bow of the wreck looming out of the background. Smashing image.

Nudibranch Trinchesia sp. by Oksana Maksymova: A simple yet stunning composition. The bokeh is perfect. the colours subtle. I love this.

Ultra Violet Cerianthus by Simone Musumeci: Using UV light on a night dive can bring some rewarding photographic results and the motion of the current adds to this unusual image.

Jellyfish palau by Dave Weeks: A simple shot, but there is something about the colours that I really like, along with the reflection.

Stingray Smile by MichaelG: A lovely shot that will make everyone that sees it smile.

Black Jelly by MichaelG: Simple yet stunning. An almost abstract image of a jellyfish in black and white. Lots of interesting detail. This really jumps out from my screen.

Microlipophrys canevae by Yann Toso: Lovely portrait of this blenny with the oranges and yellows creating a pleasing image to look at. Good use of depth of field and a cute subject too.

Blue Planet by Kaya Alptunaer: Stunning! Simplicity is sometimes best. The richness of the blue against the black background makes the subject stand out. Showing the feeding behaviour of the sea star just adds to this lovely shot. Finding a subject and then getting the very best shot of it you can. The fact you took this with a compact camera is fabulous. Well done!

Open your wings by Giacomo Antonio Rossi. Lovely full underside shot of a manta. The surface of the water really adds to this super image.

Jureles by Giacomo Antonio Rossi: Love this shot of a bait ball swimming just above the sea bed. The sandy ripples really add to the image.

Sepiola in motion by Yann Toso: A lovely motion shot of a squid at night. A beautiful subject captured expertly well.

Valentine’s day by Novrizal Herdananto: A perfect shot for the February competition! What a lovely image of these two stunning nudibranchs. Almost looks like a mirror image.


After much deliberation by our judge….

The results

Winner: Sepiola in motion by Yann Toso

Runner-up: Nudibranch Trinchesia sp. by Oksana Maksymova

Third Place: SS Thistlegorm by Christian Horras

Highly Commended: Blue Planet by Kaya Alptunaer

Highly Commended: Black Jelly by MichaelG

Congratulations to those who were placed – there were a number of excellent images, and well done to all those that entered.

Scubaverse.com’s March 2021 Underwater Photo Contest is now open! Enter as many as three of your underwater photos here.

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Winners - Underwater Photography Contests

January 2021 Photo Contest Winner and Review

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WINNER CHOSEN AND REVIEW BY SCUBAVERSE.COM’S UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR NICK ROBERTSON-BROWN

WINNER: Hunting with reflections by Raffaele

Wow! What a start to 2021! Over 100 entries from 24 different countries… and it was not just the sheer numbers of images in this months competition – it was the incredible quality too…

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!


Alas I cannot discuss each and every image but here are a few that caught my eye and why:

Scouting the Baitball by Tom Mills: Lovely baitball that perfectly fits in the frame of the image and a marlin circling below. I would love to be there right now! A picture that tells a story always stands out.

Pelican Hunt by Giacomo Antonio Rossi: Chaos! A great split shot with action both above and below the surface.

Sealions and sardines by Giacomo Antonio Rossi: What a super action shot! I love this image. The photographer has captured this scene at just the right moment with the sealions distinct from the sardines and with the blue sea as a background.

Assembly by Yung-Sen Wu: An unusual split shot of a large group of divers either starting or ending their dive in very clear water.

Hammerhead Shark Approaching by Guillaume Lichtle: Very striking monochrome shot of a hammerhead. The shark is quite small in the frame, but this does not detract from the image, but rather enhances it. I think I would have removed the fish on the right hand side as they do not add to the overall image – but this is a super shot.

Squirt Backwards by Wei Hsuan Lin Jamie: The lighting is wonderful in this image, with the surface sunbeams raining down on the squid. Super!

Devil’s Dec Cave Freedive by Cyril di Bisceglie: Lovely image with a magical quality. Again a shot that really puts the viewer in the action.

Hello! by Cyril di Bisceglie: Really striking shot. The yellow and black, with perfect eye-contact, makes this eel really stand out from the crowd.

Water Ballet by Elena: This image made me laugh. The idea of the crab on the pier leg watch another fall. Nicely taken and perfect timing!

Stunning Right? by Louis: We see a huge number of whale shots at the moment, but I like this flipped image. The shape of the whale and the light are lovely.

What Lies Beneath by Debbie Wallace: Super story-telling shot with the divers on the boat and the sharks below on a beautiful day. This is another image that makes me wish I was there and that can only be a good thing!

In the Vortex by Debbie Wallace: Super composition! A great job on the lighting too and a tricky subject with the small fish and underside of the shark difficult not to blow out. This is a dive on my bucket list and I can only hope I get a shot like this.

Yellow & Purple by Danjorge Revantad: I like this image. It is a moody shot, not over-lit and with a black background it works well.

Skin by Christian Stephan Zink: Subtle lighting really make this shot. A few bubbles, her reflection in the still surface – super shot.

Carybdea marsupialis by Yann Toso: Simple by beautiful. Nice diagonal, good focus and a black background to make the subject “pop”.

Nudibranch: Coryphellina exoptata by Igor Bogachenko: Stunning nudibranch shot. The bokeh is stunning. The colours are beautiful. Well done.

Nudibranch: Tambja morosa by Igor Bogachenko: Another stunning nudibranch shot with a shallow depth of field.

Harribo? by Dean Martin: Perfect title for this jelly shot! Lovely blue background with no distractions really makes the subject stand out.

Skeleton shrimp by denizgokmen: Stunning super macro image. The detail is incredible. Perfect focus on the eye of this weird but wonderful critter.

Killer Shrimp by Novrizal Herdananto: Another excellent macro image, this time showing the shrimp in its environment which I like. Great focus on the eyes on a challenging subject to photograph.

Hunting with reflections by Raffaele: A perfect image to make black and white. Lovely motion of the Marlin. This really stands out and the reflections makes it a first class shot. Well done.

Mother and son by Cedric Peneau: Stunning shot of an incredible behaviour where a mother would rest at the surface, with her calf, in the presence of underwater photographers.

Seahorse (Hippocampus histrix) by Oksana Maksymova: Lovely image making here. The background is stunning and really makes this seahorse portrait stand out from the crowd.

Dragon shrimp (Miropandalus hardingi) by Oksana Maksymova: I love the composition of this shot. Simple colours, black background and an interesting subject that stands out in the frame.

Smile by Mizael Palomeque: Now that is a shark shot to make you smile!

Shark Stack by MichaelG: Lovely image of the whitetip sharks cuddled up. What makes this shot is the shark that has turned to camera with his fin flopped over his buddy. Lovely.

No social distancing by arnaud.guillebert: Lovely scene to capture. Blue and yellow always work well together.

Cratena peregrina by walter bassi: Very striking shot with the nudi stretching out to find a path. The lighting has been done very well.


After much deliberation by our judge….

The results

Winner: Hunting with reflections by Raffaele

Runner-up: Sealions and sardines by Giacomo Antonio Rossi

Third Place: Skeleton shrimp by denizgokmen

With so many incredible shots we also have 2 highly commended images:

What Lies Beneath by Debbie Wallace

Pelican Hunt by Giacomo Antonio Rossi

Congratulations to those who were placed – there were a number of excellent images, and well done to all those that entered.

Scubaverse.com’s February 2021 Underwater Photo Contest is now open! Enter as many as three of your underwater photos here.

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