Dancing Octopus Wins International Photography Prize


A photograph of a hunting octopus sees French diver Gabriel Barathieu named Underwater Photographer of the Year 2017. Baratheiu’s photograph triumphed over 4500 underwater pictures entered by underwater photographers from 67 different countries.

Barathieu’s “Dancing Octopus” photo was taken in the lagoon of the tiny island of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean. Barathieu explains “I had to wait for a low spring tide when the water was just 30cm deep (1 foot) so that the octopus would fill the water column. I got as close as possible with a wide angle lens to create this image, which makes the octopus look huge.”

“Dancing Octopus” by Gabriel Barathieu

“Both balletic and malevolent, this image shows an octopus that really means business as it hunts. The way it moves is so different from any predator on land, this truly could be an alien from another world,” commented competition judge, Alex Mustard. “It was taken in knee deep water, showing that underwater photography is open to anyone who is prepared to dip their toe in the water.”

The title of British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2017 goes to Nick Blake, who lives in Dublin, Ireland, for his photo “Out Of The Blue” taken in a freshwater sinkhole in Mexico, known as Chac Mool Cenote. Blake commented “underwater photographers can move freely in three dimensions, so I adjusted my position in the water to capture the symmetrical framing of the light beams by the rocks”.

“Out Of The Blue” by Nick Blake

Competition judge Martin Edge commented “I love the enclosure of the light within the Cenote, the composition contains all the sunlight so that the eye of the viewer cannot escape.”

“Oceanic In The Sky” by Horacio Martinez

The Underwater Photographer of the Year competition also aims to promote new photographic talent. Argentinian Horacio Martinez was named as Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2017 for his image “Oceanic In The Sky” photographed in Egypt. “I noticed this oceanic whitetip shark patrolling in the distance and exposed for the sun beams, and was pleased by the dreamlike effect. Oceanics are great subjects for close ups as they are anything but shy. Yet, I wanted to capture their apparent loneliness in the big blue.”

Chair of the judges, Peter Rowlands commented “The photographer has seen the light and realised its dramatic effect extremely well and used it to contrast the small shark in a lonely world. Very evocative indeed.”

The title of Most Promising British Underwater Photographer, 2017 goes to Nicholai Georgiou for his image “Orca Pod” taken in the depths of winter in northern Norway. “the days are short and the water is barely above freezing, but with orca around the cold is quickly forgotten. The light was beautiful as the sun skimmed the horizon, but the water was dark and foreboding. Then these orca swam by, nice and close. It was a moment which will be hard to top.”

Chair of the judges, Peter Rowlands summed it up neatly by commenting “I’m jealous.”

“Orca Pod” by Nicholai Georgiou

A notable category winner is Melvin Redeker from the Netherlands who won British Waters wide angle with the first photo of orca (killer whales) taken in Shetland in the UK. Redeker explains “We studied the Mousa pod over a few weeks and decided the best opportunity would come if I hid on the seabed where the orcas were hunting seals. Staring in a wall of water, suddenly the pod appeared. Totally silent. Eye to eye with these mighty apex predators, my heart skipped a few beats.”

Chair of the judges, Peter Rowlands commended “this is a groundbreaking shot for British waters.”

About Underwater Photographer of the Year

Underwater Photographer of the Year is an annual competition that seeks to celebrate photography beneath the surface of the sea, lakes, rivers and even swimming pools. British photographer Phil Smith was the first underwater Photographer of the Year, named in 1965. Today’s competition has 10 categories, testing photographers with themes such as Macro, Wide Angle, Behaviour and Wreck photography, as well as three categories for photos taken specifically in British waters. This year’s judges were experienced underwater photographers Peter Rowlands, Martin Edge and Alex Mustard.

Underwater Photographer of the Year 2017 Awards

Underwater Photographer of the Year 2017: Gabriel Barathieu (France)

British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2017: Nick Blake (UK)

Up and Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2017: Horacio Martinez (Argentina)

Most Promising British Underwater Photographer: Nicholai Georgiou (UK)

1. Wide Angle

Winner: Ron Watkins (USA)

Runner Up: Nick Blake (UK)

Third: Edwar Herreno (France)

Highly Commended: Eero Hällfors (Finland), Fabrice Guerin (France) Yannick Gouguenheim (France) Damien Mauric (UK)

Commended: Patrick Neumann (Germany), Anatoli Myshlyaev (Canada), Mario Vitalini (UK)

2. Macro

Winner: Yatwai So (Hong Kong)

Runner Up: Jenny Strömvoll (Mozambique)

Third: Dragos Dumitrescu (Romania)

Highly Commended: Fabio Freitas (Brazil), Susannah H. Snowden-Smith (Cayman Islands), Dragos Dumitrescu (Romania), John Parker (UK)

Commended: Steven Kovacs (USA), Luc Rooman (Belgium), Katherine lu (Singapore)

3. Wrecks

Winner: Csaba Tokolyi (Hungary)

Runner Up: Andrey Narchuk (Russia)

Third: Kieran Hatton (UK)

Highly Commended: Nadya Kulagina (Kazakhstan), Gianni Pecchiar (Italy), Torbjorn Gylleus (Sweden), Tanya Houppermans (USA)

Commended: Marcus Blatchford (UK), Nadya Kulagina (Kazakhstan), Steve Jones (UK)

4. Behaviour

Winner: Qing Lin (Canada)

Runner Up: Jean Tresfon (South Africa)

Third: liang fu (China)

Highly Commended: Mikko Saareila (Finland), Greg Lecoeur (France), Pasquale Vassallo (Italy), Simone Caprodossi (United Arab Emirates)

Commended: Warren Baverstock (United Arab Emirates), Luc Rooman (Belgium), Edwar Herreno (France)

5. Portrait

Winner: Ferenc ifj. Lorincz (Hungary)

Runner Up: Guglielmo Cicerchia (Italy)

Third: Dragos Dumitrescu (Romania)

Highly Commended: Damien Mauric (UK), Liang Fu (China), David Barrio (Spain), Jeff Milisen (USA)

Commended: Greg Lecoeur (France), Francis Perez (Spain), Adriano Morettin (Italy)

6. Compact

Winner: Jenny Strömvoll (Mozambique)

Runner Up: Fabio Russo (Italy)

Third: David Alpert (UK)

Highly Commended: Nicolas Cimiterra (France), Jenny Strömvoll (Mozambique), Ferenc ifj. Lorincz (Hungary), Alexander Franz (Germany)

Commended: Jenny Strömvoll (Mozambique), Linda McKean (USA), Fabio Russo (Italy)

7. Up and Coming

Winner: Horacio Martinez (Argentina)

Runner Up: Sean Landsman (Canada)

Third: Catalin Craciun (Romania)

Highly Commended: Nicholai Georgiou (Oman), Simon Staiger (Germany), Jade Hoksbergen (UK), Dave Baker (UK)

Commended: Lena Remy (France), Patryk Pinski (UK), Christophe Lapeze (France)

8. British Waters Wide Angle

Winner: Melvin Redeker (Netherlands)

Runner Up: Richard Shucksmith (UK)

Third: Trevor Rees (UK)

Highly Commended: Steve Jones (UK), Spencer Burrows (UK), David Peake (UK), Trevor Rees (UK)

Commended: Laura Storm (UK), Cy Sullivan (UK), Ellen Cuylaerts (Cayman Islands)

9. British Waters Macro

Winner: Kirsty Andrews (UK)

Runner Up: Matt Doggett (UK)

Third: Paul Colley (UK)

Highly Commended: Robert Bailey (UK), Becky Hitchin (UK), Trevor Rees (UK), Trevor Rees (UK)

10. British Waters Compact

Winner: Simon Yates (UK)

Runner Up: Paula Bailey (UK)

Third: Ian Wade (UK)

Highly Commended: Mark Launchbury (UK ), Ian Wade (UK), Paula Bailey (UK), Paula Bailey (UK)

Commended: Kerry Lewis (UK), Guy Mitchell (UK), Charles Erb (UK)

To see all the winning images, click here.

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