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Winners - Underwater Photography Contests

December 2015 Photo Contest Winner and Review

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

WINNER: Sean Chinn

PHOTOLINK: https://www.scubaverse.com/contestants/sunbathing/

Here’s wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous new year. I would like to add a big thank to all of the entrants in 2015’s monthly photographic competitions. I really enjoyed looking through every one of your images. The toughest job was choosing a winner from so many great shots. I am sure that 2016 is going to be even bigger and better than ever so get sifting through your image libraries and start uploading your 2016 entries onto the Scubaverse website asap. January’s competition is already up and running.

Before I give you the results of the December 2015 competition I must make my apologies for the delay. It’s been entirely my fault. I’ve had far too much picture editing work to get through. I guess image manipulation is quite a debateable subject. Should you leave your pictures in a natural ‘pure’ state, from the moment you pressed the shutter release button, or is it acceptable to tweak colours, sharpness etc and then ‘clean up’ any unwanted items (i.e. remove backscatter, exhaled bubbles, spurious background objects etc using editing software)? I would like to know your thoughts. Judging by the images submitted on Scubaverse’s monthly photo competitions there has been quite a broad spectrum, from the totally untouched to the grossly over processed. I am hoping to run through a few of the basic enhancements that I personally make to my underwater images in an exclusive Scubaverse series coming later this year, and depending on the interest this will follow on with more involved topics.

I would also like to mention some new underwater photography workshops that I will be running throughout 2016. Some will be UK based and some will be overseas. This year’s workshops will mainly be focusing on the subject of using underwater models in pictures. When I say models this is any scuba diver male or female, young or old, that is some way featured in a composition. Models add interest and perspective to an image and can be anything from a silhouette shape in the background to a close up full frame mask shot. I will be covering every aspect on my workshops with theory presentations and practical diving sessions. More information including dates and locations will be released soon.

And so to the December 2015 entries…… and there really are some top rate images making this is a very tough month to judge. The old year is definitely going out on a high!

Introducing Dominico Luzzi’s wide angle silhouette shot called ‘contemplation’ taken in Koh Hann, Thailand. Dominico has gone inside the cave and then turned around and taken the shot looking out through the entrance. The shot has got a diver plus a shoal of fish and a wonderful blue backdrop. I probably would have edited out the divers and streams of bubbles in the far background as I think this detracts from the main subject slightly, but otherwise a superb effort.

I really do have a soft spot for pygmy seahorses so the second macro entry from Dominico Luzzi titled ‘neckless’ taken in Bali is well appreciated. The shadow on the seahorse’s head/upper body is a slight niggle but overall great colours and composition. Is the eye slightly out of focus? It’s probably just the quality of the uploaded image.

Dominico’s third entry with the long title ‘get out of the hole for the shooting’ shows a small fish looking directly at a squirrel fish, hence the title. The flashguns have really highlighted the colours in this shot taken on a night dive. I’m not sure if this is a full frame image or cropped version but the composition works well. Yet another great shot from Mr Luzzi. I thought Truk lagoon was supposed to be famous for its wrecks? Where are the wide angle wreck shots Dominico?  Thanks for your images and thanks for adding the information about dive site location and camera settings. It really does help. If there was an overall portfolio prize Dominico’s shots would be a strong contender.

It’s nice to see that Janice Nigro is back this month with and wickedly colourful image titled ‘underwater koozie’ taken at Lembeh. I would call this shot the perfect anemone fish pose. There is a front facing nemo, some anemone tentacles and some of the outer anemone casing in the composition. That’s a very fast shutter speed you are using Janice? Love the colours and the composition. This has to be one of my top three images.

All my favourite photo subjects are coming out this month including Yo-Han Cha’s image of a grey Atlantic seal called ‘dancer’. This shot was taken at the Farne Islands. Seals really do pull some great postures and facial expressions. This shot is no exception. Considering it’s taken in UK conditions there’s plenty of ambient light and the seal is clear and in-focus.

From this angle it looks like a green turtle in Terry Crocker’s shot ‘another sleepy turtle’. What a great shot. I’ve never seen a turtle picture like this before. Is it asleep or hiding from the photographer? It doesn’t look like a very comfortable bed! I think a front facing shot would have been better but the colours and the unusual composition make up for the slight negative. It’s a real shame that the turtle didn’t stay around for a few more shots Terry. Damn marine life has a mind of its own! I think this composition had the potential for a real show stopping winner. But I’m not saying it’s not great as it is!

Well done Sean Chinn for taking this above and below shot of a whaleshark called ‘gentle giant’ in the Philippines. Was this shot taken at Tan-awan, Cebu where the sharks are lured in by the fishermen?  50/50 shots are not easy to get right, especially when you have to contend with a moving whaleshark. It helps if the surface conditions are flat calm so you can line up the above/below split. Yet another impressive shot from this month’s quota.

Sean Chinn’s second macro entry simply called ‘stretch’ shows a chromodoris nudibranch on a reef somewhere around Anilao in the Philippines. Love the composition with the nudi’s head held high and the antennae in focus. The vivid colours really stand out against the black background.

Sean Chinn’s third entry called ‘sunbathing’ shows a green turtle on a reef at Sipadan Island in Malaysia. I think Sean has positioned himself perfectly for this composition. He’s below the turtle shooting up towards the surface. There is so much to see in this image, it really does tell a story. At first my eyes focused on the turtle then I noticed the corals and the shoaling fish above, all finished off with the sun rays shining down through a very clear blue sea. Another superb wide angle shot. It looks slightly over exposed on the turtle’s flipper and lower shell. Maybe there’s slightly too much flash? I think this can be toned down in photo editing software. Otherwise very, very nice and a potential December winner. Sean has submitted a great portfolio of images to round off 2015. I hope he will follow this up with an equally good portfolio in January.

For an agonising moment I thought this was going to be the first ever Tam Warner Minton free month but just as I was coming to the end of the competition I found one! Glad to see you could make it Tam.  Simply called ‘hiding in a sponge’, this looks like a Caribbean shot of a crab inside a barrel sponge, but I might be wrong. I can’t tell how big the crab is from your picture Tam? Maybe you could have put your finger in there just to give it some size perspective! I like the composition with the crab sitting at the bottom of the sponge. The concentric circles of the barrel sponge make the image more interesting.

And last but not least a second entry from Tam Warner Minton. I couldn’t have picked a better photographer to finish off 2015 with! Well done Tam. I hope Scubaverse will see more pictures from you in 2016. Called ‘hanging around, upside down’ the image shows a lionfish lurking under a reef ledge somewhere in the Caribbean. I think lionfish are really photogenic but I do have a problem with Caribbean lionfish as they are an invasive species and have wiped out most of the juvenile fish population. This image shows some great colours, it’s slightly out of focus but another good effort.

And so for the winner of 2015’s final competition…..after much deliberation and cogitation it has to be Sean Chinn’s entry called ‘sunbathing’ which shows a green turtle sitting on a reef at Sipadan Island. Well done Sean, great shot and a worthy winner. There has to be a tie for second place between two macro images, Janice’s shot ‘underwater koozie’ and Dominico’s ‘neckless’.

Thank you all again for so many great entries. I hope to see everybody back again this year!

 

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.

Winners - Underwater Photography Contests

November 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:

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!


Here are a few of the images that caught my eye, and why.

Kittiwake Stern by MichaelG: I didn’t really know what to make of this. There is loads of contrast between light and shadows, and it certainly is atmospheric. I like it, although I would have brought up the shadows a bit for a little more definition. But that is my take, it works as it is.

Between Two Worlds by Cedric Peneau: This is a beautiful split shot! The darker clouds coming in from the left dive a great atmosphere to this wonderfully taken image.

The Herd by Cedric Peneau: Everything but the main subject is moving diagonally across the image and the balance between ambient and artificial light is perfect. Cool shot.

Bernard the Hermit by Divelions: Lots to like about this portrait show of a hermit crab in its surroundings. Blue and reds always work and it looks like “Bernard” is sat in a toadstool field!

Jellyfish in Sunshine by Divelions: These shots are more difficult to capture than one would think. The balance between ambient and natural light has helped nail it.

Anemone’s Crab by Divelions: It is always difficult to create a decent image of a camouflaged subject as there tends to be little or no contrast. This works and the depth of field if just right to highlight the subject.

Curious Booby by MichaelG: The booby is a comical creature on land but this image totally captures that goofy expression in a very unusual image.

Under the Jetty by Marc Eekhaut: Whenever I take this kind of image there is always one character going the wrong way. I really like the lighting on the shoal and the light shards from the sun in the background.

Creative by Marc Eekhaut: I always find it so difficult to get there pipefish in focus. I love the bright colours against a black background.

Peaceful Encounter by Benjamin Bersans: Gorgeous take on a beautiful subject diagonally across the image. The underside of the water’s surface makes for great framing and the fluke gives the indication of motion.

Leon’s Motu with Shark by Benjamin Bersans: This is a really unusual split shot. It’s a snapshot of life on a tropical island. I think it would have been even better if you could have brought the camera a few centimeters lower in the water so you could see more of the subject.

Frog Reflection by Cyril di Bisceglie: Wonderful in its simplicity. A frog and its reflection at the surface. Black background and a blue Snell’s Window. Lovely.

The New Teeth of the Sea by Cyril di Bisceglie: Great “impact” shot of a predator against a black background. The reflection helps the overall impression too. I like the fact that the single (or dominant) light from the right creates event more contrast.

Octopus Walk by Cyril di Bisceglie: What a super split shot showing off octopus behaviour. The natural lighting works really well in the shallows and the dappled lighting on the sand gives an appearance of texture.

Rubberlips from Mayotte by Arnaud Guillebert: I think it is the lighting bringing out the yellow in the faces of these creatures that makes this stand out. Nicely done.


After much deliberation by our judge….

The results

Winner: Curious Booby by MichaelG

Runner-up: Frog Reflection by Cyril di Bisceglie

Third Place: Creative by Marc Eekhaut

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

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

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Winners - Underwater Photography Contests

October 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: Lunchtime by Miguel Ramirez

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!


It is great to see our new website up and running and for the competition to be going strong. Here are a few of the images that caught my eye, and why.

Warty Yawn by Michael G: This is a good example of a close-up portrait, bordering on abstract. The colours are lovely against a black background and the detail really shows off the wonderful pattern of this iconic critter.

Birdzilla by Naomi Rose: Quite a privilege to be so close to such a beautiful wanderer of the skies. It is a super shot, just wished you’d got its feet in! Still a great shot.

Sleepy Peek by Naomi Rose: Super behaviour shot of one of the most sought-after subjects in the ocean.

Mighty Logger by Naomi Rose: Love the angle of this fella with good eye contact too. The sun rays against the blue background enhances the overall image.

Earthquake by Arnaud Guillebert: This image has the potential to be superb, with the suns rays and the blue negative space. It is just crying out for a subject against the blue. The diver, with legs akimbo, really doesn’t help.

Murène pointillée by Arnaud Guillebert: The lighting and black background make this image really stand out. I’m not sure the focus is quite sharp enough.

Humpback Whale by Benjamin Bersans: Lovely shot of an ocean giant. Sometimes the rear view of an animal works, like this does. Just a pity the fluke has been clipped.

Whats Up by Miguel Ramirez: Super portrait of a curious Hawksbill sat on a very dull sea bed. Eye contact works but its left eye needs a hint more light on it.

Blue Tones by Miguel Ramirez: I like the various blue shades of the animal against the red coral.

Lunchtime by Miguel Ramirez: Nicely captured image of a dolphin pod in blue, open water. The fish in the mouth of the nearest Bottlenose tells its own story and makes this a stand out behaviour shot. Lovely reflections too!

Mr Grumpy by Cedric Peneau: This is a classic close focus wide angle image with a stellar critter as its focus.

Microcosmos by Cedric Peneau: These amphipods make great subjects and the framing of it in the coral is excellent.

Tiny Gobi by Oksana Maksymova: This is very cleverly done. The use of focus (both in and out) creates a beautiful surreal effect of orange and white.

Manta and Reef by Cedric Peneau: This shot reminds us all that even when you have a non wide angle lens, you can still capture a good image of large animals. The red coral and blue water works really well together.

Ribbon Eel by Marc Eeckhaut: Notoriously difficult to capture a descent image, Marc has managed to do so in this shot. Sharp focusing and a bokeh background emphasize the subject.

Emperor Shrimp by Marc Eeckhaut: These macro shots so a lot to reveal the wonders of the “mini world” that many of us love to explore.

Squid by Marc Eeckhaut: Nice angle and focus on the eye. Black backgrounds are easier to get on a night dive but it works well on this image.


After much deliberation by our judge….

The results

Winner: Lunchtime by Miguel Ramirez

Runner-up: Mr Grumpy by Cedric Peneau

3rd Place: Tiny Gobi by Oksana Maksymova

Highly Commended: Birdzilla by Naomi Rose

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

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

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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