December 2018 Photo Contest Winner and Review



WINNER: Follow my Lead by Cédric Péneau

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!

December 2018

Whilst this month was a little down on number of entries, perhaps due to the distraction of Christmas, there were still plenty of quality images to pick from. Here are the ones I have selected to discuss this month:

My Favourites

Pufferfish with Remora by Natalie Bondarenko: I love the angle and eye-contact on this image. It is also unusual in that I have never seen a remora attached to a pufferfish.

Just Talks by Natalie Bondarenko: this is a cute behaviour shot with the perfect depth of field to enhance the subjects.

Christmas Coming, Snowy Coral by Deniz Muzaffer Gokmen: I love this seasonal shot in monochrome and red. The sensor is struggling to cope with the dynamic range of the sun but the conversion to monochrome has reduced the adverse effects. Super shot.

Trust in Me by Jack Pokoj: This is a good shot of a banded sea-krait’s face right in the lens. Everything else is in bokeh and this really helps the viewer to focus on the face.

Follow my Lead by Cédric Péneau: This is a really super shot of a humpback and calf in clear blue water. I love the expression of movement from the mother.

Tiny Shrimp by Alexander C. Allgayer: The eye-contact in this image is superb and it is accentuated by the small depth of field in the rest of the frame.

Turtle Chillin in Sponge by Alexander C. Allgayer: This is a beautifully taken image, especially considering it was taken with a compact camera. Lovely lighting and the eye-contact is spot on.

After much deliberation by our judge….

There were so many great shots, it was impossible to comment on them all, let alone select the top three! It was a tough call, but the results are:

Winner: Follow my Lead by Cédric Péneau

Runner-Up: Christmas Coming, Snowy Coral by Deniz Muzaffer Gokmen

Third: Tiny Shrimp by Alexander C. Allgayer

Congratulations to the those who were placed – some really nice images here, and well done to all those that entered. I cannot wait to see what 2019 has to offer.’s January 2019 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

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