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Winners - Underwater Photography Contests

February 2016 Photo Contest Winner and Review

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

WINNER: Nico Luzzi

PHOTOLINK: https://www.scubaverse.com/contestants/one-way-only/

Thank you for this month’s entries. There might not be as many pictures as last month’s competition but the quality has definitely made up for the lack of quantity. I really am impressed with the high standard of photography. It just seems to get better and better. Please keep up the good work!

As usual I will go through each picture on an individual basis starting with Denis Emeric’s shot called ‘lagoon’s clown fishes’ taken at Rodrigues Island near Mauritius. Not trying to sound rude I think the subject matter is nothing particularly special. It’s just a pair of anemone fish. And it’s only 1m deep so doesn’t score highly on the difficulty stakes, but in saying this the shot actually works really well. The anemone fish and their anemone host take up most of the foreground but I can also see coral clusters way off in the background which shows a spectacular depth of field. It looks as though you have used some flash on the main subject Denis even though it’s a shallow dive with plenty of ambient light. There’s not a lot I can criticise. It’s a good all round composition.

Wow, Nico Luzzi has done a great job with his picture called ‘one way only’ and it’s a fitting title. Thanks for your comments Nico describing how and why you took the shot. One day I will hopefully get the chance to visit Sipadan! There are so many places on my shopping list! I like your positioning, attacking from the front, swimming through the shoal. This has to be a strong contender for the February winner. I really like the composition, the exposure, focus, the colours are perfect and there is plenty of action. It’s a shame you haven’t got a shark or a dolphin swimming through the shoal – I’m just joking! The shot is perfect as it is. As with Denis’s shot there is very little to criticise.

Robert Chen’s entry called ‘gelatinous’ shows a number of jellyfish in shallow waters somewhere off Palau. It has all the ingredients that make a really striking picture. Unlike Nico’s fast moving Jacks picture the jellyfish in Robert’s shot are extremely slow moving which allows the photographer time to think about the composition he wants. Robert is shooting upwards towards the surface and has got a jellyfish in the foreground with the sunlight filtering down from the surface above. It looks as though you have used natural light Robert and no flash as there is some shadow on the right hand side of the main jelly.

When I look at Dave Peake’s shot called ‘Dartmoor stream’ words fail me! Dave, I’m not sure if you have the makings of a great photographer or a certified lunatic! You must be keen to jump into 4 degree water to get this shot! I think you should be awarded a special prize, ‘brass monkey of the month’. Back to being serious, I think you’ve done a really good job. The granite rocks make an interesting foreground subject with buddy Pete filling up most of the background. The rippling surface gives the shot some additional appeal. Great effort, I salute you!

Coral Groupers have to be one of the most beautifully coloured fish in the ocean. Dave Weeks’ shot is simply called ‘Grouper’ and shows a grouper sitting on a hard coral. It’s in focus and shows a front facing grouper so not a bad shot. Is there also a cleaner wrasse just behind its eyes? Maybe this is why the grouper stayed still long enough for you to get the shot Dave.

Dave Weeks’ second entry called ‘Exit stage right’ shows a pretty looking fish (I’m not sure what species?) on a hard coral background. Again it’s in focus and is lit up evenly with no shadows or hotspots.

Dave’s third entry called ‘Napoleon Wrasse’ shows a fairly close up shot of the aforementioned. I never seem to be able to get close to Napoleon Wrasse. They always seem to keep their distance from me. The only close encounter I have ever had was on a reef at Bora Bora in Tahiti where the guide was tempting the wrasse with hard boiled eggs which in hindsight was probably not an eco-friendly thing to do. Dave has captured the whole Napoleon on a blue sea background. I’m not sure what the dark patch is underneath the Napoleon?

It’s good to see Tam Warner Minton back this year. Tam’s first picture is called ‘Slipper Lobster on paradise reef’ which was taken on a night dive. It’s a great macro-ish side on view of a slipper, in focus and showing some nice colours.

Tam’s second action shot called ‘oops…caught in the Moray’s jaws’ shows a parrotfish being munched by a moray. I hope it wasn’t your light illuminating the parrotfish that sealed its fate? It’s quite rare to capture these moments on camera so 10/10 for effort. I have seen fish eating fish only on two occasions in 20 years. The first was at Taba Heights in Egypt where a stone fish was eating a blue tang and the second occasion was at Roots Camp in Egypt where I came across a grouper with a porcupine fish stuck in its mouth.

In my mind Tam’s third shot called ‘Barracuda waiting’ is the best of the three entries. The barracuda really does stand out in this black and white composition. It actually looks like a 35mm film negative. Definitely one of my favourites for this month.

Hans Lange’s entry is called ‘tube worm’. I’m guessing the shot was taken on a reef at Dahab? How is Dahab doing at the moment Hans? I haven’t been for several years so I guess I am due a visit. I think you are right Hans, the colours of the tube worm are really striking and it works well with this particular background colour.

Simon Gardner’s shot called ‘the star at night’ definitely shows some arty flair. I really like the composition and the colours of the brittle star.

One of the major benefits of cave diving photography is usually the super clear visibility but Laurent Minoult’s shot called ‘diving the milky way’ shows quite a lot of sediment particles hence the picture’s name I guess. I can clearly see the halocline around by the diver’s fins. There are some spectacular rock formations on display.

Mrodoc’s shot called ‘sleeping parrotfish’ shows a close up of a very colourful parrot minus the mucus membrane that usually surrounds the fish at night. Is it true that they can only produce one protective membrane every night?  It’s a front facing shot and in focus and shows some nice mouth detail.

Mrodoc’s second entry called ‘Axinellid sponge with diver’ taken at the poor knights in New Zealand shows a healthy looking sponge/soft coral wall and there’s even a few scattered fish in the frame. It’s difficult to highlight the diver’s eyes when they are wearing a black mask but Mrodoc has managed to do the job quite nicely, and the exhaled bubbles aren’t obscuring the diver or the reef in any way.

Mrodoc’s third entry called ‘riot of colour’ shows a diver looking at a reef under Busselton jetty in Western Australia. I am all for close up model shots but I can’t help but wonder why there isn’t more of the jetty in the background. Usually the jetty legs look great in pictures, especially silhouetted in the background, but Mrodoc hasn’t shown this for some reason? I have never dived under Busselton jetty but I reckon a portrait shot showing less diver and more jetty would make a more interesting composition. Let me know your thoughts, Mrodoc.

It’s nice to see Janice Nigro back again this year. Janice has entered a shot called ‘stare down’ which shows a spiny tiger shrimp on a shallow reef at Lembeh. It’s a great shot especially considering the dangers involved! Kids swimming over your head must have been quite scary! I really like the colours and the detail on the shrimp. Good lighting and focus.

Dave Peake’s second entry called ‘Coming home’ shows a really nice composition of a salmon taken in Dartmoor National Park in the UK. This has to be another of my top favourites this month. The fish stands out well on the rock background. Lighting, colours and composition are all good. I have never taken any pictures of salmon before but your shot Dave has inspired me to give it a go. If you don’t mind I would like to contact you for more details on the dive site. Please can you e-mail me at adventurediving@yahoo.co.uk or contact me on facebook.

Dave Peake’s third entry called ‘ocean wanderer’ is a shot of a barrel jelly taken in Cornwall in the UK. I like the reflection coming from the surface. A half above/below shot would have been really nice. Are you using a fisheye dome port? I’m guessing not?  It’s a shame that there isn’t a diver in the picture just to give the jelly some size perspective (where’s your buddy Pete when you need him?).

The Giannis D must have one of the most photographed sterns in the Red Sea. Christian Llewellyn’s entry called ‘Sleeping Goliath’ shows the Giannis D in all its glory. This is a great wide angle shot showing the whole of the wreck’s stern and a dive tender waiting on the surface above. Normally this shot works well in black and white, but Christian’s colour version is equally as good and shows plenty of detail. A few fish swimming by in the foreground would have been the icing on the cake! Normally there are hundreds of divers swimming about so you were lucky to have the wreck all to yourself – or have you used a few photo editing tweaks Christian? Great shot by the way.

Simon Gardener’s second macro entry called ‘cleaning time’ taken on a reef in Muscat in Oman shows a little bream being preened by a cleaner wrasse. Capturing this composition with a 50mm lens is by no means easy task. This is a great picture. It’s clear, well-lit and tells a story. It’s a slight shame that the bream is looking slightly away to the left of the frame, but otherwise no other comments from me.

Simon Gardener’s third macro entry called ‘lonely’ shows a colourful nudi on a reef in Qatar. Simon’s managed to get all of the nudi in focus. I think the composition works pretty well.

It’s really worth reading Alex Brinnen’s picture description/story before looking closely at the picture. Alex’s shot called ‘Are you looking at me chief!’ shows a head on view of a lionfish taken on a wreck off Phi Phi Island in Thailand. I really like the bits of wreckage around the outside. I think there is also a bit of additional vignetting but it really works well and draws you into the picture. Definitely the best storyline of the month Alex.

Sharks are always make fascinating subjects for photos. Don Rhodes has taken an impressive shot of a 13 foot hammerhead shark encountered off Bimini Island in the Bahamas. Don’s picture called ‘great hammerhead swimming by divers in Bimini’ shows a close up of an open mouthed hammerhead cruising by Don with a couple of divers watching in the background. Great piece of shark/diver interaction. I’ve only ever seen hammerheads from a distance, never this close.

For the second time this month I am saying ‘wow’. Don has stuck with the shark theme for his second entry called ‘great hammerhead shark in Bimini, the Bahamas’. This time Don has taken an underbelly shot of a hammerhead swimming over his head. This is a pro quality shot. What camera are you using Don? This has to be a housed DSLR? Great composition, the whole shark is filling the frame. The shark is also head on to camera and has an open mouth displaying an impressive set of teeth. Excellent shot. I’m very envious. This is without doubt a top 5 entry this month.

Don’s third entry simply called ‘grey triggerfish’ shows a full frame trigger and it’s quite an interesting pose, head on with the whole body also in the frame. Has the area under the fish’s mouth been over exposed and then coloured in Don? The image looks a little bit too contrasty but I have to admit that in this instance I think it actually works. I like the fact that the ‘trigger’ fin is in the raised position. For years I used to run triggerfish photo workshops off the coast of Portland, UK on a little wreck called the Royal Adelaide. Every year around the end of August the grey triggers would appear in reasonably large numbers and stay until the water temperature dropped and then they would sadly die. On one occasion I was surrounded by more than 100 triggers. The grey triggers were always inquisitive and would come right up to my mask. On one occasion I was actually snapped by another photographer ‘kissing’ a trigger. Yes, I actually took out my reg and the triggerfish came in for a nibble. I don’t think I would try to do this with a hammerhead shark!

Don’s last entry called ‘Spanish grunt on deck of USCG cutter Duane’ was taken in the Florida Keys and shows a close up of the fish with some of the shipwreck showing in the background. The colours are absolutely spectacular. Have you enhanced them in any way Don?  It’s a superb shot and has to be in the top macro shots of the month.

And so to the final entry of the month by Chris Court and called ‘reef scene’. Is this shot supposed to be portrait? Where are you Chris? Somewhere off Giftun Island? It’s a great scenic view of a reef and I’m pleased to see there are plenty of fish life and healthy soft and hard corals in view. Your shot makes me think about visiting again, especially while it’s still quiet.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Okay, I thought that last month’s competition was tough to judge, but this month is an equally difficult decision. Don Rhodes’ Hammerhead shot is pretty spectacular but I also like his shot of a Spanish Grunt, the colours are just mesmerising.  Christian Llewellyn’s Giannis D shot is top of the wrecks and Dave Peake has entered some superb UK entries. And I have to mention Tam Warner Minton’s black and white barracuda which was absolutely top notch. Nico Luzzi’s shoal of Jacks shot was also outstanding. I have checked off the usual points I am looking for which include focus, lighting, interesting composition etc, etc and I am left with the two shots that gave me the  extra ‘wow’ factor and that was Don’s hammerhead and Nicco’s shoal of Jacks. I have looked at both pictures over and over again and I think Nicco’s shot ‘one way only’ just about pips it. Thank you again for all of your entries.

Scubaverse.com’s March 2016 Underwater Photo Contest is now open! You have until midnight on Friday 25th March to enter up to 3 of your best underwater pictures. Enter here.

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

September 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: Vunerable Giants by Naomi Rose

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!


A slightly different feel to the judging this month, due to the new website work, I have picked my favourite six to go through…

Little Moray by Alexej Sachov

This image really caught my eye! it feels like the eel is zooming towards the lens. Lovely bokeh and great to catch both eyes, in focus, looking at the camera. Bravo!

Best Dad by Cedric Peneau 

Super bahaviour shot showing mouth brooding. The eggs spilling out onto the black background really stands out. The detail is stunning.

Crystal-clear by Marc Eeckhaut 

Simple yet stunning. I love the curves of the pink coral leading the eye through to the dark window. The subjects is in sharp focus and framed really well by its environment.

Dolphin Split-Shot by Miguel Ramirez

This is an incredible image. I can just imagine myself being there. To get a split shot like this, with the dolphins fin above the water and the tail and head below the surface is great work. You balanced the light above and below perfectly. Do I wish the dolphin was swimming towards the photographer – I guess a little, but we can’t always get what we want! Stunnning shot – well done!

Vunerable Giants by Naomi Rose 

Another stunning split-shot, this time featuring a Whaleshark and it’s yellow pilot fish. This is an eye-catching image that really captures what it was like to be there in that moment. The sparkling water, bright light, and the gentle giant swimming just below the surface. Love this image.

Seahorse by Oksana Maksymova

A simple yet stunning shot. A tough shot to get right too, as the subject is tiny and moves with the water. To get both eyes looking at the camera and to also have the mouth open is great. I also love the gently colours and tones of this image. Pin shark focus on the seahorse’s head makes this a stand out shot. One of the best I have seen.


After much deliberation by our judge….

The results

Winner: Vunerable Giants by Naomi Rose

Runner-up: Seahorse by Oksana Maksymova

3rd Place: Dolphin Split-Shot by Miguel Ramirez

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

Scubaverse.com’s October 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

August 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: Smile! by Cedric Peneau

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!


A bumper month of images this month and once again the quality was superb. Here is what I thought of a selection of this month’s images…

Watching Fish by Kristijan Maurovic. Even the most common species can offer great photo moments. I love the grumpy look on this snapper.

Sweet Dream by Wayan Jhon. The amphipod, sat on the purple with a black background creates a really well put together macro image. I may have tried to manoeuvre the camera a bit lower and put the critter against the black.

King of the Hill by Alex Permiakov. I really love the lighting in this black background nudibranch portrait. The colours are amazing and the small depth of field works well on this kind of shot.

The Ship Whisperer by Jonathan Seeyave. I have seen several versions of this shot (though not on this particular wreck) and I love the way that the whole image is given perspective. The water clarity and the deep blue background really help too.

Seaweed Blenny by Magali Marquez. Blennies make such great images, they are so photogenic. Snoots work really well on these shots, even though it can be difficult to line-up the light on the subject. This is expertly done and creates a great result.

Caribbean Manta Eye by Magali Marquez. Despite the really small dof, I like this shot. Whilst much of the eye is not in focus, I am drawn to the eyes. The black background accentuates the effect too.

Pygmy Seahorse by Juho  Karhu. Trying to get a really good pygmy seahorse shot can be difficult, but this image has the subject actually framed in the coral and looking directly at the camera. Lovely.

Hairy Shrimp by Juho Karhu. Orange, black and white help make this image pop-out from the screen. The focussing is excellent and the eye is pin-sharp and I do like the pattern around the eye.

Chromodoris loci by Francesco Russo. This is a great example of how a common subject can give you a great image. The colours of the nudibranch are wonderful against the flat grey background. It demonstrates that ‘species shots’ can be stunning, well done.

Odontaspis ferox by Claude Lespagne. I love sharks and the Raggie is a special one. They are usually difficult to get, head-on, like this one, but the depth of field helps the ‘smile’ to stand out.

Caribbean sheep by Melodie Caussat. This is a lovely image. It has so many components with a diagonal, the complementary colours and a black background. Beautifully done.

Under good surveillance by Miguel Ramirez. Parent and multiple offspring. Nicely captured.

Isolation by Christina Fernandez Gonzalez. Love the angle, the black background and the detail (especially in the rhinophores). The colours help too. This is beautifully executed.

A bottle of Octopus by Iris van der Zwan. I have never seen an octopus change to this bright purple and I am jealous. I love the concept of this image too, as they are notoriously difficult to get a good image of.

Sargassum by Marc Eeckhaut. I always look for these froggies whenever I am in their territory. I like the angle you have used too.

Trying to fit in by Naomi Rose. This is such an unusual shot that I had to include it on the shortlist. It is almost a shame that we cannot see what is going on but I like it the way it is too.

Smile! by Cedric Peneau. This image will catch the eye of anyone. It is clever and well executed.

Reflections by Cedric Peneau. It is the reflections that really catch the eye on this beautiful shot of two of the ocean’s most majestic creatures. The calm surface really does help to show-off this image


After much deliberation by our judge….

The results

Winner: Smile! by Cedric Peneau

Runner-up: Trying to fit in by Naomi Rose

3rd Place: Reflections by Cedric Peneau

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

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

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