WINNER CHOSEN AND REVIEW BY SCUBAVERSE.COM’S UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY EDITORS NICK & CAROLINE ROBERTSON-BROWN
WINNER: Schooling Galapagos Grunts by Hannes Klostermann
When judging any underwater photography competition, the first thing we do is ask of each image: Is it in focus? The main subject has to be pin sharp. Is it exposed correctly?
We 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 we 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 us both go wow – I wish I had taken that!
Our first competition of 2018 has got off to a good start! Lots of interesting underwater images for us to look through and judge. We have high hopes for 2018!
Here are our thoughts on the first competition of the year…
Grinning Ear to Ear by Alisha Postma: Hive shot of a moray with its mouth open and teeth on view. The eye is in sharp focus and there is good feel of movement.
Crocodile by Michal Černý: Great shot with the mouth gaping wide at the camera. I also love the reflection on the surface. I just wsh the diver behind was not interfering with the shot.
Cleaning by Michal Černý: I love this shot with the tiny shrimp inside the mouth of this lovely grouper. I also like that there are more shrimps doing their job on the face of the fish. Nicely lit too.
Purple Flaballina by Terry Ellis: Beautiful subject on an attractive foreground. Nice use of depth of field. I just wish it had been shot from a little lower.
Purple by Domenico Luzzi: Nice portrait of this ghost pipefish, with a lovely diagonal frame. Great focus on a subject that can be difficult.
Breaking away from the pack to say hello by Steve Fernandez: Whilst the bubbles do distract from the subject, they also show the reality of trying to shoot dolphins – fast moving action shots. But I do like the eye contact with the main dolphin in this dynamic shot.
Above and Below by Max Wright: This is really interesting and I have not seen many shots like this. A split shot with a perfectly positioned model. It looks like it was shot through a mask lens and I would be interested to get more info on this.
Petalifera ramosa by Trevor J Cotterill: Lovely sea hare shot showing off the texture and colour of this creature. I would have liked to see the whole head without being clipped. Great use of depth of field.
Muscles by Glynn Phillips: I like this abstract shot of fresh water mussels feeding. Subtle lighting, lovely focus and bokeh. A simple subject (in that is does not move too much) but very well done.
Amongst the Anemone by Jodie Holyoake: Lovely crisp macro shot. Love the detail in the anemone. Well lit.
Schooling Galapagos Grunts by Hannes Klostermann: This is a lovely shot of a school of fish in the Galapagos. I like the slightly separated fish at the top of the pile and the yellow fined fish at the bottom. The fish are not over-lit, which is great, as their reflective scales can blow out images like this. They only downside is the diver’s bubbles in the shot.
Grinning from Ear to Ear by Alisha Postma: I love the aggressive pose of this moray eel, almost like it is coiled to attack. The background is nicely out of focus, but is the subject completely sharp?
Cleaning by Michal Černý: Despite needing a slightly wider lens, this image has captured 3 cleaner shrimp at work in the mouth and eyes of this fish. I think a slightly larger depth of field would have worked better as the “in-focus” vegetation to the right is slightly distracting.
Abalone by Diogo Sayanda: The lighting on this image creates a lovely mood and highlights the business-end of this nocturnal gastropod.
Happy Couple by Marc Eeckhaut: I like the way the photographer has used contrasting colours to isolate the subject from the background, rather than bokeh. It shows these ghost pipefish in their natural environment, yet without unnecessary distraction.
The Beauty or the Beast by Marc Eeckhaut: This is a nice close up portrait of a frogfish using a very small depth of field. I think the focus point is just off the eye, but still a nice shot.
Petalifera ramosa by Trevor J Cotterill: I love the colours in the close-up profile of a special sea hare. The background is in bokeh which really helps to make the critter stand out. The viewer is definitely drawn to the eye, but I think it is a shame the antennae have been clipped.
Schooling Galapagos Grunts by Hannes Klostermann: I love the way this school of grunts are tightly grouped, allowing the light to cover them all. It is easy to over-expose silver fish, but the exposure here is good, although a wider spread of light may have helped. There is always on odd one isn’t there?
After much deliberations between our two judges….
There were lots of interesting shots this month. We picked out some different shots from each other and it was hard to find that outstanding image that leapt out as a winner. Here are the results:
Runner-Up: Cleaning by Michal Černý
Third Place: Petalifera ramosa by Trevor J Cotterill
Congratulations to this month’s winners, and good luck to you all for February’s contest!
Scubaverse.com’s February 2018 Underwater Photo Contest is now open! Enter as many as three of your underwater photos here.