January 2020 Photo Contest Winner and Review



WINNER: Rana Verde Minore by Giannaccini Alessandro

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!

What a great start to the 2020 competition! Loads of great images were entered into the January competition. Here are a few that caught my eye:

Cuttlefish by Serget Zavisha

Lovely shot of three cuttlefish displaying. Presumably this is a precursor to mating but great to get all three in-frame. If I have a criticism, I would have tried to get lower and shoot upwards, possibly isolating the subjects against the water.

Rana Verde Minore by Giannaccini Alessandro

Love this. It is unusual and very well executed. The lighting beneath the water captures the subject and the DoF is sufficient to include the surroundings. Well done.

VIAAAA! by  Giannaccini Alessandro

Super capture of this squid on a night-dive which creates a black surround. The lights in the background add to the atmosphere, creating an excellent overall composition.

Unheimliche Begegnung by Nicole Wachter

This shot of a large jellyfish in cold water works really well in black & white, although I would have loved to see it in colour too. I love the balance of the composition, using the diver to give the impression of size.

Underground by Nicole Wachter

Whilst this cavern is not as picturesque as many, the lighting is so good that the image really works well. It is great to see that there is wildlife to be seen in cave diving, but I think the out of focus fish in the foreground is distracting.

Biggest Fish by Sophie Rusca

Nicely taken, downward shot of a whaleshark. I like the way the photographer has turned the camera to create a diagonal and get the whole subject into frame. The curve in the tail is pleasing too and gives a sense of movement.

Little jewel by Sophie Rusca

What a beautiful nudibranch! The depth of field works perfectly in this shot; enough to see the whole subject but only pin-sharp at the head.

Mobular’s frenzy by Francois Baelen

This is one of those animal behaviour moments that we all would love to witness. It is hard to create a different shot than looking down at the aggregation, but this does that really well.

Salty Hellos by Gina Smith

A lovely moment captured by the photographer as two green Turtles meet underwater. The angle is perfect as the turtles are isolated in the blue, yet their surroundings are still in-shot. I might have tried cropping in a little to focus on the subjects.

Steve K on the SF2 by Andy Clark

Black & white works really well in this image, as the black suit of the diver stands out clearly against the “grey” of the background. It may have been nice to have the diver’s light highlighting an interesting artefact on the deck.

Reflection by Paul Cannon

This is one of those few images where the subject is not the star. It is a lovely example of how an ordinary subject (the Carp) can be part of a really good image. The surroundings are not exactly eye-catching with old tyres lying around on a relatively dull background, but the refection really makes this shot.

Clear the Room by Miguel Ramirez

This is an excellent behaviour shot of a goby preparing the nest for the young. The DoF is perfect for this shot and the cloud of sand the goby is spitting out captures this moment.

Symbiotic Relation by Serge Melesan

I found this cute behaviour shot really drew me in. Great eye contact and lighting with the subject framed in translucent bubbles.

Longitude by Sean Steininger

Another wonderful behaviour shot demonstrating how protective these giants of our oceans can be. I zoomed in on the eye and it is clearly watching the photographer very closely.

Coconut Octopus by Marc Eeckhaut

The lighting on this cephalopod shot against a black background really make this a striking image. I always find these critters difficult to capture in a great image, but Marc has nailed this one.

Hairy by Marc Eeckhaut

Frogfish are a weakness of mine and two together is always going to make me look twice. I love the composition but, personally, would have liked a bit more light on the guy on the right.

Triggerfish by Pauline Walsh Jacobson

I always tell my students that if they cannot get the whole creature in-frame, then make sure that you get the face and leave room in front for it to swim into. The photographer has done this and the whole image works really well against a black background. I also like the large DoF that puts all the trigger fish in focus.

After much deliberation by our judge….

What a month – so many great images made this a really tough month to judge…

The results

Winner: Rana Verde Minore by Giannaccini Alessandro

Runner-up: Clear the Room by Miguel Ramirez

3rd Place: Unheimliche Begegnung by Nicole Wachter

Congratulations to those who were placed – some really nice images here, and well done to all those that entered.

Scubaverse.com’s February 2020 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 www.frogfishphotography.com.

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