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Winners - Underwater Photography Contests

June 2015 Photo Contest Winner and Review

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

WINNER: David George

PHOTOLINK: https://www.scubaverse.com/contestants/frogfish-reflection/

Considering the late start to this month’s contest (due to some much needed website maintenance) there has been a really good turn-out of pictures, so well done and a big thank you to everybody who has entered. Don’t forget as an added bonus Scubaverse are now giving away a worthy prize to the winner, a copy of Vivid Pix’s picture fix photo editing software. So far I’ve only had a quick look at the software but on first impression it looks to be an extremely useful tool. I will be doing a full review sometime next month so watch this space.

Okay, so let’s take a look at this month’s entries. I’ve tried to make a few comments on each submitted image. This is my personal opinion based on 25 years of experience working as an underwater photographer and journalist. My criticism is supposed to be constructive and help improve so please don’t take offence.

The first picture in the gallery ‘night surprise’ is submitted by Helder Viana from Bali Blue Diving. I really like this picture. It’s been taken at night so the black background makes the subject stand out more. The crab is perfectly in focus and is sitting on a coral branch which angles across the image from left to right. If it had been horizontal or vertical I don’t think the composition would have had so much impact. The ‘forest’ of polyp tentacles makes the image even more striking. Good effort, this nearly made first place.

For me Helder’s second image ‘resident batfish’ which is a solitary batfish surrounded by a shoal of glassfish doesn’t have as much of an impact but I like Helder’s explanation about how the picture was taken, this really does set the scene. Individual batfish can be difficult to get close to; I usually find groups easier to photograph. I noticed there are a few blotches on the fish – using the ‘clone and heal’ feature in photo editing software would clean this up nicely.

Helder’s third image ‘following the buddies’ is a colony of garden eels with two divers disappearing in the background. In my mind this tells a story. We all know that garden eels typically hide when divers get too close and then pop back out again when the coast is clear. I’m guessing that it’s the sunlight making the light and dark patches on the seabed. This effect definitely makes the picture more interesting.

Paul S Carson’s ‘black tip reef shark’ is pin sharp and almost looks too good to be true. At first I thought the shark had been super imposed onto the reef back ground or maybe the picture was taken in an aquarium! I like the fact that the background is slightly soft (out of focus) and I like the way the light shines off the shark’s pectoral fin. How big is the shark Paul? And how close are you to the subject? I really like the use of natural light.

I’ve been to Carlisle Bay in Barbados several times. It’s a great shallow wreck diving site. I can’t remember exactly how many wrecks there are to explore but I know there are quite a few. There’s a shack on the beach that sells the best fish sandwiches ever! I like Mel’s composition in her first picture ‘synchronised buddies‘ but it would have been nice to see a more recognizable wreck shape in the background. In my mind this could just be reef, it’s difficult to tell that it’s actually a wreck. Mel’s second picture, stern shelter‘, is much clearer. I can see that it’s the stern of a wreck with the rudder and prop surrounded by a shoal of grunts. Shame there’s no diver in the second image to give it more perspective.

Thanks for your ‘father’s day’ image Mr R C Smith. It’s great to see a father and son learning to dive together although you both look a bit serious! Even with a regulator obscuring your face if you smile it really does make a difference. I run underwater modelling classes if you’re interested to learn more. The ‘lobster and scorpion fish’ image could easily be improved if you get closer to the subject. There is so much reef on show that the main subject gets lost in the surroundings. I’m sorry, I spent 10 minutes scanning the picture but I still couldn’t find the scorpion fish, it has great camouflage!

I think the hawkfish is slightly lost in Lisa’s ‘basking hawkfish’ pic but the fish is in focus and it’s a nice composition. The fish actually does seem to be sun bathing! Maybe it can be cropped slightly? As mentioned before the snow like particles in the water can be cleaned up using editing software.

Lisa’s nudi picture is a little lost in the surroundings and a piece of weed in the foreground is obscuring part of the main subject, but it’s a colourful in focus nudi, well done.

I visited PNG last year. It really is a beautiful place with pristine coral reefs and plenty of big and small marine life sightings. I visited 4 out of the 5 most popular areas. Tufi was the one I missed. Lisa’s picture shows a healthy hard coral reef and the rays of sunlight make the image more atmospheric. It’s a shame there are very few fish in the picture. PNG reefs are usually over flowing with life. Maybe a diver or snorkeler in the picture would complement the composition.

Rickey’s ‘turtle paparazzi’ has all the ingredients of a great composition, including diver/photographer, marine life and some great action. The colours on the copy I am looking at seem to be way too saturated and I’m also worried that the diver with the camera is going to crash into the corals! He doesn’t seem to be looking where he is going. If I was going to be super picky there’s also too much empty blue sea background.

Anemone fish are always a crowd pleaser. Rickey’s ‘stop clowning around’ Dumaguete, Philippines shot has a head on anemone fish surrounded by anemone tentacles. Colours and lighting are well balanced.

The Um El Faroud near Wied iz Zurrieq is one of Malta’s finest shipwrecks. I have taken quite a few photos of this photogenic wreck over the past few years. There are so many great features on the outside and the inside. I’m not sure that Davide ‘the turtle’ Lepore has captured the best the wreck has to offer but his picture is quite atmospheric and does have the wreck and two divers in the frame.

Great ‘Purple Jelly’ shot Daniel. I think this could be slightly improved by using a flashgun to highlight the jellyfish. I can also see some exhaled bubbles in the frame. This can be cleaned up with editing software.

The atmospheric hammerhead silhouette by Tony Reed would make a nice facebook page background. Whereabouts in Egypt were you Tony? Somewhere south I expect.

It’s a joy to see Alex Wright’s tiger shark shots, ‘leader‘ and ‘eye see you‘, back in this month’s competition. Both wide angle shots are very impressive.

And so here is this month’s winner. David George’s ‘Frogfish reflection’. Having lived at Taba Heights in Egypt for 4 years, the resident frogfish were always the best macro subjects. I encountered 3 sargassum’s during this time, two were camouflaged against the weed and difficult to photograph; unfortunately the third froggie I found was caught in a plastic bag and already dead. It’s very rare to see them free swimming like this. The black background really makes the frogfish stand out and the reflection gives the image that extra wow factor. Maybe the subject is slightly lost in the vast background? A slight crop would correct this.

Janice Nigro’s ‘delicate symbiosis‘ anemone fish image is quite unusual, I’ve never seen a white anemone before. Otherwise it’s a classic, well taken anemone fish head poking out shot. This was definitely in my top 5.

It’s nice to see Tam Warner Minton of Travels with Tam.com entering the competition yet again. You really do visit some exotic places. Tam’s first image is a close up of a hawksbill turtle taken in Cozumel, Mexico. It looks as though this turtle is about to fly off. Tam has snapped it looking into the camera lens with flippers raised in surrender! Shame you couldn’t get the whole turtle in the frame. I love the vibrant red feather star. My favourite of your 3 entries has to be your Ecuadorian guitar shark. I usually find guitar sharks half buried in the sand and difficult to get a clear shot. But this one is out in the open and you’ve managed to get a front on view. Well done, this was a top five.

Finally Ted Dixon’s ‘spying on clowns’ taken in Fiji is a great model and fish combination. This has all the ingredients of a possible front cover shot. You just have to tighten everything up a little.

So again, congratulations to June’s winner David, and thanks to all of you who entered. If you didn’t win, don’t be disheartened, the calibre of shots was once again high, and you all entered great photos – July’s Contest is now open, so give it another shot!

Winners - Underwater Photography Contests

December 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: Squid Reflection by Cyril di Bisceglie

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:

Clownfish by MichaelG: I like this shot, largely because it is different. The purple fronds of the anemone and the clownfish looking at the camera against a black background create a unique perspective.

Gulp! by MichaelG: Interesting take on a feeding Whaleshark. It certainly works in monochrome.

Pink Kingdom by Oksana Maksymova: I love the lighting in this image. All the usual motion and action from the clownfish in the pink anemones. The black background adds to the isolation of the subjects.

With Escort by Oksana Maksymova: Nurse shark & trevallies captured on the flash create a lovely image.

Like King by Oksana Maksymova: Lovely portrait of this porcelain crab sat on a pink barrel sponge. The crab is pin-sharp in focus and I love the eyes. Good use of depth of field to bokeh the background too.

Eyes by Marc Eeckhaut: I love the eyes in this image, but they are somewhat lost in the messy background.

Pink Beauties by Marc Eeckhaut: This is a lovely shot, with the nudibranchs curled around to give the impression of movement. The colours are super and the dark, blurred background helps to isolate the subjects.

On the Blue Moon by Cedric Peneau: “See red, shoot against the blue” is a mantra amongst many underwater photographers. This is a great example of why it works.

UFO by Cedric Peneau: Lovelt shot of a comb jellyfish, in the blue against sunbeams. These are always fun to capture on a safety stop.

Harlequin by Cedric Peneau: What a lovely image. The colours leap out at you. I just hope that the subjects were not manipulated to get this shot.

Mum & Calf by Cyril di Bisceglie: I have spent may hours with the manatees of Crystal River. They make great subjects and love to get close to humans.

Galatea Crab by Riccardo Leoncini: It’s never easy trying to get an uncluttered shot of creatures that like to hide in cracks and crevices. This is nicely done and I love the yellow cup corals above the subject.

Squid Reflection by Cyril di Bisceglie: Lovely shot! It depicts movement and the fragmented reflection creates a super overall effect.

Night Shark Snorkelling by Cyril di Bisceglie: I love night diving with sharks, the opportunities for whale shark images against the night are numerous and the reflection in this image helps create the overall “melee” of sharks with two more below.


After much deliberation by our judge….

The results

Winner: Squid Reflection by Cyril di Bisceglie

Runner-up: On the Blue Moon by Cedric Peneau

Third Place: Clownfish by MichaelG

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

Scubaverse.com’s January 2021 Underwater Photo Contest is now open! Enter as many as three of your underwater photos here.

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Winners - Underwater Photography Contests

November 2020 Photo Contest Winner and Review

Published

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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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