May 2017 Photo Contest Winner and Review



WINNER: Colourful Cuttlefish by Hayley Eaude


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!

May 2017

Well it has been a record-breaking month – with 91 entries into the competition. Come on now – let’s break the 100 barrier in June! The quality of the images was once again incredible, and made it a tough judging day for Nick and Caroline.

Our Favourites


Colourful Cuttlefish by Hayley Eaude. Wow – this is a stand out shot. Lovely eye contact. Great tentacle action. Lovely colour on a black background. Top stuff Hayley.

Cleaning by Tam Chun Ho. Lovely action and detail in this shot of a cleaner wrasse heading into the gills.

Yawning by Ann Sin. Another great behaviour shot. Lovely eye contact. Great colours on a bokeh background. Super.

Eyes by Alex Permiakov. This snoot shot is gorgeous. Just the right amount of lighting to make the eyes pop out of the image, but also lighting enough shell to allow the viewer to know what the subject is. Outstanding.

Polar by Zaflee Bin Md Suibarek. I really like this high key shot of a nudibranch. It is unusual and works well with the dark frill edge of the nudi.

Whaleshark by Yves Moor. Lovely capture of a whaleshark and its entourage. I really like the toned-down colour of this shot. It is very dramatic and moody.

Are you looking at me by Ryan Koh. Lots of character in this shot. Lovely use of bokeh. Great “eye” contact. Super shot.

Gudrun Wreck by Mikkel Stokke. Love this shot. Great use of off-camera lighting. Lots of atmosphere and I can really imagine what it was like to be on that dive. Well done!

Silky Sunset by Sean Chinn. Lovely evening light at the surface, with a silky swimming past. Great shot Sean.


Twinnies by Hayley Eaude – nicely in focus shot of two nudibranchs, one in focus, one in bokeh. This is a lovely macro shot.

Nemo and Marlin by Hayley Eaude – another shot by Hayley. Similarly constructed to the previous nudibranch shot – great lighting on the prime clownfish.

Colourful Cuttlefish by Hayley Eaude. This is my favourite shot of Hayley’s three. The lighting and focus is spot on with both eyes making contact. The contrast of the red on black really works well – nice shot.

Walking in the space by Ann Sin – this is a really colourful shot set nicely on a black background. I think the half in half out of focus coral slightly distracting.

Eyes – the snooted shot by Alex Permiakov – is striking. I love the focus on the left eye with everything else moving to slightly soft. I know it’s tricky with snoots, but I would have tried to not have clipped the top. Well done otherwise.

Scorpionfish by Jamie Cowley – it is really hard to make a well camouflaged subject pop out, but I think you have really succeeded in the shot. Great use of depth of field.

Free Diver Returning by Michelle Scamahorn. I really liked this atmospheric shot which really captures the nature of free diving.

Polar by Zaflee Bin Md Suibarek. I love the originality of the shot of a nudibranch, head-on. A really innovative take.

Devil Eyes by Lorenzo Jose Mendoza – I love the lighting and the contrasting colours in this shot, with both eyes perfectly in focus, it creates quite a haunting image.

Blending by Dragos Dumitrescu – this is a beautifully lit shot of an ornate ghost pipefish, doing what ornate ghost pipefish do best. The background accentuates the contrast and the overall effect is beautiful.

Whaleshark by Yves Moor. I love this desaturated image of a whale shark surrounded by remora looking for a tasty snack. It’s nicely composed and beautifully lit.

Nudibranchia by Albert Lincoln – another lovely macro shot with the rhinophors perfectly in focus, and the whole image in snooted light.

School of Bumphead Parrotfish by Donna Pepito-Lim. It’s very difficult to capture a whole school of these creatures as they swim towards you. This is a nice shot, but I would have lifted the camera just a little bit, so as not to clip the top fish.

Ornate Ghost Pipefish by Phil Metcalfe is a beautifully lit shot and the contrast really pops the subject and the colours. Focus on the eye is pin sharp.

Lionfish by Mark Eeckaut – this is nice shot showing a lionfish in its own environment. More or less everything is in focus, particularly the subject, but I love the way you have framed the lionfish in the negative space.

Sleeping Goliath by Christian Llewellyn – a classic view of the Giannis D. I love the diver on the starboard side, but as usual, too many divers cluttering the image with their bubbles. Still a lovely shot, though.

I love parachuting! by Ellen Hui – this is a really interesting shot with the cuttlefish and the coral behind it beautifully lit to create the contrast on the black background. Cuttlefish is in focus and the coral is soft, indicating which is the subject. It’s always good to see people try something a bit different.

Batwin slug by Simon Chong – unusual to see a large depth of field like this on this kind of macro shot, but it works well.

Gudrun Wreck by Mikkel Stokker – I love it when people play about with the lighting. This is a nice shot taken at some depth which helps create the deep blue background, and the lighting creates a halo in the ship’s wheel. Nicely done.

Dance of the Coconut Octopus by Ayub Mooduto (yubzukamoto) – trying to get an image of an octopus is never easy as they tend to cling to their surroundings. Getting an octopus free swimming usually helps in this very nicely captured on the sensor.

Silky Sunset Pt 2 by Sean Chinn – this is a beautifully atmospheric image with the shards of dappled sunlight coming through the surface and the silky sharks into them. Super shot.

After much deliberations between our two judges….

1st Place: Colourful Cuttlefish by Hayley Eaude

2nd place: Gudrun Wreck by Mikkel Stokker

3rd place: Polar by Zaflee Bin Md Suibarek

However, this month again we are also going to give two Highly Commended awards, as these two images only just missed out and we really love them:

Highly Commended: Whaleshark by Yves Moor

Highly Commended: Eyes by Alex Permiakov

So can we get to 100 entries in June’s contest? Yes we can – go for it guys!’s June 2017 Photo Contest is now live! Enter 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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