May 2019 Photo Contest Winner and Review



WINNER: Nudibranch Melibe colemani by Oksana Maksymova

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!

May 2019

We had a really varied set of images this month, here are the ones I have picked out for comment:

Plumose Anemones by Colby Kammerer  – Nice angle on the anemones and it is a pleasing image. I think it would have been better if the lighting had been angled upwards slightly so the head of the orange one was illuminated too.

Battling of Love by Billy Leung – This behaviour shot captures the rough play of nurse sharks during mating. The black background highlights the subject, but I would have removed the 3rd sharks as it is a little bit distracting.

Mom protecting her eggs by Rodrigues Nathalie – this image of a gobi protecting her eggs illustrates the behaviour of this species very well. The colours are vibrant and really stand out against the black.

Octopus vulgaris by Pauline Walsh Jacobson – this is almost an abstract with the octopus eye peering out from a bottle it has made its home in. The soft shadow on the left of the subject gives the image a 3D effect.

Reflection by Miguel Ramirez – this is one of those shots that gives you a happy feeling when you realize you have nailed it! I love the colours.

Attack by Oksana Maksymova – I really like this predator/prey shot of the snake eel catching its dinner. The snoot-like lighting really helps to highlight the predator.

Nudibranch Melibe colemani by Oksana Maksymova – I love this shot of a “ghost nudibranch”. These creatures are so rare to find that the chances of grabbing this shot are remote. The back/side lighting is perfect to capture the structure of this weird critter.

Mouthful by Marc Eeckhaut – this is a lovely close-up portrait of a cardinal fish guarding its eggs in its mouth. The depth of field is perfect for this image.

Frogfish with a Shrimp by Jack Pokoj – this shot has an unusual composition in that the frogfish is deliberately in bokeh and the subject is the lure which resembles a shrimp. A really interesting capture.

Male Leafy Seadragon by Daryll Rivett – the composition of this shot is lovely. The depth of field is just enough to make out the subject and its surroundings yet still allows the seadragon to be picked out by the viewer. They are really strange creatures.

Sliding by David Peake – this shot really draws the eye. The red, white and pink marbling really does give the impression of sliding. I think darkening the background might enhance the image.

Mikumbadiving by Fredrik Jacobson – this is well composed. it is often difficult to identify which part of the shrimp is which but the use of close cropping and a black background made it easier and produces a pleasing image.

After much deliberation by our judge….

There were so many great shots to select from this month it made judging very tough indeed. Well done to all those that entered and sorry I could not comment on every image.

The results

Winner: Nudibranch Melibe colemani by Oksana Maksymova

Runner-up: Male Leafy Seadragon by Daryll Rivett

3rd place: Mom protecting her eggs by Rodrigues Nathalie 

Congratulations to the those who were placed – some really nice, mostly macro, images here, and well done to all those that entered. I cannot wait to see what May has to offer.’s June 2019 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

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