November 2019 Photo Contest Winner and Review



WINNER: Face to Face by François Baelen

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!

This month saw a good number of entries and a wide topic range for me to look through. As always, I cannot comment on them all, but have selected a few to discuss.

Face to Face by François Baelen: This is a wonderful capture and with the reflection, creates a superbly balanced image. They are such special animals to be so close to.

Batfish by Pauline Walsh Jacobson: I love this shot, probably due to its different perspective. It is unusual to see such a close-up portrait. The eyes and the mouth dominate and create a feeling that you are in the same place.

Cuttlefish by Marc Eeckhaut: I really like the large depth of field in this image. The black background works to make the subect pop-out whilst the environment is still clear.

Overhead by Sean Steininger: Being in the water when something magical like this happens is amazing, but you still have to frame the subect and remain calm to get such a super shot.

Curious Blenny by Alexander C Allgayer: Using “snoot” lighting can be particularly difficult, but the rewards are worth it when you get it right. The black eyes again a black background are a little unsettling though, as it seems as if you are looking through two holes in its face!

Upper Class by Morgan Riggs: This image deomstrates how effective a small depth of field can be. The way the nudibranch has been framed makes a difference too, breaking up some of the negative space.

A Whale Shark Cruising by MS.Photography_lovetheocean: What a lovely image. It is not every day that you are on a reef and a juvenille Whale Shark cruises past you.

After much deliberation by our judge….

There were some 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: Face to Face by François Baelen

Runner-up: Upper Class by Morgan Riggs

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