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Winners - Underwater Photography Contests

October 2015 Photo Contest Winner and Review

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

WINNER: Craig Taylor

PHOTOLINK: https://www.scubaverse.com/contestants/sea-spidernswaustralia/

This is definitely the season for diving and travel shows. The Birmingham UK dive show ended last week and the World Travel Market held in London comes to an end today. Then there’s the hugely successful DEMA show currently running in Orlando, Florida. This is where you will find hundreds upon hundreds of eye catching underwater images splashed across show stands, printed in brochures and promotional flyers. Looking at October’s competition entries I am sure that some, if not all, of these images are good enough to be shown at this level. A big thank you to everybody that entered this month.

The first image in the October competition is very similar to last month’s winner, in fact ‘frogmen’ has been taken by the same photographer Sue Barnes using a Fuji F650 compact camera. I have also owned a Fuji compact and the results are superb. Sue’s black and white image is very atmospheric and the exhaled bubbles give it plenty of movement.

The colours and the composition of Yo-Han Chan’s macro submission ‘squattie lobster’ taken in Loch Sunart in Scotland is first rate. The lobsters eyes and the detail around the body are in pin sharp focus. Not much more I can say about this apart from I really like it.

Tam Warner Minton’s ‘the queen’ shows a brightly coloured queen angel fish. Tam is shooting upwards and has captured a nice blue background which highlights the fish even more. The queen’s right eye looks a little bit strange otherwise I like the use of negative space on the left hand side of the frame.

My what big teeth you’ve got! Great Grouper shot titled ‘open wide’ by Tam taken in Cozumel, Mexico. Very colourful background which maybe detracts from the main subject slightly but otherwise good action shot and the open mouth is perfectly highlighted by Tam’s flash gun.

I’m sure that I have seen the ‘friendly eagle ray’ shot by Tam in a previous month’s competition. And why not, there is no reason why a shot can’t be submitted again! The eagle ray is slightly camouflaged by the flora which I think makes the shot more interesting. It’s worth zooming right in on this picture just to see how clear it really is. There detail is impressive. Definitely one of this month’s top pics.

I wrote an article about the SS Sphene several years ago for Harlyn dive school. It’s a great little shallowish wreck off the Cornish coast. There were hundreds of jellyfish in the water and a similar amount of multi coloured starfish scattered all over wreckage. I got some great shots of my model Becky around by the prop. Shirley Hilton’s shot ‘in the spotlight’ looks quite dark. I had about 10m visibility during my dives with loads of ambient light. I’m guessing you were using a torch to highlight the Blenny? I like the way you have just illuminated the Blennies head, just like using a snoot. Not a bad effort and it’s great to see another UK entry.

Lizard fish make great macro subjects because they don’t usually move. This allows photographers to get some great close ups. Anne Metcalf has taken a nice example called ‘here’s looking at you’ on a wrecks and reefs safari in the Red Sea. The head is tilted slightly off centre which makes it more interesting. The eye and mouth are in perfect focus.

Froggies are more difficult to photograph not because they move but because they usually blend in so well with the background that it’s difficult to differentiate reef from fish. In Anne’s second submission simply called ‘froggie’ the colour of the fish is very different to the colour of the background hence it is easy to see the fish. I like the way this froggie is partially hidden.

Anne’s third submission ‘shiny squid’ taken on a night dive in Bali is a very arty shot. The colour and pattern of the squid is really striking. The eye is obviously the focal point of the shot. I like the way the squid crosses the diagonal of the frame. This is definitely one of my favourite shots this month.

David Purvis has entered a really nice image of a bottlenose dolphin called ’happy faces’ but what I find more impressive is the fact that the seabed in the background is covered with huge sting rays! Great composition David, it looks as though the dolphin is posing for you.

Fast lionfish could be a problem if they are coming straight at you but in T. Horn’s ‘fast lionfish’ shot it’s moving perpendicular to the lens so panic over. I think Red Sea lionfish are extremely photogenic especially if you can get an open mouth shot. Mr T. Horn’s picture would be far more appealing if the lionfish was looking at the camera but nice effort all the same.

Sue Barnes is back with another shot called ‘tasty bunch’ taken at the shallowish Hera wreck, near Falmouth, UK. The wreck is covered in beautiful fluffy white Plumose anemones. Sue has taken a shot of one particular ‘bunch’, some are open and some are closed up. I like the angle of the anemones across the frame.

It’s nice to see a funny composition among this month’s submissions so well done Sue Barnes. I love the picture titled ‘photo bombed’ taken on the Kittiwake wreck in the shallows around Grand Cayman. I can just visualise the situation…..lining up for a shot off the bow and then…..an unwanted diver appears in the frame. This has happened to me many times! This composition could work as selfie, what do you think? I had a good look around the USS Kittiwake two weeks after its sinking in 2011. I wonder if it’s change much in the last 4 years?

Elisabeth Lauwery’s macro shot ‘keeping it clean’ shows a little shrimp on an anemone. And yes, I checked, the eyes are perfectly in focus. Nice colours, shame the background is a bit confusing; otherwise, great shot.

And yet another image that made me smile. Nice one Tony. Great set of whiskers on Tony’s grey atlantic seal composition called ‘what’s in there?’ The water looks quite green so must be either Lundy or the Farne Islands in the UK, or am I wrong? I have been to Lundy several times but never the Farnes. On my last trip to Lundy I had absolutely perfect weather and sea conditions but no seals. Seriously I spent 2 hours in the water waiting for the seals to appear. They made two passes and then disappeared altogether. Must have been my deodorant!

Arachnophobes beware. This is a great shot by Craig Taylor called ‘sea spider’ taken in NSW, Australia. It’s a really colourful little spider and I love the composition. Are you using a camera strobes or torch light? Have you touched up the background Craig?

Andy Langler’s ‘inside the bait ball’ shows a ‘soup’ of small fish on a night dive. I think this works really well. The blurred fish tail in the foreground spoils it for me, otherwise it makes a really interesting composition.

Sebastian van Aard’s shot called ‘moray eels in action’ shows not one but two morays (and a starfish). It’s a shame but the leading moray eel is slightly out of focus otherwise this would have been a superb action shot. In 20 years I have never had a moray eel attack my camera port. Sebastian must have had a particularly aggressive individual on this occasion.

Sebastian has treated us to another one of his incredible pictures. This is called ‘I’m just relaxing here’ and shows an octopus looking out of his hidey hole. On this shot you’ve managed to get the eyes in focus.

I’m not sure where Sebastian has taken this shot called ‘swimming through a mussel culture’. The water looks very green. I like the way you have highlighted the mussels with a light source of some kind and the diver gives the image more perspective/interest. I think it’s again slightly out of focus – or maybe it’s just the image quality?

There I was just talking about the Farne Islands and the last of this month’s submissions is a seal shot called ‘how are you’ by Andy taken in none other than the Farne Islands. I can’t help but like this picture. The seals expression is priceless. I like the green negative space to the left and above with the kelp silhouette in the background. This has to be one of my top 3 this month.

So now that I have looked at all the submissions the hard part is choosing this month’s winner. Andy’s seal is a contender as is Anne’s shiny squid and Craig’s sea spider. This really is a tough decision this month. I think it has to be Craig’s sea spider. The colours and composition just clinch it for me. Well done Craig from NSW, Australia!

Stuart has spent the past 26 years taking pictures and writing stories for diving magazines and other publications. In fact, this equates to more than a year of his life spent underwater. There have been plenty of exciting moments from close encounters with crocodiles and sharks to exploration of deep wrecks and more recently rebreathers. He lives in Poole, Dorset and is very much an advocate of UK diving.

Winners - Underwater Photography Contests

September 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: Vunerable Giants by Naomi Rose

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!


A slightly different feel to the judging this month, due to the new website work, I have picked my favourite six to go through…

Little Moray by Alexej Sachov

This image really caught my eye! it feels like the eel is zooming towards the lens. Lovely bokeh and great to catch both eyes, in focus, looking at the camera. Bravo!

Best Dad by Cedric Peneau 

Super bahaviour shot showing mouth brooding. The eggs spilling out onto the black background really stands out. The detail is stunning.

Crystal-clear by Marc Eeckhaut 

Simple yet stunning. I love the curves of the pink coral leading the eye through to the dark window. The subjects is in sharp focus and framed really well by its environment.

Dolphin Split-Shot by Miguel Ramirez

This is an incredible image. I can just imagine myself being there. To get a split shot like this, with the dolphins fin above the water and the tail and head below the surface is great work. You balanced the light above and below perfectly. Do I wish the dolphin was swimming towards the photographer – I guess a little, but we can’t always get what we want! Stunnning shot – well done!

Vunerable Giants by Naomi Rose 

Another stunning split-shot, this time featuring a Whaleshark and it’s yellow pilot fish. This is an eye-catching image that really captures what it was like to be there in that moment. The sparkling water, bright light, and the gentle giant swimming just below the surface. Love this image.

Seahorse by Oksana Maksymova

A simple yet stunning shot. A tough shot to get right too, as the subject is tiny and moves with the water. To get both eyes looking at the camera and to also have the mouth open is great. I also love the gently colours and tones of this image. Pin shark focus on the seahorse’s head makes this a stand out shot. One of the best I have seen.


After much deliberation by our judge….

The results

Winner: Vunerable Giants by Naomi Rose

Runner-up: Seahorse by Oksana Maksymova

3rd Place: Dolphin Split-Shot by Miguel Ramirez

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

Scubaverse.com’s October 2020 Underwater Photo Contest is now open! Enter as many as three of your underwater photos here.

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Winners - Underwater Photography Contests

August 2020 Photo Contest Winner and Review

Published

on

WINNER CHOSEN AND REVIEW BY SCUBAVERSE.COM’S UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR NICK ROBERTSON-BROWN

WINNER: Smile! by Cedric Peneau

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!


A bumper month of images this month and once again the quality was superb. Here is what I thought of a selection of this month’s images…

Watching Fish by Kristijan Maurovic. Even the most common species can offer great photo moments. I love the grumpy look on this snapper.

Sweet Dream by Wayan Jhon. The amphipod, sat on the purple with a black background creates a really well put together macro image. I may have tried to manoeuvre the camera a bit lower and put the critter against the black.

King of the Hill by Alex Permiakov. I really love the lighting in this black background nudibranch portrait. The colours are amazing and the small depth of field works well on this kind of shot.

The Ship Whisperer by Jonathan Seeyave. I have seen several versions of this shot (though not on this particular wreck) and I love the way that the whole image is given perspective. The water clarity and the deep blue background really help too.

Seaweed Blenny by Magali Marquez. Blennies make such great images, they are so photogenic. Snoots work really well on these shots, even though it can be difficult to line-up the light on the subject. This is expertly done and creates a great result.

Caribbean Manta Eye by Magali Marquez. Despite the really small dof, I like this shot. Whilst much of the eye is not in focus, I am drawn to the eyes. The black background accentuates the effect too.

Pygmy Seahorse by Juho  Karhu. Trying to get a really good pygmy seahorse shot can be difficult, but this image has the subject actually framed in the coral and looking directly at the camera. Lovely.

Hairy Shrimp by Juho Karhu. Orange, black and white help make this image pop-out from the screen. The focussing is excellent and the eye is pin-sharp and I do like the pattern around the eye.

Chromodoris loci by Francesco Russo. This is a great example of how a common subject can give you a great image. The colours of the nudibranch are wonderful against the flat grey background. It demonstrates that ‘species shots’ can be stunning, well done.

Odontaspis ferox by Claude Lespagne. I love sharks and the Raggie is a special one. They are usually difficult to get, head-on, like this one, but the depth of field helps the ‘smile’ to stand out.

Caribbean sheep by Melodie Caussat. This is a lovely image. It has so many components with a diagonal, the complementary colours and a black background. Beautifully done.

Under good surveillance by Miguel Ramirez. Parent and multiple offspring. Nicely captured.

Isolation by Christina Fernandez Gonzalez. Love the angle, the black background and the detail (especially in the rhinophores). The colours help too. This is beautifully executed.

A bottle of Octopus by Iris van der Zwan. I have never seen an octopus change to this bright purple and I am jealous. I love the concept of this image too, as they are notoriously difficult to get a good image of.

Sargassum by Marc Eeckhaut. I always look for these froggies whenever I am in their territory. I like the angle you have used too.

Trying to fit in by Naomi Rose. This is such an unusual shot that I had to include it on the shortlist. It is almost a shame that we cannot see what is going on but I like it the way it is too.

Smile! by Cedric Peneau. This image will catch the eye of anyone. It is clever and well executed.

Reflections by Cedric Peneau. It is the reflections that really catch the eye on this beautiful shot of two of the ocean’s most majestic creatures. The calm surface really does help to show-off this image


After much deliberation by our judge….

The results

Winner: Smile! by Cedric Peneau

Runner-up: Trying to fit in by Naomi Rose

3rd Place: Reflections by Cedric Peneau

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

Scubaverse.com’s September 2020 Underwater Photo Contest is now open! Enter as many as three of your underwater photos here.

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