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 Philpott

Stuart Philpott

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.

One Reply to “October 2015 Photo Contest Winner and Review”

  1. Phil Medcalf says:

    Hi there! Just to clarify Anne’s surname is Medcalf not Metcalf.

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