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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

December 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: Squid Reflection by Cyril di Bisceglie

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!


Here are a few of the images that caught my eye, and why:

Clownfish by MichaelG: I like this shot, largely because it is different. The purple fronds of the anemone and the clownfish looking at the camera against a black background create a unique perspective.

Gulp! by MichaelG: Interesting take on a feeding Whaleshark. It certainly works in monochrome.

Pink Kingdom by Oksana Maksymova: I love the lighting in this image. All the usual motion and action from the clownfish in the pink anemones. The black background adds to the isolation of the subjects.

With Escort by Oksana Maksymova: Nurse shark & trevallies captured on the flash create a lovely image.

Like King by Oksana Maksymova: Lovely portrait of this porcelain crab sat on a pink barrel sponge. The crab is pin-sharp in focus and I love the eyes. Good use of depth of field to bokeh the background too.

Eyes by Marc Eeckhaut: I love the eyes in this image, but they are somewhat lost in the messy background.

Pink Beauties by Marc Eeckhaut: This is a lovely shot, with the nudibranchs curled around to give the impression of movement. The colours are super and the dark, blurred background helps to isolate the subjects.

On the Blue Moon by Cedric Peneau: “See red, shoot against the blue” is a mantra amongst many underwater photographers. This is a great example of why it works.

UFO by Cedric Peneau: Lovelt shot of a comb jellyfish, in the blue against sunbeams. These are always fun to capture on a safety stop.

Harlequin by Cedric Peneau: What a lovely image. The colours leap out at you. I just hope that the subjects were not manipulated to get this shot.

Mum & Calf by Cyril di Bisceglie: I have spent may hours with the manatees of Crystal River. They make great subjects and love to get close to humans.

Galatea Crab by Riccardo Leoncini: It’s never easy trying to get an uncluttered shot of creatures that like to hide in cracks and crevices. This is nicely done and I love the yellow cup corals above the subject.

Squid Reflection by Cyril di Bisceglie: Lovely shot! It depicts movement and the fragmented reflection creates a super overall effect.

Night Shark Snorkelling by Cyril di Bisceglie: I love night diving with sharks, the opportunities for whale shark images against the night are numerous and the reflection in this image helps create the overall “melee” of sharks with two more below.


After much deliberation by our judge….

The results

Winner: Squid Reflection by Cyril di Bisceglie

Runner-up: On the Blue Moon by Cedric Peneau

Third Place: Clownfish by MichaelG

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

Scubaverse.com’s January 2021 Underwater Photo Contest is now open! Enter as many as three of your underwater photos here.

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Winners - Underwater Photography Contests

November 2020 Photo Contest Winner and Review

Published

on

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

WINNER:

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!


Here are a few of the images that caught my eye, and why.

Kittiwake Stern by MichaelG: I didn’t really know what to make of this. There is loads of contrast between light and shadows, and it certainly is atmospheric. I like it, although I would have brought up the shadows a bit for a little more definition. But that is my take, it works as it is.

Between Two Worlds by Cedric Peneau: This is a beautiful split shot! The darker clouds coming in from the left dive a great atmosphere to this wonderfully taken image.

The Herd by Cedric Peneau: Everything but the main subject is moving diagonally across the image and the balance between ambient and artificial light is perfect. Cool shot.

Bernard the Hermit by Divelions: Lots to like about this portrait show of a hermit crab in its surroundings. Blue and reds always work and it looks like “Bernard” is sat in a toadstool field!

Jellyfish in Sunshine by Divelions: These shots are more difficult to capture than one would think. The balance between ambient and natural light has helped nail it.

Anemone’s Crab by Divelions: It is always difficult to create a decent image of a camouflaged subject as there tends to be little or no contrast. This works and the depth of field if just right to highlight the subject.

Curious Booby by MichaelG: The booby is a comical creature on land but this image totally captures that goofy expression in a very unusual image.

Under the Jetty by Marc Eekhaut: Whenever I take this kind of image there is always one character going the wrong way. I really like the lighting on the shoal and the light shards from the sun in the background.

Creative by Marc Eekhaut: I always find it so difficult to get there pipefish in focus. I love the bright colours against a black background.

Peaceful Encounter by Benjamin Bersans: Gorgeous take on a beautiful subject diagonally across the image. The underside of the water’s surface makes for great framing and the fluke gives the indication of motion.

Leon’s Motu with Shark by Benjamin Bersans: This is a really unusual split shot. It’s a snapshot of life on a tropical island. I think it would have been even better if you could have brought the camera a few centimeters lower in the water so you could see more of the subject.

Frog Reflection by Cyril di Bisceglie: Wonderful in its simplicity. A frog and its reflection at the surface. Black background and a blue Snell’s Window. Lovely.

The New Teeth of the Sea by Cyril di Bisceglie: Great “impact” shot of a predator against a black background. The reflection helps the overall impression too. I like the fact that the single (or dominant) light from the right creates event more contrast.

Octopus Walk by Cyril di Bisceglie: What a super split shot showing off octopus behaviour. The natural lighting works really well in the shallows and the dappled lighting on the sand gives an appearance of texture.

Rubberlips from Mayotte by Arnaud Guillebert: I think it is the lighting bringing out the yellow in the faces of these creatures that makes this stand out. Nicely done.


After much deliberation by our judge….

The results

Winner: Curious Booby by MichaelG

Runner-up: Frog Reflection by Cyril di Bisceglie

Third Place: Creative by Marc Eekhaut

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

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

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