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Stunning images awarded in DEEP Indonesia 2019 Underwater Photo Contest

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Underwater photographers from around the globe submitted their amazing images to the 2019 DEEP Indonesia contest. The expert judging panel had a really tough time selecting their shortlists and ultimately, the winners. Organizers Wetpixel and DivePhotoGuide would like to offer huge congratulations to Grant Thomas for his very beautiful over-under image from Papua New Guinea that was the overall winner, and to all of those with images among the placings.

“All the submitted pictures were stunning, but those placed in each category are simply amazing. Please pour a glass of your favorite beverage, turn up some soulful music and enjoy the full collection. They represent some of the finest images that have been produced by underwater photographers over the past few years.”

The judges have also kindly added comments about the winning images for each category. For those planning to enter competitions, these notes are essential reading!

Overall winner and winner Over-Under category

“Papuan Sunset” by Grant Thomas

Judges’ Comments:

Aaron Wong: I like this shot because it shows the photographer not only had a good idea of what he wanted to shoot but also had a good understanding and control of light.

Adam Hanlon: Beautifully composed elements that combine to emphasize the beauty of the scene, both above and under the water. A shining example of how an over and under should be done.

Andrew Marriot: Over under, evenly lit, great composition, and all in focus. I’d put this on my wall.

Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock: This image blew us away when we first saw it in the over/under category. We know how difficult it is to get so many factors aligned to create such an image. Environmental conditions with no wind and flat water, a cooperative secondary element (the canoe), the sunset, the foreground lighting and the placement of the camera all had to come together to create this image. This image is constructed to lead the viewer’s eye through the photograph’s near, middle and far elements. It speaks to us on a deep emotional level. This image was not taken it was created!

Christian Vizl: Flawless use of half and half technique combined with a very artistic eye that chose the right angle from the right place at the precise right moment. Everything comes together in a beautiful way that leaves you with such a warmth feeling.

Winner Animal Portrait category

“Fly High” by Nicholas Samaras

Judges’ Comments:

Aaron Wong: This is a rather interesting perspective of a ray that is not often seen. It also manages to capture the amazing colors of the moment.

Adam Hanlon: Part sea creature, part film set alien creature. The ray’s other worldliness is exaggerated by the bizarre color palette. A unique image, very cleverly captured.

Andrew Marriot: Hands down one of the most original portraits I’ve ever seen. Love it!

Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock: Having a ray swim overhead is not something that happens every day (well maybe in Grand Cayman), so this factor alone makes the image interesting. The ray’s color palette with it’s expressive “facial” gesture and the sunburst make this photograph special. Lighting, framing, motion are all captured here in this stunning image.

Christian Vizl: it´s such a unique shot, the combination of colors of the ray and the water and sky are incredibly beautiful. The technique is impeccable with an outstanding exposure of the sky and the use of flash for the belly and the mouth.

Winner Animal Behaviour category

New Life” by Jinggong Zhang

Judges’ Comments:

Aaron Wong: While the lighting itself isn’t the best, just waiting for the moment itself is the prize of this shot.

Adam Hanlon: The epitome of a behavior shot! Perhaps not technically perfect but an amazing moment, perfectly timed at the peak of the action.

Andrew Marriot: The best “moment” picture I’ve seen, maybe ever.

Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock: We’ve observed and photographed many seahorses throughout our career but we have never been fortunate to witness birthing. Of course this event could have “happened” just as the photographer arrived but that is doubtful. We know how valuable patience is in an image maker’s workflow. Oft times multiple dives, with 99% of the time spent waiting patiently but prepared, is usually required to capture behavior in nature. We also appreciated the fact that this image is created with the main subject off-center, which allows space for the young seahorses to move into and through the photograph’s frame.

Christian Vizl: The timing is so perfect and combined with a great lightning technique, creates a memorable shot of one of life´s most tender moments!

Winner Divers category

The Underwater Photographer” by Henley Spiers

Judges’ Comments:

Aaron Wong: I always say that ‘less is more’ and ‘simplicity is a complicated process’, especially in underwater photography. So I love this shot for it’s sheer simplicity.

Adam Hanlon: The combination of very strong graphic elements (fish, fins, diver’s pose) and the simplicity of the high key mono processing create a striking dynamic and memorable image.

Andrew Marriot: One of the all time great diver shots ever. Hard to make B&W work underwater, and this one rocks it!

Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock: This image is very graphic, which is accentuated by presenting the image in b&w. The diver’s fin position adds to the drama.

Christian Vizl: Pure creativity! I just love the high contrast black and white that combined with an artistic eye and a strong sense of composition and balance creates a surreal image of an activity we all love so much!

Winner Reefscapes category

“Burst” by Tyler Schiffman

Judges’ Comments:

Aaron Wong: A big part of photography to me is the art of telling a story. This sea lion within it’s kelp forest home with beautiful sun rays does exactly that.

Adam Hanlon: Using the kelp to frame the sea lion and the sunburst creates an intimacy that makes the viewer feel they are observing via a window rather than an image. A simple scene, beautifully and thoughtfully captured.

Andrew Marriot: Great shot, showing that you don’t always need a tropical coral reef to make an amazing image.

Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock: This photograph is beautifully constructed, without the kelp framing the sea lion; we would not be commenting about this image. The sunburst adds a sensational element and the lone sea lion is perfectly situated within the canvas of the image. Well done!

Christian Vizl: A classic and timeless combination of two highly photogenic subjects; kelp and sea lion. Beautiful composition that creates an open door, a first class seat for us to submerge in one of natures most beautiful scenes as the sun penetrates the ocean through the kelp, revealing the silhouette of the sea lion.

Winner Compact Camera category

“Sad Sad Goby” by Ipah Uid

Judges’ Comments:

Aaron Wong: These gobys are a rather shy bunch. So to capture one with such shallow depth of field with the clever use of colored lights is a really good effort.

Adam Hanlon: Using colored lighting to create a vibrant frame for the goby puts “new life” into a common subject. A very well made creative decision.

Andrew Marriot: Amazing sharpness and creativity. Great take on a traditional subject.

Christian Vizl: Gobys are so interesting and beautiful subjects by themselves, but when combined with another interesting element, the explosion of color is irresistible.

To see more please visit the website by clicking here.

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

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Photo Gallery: Dive Fest Barbados

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In our Gallery feature, we let the photos tell the story… Each Gallery showcases a selection of outstanding images on a chosen theme, taken by our Underwater Photography Editor Nick and Deputy Editor Caroline of Frogfish Photography. This time they reflect on their visits to the Caribbean Island of Barbados for the annual Dive Fest celebrations.


Dive Fest Barbados is a week of celebrating the marine life, diving and snorkeling this idyllic island has to offer. There are activities organised each day for all those that attend that include wreck diving, marine conservation, learning to dive, snorkeling and one an unusual dive for us – riding a submarine to the bottom of the Caribbean Sea! Dive Fest Barbados allows divers to get the very best out of a trip here, with plenty of diving, but also to sample the unique atmosphere, mouth-watering food and drink, stunning scenery and beautiful beaches.

For more images from Barbados and around the world, visit the Frogfish Photography website by clicking here.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Video Series: The CCMI Reef Lectures – Part 4 (Watch Video)

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Introduced by Jeff Goodman

Never before since human beings have had major influence over our earths climate and environments, have we come to so close to the brink of global disaster for our seas and marine life. We need to act now if we are not going to crash headlong into irreversible scenarios.

A good start to this is understanding how the marine environment works and what it means to our own continued survival. We can only do this by listening and talking to those with the experience and knowledge to guide us in the right direction.

CCMI (Central Caribbean Marine Institute) are hosting an annual Reef Lecture series that is open to the general public and Scubaverse will be sharing those lectures over the coming months.


Part 4: Stop Whining! Life as an Ocean Ambassador; Ellen Cuylaerts

Ellen Cuylaerts shares her insights on how to act, practice what you preach and use your voice to contribute to constructive change. Ellen is a wildlife and underwater photographer and chooses to take images of subjects that are hard to encounter like harp seal pups, polar bears, orcas, beluga whales and sharks, to name a few. By telling the stories about their environment and the challenges they face, she raises awareness about the effect of climate change on arctic species, the cruel act of shark finning and keeping marine mammals in captivity.

During this seminar, Ellen will take you on a virtual trip and show you the stories behind the shots: how to get there, how to prepare, how to create the most chances to come home with a shot, and how to never give up!

Ellen Cuylaerts is an ocean advocate, underwater & wildlife photographer, explorer, and public speaker.


For more information about the CCMI click here.

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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