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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 Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Sharks the Ocean’s Greatest Mystery – Part 2

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Sharks are an incredibly significant animal in human culture of both the past and present, they are an animal that have been embodied in our culture for millennia. They are represented in formats such as books and clothing, but most notably in our TV and films, which is where a large portion of their negative reputation stems from. A popular TV representation of sharks comes from Discovery Channel’s ‘Shark Week’, and I believe sharks are possibly the only animal on our planet to have an entire week dedicated to them every year. However, despite this, we still know more collectively about the surface of the Moon and Mars, about Galaxies outside of our own, and even about animals that have been extinct for millions of years, than we do about sharks.

Sharks are our Ocean’s top predator, and they represent just how little we know about our blue planet. We have put more money into exploring outer space than we have exploring our seas and whilst many people call space the final frontier, I believe the final frontier is our Oceans. There are people that have lived in space for over a year, yet we aren’t able to stay underwater for more than a few short hours, and with each dive, scientists are discovering something new in the deep sea, giving us a better understanding of our oceans and the top predator that lives within them.

What we do not know

It is easier to talk about what we do not know and the implications of not knowing it, we still don’t know where most shark species mate or give birth, knowing this would accelerate conservation efforts for sharks in a huge way as these areas could then have realistic protections placed on them, allowing us to preserve key stages of the Sharks life cycle.

Marine Biologists have stated that the discovery of a White Shark breeding ground would be the holy grail of Ocean Science, but the only reports of White Sharks mating come from a handful of sightings from Fisherman and Sailors, so these cannot be used as an official record.

We know that Sharks mature late in the same way as us humans, it is estimated that some species are estimated to not be sexually mature until their late 30’s and 40’s, which means that these species are at extreme risk of disappearing due to fishing, as they aren’t able to replenish their numbers fast enough when put under extreme fishing pressure. There is a lot of debate over whether Sharks mature at a certain age or a certain size, for example it was estimated that White Sharks mature at four metres in length, however, in South Africa in 2017 a female White Shark was killed by Orcas, and it was determined that she was either immature or hadn’t mated, as there was the presence of a Hymen.

We are also still unsure about the impacts of human activities on Sharks and how losing Sharks, or their habitat, would affect the habitats and environments on land, environments in which we depend on for our survival.

What we do know

New Shark discoveries are made every year, and scientists are predicting that in the next 15-20 years we will be entering the golden age of ocean and shark discoveries. We already know that sharks are the oceans top predator and we have determined that they affect the very mechanics and functions of the Ocean, if we were to remove them, we would be putting the worlds ecosystems at risk of collapsing. Sharks are an integral part of the balance of the oceans, they help by controlling populations of other species, if we were to lose sharks, species such as turtles would have an increase in population, therefore leading to more seagrass being eaten, which is a prime food source for many animals. Thus, other smaller animals would not be able to feed, and their population would decrease, also the decrease of sea grass would affect us humans on earth as the oceans plant life helps to absorb carbon dioxide and create oxygen, and actually up to 75% of the oxygen we breathe is created from the oceans.

We know that some Shark species have complex social relationships that aid in their survival, although this has only been observed in a handful of species. Lemon Sharks form bonds as pups and hunt together in the shallow mangrove swamps of the Bimini Atoll, and will learn and hunt together and learn vital skills needed in their future survival. Hammerheads are possibly the most famous for social interactions as they form huge schools off places such as the Galapagos Islands and it has been observed that the more dominant females swim in the centre of the school and display for the males.

Some shark species, such as the Zebra Shark, have been known to mimic other animals. Zebra sharks are born with stripes (which fade as they get older) and they have the second longest tail (after the Thresher Shark), this helps them to mimic the highly venomous, White-Banded Sea Snake in order to trick predators into avoiding them, they have even been reported to mimic taking a breath at the surface like a sea snake would do.

It has recently been discovered that Greenland Sharks are now the longest lived Vertebrate on our Planet, they are believed to be able to exceed the age of 500, with females not reaching sexual maturity until they are around 150 years old. This was discovered by examining special proteins in their eyes that do not degrade with age. Determining age and sexual maturity are crucial for understanding and managing shark populations as knowing what age a Shark can breed will allow us to gauge what protections a species needs.

It has recently been discovered that female Whale Sharks are able to store sperm to use over a period of time, this is in order to ensure their chance of reproducing, even without recently mating. This is a huge advantage for conserving the species, as Whale Sharks are classed as an endangered species and so, with the number of whale sharks declining, this ensures the species can continue. Along with this, Whale Sharks have also been found to be pregnant with up to 300 pups, and these pups can be at different stages of development due to the staggered use of stored sperm.

Of all things we know there is one thing that is certain, a Shark, no matter the species, is unique and worth more to our world alive than dead. In the next blog we will explore the threats that Sharks face and how we can help Sharks through the tough times ahead.


Follow Donovan on Instagram at www.instagram.com/donovans_reefs

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News

Nauticam NA-α1 Housing for Sony α1 Camera now shipping

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The Sony α1 is the company’s flagship full-frame interchangeable lens camera.  Designed around the new 50.1MP Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor and the BIONZ XR processor, the α1 is truly a camera which can do it all.  It’s 759 point Fast Hybrid Autofocus system offers advanced subject tracking and real-time eye autofocus on both humans and animals.  The optimized processing within the α1 allows it to achieve 30fps continuous shooting at full resolution along with 8K 30p and 4K 120p 10-bit video recording.

Nauticam has supported the Sony Alpha full-frame line since the original a7 with professional grade aluminum housings that offer intuitive access to all the controls and functions of the cameras. As the cameras have evolved, so have the Nauticam housings. The NA-α1 underwater housing provides fingertip access to all key camera controls in a rugged and reliable aluminum underwater housing. Ergonomic camera control access is one of the defining strengths of a Nauticam housing, and the NA-α1 continues this tradition.

Integrated DSLR-housing styled handles with ergonomic rubberized grips and stainless steel stiffening brackets add stability and accessory mounting points. The NA-a1 also features dual rear thumb-levers that are easily reached from the handle that access three of the most-used controls on the rear of the camera. The right lever actuates the AF-ON and RECORD buttons while the left lever is mapped to the PLAY button.

Atop the housing on the left side are controls in the form of a MODE dial and FOCUS mode lever. The C1, C2 buttons as well as the EV compensation dial also have direct access from the top of the housing. The C3, which is typically assigned to control switching between the EVF and the LCD screen is easily reachable on the rear of the housing from the left handle.

For more information visit the UK Nauticam website by clicking here 

or to visit the USA Nauticam website click here.

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Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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