One of the highlights of the Dive Show for us is the variety of talks that you can attend for free. Some of the top underwater photographers from around the UK, and further afield, give 30 minute presentations about their work, experiences & techniques, making this a great place to pick up some underwater photography tips from the experts. This year we were asked to speak about our new book Deadly Oceans, and it was a great privilege to be able to speak to a packed Centre Stage on both days.
The talks this year covered a wide range of topics and whilst many of the speakers were there for both days, some could only be available for a single day, so it is always worth attending both days of the show if you wish to ensure that you see all the talks that you want to. Alas Jane Morgan was ill with the “lurgy” and so could not attend the show and give her presentation. We were very much looking forward to listening to Jane and we hope she has recovered. At a busy show, we were not able to attend every talk on the Centre Stage but here is the list of what went on:
THE IMPOSSIBLE MADE POSSIBLE
The man who runs Deptherapy will be joined on the stage by some of the injured troops who have benefited from the programme that helps veterans through scuba.
10.30-11.00 (Sat only)
Emma Hewitt & Matt Clements
PADI’s DIGITAL IMAGING ADVENTURE DIVE
Replacing the separate Underwater Photography and Videography Adventure Dives, PADI now combines two in one. The dive can be standalone or part of an AOWD or Adventure Diver course.
10.30-11.00 (Sun only)
WINGS, FINS, TEETH & TAILS
Steve’s talk is about the blend of technique, location and behavioural knowledge needed to photograph big animals successfully – you don’t have to be a zoologist but it helps!
Nick & Caroline Robertson-Brown
The biologist couple tour the world to photograph the most toxic, venomous and predatory creatures and explain some of the science behind their strategies.
Saeed Rashid & Nigel Wade
TOP TIPS ON COMPOSITION
The Vic ‘n Bob of the Dive Shows are back in action, and their topic is the framing of a shot – dedicated to everyone who relies that bit too much on the Photoshop cropping tool!
12.40-1.10 (Sat only)
CONFESSIONS OF A DIVING JOURNALIST
Stuart discusses writing about diving for publication – and some of the funny, and serious, situations in which he has found himself over 20 years in journalism.
12.40-1.10 (Sun only)
EXTREME LOCATION FREEDIVING
Marcus’s elite “phreatic” freediving team, which has been setting itself challenging but rewarding missions, mainly in overhead environments such as Welsh mountain caves or lava-tubes in the Arctic Circle. In wetsuits. Whether you fancy emulating them or not, it should be good value!
THE ART OF INWARD LIGHTING
Passionate about teaching up-and-coming underwater photographers, martin looks at a topic “which will transform your underwater photography” using techniques that can be adopted by anyone who uses a strobe under water.
CASTRO’S SECRET REEF
We’re pleased to see noted underwater film-maker John Boyle back at the show with the first preview of his latest documentary film, shot in Cuba’s outstanding (for sharks and much else) Jardines de la Reina.
NO MORE FIDDLESTICKS
Concerned about the degree of critter-manipulation sometimes employed by guides and photographers seeking a perfect shot at all costs, Alex offers techniques to minimise our impact on the animals we shoot.
PYGMY SEAHORSES: THE BIG PICTURE
The marine biologist is a leading authority on the fish so beloved of macro photographers – he began his research into them nine years ago and was the first person to gain a doctorate through the subject. Spot the link with the previous talk!
We did get to a few of the talks and were very impressed with the quality of the photographs and the information within all the talks. If you wanted tips on underwater photography techniques then the dynamic duo of Saeed Rashid and Nigel Wade was a great place to start. This year they focused on composition and their top tips to take better images. Later in the day, Martin Edge gave a packed audience an insight into underwater lighting.
Alex Tattersall got into the touchy subject of critter manipulation, championing the cause that underwater photographers should be leading the way in marine life protection and not be the ones encouraging guides to move critters to get a better image. Alex, as a leading macro photographer, also offered great tips on how to take wonderful macro shots, without interfering with the wildlife.
We also managed to catch most of John Boyle’s talk on Jardines de la Reina. A place that we have visited in the past and loved. It is where we got many images for our books on sharks and crocodiles, and this made his astonishing video all the more engaging. Having filmed a truly amazing encounter, we now know for sure that the crocodiles of these waters do hunt the cute rodents, called Hutias, who inhabit the mangroves of the Gardens of the Queen.
It was really particularly rewarding to see all the talks were well attended, with most seeing all the seats taken and people standing at the back. Whilst we did not get to all the talks we wanted to, every time we walked past, it was great to see large audiences engaged in all things underwater photography at the Dive Show.
To find out more about the Dive Shows, visit www.diveshows.co.uk.
Diver Discovering Whale Skeletons Beneath Ice Judged World’s Best Underwater Photograph
An emotive photograph showing a freediver examining the aftermath of whaling sees
Alex Dawson from Sweden named Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024. Dawson’s
photograph ‘Whale Bones’ triumphed over 6500 underwater pictures entered by underwater
photographers from around the world.
“Whale Bones was photographed in the toughest conditions,” explains chair of judging
panel Alex Mustard, “as a breath-hold diver descends below the Greenland ice sheet to bear
witness to the carcasses. The composition invites us to consider our impact on the great
creatures of this planet. Since the rise of humans, wild animals have declined by 85%. Today,
just 4% of mammals are wildlife, the remaining 96% are humans and our livestock. Our way
needs to change to find a balance with nature.”
Whales dominated the winning pictures this year with Spanish photographer Rafael
Fernandez Caballero winning two categories with his revealing photos of these ocean giants:
a close up of a grey whale’s eye and an action shot of a Bryde’s whale engulfing an entire bait
ball, both taken in Magdalena Bay, Baja California, Mexico. Fernandez Caballero took ‘Grey
Whale Connection’ while drifting in a small boat, holding his camera over the side in the water
to photograph the curious whale. ‘The End Of A Baitball’ required Fernandez Caballero to dive
down and be in exactly the right place at the moment the whale lunged. “The photo shows
the high speed attack,” he said, “with the whale engulfing hundreds of kilograms of sardines
in one bite — simply unforgettable to see predation on such a scale.”
Lisa Stengel from the United States was named Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 for her image of a mahi-mahi catching a sardine, in Mexico. Stengel used both a very fast shutter speed and her hearing to catch the moment. “If you listen there’s an enormous amount of sound in the ocean,” she explained. “The action was too fast to see, so I honed in on the sound of the attacks with my camera to capture this special moment.”
“It is such an exciting time in underwater photography because photographers are capturing such amazing new images, by visiting new locations and using the latest cameras,”
commented judge Alex Mustard. “Until this year I’d hardly ever see a photo of a mahi mahi,
now Lisa has photographed one hunting, action that plays out in the blink of an eye.”
The Underwater Photographer of the Year contest is based in the UK, and Jenny Stock,
was named as British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 for her image “Star
Attraction”, which finds beauty in species of British wildlife that are often overlooked.
Exploring the west coast of Scotland, Stock explained “in the dark green depths my torch
picked out the vivid colours of a living carpet of thousands of brittle stars, each with a
different pattern. I was happily snapping away, when I spotted this purple sea urchin and I
got really excited.”
In the same contest, Portuguese photographer, Nuno Sá, was named ‘Save Our Seas
Foundation’ Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year 2024, with his photo ‘Saving
Goliath’, taken in Portugal. Sá’s photo shows beachgoers trying to save a stranded sperm
whale. The picture gives us hope that people do care and want to help the oceans, but also
warns us that bigger changes are needed. “The whale had been struck by a ship and its fate
was sealed,” explains Sá. “An estimated 20,000 whales are killed every year, and many more
injured, after being struck by ships-and few people even realise that it happens.”
More winning images can be found at www.underwaterphotographeroftheyear.com.
About Underwater Photographer of the Year
Underwater Photographer of the Year is an annual competition, based in the UK, that celebrates photography beneath the surface of the ocean, lakes, rivers and even swimming pools, and attracts entries from all around the world. The contest has 13 categories, testing photographers with themes such as Macro, Wide Angle, Behaviour and Wreck photography, as well as four categories for photos taken specifically in British waters. The winners were announced in an award ceremony in Mayfair, London, hosted by The Crown Estate. This year’s UPY judges were experienced underwater photographers Peter Rowlands, Tobias Friedrich and Dr Alexander Mustard MBE.
Header image: Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 winner Alex Dawson
World’s Best Underwater Photographers Unveil Breathtaking Images at World Shootout 2023
The winners of the prestigious World Shootout 2023 underwater photography competition were announced at this year’s BOOT Show, captivating audiences at the world’s largest diving and water sports exhibition in Dusseldorf, Germany. Hundreds of photographers from 54 countries competed across nine categories, pushing the boundaries of creativity and technical skill.
Grand Prize Winners
- Picture of the Year: Spanish photographer Eduardo Acevedo “secured” the top Honor with the prestigious prize the “boot Dusseldorf Director’s Prize, earning an Andromeda statuette and a €2,000 cash prize.
- Best 5 Images Portfolio: Luc Rooman from Belgium triumphed in this category, winning a dream 4-week diving trip for two to Papua New Guinea, valued at $18,900.
- Amateur Photographer: Alexandra Ceurvorst from the USA impressed the judges with her talent, taking home the 1,000 € cash prize award.
Celebrating Diversity and Innovation
This year’s competition saw 11,680 entries from 964 photographers, showcasing a remarkable spectrum of skills and perspectives. From the intricate wonders of Macro photography to the beauty of “Black Water”, the “Underwater Fashion” category added a touch of artistry and innovation, while the ever-important ” Environmental & Conservation” category served as a powerful reminder of the need to protect these fragile ecosystems.
Looking Ahead: AI and Ocean Conservation
World Shootout founder and producer David Pilosof unveiled an exciting addition for the 2024 competition: this year the Environmental category will be focusing on the impact of plastic on our oceans and future.
This category will embrace the potential of AI or other editing software as a tool to amplify the conservation message.
Entrants will submit campaigns of three original underwater photographs dealing with plastic pollution, along with their final AI assistance processing. This innovative approach encourages artistic expression while raising awareness about a critical environmental issue.
Explore the Stunning Collection
Discover the complete album of competition entries by clicking here.
For Low-resolution photos of finalist entries in eight categories, click here.
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