Underwater Photographer of the year contest awards those who use their creative skills to capture the stunning beauty of ocean and marine life. The winners of this year contents have been announced, photographers from 63 countries submitted over 5,000 photos in 11 categories.
British Waters Compact Category: “Peek-A-Boo!” By Martin Edser, UK
"It's always fun to dive with and photograph seals but this encounter was extra special. I had not seen any on this dive probably because it was late afternoon and they were enjoying a sensible nap on shore. I was beginning to lose hope when out of nowhere a head popped up out of the kelp and gave me an inquisitive stare. It disappeared again as quickly as it appeared only for the head to pop up again a few moments later in what I can only describe as a game of 'Peek-a boo'! The water was murky and flash was not really an option, but we were shallow and it was a bright afternoon so anticipating where the head was likely to appear and using a wide aperture and as fast shutter speed as I could, allowed me to capture this memorable experience and the face of my playmate."
Portrait Category Winner: “A Sand Tiger Shark Surrounded By Tiny Bait Fish” By Tanya Houppermans, USA
"I always look forward to diving the wreck of the Caribsea and seeing the fierce-looking, but docile, sand tiger sharks that frequent the wreck. On this day as I descended to the wreck, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Millions of tiny fish, collectively known as "bait fish", were grouped together in an enormous bait ball above the wreck, with dozens of sand tigers lazily meandering among the fish. As I slowly swam to the center of the bait ball, I looked up and noticed a sand tiger a few feet above me. I swam on my back underneath her, trying not to startle her. As I moved with the shark through the water the bait fish parted way, giving me a clear shot of the underside of this beautiful shark, and also one of the most incredible experiences I've had yet as an underwater photographer."
Black & White Category: “Morning Flight” By Filippo Borghi, Italy
"During spring time from April to June on the coast of Baja California we can witness one of the most impressive migrations of the sea. Thousands of mobula ray's migrate along this coast. I try many times to find this incredible behavior but some how this has not occurred. This year, during a morning safari on the sea we saw a different group of beautiful mobular. I jumped in the water and we followed them for a couple of hours and during this time a small group moved into a shallow area where I was able to shoot in great light."
Macro Category: “Pretty Lady” By Tianhong Wang, China
"This is a Japanese pygmy seahorse, a lot of creatures in order to protect themselves, will stay in their own and similar color environment, so the adjacent color in the natural color will be easier to find. When I took this shoot, I used a large aperture and tried a variety of different combinations of lighting methods to blur the background to highlight the subject, but at the same time using the adjacent colors in the background, and then vivid contrast in harmony. The purpose is to make it a more unified background and subject, with a pink background to set off the subject, can make it a lovely character, give a better impression."
Wide Angle Category: “Blacktip Rendezvous” By Renee Capozzola, USA
"In French Polynesia, there is a healthy shark population thanks to their strong protection. It is my favourite place to photograph sharks as they often frequent shallow waters, which are perfect for split shots. It was my intention to go out at sunset and try to capture an over-under of the sharks. This shot was challenging as there was only a short time period when the sun was at the horizon and it required multiple attempts over several days. A small aperture, large dome port, and flash were used for this image. Sadly, up to 100 million sharks are lost every year, mainly due to overfishing and the high demand for shark fin soup. Sharks signify a balanced marine ecosystem. It is my hope that images such as this will capture peoples' attention and help raise awareness for sharks and other marine animals throughout the world."
Wide Angle Category Winner: “Humpback Whale Spy Hopping” By Greg Lecoeur, France
"Each year, I go to Tonga to lead a small group of nature enthusiasts to photograph humpback whales. Tonga offers probably the best opportunity to interact with the whales in blue water. This year was very special, with my friends we had sone of my best moments in my underwater photographer's life: Very curious and playful whales came to investigate us and adopt the spy hopping posture in front of our masks. Although weighing several tens of tons this mammal showed incredible agility and power in holding itself vertically in the water. It was very impressive and we could feel the power of nature but we were also invaded at the same time a feeling of gentleness. I had the chance to freeze this moment with a split shot to recreate a spectacular moment."
Macro Category Winner: “Seahorse Density” By Shane Gross, Canada
"The pond I was in has the highest density of seahorses on Earth, but I?ve never seen three together like this before. I was camping on shore and had all night to shoot with the idea of backlighting a single seahorse, but finding three together was a real gift. I was super careful not to disturb them because they will swim away if they?ve had enough. I had my off-camera strobe and an underwater flashlight on a small tripod which I placed behind and below the trio. Then I waited for them to all turn in way that you could see their silhouette. The sun was setting and as it got darker the plankton really began to pile up. When the seahorses ate some of the plankton I could tell they were relaxed. We are still working on getting this special place protection so I cannot reveal the exact location."
Black & White Category Winner: “Crocodile Reflections” By Borut Furlan, Slovenia
"When diving was finished for the day, I asked the divemaster to take me back again to a place, where seawater crocodiles are usually seen. I wanted to shoot them in low evening sunlight, when the sky turns into warm colours. When we arrived, the sun was already on the horizon and it was very dark in the water. I pushed ISO settings high to get some warm ambient light into the picture and set the power of my strobes low. Fortunately the crocodile was very cooperative and since we were both very calm, beautiful reflections appeared on the surface. I shot many images with his reflections and this one was my favourite. Since there is a strong graphic element in this picture, conversion into black and white made it even more powerful."
Macro Category: Runner Up “Friend Or Food?!” By Songda Cai, China
"I've had many encounters with this conger eel and I've have taken a few photos, but never have I seen it in such a picturesque manner as this, As if drawing you in by coiling its body and at the same time darting its eyes on a lone prey – it is because of breathtaking sights like this that I fell in love with underwater photography and to do it justice I really aimed to capture the moment in perfect detail. To capture the intricate details of the subject, proper strobe positioning was the key factor in getting the shot that I wanted as even a little error in lighting would rob the picture of its immaculacy."
Macro Category: “Black-Saddle Snake Eel” By Marchione Dott. Giacomo, Italy
"TK3 dive site, looking for some organism to photograph, when from the sandy bottom comes the muzzle of a eel Moray eel (Black-Saddle Snake Eel (Ophichthus cephalozona) and around her a shrimp scavenger (Periclimenes venustus). The shrimp rises on the muzzle of the moray eel and balances like an acrobat on it, for a unique photo and for a unique duet."
Wide Angle Category: “Breathtaking” By Tobias Friedrich, Germany
"We found a pod of Orcas that were circling some herring caught in a net. The animals keep circling the net and we could approach them easily to take some close up shots."
Portrait Category: “A Reflective Green Turtle Hatchling” By Matt Curnock, Australia
"This green turtle (Chelonia mydas) hatchling was photographed in the world's first turtle health research facility, 'The Caraplace', at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. The facility caters for the needs of turtles under near-natural conditions and enables researchers to study turtle health up close, to better understand the management of diseases and the environmental conditions that affect turtle populations globally. Photographed under carefully controlled conditions, this healthy hatchling was playful and inquisitive, frequently approaching and nudging the camera, myself, and other objects in its temporary home. When relaxing at the surface, hatchlings will tuck their front flippers 'behind their back' – changing their silhouetted shape from below and potentially reducing the likelihood of being noticed by predators. It was a wonderful opportunity to observe and photograph such a beautiful creature this closely, while learning about the research and efforts to protect marine turtle populations facing global environmental change."
Behaviour Category: “The Fisherman” By Filippo Borghi, Italy
"In winter time in the Izu peninsula in tokio area the asiatic cormorant stop for couple of month before moving to China. So this is the best moment for try to shoot this amazing sea bird during diving and fishing. I Was in this area and I spent two days in a very shallow waters from 5m to 8m waiting for the opportunity to take a right moment for have this photos. Luckily four birds for two days stay in this aera in search of sardine and don't care about my presence during his diving session give me the chance to sort it."
Portrait Category Runner Up: “The Nose” By Mike Korostelev, Russian Federation
"The picture was taken in Kuril Lake ? the place with the highest concentration of bears on our planet. The bears here are not hungry (due to the annual mass spawning of sockeye salmon) so they get used to people and do not feel danger from them. I used a remote control system with a 10 meter cable. I left the camera in the shallow water in the river next to the path that bears regularly pass and hid 8 meters from the camera. This day my camera was spotted by four cubs, which were walking along the path with their mother. The mother stopped and began to look out for the fish in the river, and the cubs saw the camera, they were very curious and began to play with it."
Up & Coming Category Runner Up: “The Hammer” By Jacob Degee, Poland
"It was the last day of the Enigma Team shark expedition to Bahamas. The last day and I was still missing a shot I came here to take. We went down. The day before there was a storm and we did not see anything. But they were back. Glorious, mighty, curious but shy four meter long ladies. The Great Hammerheads were slowly circulating around us. It was my last chance. The last opportunity to do what I had in my mind for months. "Stay calm, be patient" was constantly echoing in my mind. Sitting on a soft sandy bottom, facing against the sun I could have only waited. And there she was coming directly at me…"
Compact Category: “Tres Amigos” By Sarah Vasend, USA
"This was taken on the last day of my trip to La Paz, Mexico. Los Islotes is one of my favorite dive sites, well known for its sea lion colony. This group of three were some very friendly juveniles that were playing in a cave. These pups are easily amused and make for cooperative photo subjects! Make sure all equipment is firmly attached, there may have been some lens covers lost in the taking of this photo!"
Behaviour Category: “Attack” By Mika Saareila, Finland
"It took a lot of time and effort to get this picture. I backlit the fish with snooted flash and another close to the dome port. In addition I used another flash for overall lighting. I shot the crab feeding for some time and then it attacked the camera dome!"
Behaviour Category: “In Hinding” By Scott Gutsy Tuason, Philippines
"Taken at a depth of 15 meters in 200-250m deep water. Towards the end of the 'Blackwater' dive, Edwin, one of our divemasters, called me over to show me this beautiful Jellyfish, for me only to realise it had a juvenile Trevally within it, and to my amazement, it was wedged between the bell and the tentacles! I had seen many Jack and Jelly combos before but never like this. I shot around 20 frames and right on the last few frames it turned towards me to give me this very unusual portrait of a behaviour I had never seen before."
Portrait Category: “Oceanic White Tip Shark” By Greg Lecoeur, France
"In recent years, oceanic white-tip sharks have become rarer in Red Sea but they are back around the offshore reefs of Egypt. Diving with these magnificent predators is a privilege and offers incredible photographic opportunities and to witness the symbiosis with pilotfish. Curious, confident and inquisitive they do not hesitate to approach the divers and I was able to capture this image on our decompression stop."
Behaviour Category: “The Birth” By Filippo Borghi, Italy
"I went to dive this site to photograph Mediterranean black coral but during the dive I discovered various shark egg cases in different stages of evolution. Unfortunately I had a wide angle lens on so it was not possible to get the right shot. The next day myself and the dive guide went back with a macro lens and during the session he called me over because one of the egg cases had started to hatch and a baby shark was emerging! I took some photos s fast I could of this incredible moment."
British Waters Macro Category: “In A Sea Of Squirts” By Paul Kay, UK
"Velvet swimming crabs, with their red eyes and blue pincers are a popular subject. This one caught my eye not because it was in itself photogenic, but because it was hunkered down on a rocky reef dominated by vase sea squirts (Ciona intenstinalis). Whilst these sea squirts are common enough in sea lochs, in this particular spot they were really clean and about as abundant as I can ever remember seeing them. So, for an animal which mostly tries to be relatively inconspicuous, this one had failed pretty miserably. I was very fortunate as the visibility was good enough for me to back off with the 50mm macro lens so that I could take this 'view' including the crab, rather than simply take its portrait."
Macro Category: “Bubble” By K.zhang, China
"I shot this photo in Yakushima Japan,there is lot's of rock pools, and many blenny living inside.In fact, I specifically went there to take reflected photo of blenny there.Photography in a rock pool is a very interesting experience, you must know the tide time there,and reflex photographs can be taken only at low tide. Because only at this time, the water surface closest to blenny to form a reflection. When I was taking this photo,a bubble that may have been released from photosynthesis by algae floated near the blenny,and it seems to be looking at the bubble. In order to keep the surface calm, I held my breath, kept myself still, took this picture. I am so happy to record this interesting moment."
British Waters Macro Category: “Swarm” By Rick Ayrton, UK
"I had been under Swanage pier for over an hour, I was getting cold and making my way back towards the entry steps. A little before getting back to the harbour wall there was a piece of the old pier with a hollowed out end. My eye was caught by movement within, a multitude of very small creatures moving fast to & fro. I had little time available and I fired off a few shots hoping the Nikon focusing would do its job. I had no idea what I had captured until I downloaded the images for review. I cannot say precisely what it is other than saying it is larval forms of a marine critter. I had a slow shutter speed dialled into the camera but the dark scene was frozen by the light from the flashguns. This is definitely a subject I would like to return to."
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