50 selected images of the world underwater photography contest

50 selected images of the world underwater photography contest

The Breathtaking Images Selected For The 7th Annual Underwater Photo And Ocean Art Contest Have Been Released.

Underwater photography shows us a part of nature that we don’t usually see. Blackwater diving and shallow-water paddling would be much more difficult to explain if it weren’t for the beautiful images that people capture. The 7th annual Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest has announced its winners, celebrating the beauty of waters worldwide, and the pictures speak for themselves.

Nirupam Nigam, one of the organizers of the said competition, told Bored Panda :

This competition aims to find and introduce the best underwater photographers in the world and showcase their works. We also want to raise public awareness about the beauty of marine life and the need to protect it.

The Ocean Art exhibition is about the discovery and use of new and innovative photography methods, animals’ amazing behavior and beauty of the world’s oceans.

Contest judges reviewed thousands of submitted images from 70 different countries before deciding who deserved to receive more than $80,000 in prizes in 16 different categories.

Nigam continued:

The 2018 competition was our most competitive year yet with a record number of participants. The images from this year’s competition show that underwater photography technologies have advanced a lot and the photographers’ innovation has increased. With the continuation of this illumination, we see a change in the chosen subjects of underwater photographers.

More photographers now seem to be confident in capturing large marine subjects such as sharks, humpback whales, manta rays and alligators. Although these are impressive subjects in their own right, we’re looking for the best photos regardless of the subject. In 2018, we saw an increase in the number of incoming photos from Asia.

Next, you will see the most beautiful pictures sent to the underwater photography contest. Below each photo is written a story about the moment of recording and how to work from the language of the artist who recorded that image.

First place in the wide-angle division

“Gentel Giants” by Francois Belen

Winners of the underwater photography contest

This unique encounter took place in September 2018 on Reunion Island (West Indian Ocean); A place where humpback whales go to reproduce and give birth. The mother was resting 15 meters below; While her newborn child enjoys playing with her new human friends.

When this 30-ton animal, still hunted by humans, allowed me to free-dive behind him and capture this image, a phrase formed in my mind; the trust.

From down there, everything seemed unreal; That huge tail was only a few centimeters away from me. The newborn animal and my diver friend were swimming in a symmetrical position. I knew that I would not be able to record such an image again. After recording the image, I only focused on the white balance and noise reduction; Because this photo was taken only with natural light and at a depth of 16 meters.

Honorary winner of the portrait category

“Curiosity” by Kyler Baden

Winners of the underwater photography contest

My snorkeling buddy and I were surrounded by green sea turtles feeding on algae off a rocky shoreline on Oahu’s North Shore. I turned around and saw this turtle swimming straight towards me. This was a truly remarkable behavior that I had never experienced before. When I decided to capture this special moment, the curious turtle saw its reflection in the lens and moved closer until it almost bumped into the camera.

Honorary winner of Marine High School

“Sheep On The Shot” by Chun Ho Tem

Winners of the underwater photography contest

My dive master showed me this cute sea lice while swimming in Lembe, Indonesia. Its red face caught my attention, so I decided to capture a picture of it by creating a spotlight effect.

5th place in wide-angle division

“Eclipse” by Edward Herno

Winners of the underwater photography contest

From August to November, large numbers of goldfish migrate to the waters of Costa Rica and the Pacific Ocean. No one knows the exact reason; But it may be for protection against predators or a social behavior for mating. I have been looking for this image for years and after several weeks of searching and working with a tablefish biologist, I spotted a good spot using my drone. I did several different dives in this area and waited patiently, when they came over me I was shocked and forgot I had a camera in my hands. It was a magical moment for me.

3rd place in wide-angle division

“Two Inquisitive Friends” by Celia Kojala

Winners of the underwater photography contest

The Australian sea lion is endangered and one of the places to find it is Essex Rocks in Jurien Bay Marine Park. I was in shallow water when two Australian sea lion pups swam towards me. They were playing with each other.

I probably caught their attention when they were swimming and playing; Because these two playful creatures turned into curious friends and swam right up to me to see what I was doing. I managed to capture this photo just as they were staring at me with their curious eyes. I love observing life underwater; But the moments when a person communicates with wildlife are much more extraordinary. I hope I can share with people the magical feeling I felt at that moment.

First place in the ocean section, macro

“Ancistrocheirus” by Jeff Millisen

Winners of the underwater photography contest

One of the positives of being a black water diving guide is the opportunity to share information and interests with six other enthusiasts. But even guides must have free time. We put our skills to the test when there are empty seats on the boat. On the night I took this photo, I was going for a fun swim when I found this sharp-edged squid just under the surface of the water. Most squids are small, so photographing them is difficult.

As these organisms reach maturity, changes are made in them. All the details in the arms, limbs and chromatophores are brilliantly colored. The same thing happened to this beautiful gem. At 3 inches long, this creature was the biggest and most beautiful cuttlefish I have ever seen. I noticed the present guide about this animal and let him show it to the people present. But very soon this creature ran away and I followed it alone.

As I was observing, studying and photographing this creature, we went down together to a depth of forty, fifty, and sixty feet. Elsewhere this depth doesn’t seem much; But in the middle of the ocean, it is considered a lonely place at night. As we went down and this creature amused me with its beautiful movements; But ninety feet deep was where I had to leave my little friend.

Honorary winner of the portrait category

“Nemo” by Matteo Visconti

Winners of the underwater photography contest

The relationship between this clownfish and its habitat among sea anemone tentacles is an interesting example of symbiosis. This creature protects the sea anemone from fish that could harm it, while the sea anemone’s stinging tentacles protect the clownfish from predators.

Honorary winner of mirrorless macro category

“Face To Face” by Rafi Ammar

Winners of the underwater photography contest

When I was taking this picture, there were a lot of sharks swimming around me and my friend couldn’t understand why I was diving with a macro lens. But I had to photograph this shy fish. I waited for more than an hour to register it; But finally I managed to record it.

The third place in the behavior of marine creatures

“Love From A Father” by Francois Belen

Winners of the underwater photography contest

When it comes to clownfish, we can safely say that daddy will do whatever it takes to keep his next generation safe. This creature takes care of the eggs by holding them with its fins. She removes dust, excess debris and dead eggs from the nest. The process of shooting the image I recorded was really difficult. The depth of field of the macro lens was so shallow that I had to focus manually. The fantastic thing is to capture a beautiful image of this clownfish behavior and to see the eyes of its children in great focus.

Second place in the beginner DSLR category

“Smile Of A Friends” by Antonio Pastrana

Winners of the underwater photography contest

I always imagined a wild alligator in my visual dreams. But I’ve seen plenty of them in the wild, but I’ve never been in the water with one. That morning I saw this crocodile called El Niño. I was told he would let me approach. He was watching us for a long time. When we decided to get in the water, I was nervous but excited at the same time.

I was about 10 feet closer when it started moving toward me, which made me even more stressed. But when I saw him moving slowly, I realized that he was not angry. This crocodile came towards me, but it was swimming under the place where I was present; So I turned to follow him closely. When he turned to face me, I got a chance to take this picture with a big smile.

After recording the exposure photo, I edited its contrast and sharpness in Lightroom software. I also cropped the bottom right side of the photo to focus more on the subject and balance the image.

2nd place in the wide-angle section

“Paddle Boarders Sunset” by Grant Thomas

Winners of the underwater photography contest

The rowers were cruising through the shallow coral waters at sunset. I wanted to show the innate connection humans have with the ocean, whether we are in it or floating on its surface. Our inherent relationship with the ocean is eternal, and we need to care for it in a way that will continue into the future.

The first place in the cold water department

“Grey Seal Face” by Greg Lacour

Winners of the underwater photography contest

An explanation about this work has not been provided by the artist.

Second place in the underwater art section

“Two Worlds Collide” by Jordan Robbins

Winners of the underwater photography contest

This work is a captured image of the sunrise at Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay. Above the water, you can see clouds brought to life by the rising sun’s light. Beneath the water is a series of parallel lines of sand formed by the constant tides of the ocean.

It took about six months to record this image and it has failed many times. I wanted to capture the image of the vivid colors of the sky contrasting with the crystal clear water and the particular mood of the sand below.

On this particular morning, I was faced with a unique sunrise and calm clear water that was like a gift to me. I used two inon-z240 strobe flashes to expose underwater and balance the exposure of that part with the sky. During the editing process, a little blue color was added to the water to create a dynamic contrast with the fiery red of the sky.

Honorary winner of the underwater art category

“Light Beam” by Alexander St. Jean

Winners of the underwater photography contest

Cenotes are sacred Mayan sites. They are actually known as the Verdi doors of the Mayan underworld (Xibalbá). On an exploratory trip to the Yucatan Peninsula, professional diver Carlos Costa and I came across a beautiful cenote with our local friend and guide, Pedro Castillo.

There, we had to face a beautiful, clean and uninhabited place. As we were preparing our gear, a beam of light appeared above in the water. Every day for a few hours the sun passes through the cenote cavity and lets the light into the water like a pipe.

We used every wonderful second we were there to capture the mystical beauty of this light. The grandeur and peace felt inside the cenote is really attractive. You can definitely feel the energy of Xibalbá if you are in this place.

Honorary winner of the portrait category

“Roar” by Jing Gong Zhang

Winners of the underwater photography contest

The chaenopsid blenny species is found in rocky reefs around Japan, in the northwest Pacific Ocean. This creature has something similar to the old Mohican hairstyle on top of its head, which is seen in yellow, red and black colors. This picture was taken in Kanagawaken, Japan.

Fourth place in the portrait section

“Eye To Eye” by Shane Keena

Winners of the underwater photography contest

A curious and completely playful baby humpback whale came close to me for a few amazing seconds. This baby whale spun around while its mother was sleeping and swam towards me. Its movements and pace were slow enough and it took long enough for us to make eye contact with each other.

The fifth place in the behavior of marine creatures

“New Life” by Flavio Vaiali

I usually dive in Capo Noli, Italy. One morning in July I saw a beautiful specimen of an octopus tending to its eggs.

First place in the behavior of marine creatures

Best Show, by Duncan Morrell

Winners of the underwater photography contest

Two male kingfishers are seducing a female kingfisher. So far, no image of this process has been recorded.

Second place in the compact macro section

“Red On Green” by Kate Tinson

Winners of the underwater photography contest

North Sulawesi is a wonderful place for a diving holiday. This photo was taken on the first day of our trip to Bunakan Island in June 2018 after arriving at 1am that day. The beautiful color of corals along with their symmetrical patterns is always beautiful. I was lucky enough to capture such an image of a tiny creature posing like a pro, which resulted in these amazing complementary colors.

Second place in the portrait section

“Croc In The Mist” by Christina Barringer

Winners of the underwater photography contest

“Crocodile in the Mist” was a quick shot. As soon as this young crocodile appeared, it swam towards my diving friend. Without a camera to use as a barrier, he was vulnerable. As the creature kicked up the sand, our vision dimmed. So I quickly moved in front of my friend and used my big camera as a barrier. But first I had to record this image!

The first place in the marine high school department

“Inside The Eggs” by Flavio Violatti

Winners of the underwater photography contest

While diving in Anilao, Philippines, I found this sea urchin (sea hare) and waited for the best time to create such an image.

Second place in the cold water sector

“Burst” by Tyler Shiffman

Winners of the underwater photography contest

I was diving in Monterey Bay. During this time, I was photographing the explosion of lights that were created through the upper canopy in the water. I took this photo while waiting for a sea lion to appear in the frame. After five minutes, one of them came and paused for a few seconds. I recorded three photos of this rare scene. This moment passed like a blink of an eye.

First place in the beginner DSLR category

“Special Encounter” by Alvin Chong

Winners of the underwater photography contest

“Pay attention to the background first”; This was an important point made by leading underwater photographer Mark Strickland during an underwater photography workshop on a trip to Socorro in 2017.

As a result, while diving at the famous El Boiler, when a giant osprey appeared in the water, I realized that due to the presence of many divers around and the distance, the chances of capturing an interesting image were low. It was at that moment that I remembered that important point.

Then I quickly looked around and realized that another diver, Marisa, was swimming a few meters away from me with the prominent El Boiler peak behind her. The view was quite clear.

I thought Marisa, along with the summit structure, might make an interesting backdrop that would show the majesty of the giant manta in addition to showing the dive site. I broke away from the group and swam over to Marisa, hoping the table fish would do the same. Fortunately, this happened and the image you see was recorded.

I have to thank Mark and Marisa, because without them this image capture would never have been successful.

4th place in the macro ocean division

“Dance Of Love” by Jing Gong Zhang

Winners of the underwater photography contest

Seahorses usually perform a long dance to attract the attention of the opposite sex before mating. They swim around each other in sync. After some time, the female puts the eggs into the male’s sac to complete the fertilization.

Unlike most species, seahorses are born by males. This mating photo was taken at Minamatashi, Kumamotoken in Japan. This species of seahorse was officially recognized in 2017. These creatures usually mate in the morning at sunrise, after which the seahorses quickly return to their hideout to hide from their enemies.

The second place of the marine high school department

“Polycera Quadrilineata pose” by Fredrik Ernström

Winners of the underwater photography contest

This image was taken in the early spring of 2012 at a depth of 10 meters in the algal belt around the old Bermsens dock in Norway. Spring is the time of the sea school along the Scandinavian coast.

A large number of adult sea lichens with an age of about one year and a size of 2 to 4 cm are seen on the leaves of plants. Some of them were raising their bodies in search of something, perhaps looking for another sea hare to mate with. Their behavior allowed me to capture this image.

The fourth place in the wide-angle section

“West Coast Flowers” by Geo Clotte

Winners of the underwater photography contest

Every year in early spring, the natural landscape of South Africa’s west coast, which generally seems dry and barren, is transformed and magnified by the blooming of millions of wildflowers.

I came across this sight full of sand anemones (Aulactinia reynaudi) while exploring the western coastline. This immediately reminded me of the annual flower growing season in this area. It is only during this period of the year that nature shows such beauty and introduces us to the wonders of the west coast. To increase the field of view as much as possible, I relied on my fisheye lens.

Second place in the mirrorless macro section

“Bubble Life” by Owen Yen

Winners of the underwater photography contest

When I saw this little creature in Siphonocladals, I thought it looked like the Hulk but cuter. This animal had eaten the chlorophyll of the plant and now it had created a bubble life for itself.

First place in the mirrorless wide-angle segment

“Spotted Dolphin” by Eugene Kitsios

Winners of the underwater photography contest

You never know what’s going to happen until you get in the water with some dolphins. Sometimes you might have a great encounter where the dolphins swim around you curiously or show some playful behavior in your presence.

At other times, they may leave you uninterested. The best way to interact with dolphins is to let them make their own decisions. When you are accepted by a group of them, you will have a magical experience. These intelligent creatures show very interesting behaviors and in the above picture they are swimming next to me.

The second place in the behavior of marine creatures

“The Fight” by Anders Nyberg

Winners of the underwater photography contest

The dive guide and I were looking for ghost pipefish and other small creatures, so I had my Nikon D500 ready with a 105mm macro lens. We were swimming and looking for small mojaves when we came across these two fascinating creatures.

These two fish named Anthias were fighting each other. I was aware that my camera equipment was not suitable for recording a picture of their fight; But I had to try it myself.

The hardest part was that I had to move away from the anthias because of the macro lens on my device, so my strobes were underexposed. Despite the challenges, I was able to photograph the fight scene of these two creatures using the long exposure technique. The lighting has given it a special glow and energy. None of us had seen such a wonderful scene until that moment; It was a unique experience.

The third place of the marine high school department

“Frosted Pearl” by Bettina Balanis

Winners of the underwater photography contest

Along with giant jellyfish, octopuses, and starfish, all subjects are larger than my macro lens. One day I suddenly saw this beautiful creature crawling on a sea kelp. It was fantastic. I watched it until the end of my diving time and I have never seen such a beautiful sea lion again.

First place in the wide-angle compact segment

“Dancing Jellyfish” by Melody Chuang

Winners of the underwater photography contest

This was the first time I saw a mermaid while diving off the northeast coast of Taiwan. While on a night dive in the summer of 2018, I saw this beautiful mermaid dancing in the dark! I followed this creature in the dark and took many pictures of it. Suddenly, my diving buddy, who is also my wife, did something very creative and used his torch to create the background light of this unique mermaid.

To take good pictures, we followed it for more than 1 mile and against the current of the water. When the diving was over, it was 5:30 in the morning and at sunrise. The important thing is that we finally captured this photo. We were able to record a unique pose of this mermaid with the help of a special light.

Third place in the mirrorless wide-angle category

“No no!” By Pierre Manet

Winners of the underwater photography contest

While diving in the Galapagos, we encountered a playful sea lion. This creature was shaking its head to the sides, as if it wanted to express its opposition to the photography. But he stood at a certain point for some time.

What caught my attention was its beautiful sibyl. The dark water, the limitation of natural light and the fast movements of this sea lion were some of the challenges of capturing this image.

First place in the underwater art section

“Disco Nudi” by Bruno Wen

Winners of the underwater photography contest

I was trying to create this image using custom backgrounds made by myself. But in the end, it was Photoshop’s Swirl filter that helped me achieve this creative shot.

Third place in the macro ocean sector

“Speedy Cuttlefish” by Fabio Iardino

Winners of the underwater photography contest

During a night dive, I met this whitefish. Fascinated by the way he moved, I tried the slow sync flash technique to create an image of him.

The first place in the behavior section without a mirror

“My Babies” by Fabrice Dudenhofer

Winners of the underwater photography contest

I was lucky enough that my Japanese guide showed me some clownfish with their eggs. I had never shot a scene like this before, so it seemed like a big challenge. Adults swim around the eggs continuously to oxygenate them. Due to their endless movements, it was difficult to get the right moment to capture the photo. To achieve a perfect shot, I needed patience.

The guide and I were at the same location for more than half an hour and in total more than 50 photos were recorded. I wanted to show how some fish take care of their babies.

The sixth place in the behavior of marine creatures

“Cleaning” by Liang Fu

Winners of the underwater photography contest

A white banded cleaner shrimp has gone into the grouper’s mouth to get some food to eat. At the same time as this creature is filling its stomach with leftover food, the grouper’s mouth is being cleaned by the shrimp. This behavior is done in such a way that both of them benefit from this symbiotic relationship. I was fascinated by this behavior between grouper and shrimp.

To capture this moment, I tried to use a special technique to make Mahor’s mouth brighter than the rest of the scene. I was lucky enough to capture this image when the shrimp jumped in front of the fish’s mouth.

4th place in wide-angle compact segment

“Who’s The Boss” by Andreas Schmid

Winners of the underwater photography contest

The marine iguana is found only in the Galapagos Islands and is the only species in the world that feeds in the ocean. I tried to understand how these very rare and special animals behave when they see divers in the water and how they react to them. I noticed this issue during 3 different dives.

I figured out how to get up close to these creatures while they were eating without disturbing them in order to capture some nice wide-angle shots. The conditions of the feeding environment of this marine iguana in the shallow area made the control of the camera and the location of the strobes a great challenge. But luckily, I met the iguana you see in the picture, who didn’t bother at all and let me take a picture of him.

Second place in the macro ocean sector

“Look” by Chun Zhou

An explanation about this work has not been provided by the artist.

The third place in the compact behavior section

“La Siesta” by Jin Woo Lee

Winners of the underwater photography contest

I was lucky enough to travel to Mexico’s best shark diving site, the Revillagigedo Archipelago, for my Christmas vacation. There was good weather and visibility for diving when I was in the Pacific.

The sun was shining and the water was completely clear and calm. The captain said that the other divers and I were lucky enough to be able to visit and stay at Roca Partida. The snorkeling was amazing and I saw sea plants, sharks and whales for the first time.

Amidst all that beauty, I saw white tip reef sharks huddled together. This was a great opportunity to take interesting pictures. But the shooting process was not as easy as I thought. Approaching them was a big problem. For this, I had to control my breath so as not to create a bubble.

This was not so difficult; But the strong vertical current pushed my body down, which scared the sharks. My flash also woke them up. I tried many times and finally captured a great picture of the sharks lying on the balcony. These four sharks were placed together as if they were a family.

The fourth place in the Naval High School

“Janolus Cristatus” by Giacomo Giovannini

Winners of the underwater photography contest

I am very attached to this image because I recorded it in a forgotten place. In my opinion this is the best macro diving site in Italy. There you can see unimaginable things like sea lichens on clavulana or even crabs.

Honorary winner of the macro ocean division

“Juvenile Batfish” by Dennis Corpuz

Winners of the underwater photography contest

When I photographed this animal, I was 15 meters deep in the black water of Anilao in Janau Bay.

7th place in the behavior of marine creatures

“Hawaiian Lei” by Ba Hing Sin

Winners of the underwater photography contest

After I completed the safety station on the sandy bottom 5 meters underwater, I noticed a small red spot. I learned that they are the red eggs of the small mantis shrimp. I immediately activated my diopter and noticed that the mantis shrimp had placed its head among the eggs.

I have never seen this amazing moment before. Of course, I don’t know if the eggs belong to it or another creature, I have asked people many times, but I still haven’t found a complete answer.

Third place in the compact macro division

“Yellow Gobies In A Bottle” by Matteo Piggy

Winners of the underwater photography contest

My wife and I took this photo at the end of our last dive in Anilao. We were in a place about 12 meters deep where there is very little shelter for the creatures that live there. This small family of yellow gobies had managed to create an ideal home for themselves in an empty drink bottle.

Third place in the wide-angle compact segment

“Budego” by Alessandro Roho

Winners of the underwater photography contest

It is rare to see Lufius Budego as it usually lives in very deep waters. Finding this fish was really exciting for me. I had seen it only once before in Noli. That day I was diving at a depth of 20 meters and had relatively little visibility. I hadn’t come across anything interesting on my way until I came across this magnificent creature after going 10 meters down.

Third place in the portrait section

“Open Eyes” by Doris Virkotter

Winners of the underwater photography contest

This dancing shrimp (Rhynchocinetes uritai) is found almost everywhere in Indonesia. So I found a special spot where one of them was dancing on an almost white sponge. I wanted to capture its wonderful green eyes, but it was very difficult to get the right position and forms for this.

Fifth place in the portrait section

“Face to Face” by Mirko Zani

Winners of the underwater photography contest

The Adams River is one of the greatest places to find salmon in North America. Many fish can be seen in this place from late September to late October.

Honorary winner of the wide-angle category

“Hanging In Leru” by Steve Cope

Winners of the underwater photography contest

When I was researching a trip to the Solomon Islands, Lero Cut was a place that stuck in my photographic imagination and I always wondered what it would be like to photograph there and what would be the best image that could be captured in this area? Every day, rays of light are emitted for a short time from the narrow opening above this place.

We went to this place at the beginning of the trip, but there was not enough light due to the cloudy weather. On the way back we went to Lero Cut again and that’s when the final magic happened.

Branches of light flicker in from above and dance around the walls as the breeze blows through the trees. These elements create a unique scene together. Taking the picture from an upward angle brought out the effect of the sun’s rays and the attractive streaks of light.

Honorary winner of marine behavior category

“Living In A Jelly” by Doris Virkotter

Winners of the underwater photography contest

During a very interesting dive in black water, this jelly fish suddenly appeared from the darkness. My friend was trying to expose this subject from below. We had to wait to get them in the right position because the mermaid was moving so fast.

Honorary winner of the cold water category

“Spider Crab Attack” by Henley Spears

Winners of the underwater photography contest

While snorkeling around my favorite local site, I got a scare from a spider crab attack. I was passing by when it suddenly jumped towards me. But when I imagined the high potential of the subject in this location, I realized that a very beautiful photo could be captured. For this reason, I applied the necessary settings on my camera and went to the same crab.

As soon as I approached it, it repeated its previous behavior; It stands on its hind legs and swings its large claws in attack mode. This species of crabs gathers abundantly in the bay in summer. Once I captured the image I wanted, I moved away from him so he could relax and possibly prepare for the next diver’s surprise!

First place in the portrait section

“Chimaera” by Claudio Zuri

Winners of the underwater photography contest

The spotted ratfish, inhabiting the northeastern part of the Pacific Ocean, usually lives between 50 and 400 meters deep and does not like temperatures above 9 degrees. However, these creatures tend to go to a lower depth in spring and autumn. This photo was taken on a night dive in front of God’s Pocket Dive Resort.


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