There can’t be many genres of photography more challenging than underwater image-making, but when done right, the results are spectacular. This year’s best frames have been celebrated via the Ocean Art photography contest, which this year celebrates a decade in the search for the world’s best photos of marine life behaviour, unique portraits of intriguing underwater critters, and images that instil an urgency for conserving our invaluable subsurface planet.
The competition was fierce, with submissions from 81 different countries and picking up First Place in the ‘Best of Show’ category was this frame from Luc Rooman. Entitled ‘Snoeken’, the image was captured during a night dive near Antwerp, Belgium using a Nikon D810 camera paired with a Nikon 60mm lens.
Taking First Place in the Wide-Angle category was this beautiful frame by Eduardo Acevedo. Entitled; ‘Family’, the image shows a group of pilot whales off the Tenerife coast and was shot with a Canon 5D Mark IV paired with a 15mm lens and a Seacam Housing.
First Place in the Portrait category was this epic frame by Paolo Bausani. Entitled ‘Joker’, the image captures the moment when a fish opens its mouth wide showing the internal gills and was shot using a Nikon D500 paired with a 60mm macro lens.
Entitled ‘Ancient Caves’, this spectacular image by Tom St George took First Place in the Black & White category and was captured during a dive off Cenote Zacil Ha, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico using a Sony a7SII paired with a Sigma 15mm lens.
In the Underwater Conservation category, Catherine Holmes took First Place for an image entitled ‘Coral Tree’, which shows a diver examining the progress of coral fragment growth on a coral tree, set up by CORALL, Coral Reef Restoration Alliance in Barbados to propagate new coral growth from live fragments.
This colourful frame won Jenny Stock First Place in the Underwater Art category. Entitled ‘Magical Fairy Wisps’ Jenny commented; ‘Whilst diving in Cuba I caught some captivating images of vivid fairy basslet. The complementary colours of this fish lent themselves to artistic creation. Through the use of masks and filters in post processing, I crafted the basslet bodies to disperse into wisps of colourful smokey clouds against a jet black background.’
First Place in the Nudibranch category was this image, captured by Salvatore Ianniello using a Nikon D800e. Entitled ‘Spawning’, which was taken in the Gulf of Naples and shows a Godiva quadricolor spawning.
This ethereal frame by PT Hirschfield took First Place in the Compact Behaviour category. Entitled ‘Mating Seahorses’, it was captured off Rye Pier in Victoria, Austria using a Canon G12 camera.
Finally, this amazing frame was given an Honourable Mention in the Portrait category. Shot by Damir Zurub off of Isla Espiritu Santo, Mexico, the image is entitled ‘ I’m the Boss here’ and was captured using a Nikon D850 DSLR and Inon Z330 strobes.