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Here Are the Winners of the 2017 Underwater Photographs of the Year Here Are the Winners of the 2017 Underwater Photographs of the Year

Here Are the Winners of the 2017 Underwater Photographs of the Year

by Jessica Bush

Last month, organizers of the famed Underwater Photographer of the Year competition announced their picks for 2017. Spooky shipwrecks, impossible close ups and captures of fleeting moments with otherworldly creatures made the cut this year. The top 115 images give us an artful glimpse into the mysterious world that exists beneath the surface. Below are our favorites.

Underwater Photographer of the Year Winner – Dancing Octopus, by Gabriel Barathieu.

Shot of the coast of South Africa on the Island of Mayotte.

“In the lagoon of Mayotte, during spring low tides, there is very little water on the flats. Only 30 cm in fact. That’s when I took this picture. I had to get as close as possible to the dome to create this effect. The 14 mm is an ultra wide angle lens with very good close focus which gives this effect of great size. The octopus appears larger, and the height of water also.”

8032British Underwater Photographer of the Year Winner – Out of the Blue, by Nick Blake.

This shot was taken on the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico, from inside the spectacular Kukulkan cenote (a natural sinkhole or pit resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock exposing groundwater beneath). “I left my strobes behind for the natural light shot I wanted and positioned myself in the shadows of the cavern. Moving my eye around the viewfinder, I could see that the rock outline of the cavern around me made for a pleasing symmetry and I adjusted my position to balance the frame. The light show flickered on and off as the sun was periodically covered by cloud and as it reappeared, I beckoned to my buddy and dive guide, Andrea Costanza of ProDive, to edge into the illumination of some of the stronger beams, completing the composition.”

7327Behaviour Third Place – Cleaner, by Liang Fu.

Photographed near Tulamben, Indonesia. A cleaner shrimp eating morsels from a Moray Eels mouth.

“I found this cleaning station at 26 meters. On the first dive, I took a few front facing photos with cleaner shrimps in the moray eel’s mouth. When I surfaced, I came up with an idea of a side-face moray eel, widely opening its mouth with the cleaner shrimp inside. So I tried a second dive and it turned out to be how I had imagined it.”

Macro Highly Commended – Nudi Art, by Katherine Lu.

Shot in Singapore in the local waters where the visibility is 3m on average.

“Scuba divers I know are always surprised that I dive there and most don’t even know there is great macro right off our shores. I wanted to do something different and turn a nudibranch commonly found in our waters into a piece of art. I have always been fascinated by bubbles and the inspiration for this photo came about when I was reading about aquatic plants that produce oxygen bubbles from photosynthesis. The images of the bubbles sticking to the green leaves had an abstract quality and hence came the idea to create Nudi Art.”

Commended, Macro - Nudi Art I shot this photo in the local waters of Singapore where the visibility is 3m on average. Scuba divers I know are always surprised that I dive there and most don’t even know there is great macro right off our shores. I wanted to do something different and turn a nudibranch commonly found in our waters into a piece of art. I have always been fascinated by bubbles and the inspiration for this photo came about when I was reading about aquatic plants that produce oxygen bubbles from photosynthesis. The images of the bubbles sticking to the green leaves had an abstract quality and hence came the idea to create Nudibranch Art. Katherine Lu/UPY 2017Wrecks Highly Commended – Last Flight, by Steve Jones.

“This USAAF B-17G Flying Fortress crash landed on approach to the island of Vis, Croatia after being hit by anti-aircraft fire during a bombing raid over Europe in 1944, which killed the co-pilot Ernest Vienneau and led to engine failure. The surviving crew escaped in dinghies. This spectacular wreck of a famous World War 2 bomber is in remarkable condition and lies at 72 meters.”

jkhMacro Winner – Prey, by So Yat Wai.

Shot in Anilao, Philippines during a blackwater dive. This tiny Larvae Mantis Shrimp (left) is still a formidable predator, using its sharp appendages to hunt its prey.

klmlmWide Angle Highly Commended – Prince of the Waters, by Yannick Gouguenheim.

Captured in the Lamalou River in France. In February, after the frozen river thaws, the common toad begin to return and reproduce. At this time the river is clear and perfect for underwater photography.

pppWide Angle Commended – Silversides at Twilight, by Tony Myshlyaev.

Photographed on the northern Coastline of Koh Tao in Thailand. Usually incredibly evasive, these silversides were distracted from the photographer’s presence by a swarm of trevally that arrived to feed. An impossibly fleeting moment, captured during a rapidly fading sunset, this image could be considered somewhat of a miracle.
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British Waters Wide Angle – Can I Help You? by Ellen Cuylaerts.

“Last November when we visited the largest colony of grey seals in UK, the super moon caused huge tidal changes, some nasty currents and bad visibility. But being in the water with these curious creatures is a joy even if you can only see them when you turn around at the surface and they look at you, all big eyes, before they disappear again in the cloud of murkiness. We stayed in the water as long as the tides allowed us, changed locations a few times and when we were dropped very close to some rocks without kelp beds around, the sun came out and improved the visibility greatly. As if the seals knew this would be their chance on a nice portrait, they came really close.”
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Up and Coming Highly Commended – Medusa Blenny on the Lookout, by Jade Hoksbergen.

“My fascination with blennies started in early 2016 when I was living in Saint Lucia and got my hands on an underwater camera for the first time. Having lived in the Philippines previously, blennies were a novelty to me despite their widespread presence in Saint Lucia. I thought they also made extremely interesting subjects due the range in their facial expression, sometimes akin to the grimaces one would associate with gargoyles.”
Highly Commended, Up & Coming - Medusa Blenny on the Lookout. My fascination with blennies started in early 2016 when I was living in Saint Lucia and got my hands on an underwater camera for the first time. Having lived in the Philippines previously, blennies were a novelty to me despite their widespread presence in Saint Lucia. I thought they also made extremely interesting subjects due the range in their facial expression, sometimes akin to the grimaces one would associate with gargoyles. For this shot, I wanted illustrate the intricate detail of this blenny whilst showing how its colour and texture blends seamlessly with its environment. Jade Hoksbergen/UPY 2017

Wide Angle Winner – One In A Million, by Ron Watkins

Last summer I headed to Alaska in search of salmon sharks. We cruised in the boat looking for their dorsal fins for hours and that is when we came across an enormous moon jellyfish bloom that stretched for several hundred meters. The dense bloom of jellyfish ranged in depth from 2 meters to over 20 meters and we spent a lot of time in the water with them. It was surreal and more dense than anything I had ever experienced including Jellyfish Lake in Palau. I came across this Lion’s Mane Jellyfish rising from the bloom towards the surface and positioned myself directly over it to capture this image.”

zsxdcfvgbhnjmMacro Commended – Larval Lion Fish, by Steven Kovacs.

“This image was taken on a black water drift dive in Palm Beach, Florida to look for alien looking pelagic animals, plankton and the larval stages of many creatures that drift out in the open ocean in their early stages of development. Many of the animals seen during black water dives are very small and can move quickly when illuminated by powerful dive lights, so getting a nice image is, not only challenging but, very rewarding as well. On one particular dive I was very fortunate to come across this rare tiny Lionfish in its early larval stage and was fortunate to get a photograph of it just as it flared it’s beautiful fins for the camera.”
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Behaviour Winner –
Your home and my home, by Qing Lin.

Captured near Lembeh, Indonesia. “Clown anemonefish and anemones enjoy a symbiotic relationship. The parasitic isopods like to hang out in the mouths of anemonefish. Perhaps because of the isopods, Clown anemonefish often open their mouths. These three particular fish were very curious. As I approached, they danced about the camera lens. It took me six dives, patience and luck to capture the exact moment when all three fish opened their mouths to reveal their guests. Finally, on the last day, on the last dive, I succeeded.”

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Macro Highly Commended – Backlight Shrimp, by Fabio Freitas

“Shrimps are challenging subjects to photograph; we have to portray their beautiful colors and shape, and especially focus on the eyes. In the late afternoon, I was diving in my favorite dive site in Bonaire called “Something special” when I saw this shrimp underneath the rock in a perfect position to make a backlighting technique, using continuous lighting. Immediately I turned off my strobes and asked my buddy to put the lighting behind the shrimp, he was very good putting the light exactly where I wanted it. I took only 4 pictures and then the shrimp vanished. It is important to know your techniques and when to use them, it is the key to making those special pictures with something more than the norm.”
zdxcfvgbAlthough these are are 14 favorite shots from this year’s competition, it was nearly impossible to choose from the 115 incredible shots. Go to www.underwaterphotographeroftheyear.com to see the full list of finalists.