Underwater Photographer of the Year is an annual competition, based in the UK, that seeks to celebrate photography beneath the surface of the ocean, lakes and even swimming pools.
Today’s competition has 11 categories, testing photographers with themes such as Macro, Wide Angle, Behaviour and Wreck photography, as well as three categories for photos taken specifically in British waters.
Underwater Photographer of the Year Winner
Photographer: Tobias Friedrich (Germany)
Location: Thistlegorm – Egypt
Camera/Lens: Canon1DX MK II / Canon 8-15mm Fisheye
A panorama photograph of British World War II military vehicles deep inside a shipwreck in the Red Sea sees German photographer Tobias Friedrich named Underwater Photographer of the Year 2018.
Friedrich’s photograph triumphed over 5000 underwater pictures entered by underwater photographers from all around the world. Cycle War was taken in Egypt and shows Norton 16H motorbikes loaded in Fordson WOT 3 trucks, with soldierfish schooling above.
For a few years now I had had this image in mind as the motorcycles on this truck inside the Thistlegorm lie so perfectly together, but you can only barely capture it because the wall is very close and you can’t move backwards enough to capture the whole scenery. As a result I had to create a panoramic image of the same scene to capture the whole cargo deck, including some lights that give the image more depth.
Chair of the judges, Peter Rowlands, added; “This is a quite extraordinary shot which must be viewed as large as possible. The bigger the better. And yet it is a subject which has been photographed literally thousands of times. The artistic skill is to visualize such an image and the photographic talent is to achieve it. Perfectly lit and composed, I predict that there will never be a better shot of this subject from now on.”
British Underwater Photographer of the Year
Title: Love Birds
Photographer: Grant Thomas (United Kingdom)
Category: British Waters Wide Angle
Location: Luss Pier, Loch Lomond – Scotland
Camera/Lens: Canon5d mkIII / Tokina 10 – 17mm
The title of British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2018 goes to Grant Thomas from Glasgow, who now lives in New Zealand.
His photo of swans called ” Love Birds” was taken in Loch Lomond, Scotland.
I have always been fascinated by over-under photography, connecting the everyday terrestrial world that we all know with the less familiar underwater secrets. I chose Loch Lomond as the location for this shot due to its idilic scenery, water access and friendly swans. My initial idea was to frame a split shot of one swan feeding below the surface of the water but when I noticed how comfortable they were around me I was confident, with some patience, I could get that magical shot of the two. It was mid-day, sun high in the sky, I waded slowly into the shallow water, allowing the swans to become comfortable with my presence. When they began searching for food below the water line I just had to wait for that perfect moment of synchronicity.
Competition judge Martin Edge commented; “Congratulations on taking the prize for WINNER & British Underwater Photographer of the Year. The judging panel was impressed when we first viewed this image, But as you know, opinions can change. In this case, the swans’ image got better and better over the days of judging.”
Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year
Photographer: ManBd UiDive (Malaysia)
Category: Up & Coming
Location: YOS Dive Lembeh House Reef – Indonesia
Camera: Olympus Tough TG-4
The Underwater Photographer of the Year competition also aims to promote new photographic talent.
Malaysian Man BD was named Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2018 for his image “Roar”, showing a pair of sea slugs with a gaping moray eel as a background, photographed in Indonesia.
When I was shooting a nudibranch I was focusing on it’s behaviour to get just the right shot. While this happened a moray eel suddenly appeared out from the blue behind the nudi. I was shocked for a while but decided it would be a great composition. As a few minutes flew by to my surprise another nudibranch appeared right behind the other one perhaps to mate. Having both nudi’s and a moray eel was a double surprise for me. I then decided to wait a while longer for the nudi to be in frame with the moray eel roaring behind. It took about 30 minutes to get this shot and it was well worth it.
Competition judge Martin Edge commented; “Another of my favourites in the competition. The mouth and head of the moray take up more than 50% of the image frame which is all out of focus but the result is a superb demonstration of blur which I would never have believe would work against the three nudi’s. The soft left eye of the moray together with the morays gleaming white teeth towards the bottom round off this image but there is still more to come! he three nudi’s look as though they are planning their escape in different directions. One superb image!”
Highly Commended & Most Promising British Underwater Photographer
Title: How many Pike?
Photographer: Tony Stephenson (United Kingdom)
Category: British Waters Wide Angle
Location: Stoney Cove, Leicestershire – England
Camera/Lens: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark 11 / Panasonic Lumix G 8mm Fisheye
The title of Most Promising British Underwater Photographer 2018 goes to Tony Stephenson from the East Midlands in England.
His image “How Many Pike?” reveals pike courtship in Stoney Cove, Leicestershire.
Living in the East Midlands in England is a long way from the sea and as a result, a lot of my diving takes place in the quarry at Stoney Cove, the UK’s National Diving Centre. I love photographing pike and on this particular dive during the Easter holidays, a ‘group’ of males were looking for a mate. Once they found one they pursued her relentlessly and were completely transfixed on gaining her attention. This allowed me to get close in front of the fish, fill the frame and aim to get lots of good eye contact. I was delighted by the results. I hope that I have demonstrated that UK inland diving can throw up some amazing sights that are a pleasure to witness and photograph.
Competition judge, Alex Mustard commented; “We were not short of Pike pictures to look at but this one captured us all. We did agree, however, that a touch of extra light (or Photoshop lightning) on the central character would have helped.”
All category winners
In the gallery below are all the winners by category.
High-Resolution images with captions were kindly provided by Under Water Photographer of the Year
Header image credits: Cat 3 - Wrecks | Tobias Friedrich (Germany)