2017 Underwater Photographer of the Year: winning photos announced

2017 Underwater Photographer of the Year

‘Dancing Octopus’ Gabriel Barathieu/UPY 2017 

The winners of the 2017 Underwater Photographer of the Year competition have been announced, and the photos are absolutely spectacular. The overall winner was Gabriel Barathieu with his image of an Octopus taken in the Lagoon of Mayotte on Mayotte Island.

He says, ‘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 14mm 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. Also, I didn’t need flash because I had lots of natural light.’

2017 British Underwater Photographer of the Year

‘Out of the Blue’ Nick Blake/UPY 2017

Kukulkan Cenote, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Kukulkan Cenote on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula forms part of the Chac Mool system and is noted for the spectacular light effects as the sun penetrates the darkness. 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. My journey from diver to underwater photographer has brought many amazing photographic opportunities and I feel humbled and privileged that this image has achieved such recognition.

2017 Up and Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year

‘Oceanic in the Sky’ Horacio Martinez/UPY 2017

The Brothers, Egypt

This was my first Red Sea experience, and my first live-aboard-based photo workshop, so everything was interesting… but arduous. We were on the last dive of the day and I ventured a tad deeper to get closer portraits of the Oceanic White Tips, when I noticed this shark patrolling in the distance. I took a few shots to expose for the sun beams and the surface, and was pleased by the dreamlike effect. Oceanics are great subjects for close ups as they are anything but shy. Yet, every now and then it is great to try and capture their apparent loneliness, their wandering, and their independence in the big blue.

2017 Most Promising British Underwater Photographer

‘Orca Pod’ Nicholai Georgiou/UPY 2017

Tromso, Norway

Orcas are easily the most beautiful, intelligent and confident animals I’ve ever had the honor of spending time with. This photo was taken during an amazing week freediving with wild Orca in Norway. The days are quite short in winter and the water was around 5 degrees but we wore a thick wetsuit and of course with Orca around, the cold was quickly forgotten. The light had a really nice colour from the setting sun as this graceful pod of Orca swam by nice and close. It was a moment which will be hard to top and I’m glad to have this image to share it.

2017 Underwater Photography Awards

‘Frozen Hunting’ Fabrice Guerin/UPY 2017 

Andenes, Norway

Judge’s comments:

A stunning behavioral image of a humpback in shallow water scattering herring taken in very tough conditions. The photographer did very well in very dark waters to record this breath-taking scene sharply.

2017 Underwater Photography Awards

‘Finally Whalesharks’ Patrick Neumann/UPY 2017

Gorontalo, Indonesia, Central Sulawesi

Although I have been diving for more than 30 years with over 3000 dives, I had never saw a Whaleshark before. When I was working on a liveaboard in Thailand twice the whole boat saw one but not me and my group. Among my friends it was already a running gag. If you want to see Whalesharks don`t dive with Patrick. On our latest trip through Indonesia a friend told me that recently there are some around the Gorontalo area so we changed our plans and went there to end my whaleshark dilemma. We drove out to the divesite and everything was perfect. Very good visibility, no waves and a bright sunny day. Now only the big guy had to be there to make it really happen. When we entered the water there was not one Whaleshark… but 6 of them! You can imagine my happiness.

2017 Underwater Photography Awards

‘Views at Dawn’ Pasquale Vassallo/UPY 2017

Miseno, Gulf of Naples, Italy

Over the past few months, my photographic work has focused primarily on the large presence of species of jellyfish Rhizostoma pulmo, in the Gulf of Naples. In this picture a couple of crabs, Liocarcinus vernalis species, are its tenants.
When the jellyfish rub the sandy seabed, the crabs jump on it and get carried to different areas.

2017 Underwater Photography Awards

‘Humpback whale feeding on krill’ Jean Tresfon/UPY 2017

A few miles offshore from Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa

Every summer hundreds of humpback whales gather off the Cape Town coast in a massive feeding aggregation. Working as part of a film crew I was privileged to have a chance to photograph this phenomenon. Although the water visibility was really good, inside the krill patch it was much reduced. Without warning the whales appeared just metres away with their pleats distended as they surfaced with huge mouthfuls of krill. Realising that they must be feeding deeper down I descended into the darker water to find the thickest concentration of krill. Suddenly a humpback appeared right in front of me, its huge mouth wide open as it sieved the water for the tiny crustaceans. I took several images before it disappeared into the gloom and then I was surrounded by a multitude of massive bodies as the rest of the pod took its turn to feed. Not a little intimidating! 

2017 Underwater Photography Awards

‘Big Red’ Guglielmo Cicerchia/UPY 2017

Giannutri Island, Italy

During the dive I found a fishing net in which many fish were trapped still alive. They were struggling to get free. Using a slow shutter speed and zooming during the exposure I wanted to emphasize the attempt to break free from the fishing net. 

2017 Underwater Photography Awards

‘Imp of darkness’ Damien Mauric/UPY 2017

Isla Fernandina, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

On his visit to the Galapagos islands, Charles Darwin was revolted by the animals’ appearance, writing: “The black Lava rocks on the beach are frequented by large, disgusting clumsy Lizards. They are as black as the porous rocks over which they crawl & seek their prey from the Sea. I call them ‘imps of darkness’. They assuredly well-become the land they inhabit.” The marine iguana are all but monsters. Endemic to the Galapagos, it’s a rare privilege to share a moment underwater with this animal now considered as an endangered species.

2017 Underwater Photography Awards

‘Green Turtles in the rays’ Greg Lecoeur/UPY 2017

Tenerife, Spain

During a diving trip to Tenerife, I came across these green turtles. It was early morning and the sunbeams pierced the surface. I adjusted the setting of my camera and I waited for the turtles to come close enough to trigger my camera. After a little while, the turtles were circling around us and it was a great opportunity to photograph them.

2017 Underwater Photography Awards

‘Clowning Around’ Luc Rooman/UPY 2017

Lembeh, Indonesia

Towards the end of the dive I suddenly saw a nice Anemone with clownfish. I focused on the clownfish and had to take several pictures through the aluminum tube that mounted on my port was so that I have obtained a round mirror effect.

2017 Underwater Photography Awards

‘Prey?’ So Yat Wai/UPY 2017

Anilao, Phillipines

This photo was shot during a blackwater dive in Anilao. Even though the larvae mantis shrimp (left) is very small, it still a predator which uses its raptorial appendages to hunt. Has it spotted the prey and is ready to pounce?

2017 Underwater Photography Awards

‘Competition’ Richard Shucksmith/UPY 2017

Shetland Isles, United Kingdom

I was out off the coast making images for SCOTLAND: The Big Picture – a project about re-wilding that produces images to amplify the case for a wilder Scotland. Hundreds of gannets were circling the boat looking for the fish that were being thrown over the side. Suddenly a single bird dives and the others seeing it as an indicator and 20, 30, 40 birds are diving at once. Because of this behaviour competition between gannets is always going occur creating several gannets diving for the same fish. I could hear the birds as they hit the water right above my head just before they appeared in front of the camera. A great experience. 

2017 Underwater Photography Awards

‘Capturing History’ Tanya Houppermans/UPY 2017

Wreck of the U-352, North Carolina, US

An underwater photographer lines up a shot of the conning tower of the wreck of the U-352 off the coast of North Carolina, USA. During WWII, German U-boats patrolled the waters just off the east coast of the U.S. In May 1942 the U-352 fired upon the USCGC Icarus but missed. The Icarus retaliated, and sunk the U-352 in 120ft of water 26 miles southeast of Beaufort Inlet. During this particular dive the visibility was especially good, so my goal was to capture wide angle images with as much of the wreck in the frame as I could get. As I was lining up the shot, a fellow photographer was focusing on the conning tower, so I decided to include him in the image to give a sense of scale to the wreck.

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