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Scott's Underwater Photography Blog

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Full Article: Bluewater Travel Credit Terms and Conditions for Ocean Art 2018

Bluewater Travel is a specialized travel agency. They offer both underwater photography workshops and group lead trips. Joining a trip gives you the peace of mind of a trip leader to make sure things go smoothly, and/or a professional photographer on the trip to help offer education and guidance with taking underwater photos.

They also offer individual travel services, where you can contact them for information on dive destinations, boats, resorts, etc. They can help you plan a dive trip for yourself, for you and some friends, family, etc at no additional cost.  They can help with the trip planning, transfers, flights, everything - at the same price as arranging it yourself! It's a hassle free way to book your dive vacation, at no additional cost.

The $200 travel voucher is like cash!

Terms & Conditions are as follows:

- Applicable for any dive trip booked through Bluewater Travel

- Must book by July 15th, 2019   

- If arranging a personal dive trip, it must be valued at $1,000 or more 

- If joining a photography workshops/group trip, it must be valued at $3,000 or more

      - Can not be combined with a current offer on photography workshops/ group trips

- Only applicable to new trips, can not be combined to a previous booking

- Some restrictions apply

Full Article: Beautiful Underwater Photos from Anilao

Every December, Bluewater Photo and Travel returns to the macro photography paradise of Anilao, Philippines for their annual winter underwater photography workshop. The December, 2018 photo workshop was led by Craig Dietrich, Helen Brierley, Crystal Blue Resort’s Mike Bartick and Bluewater CEO, Scott Gietler. Guests enjoyed a rigorous underwater photographic routine involving 4 dives per day, a daily image review, and daily presentations on different aspects of underwater photography – the perfect recipe for sharp photographers.

The Macro Photographer’s Sacred Site

Anilao is undoubtedly a niche destination. If you’re looking for your standard tropical beach vacation, there are undeniably better options. If you’re looking for expansive underwater reefscapes to bask in – there are better places to be. If you’re looking for big pelagic, sharks, rays, and whales – go to Socorro. But if you’re looking for freaks, oddities, aliens of the deeps, and sea slugs Anilao is the place to be. In an almost sacred sense, Anilao is the global pilgrimage destination for macro photographers on their quest to find tiny but coveted marine life – much of it unbeknownst to the public eye. 

Trip Critters

These creatures are as odd as their names sounds - frogfish (hairy, warty, giant, and painted – and yes, there are that many types), pygmy seahorses, flamboyant cuttlefish, rhinopias, nudibranchs, Lembeh sea dragons, mimic octopus, and blackwater “aliens” can all be readily found in Anilao. Why travel halfway around the world to see these creatures? Every dive in Anilao is an underwater saga of life, death, violence, and love. The behavior of these animals and their inherent natural beauty is unlike anything on this planet. These photos from our trip leaders speak for themselves.

 

Photos from our Trip Leaders

 

Helen Brierley

“One of the highlights for me was the blackwater dives, which I did every other night (alternating with night dives).  I photographed dozens of different tiny critters and saw some very unexpected larger ones  - a sea snake surfacing as we drifted over a sea mount and a massive mola mola, spooked by the lights, that sped up the line of our rope to the surface right next to us.”

 

Craig Dietrich

 

 

Scott Gietler

 

 

Join Bluewater Photo in April, May, and December 2018 for the annual Anilao workshops, and some amazing reef and critter diving at Crystal Blue Resort.

 

April 25 - May 5, 2019 (10 Nights)

May 5 - May 12, 2019 (7 Nights)*

 

December 1-8, 2019 (7 Nights)

 

10 Nights: $2,299 Shared Room, $2,849 Private Room
7 Nights: $1,699 Shared Room, $2,199 Private Room

*We will hold some rooms from May 12-15, and December 8-11 so guests can stay for 10 nights

Full Article: 2018 Ocean Art Contest Winners

First of all, we would like to congratulate everyone who joined the 2018 Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition! This competition is one of the most prestigious nature photo contests in the world, and the winning images represent some of the best underwater photographs of the year. Photographers from 70 countries entered images, and over $80,000 in sponsor prizes have been awarded, making the Ocean Art prize value among the highest in the world.

Winners were asked to rank their prize choices and were awarded 1 prize based on totaling points from all their winning photos.

We would also like to extend your much appreciation to our world-renowned judges Tony Wu, Martin Edge, Marty Snyderman and Scott Gietler for judging the competition.

 

Press Release and Media Contact: http://www.uwphotographyguide.com/ocean-art-2018-winners-announced

 



Quick Links:

Wide-Angle      Macro   ♦   Marine Life Behavior   ♦    Portrait

 

 

 

 

View List of Winners' Names


 


SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS

 

 

Best of Show

Click photo to view full size

"Devil Ray Ballet"
Spinetail devil rays, (Mobula japanica)

Best in Show - Duncan Murrell

Shot in Honda Bay, Palawan, the Philippines

Story of the Shot

 

 

Wide-Angle Category

Click photo to view full size


"Gentle Giants"
Humback whale and her calf (Megaptera novaeangliae)

1st Place - François Baelen

Shot in Saint-Gilles, Reunion Island with Sony A7III 

Story of the Shot 

 

"Paddle Boarders Sunset"

 2nd Place - Grant Thomas

Shot in Ha’apai, Tonga with Canon 5D Mark III

Story of the Shot

 

"Two Inquisitive Friends"
Australian sea lion pups

3rd Place - Celia Kujala

Shot in Jurien Bay Marine Park, Western Australia, Australia with Nikon D500

Story of the Shot

 

"West Coast Flowers"
sandy anemones (Aulactinia reynaudi)

4th Place - Geo Cloete

Shot in West Coast, South Africa with Nikon D300 Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"Eclipse"
Golden Rays

5th Place - Edwar Herreno

Shot in Bat Island, Costa Rica with Nikon D800

Story of the Shot

 

"Silky Sunset"
Silky Sharks

6th Place - Daniel Flormann

Shot in Jardins de la Reina, Cuba with Canon 7D

Story of the Shot

 

"Pacific Red Sockeye"
Sockeye Salmon (Onchorynchus nerka)

Honorable Mention - Wu Yung Sen

Shot in British Columbia, Canada with Sony A7R III

Story of the Shot

 

"Hanging in Leru"
Diver silhouette in Leru Cut, Solomon Islands

Honorable Mention - Steve Kopp

Shot in Solomon Island with Canon 5D Mark IV

Story of the Shot



Macro

Click photo to view full size

"Ancistrocheirus"
Sharp-eared enope squid (Ancistricheirus lesseurii)

1st Place - Jeff Milisen

Shot in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii with Canon T1i

Story of the Shot

 

"Look"
Goby on tunicate

2nd Place  - Chun Zhou

Story of the Shot

 

"Speedy Cuttlefish"
Cuttlefish (Sepiola sp.)

3rd Place - Fabio Iardino

Shot in Trieste Gulf, Italy with Nikon D850

Story of the Shot

 

"Dance of Love"
Seahorses

4th Place - Jinggong Zhang

Shot in Minamatashi, Kumamotoken, Japan with Nikon D850

Story of the Shot

 

"Magic Carpet"
Sargassum Frogfish

5th Place -- Tianhong Wang

Shot in Lembeh, North Sulawesi, Indonesia with Canon 5D Mark III

Story of the Shot

 

"Waves"
African Bavosa (Parablennius Pilicornis)

6th Place - Stefano Proakis

Shot in Argentario, Italy with Nikon D800E

Story of the Shot

 

"Unnoticed"
Juvenile rigid shrimpfish

Honorable Mention - Shane Gross

Shot in Flores, Indonesia with Nikon D500

Story of the Shot

 

"Juvenile Batfish"

Honorable Mention - Dennis Corpuz

Shot in Anilao, Philippines with Nikon D7000 Camera

Story of the Shot

 

 

Marine Life Behavior

Click photo to view full size

"Devil Ray Ballet"
Spinetail devil rays, (Mobula japanica)

1st Place - Duncan Murrell

Shot in Honda Bay, Palawan, the Philippines

Story of the Shot

 

"The Fight"
Anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis)

2nd Place - Anders Nyberg

Shot in Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia with Nikon D500

Story of the Shot


"Love from a Father"
Clownfish with Eggs (Amphiprion chrysogaster)

3rd Place - François Baelen

Shot in Padangbai, Bali with Sony A7III 

Story of the Shot 

 

"Gauntlet"
Parrotfish hunted by Grey Reef Sharks

4th Place - Richard Barnden

Shot in French Polynesia with Nikon D810

Story of the Shot

 

"New Life"
Octopus (Octopus vulgaris) with Eggs

5th Place - Flavio Vailati

Shot in Capo Noli (SV), Italy with Nikon D500 Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"Cleaning"
White Banded Cleaner Shrimp

6th Place - Liang Fu

Shot in Tulamben Bali Indonesia  with Canon 5DS

Story of the Shot

 

"Hawaiian Lei"
Mantish Shrimp

7th Place - Mei Hing Sin

Shot in Lembeh Strait, Indonesia with Canon 7D Mark II

Story of the Shot

 

"Living in a Jelly"
Travelly and Jellyfish

Honorable Mention - Doris Vierkötter

Shot in Bali, Indonesia with Canon 5DSR Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"Timing"
Spawning Camouflage Groupers

Honorable Mention - Richard Barnden 

Shot in Republic of Palau with Nikon D810

Story of the Shot

 

"Feeding "
Cuttlefish preying on rainbow peacock shrimp

Honorable Mention - Els Van Den Borre

Shot in Ambon, Indonesia  with Nikon D800

Story of the Shot

 


Portrait

Click photo to view full size

"Chimaera"
Spotted Ratfish (Hydrolagus colliei)

1st Place - Claudio Zori

Shot in Hurst Island, Canada with Nikon D300S

Story of the Shot

"Croc in the Mist"
American Crocodile
2rd Place - Christina Barringer

Shot in Banco Chinchorro, Mexico with Canon 6D Camera

Story of the Shot


"Open Eyes"
Dancing shrimp (Rhynchocinetes uritai)

3rd Place - Doris Vierkötter

Shot in Bali, Indonesia with Canon 7D Mark II

Story of the Shot

 

"Eye to Eye"
Humpback Whale Calf

4th Place - Shane Keena

Shot in H'aApai, Kingdom of Tonga with Canon 5D MKIII

Story of the Shot


"Face to Face"
Sockeye Salmon (Onchorhynchus nerka)

5th Place - Mirko Zanni

Shot in Adams River, British Columbia, Canada with Canon 5D Mark III

Story of the Shot


"Roar"
Chaenopsid Blenny

Honorable Mention - Jinggong Zhang

Shot in Miwura, Kanagawaken, Japan with Nikon D850

Story of the Shot


"Nemo"
ocellaris clownfish in ritteri sea anemone

Honorable Mention - Matteo Visconti

Shot in Ishigaki Island, Okinawa, Japan with Nikon D850

Story of the Shot


"Curiosity"
Green Sea Turtle

Honorable Mention - Kyler Badten

Shot in Haleiwa, Hawaii with Canon 7D Mark II

Story of the Shot

 


Cold Water

Click photo to view full size


"Grey Seal Face"
Grey Seal

1st Place - Greg Lecoeur

Story of the Shot

 

"Burst"
California Sealion in the kelp forest

2nd Place - Tyler Schiffman 

Shot in Monterey bay, United States with Sony A7R III

Story of the Shot

 

"Canadian Underwater Life"
Rose and Plumose Anemone

3rd Place - Claudio Zori

Shot in British Columbia, Canada with Nikon D300S

Story of the Shot

 

"Life Under the Ice"
Filamentous algae under ice

4th Place - Rémi Masson

Shot in Black Lake, Alps, France with Canon 5D Mark IV Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"Foggy Morning in Adams River"
Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)

5th Place - Eiko Jones

Shot in British Columbia, Canada with Nikon D800e Camera 

Story of the Shot

 


"Spider Crab Attack"
Spider Crabs

Honorable Mention - Henley Spiers

Shot in Devon, U.K. with Nikon D850 Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"Best Friends Forever"
Galapagos Penguins (Spheniscus mendiculus)

Honorable Mention - Simon Lorenz

Shot in Galapagos, Ecuador with Nikon D850

Story of the Shot

 

"Winter in Iceland"

Honorable Mention - Adam Martin

Shot in Iceland with Canon 5D Mark III

Story of the Shot


 

Nudibranchs

Click photo to view full size

"Inside the Eggs"
Favorinus pacificus and eggs

1st Place - Flavio Vailati

Shot in Anilao, Philippines with Nikon D500 Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"Polycera quadrilineata posing"
Polycera quadrilineata

2nd Place - Fredrik Ehrenström

Shot in Norway with Nikon D200 Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"Frosted Pearl"
Dirona albolineata

3rd Place - Bettina Balnis

Shot in Barclay Sound, BC, Canada with Nikon D7000

Story of the Shot

 


"Janolous Cristatus"

4th Place - Giacomo Giovannini

Shot in Taranto, Italy with Nikon D610

Story of the Shot

 

"Sheep on the Shot"
Costasiella sp.

Honorable Mention - Chun Ho Tam

Shot in Lembeh Strait, Indonesia with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Story of the Shot

 

 

Supermacro

Click photo to view full size

"Hairy Flames"
Hairy Shrimp

1st  Place - Edison So

Shot in Anilao, Philippines with Canon 5D Mark III

Story of the Shot 

 

"Porcelain Bloom"
Porcelain Crab

2nd Place - Wayne Jones

Shot in Anilao, Philippines with Canon 5D Mark IV

Story of the Shot 

 

"Eye C U"
Hairy Shrimp Eye (Phycocarys simulans)

3rd Place - Ludovic Galko-Rundgen

Shot in Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia with Canon 70D

Story of the Shot 

 


"Little New Life"
Clowfish Eggs

4th Place - Leon Zhao

Shot in Southern Leyte, Philippines with Nikon D750

Story of the Shot 

 

"The Eye"
Octopus Eye

5th Place - Gaetano Gargiulo

Shot in Chowder Bay, NSW, Australia with Nikon D800

Story of the Shot

 

"Brooks Sea Urchin Shrimp"

Honorable Mention - Iyad Suleyman

Shot in Anilao, Philippines with Canon 60D

Story of the Shot 


Novice DSLR

Click photo to view full size

"Special Encounter"
Oceanic Manta Ray

1st Place- Alvin Cheung

Shot it Socorro, Mexico with Nikon D810 Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"Smile of a Friend"
American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)

2nd Place - Antonio Pastrana

Shot in Jucaro, Cuba with Nikon D850 Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"Stingray Portrait in 3D"
Pink Whipray

3rd Place - Marie Charlotte Ropert

Shot in Moorea Island, French Polynesia with Nikon D500 Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"The Cuttle"
Cuttlefish

4th Place - Steven Walsh

Shot in Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia with Sony A6500 Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"Butterfly in the Dark"
Butterfly nudibranch (Cyerce nigra)

5th Place - Alvin Cheung

Shot in Romblon, Philippines with Nikon D810 Camera

Story of the Shot

 


Mirrorless Wide-Angle

Click photo to view full size

"Atlantic Spotted Dolphins"

1st Place - Eugene Kitsios

Shot in Bimini, Bahamas with Olympus E-M1 Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"Team Solomon"

2nd Place - Pier Mane

Shot in Solomon Islands with Olympus E-M1 Mark II Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"No No!"
Galapagos Sealion (Zalophus wollebaeki)

3rd Place - Pier Main

Shot in Galapagos Island with Olympus E-M1 Mark II Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"Pardon Me"
Ribbon Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus polytaenia)

4th Place - Max Holba

Shot in Raja Ampat, Indonesia with Olympus E-M1 Mark II Camera

Story of the Shot


"Million Hope Shipwreck"

Honorable Mention - Fabrice Dudenhofer

Shot in Red Sea, Egypt with Olympus E-M1 Mark II Camera

Story of the Shot


"From Beneath"
Fine Spotted Moray Eel

Honorable Mention - Pier Mane

Shot in Galapagos with Olympus E-M1 Mark II Camera

Story of the Shot

 

 

Mirrorless Macro

Click photo to view full size

"3 Baby Seahorses"
Big-belly Seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis)

1st Place - Steven Walsh

Shot in Blairgowrie Pier, Victoria, Australia with Sony A7III Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"Bubble Life"
Boergeseniaforbesii (Siphonocladales)

2nd Place - Owen Yen

Shot in Green Island, Taiwan with Olympus EM1 MK II Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"Little Birth"
Yellow Pygmy Goby with Squid Eggs

3rd Place - Younghun Kan

Shot in Lembeh, Indonesia with Sony A7R II Camera

Story of the Shot


"Seagrass Shrimp Disco"
Yellow Seagrass Shrimp on a Bottle

4th Place - Enrico Somogyi

Shot in Anilao, Philippines with Olympus E-PL6

Story of the Shot


"Face to Face"

Honorable Mention - Rafi Amar

Shot in Shark Paradise, Bahamas with Olympus OM-D E-M1

Story of the Shot

 

 

 

Mirrorless Behavior

Click photo to view full size

"My Babies"
Yellowtail clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii) oxygenating its eggs

1st Place - Fabrice Dudenhofer

Shot in Amami Oshima Island, Japan with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Story of the Shot

 

"Schools of Schools"
Carcharias taurus (aka sand tiger shark)

2nd Place - Debbie Wallace

Shot in Morehead City, North Carolina, USA with Olympus OMD EM-1 Mark II

Story of the Shot

 

"Gaming Zone"
Small fish swimming above a jellyfish

3rd Place - Yeh Hung Wei

Shot in Taiwan with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Story of the Shot


"Shrimp School"

4th Place - Lorenzo Terraneo

Shot in Anilao, Philippines with Panasonic GX8

Story of the Shot


"Family Affair"
A pod of false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens)
5th Place - Tiffany Poon

Shot in Roca Partida, Revillagigedo Archipelago, Mexico with Olympus E-PL1 Camera

Story of the Shot


"Feasting"
Giant Kingfish predating on Giant Crown Jellyfish

Honorable Mention - Pier Mane

Shot in Sodwana Bay, South Africa with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Story of the Shot

 

 

 

Compact Wide-Angle

Click photo to view full size

"Dancing Jellyfish"

1st Place - Melody Chuang

Shot in North-East Coast, Taiwan with Olympus TG5 Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"Coral"
Octocoral - Eunicella singularis & Eunicella Cavolini

2nd Place - Andrea Falcomatà

Shot in Argentario, Argentarola, Italy with Sony RX 100 V

Story of the Shot

 

"Budego"
 Budego (Lophius budegassa) 

3rd Place - Alessandro Raho

Shot in Noli, Italy with Canon G16 Camera

Story of the Shot


"Who's the Boss?"
Marine Iguana

4th Place - Andreas Schmid

Shot in Galapagos Island, Ecuador with Canon G7X Mark II

Story of the Shot


"Sea Nettle Soup"
Metridium Anemones and Sea Nettle Jellyfish

Honorable Mention - Jon Anderson

Shot in Monterey, California, USA with a Canon G7X

Story of the Shot


"Break the Surface"
Humpback Whale and Calf

Honorable Mention - Miguel Ramirez

Shot in Cap la Houssaye, in Reunion island with Olympus TG5 Camera

Story of the Shot

 

 

 

Compact Macro

Click photo to view full size

"Hairy Shrimp"

1st Place - Sejung Jang

Shot in Anilao, Philippines with Olympus TG-5

Story of the Shot

 

"Red on Green"
Coral Goby on Coral

2nd Place - Kate Tinson

Shot in North Sulawesi, Indonesia with Olympus TG4

Story of the Shot

 

"Yellow Gobies in a Bottle"
 Yellow Pygmy Gobies 

3rd Place - Matteo Pighi

Shot in Anilao, Philippines with Canon G12 Camera

Story of the Shot


"A Hairy Shrimp in the Air"

4th Place - Sunbong Jong

Shot in Anilao, Philippines with Olympus TG-4 Camera

Story of the Shot


"Juvenile Fish"

Honorable Mention - Jim Chen

Shot in Romblon, Philippines with Olympus TG-4

Story of the Shot

 

 

Compact Behavior

Click photo to view full size

"Cannibal Crab"
Spider Crabs

1st Place - PT Hirschfield

Shot in Victoria, Australia with Canon G12 Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"Hungry"

2nd Place - Miguel Ramirez

Shot in Grand Anse, Reunion island  with Olympus TG4

Story of the Shot

 

"La Siesta"
White tip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus) 

3rd Place - Jin Woo Lee

Shot in Roca Partida, Revillagigedo Archipelago, Mexico with RX100 V Camera

Story of the Shot


"Shell Feeding"
Snail feeding on a cup coral

4th Place - Danny Van Belle

Shot in Similan Islands, Thailand with Nikon S3 Camera

Story of the Shot



"Dinner Time"
Squid eating fish

Honorable Mention - Dennis Corpuz

Shot in Anilao, Philippines with Olympus TG5 Camera

Story of the Shot



"Reflection of a Crab"

Honorable Mention - Jack Berthomier

Shot in Ouemo’s bay, Noumea, New Caledonia with Sony RX100 II Camera

Story of the Shot

 

 

 

Underwater Art

Click photo to view full size

"Disco Nudi"
Hypselodoris bullocki nudibranch

1st Place - Bruno Van Saen

Shot in Bali, Indonesia with Nikon D810 Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"Two Worlds Collide"

2nd Place - Jordan Robins

Shot in Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay, NSW, Australia with Canon 5D MK IV 

Story of the Shot

 

"Discovering the Hidden Face of Yucatan"
Freediver in Cenote

3rd Place - Guillaume Néry

Shot in Yucatan, Mexico with Sony A7R II Camera

Story of the Shot


"Treasure Hunters"

4th Place - Dennis Vandermeersch

Shot in composite locations with Nikon D810 and Nikon D300 Cameras

Story of the Shot



"Light Beam"
Freediver in Cenote

Honorable Mention - Alexandre St. Jean

Shot in Mérida, Mexico with Canon 5D Mark IV Camera

Story of the Shot



"The Jellyfish Treasure"

Honorable Mention - Thomas Heckmann

Shot in a German pool with Nikon D800E Camera

Story of the Shot

 


Reefscapes

Click photo to view full size

"Mangrove"
Soft coral grows on mangrove roots

1st Place - Yen-Yi Lee

Shot in Raja Ampat, Indonesia with Canon 5D Mark IV Camera

Story of the Shot

 

"Sunsplit"

2nd Place - Tobias Friedrich

Shot in Red Sea, Egypt with Canon 1DX Mark II 

Story of the Shot

 

"A Reef that Glows"

3rd Place - Alex Lindbloom

Shot in Northern Komodo National Park, Indonesia with Panasonic GH5

Story of the Shot



"Spongy Sunburst"

4th Place - Renee Capozzola

Shot in Pulau Babi, Flores, Indonesia with Canon 5D Mark III Camera

Story of the Shot



"Piscine Poetry at Two Tree"
Baitfish and table coral

Honorable Mention - Fred Bavendam

Shot in Raja Ampat, Indonesia with Nikon D800 Camera

Story of the Shot


"Field of White"
Bleached acropora, staghorn coral

Honorable Mention - Brett M Garner

Shot in Great Barrier Reef, Australia with Nikon D300 Camera Camera

Story of the Shot


Complete List of Winners

 

Best of Show

“Courting Devil Ray Ballet” by Duncan Murrell

 

Wide-Angle

1st François Baelen 

2nd Grant Thomas

3rd Celia Kujala

4th Geo Cloete

5th Edwar Herreno

6th Daniel Flormann

HM Steve Kopp

HM Wu Yung Sen

 

Macro

1st Jeff Milisen

2nd Chun Zhou

3rd Fabio Iardino

4th Jinggong Zhang

5th Tianhong Wang

6th Stefano Proakis

HM Shane Gross

HM Dennis Corpuz

 

Coldwater

1st Greg Lecoeur

2nd Tyler Schiffman

3rd Claudio Zori

4th Rémi Masson

5th Eiko Jones

HM Henley Spiers

HM Simon Lorenz

HM Adam Martin

 

Portrait

1st Claudio Zori

2nd Christina Barringer

3rd Doris Vierkötter

4th Shane Keena

5th Mirko Zanni

HM Jinggong Zhang

HM Matteo Visconti

HM Kyler Badten

 

Marine Life Behavior

1st Duncan Murrell

2nd Anders Nyberg

3rd François Baelen 

4th Richard Barnden

5th Flavio Vailati

6th  Liang Fu

7th Mei Hing Sin

HM Doris Vierkötter

HM Richard Barnden

HM Els Van Den Borre

 

Reefscapes

1st Yen-Yi Lee

2nd Tobias Friedrich

3rd Alex Lindbloom

4th Renee Capozzola

HM Fred Bavendam

HM Brett M Garner

 

Novice DSLR

1st Alvin Cheung

2nd Antonio Pastrana

3rd Marie Charlotte

4th Steven Walsh

5th Alvin Cheung


Mirrorless Macro 

1st Steven Walsh

2nd Owen Yen

3rd Younghun Kan

4th Enrico Somogyi

HM Rafi Amar

 

Mirrorless Behavior

1st Fabrice Dudenhofer

2nd Debbie Wallace

3rd Yeh Hung Wei

4th Lorenzo Terraneo

5th  Tiffany Poon

HM Pier Mane


Mirrorless Wide-Angle

1st Eugene Kitsios

2nd Pier Mane

3rd Pier Mane

4th Max Holba

HM Fabrice Dudenhofer

HM Pier Mane


Compact Macro

1st Sejung Jang

2nd Kate Tinson

3rd Matteo Pighi

4th Sunbong Jung

HM Jim Chen

 

Compact Marine Life Behavior

1st PT Hirschfield

2nd Miguel Ramirez

3rd Jin Woo Lee

4th Danny Van Belle

HM Dennis Corpuz

HM Jack Berthomier

 

Compact Wide-Angle

1st Melody Chuang

2nd Andrea Falcomatà

3rd Alessandro Raho

4th Andreas Schmid

HM Jon Anderson

HM Miguel Ramirez


Nudibranchs

1st Flavio Vailati

2nd Fredrik Ehrenström

3rd Bettina Balnis

4th Giacomo Giovannini

HM Chun Ho Tam

 

Supermacro

1st Edison So

2nd Wayne Jones

3rd Ludovic Galko-Rundgren

4th Leon Zhao

5th Gaetano Gargiulo

HM Iyad Suleyman


Underwater Art

1st Bruno Van Saen

2nd Jordan Robins

3rd Guillaume Néry

4th Dennis Vandermeersch

HM Alexandre St-Jean

HM Thomas Heckmann

 

Click here for judges comments on this year's competition


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Quick Links to All Categories:

Wide-Angle      Macro   ♦   Marine Life Behavior   ♦    Portrait

 

 

 

 

View List of Winners' Names

Full Article: Ocean Art 2018 Winners Announced!

7th Annual Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest Winners Announced

Ocean Art Contest Announces the Best Underwater Photos of the Year 

Culver City, CA – January 15, 2019 – The prestigious Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition, organized by the Underwater Photography Guide, has announced its 2018 winners. The 7th annual competition attracted a very high caliber of photos from waters around the world and showcases the best underwater photographs of the year. 2018 was the most competitive year to date. 

Winning photos can be seen on the Underwater Photography Guide at:

 http://www.uwphotographyguide.com/2018-ocean-art-contest-winners 

The Best of Show is a graceful photo of three Giant Devil Rays performing a “ballet”, which uses soft, ambient light to accentuate the movements of elegant giants, shot by Duncan Murrell. Other exceptional images include some astonishing fish and marine life shots, rarely seen animal behavior, innovative shooting techniques, stunning portraits, seals, ocean adventure, whales and some dramatic moments between humans and marine life. The judges evaluated thousands of entries from 70 countries before selecting the final set of images as Ocean Art winners. 

Ocean Art 2018 judges included prestigious underwater photographers Tony Wu, Martin Edge, and Marty Snyderman, accompanied by Underwater Photography Guide publisher Scott Gietler. 

Over $80,000 in prizes will be awarded, making the Ocean Art prize value among the highest in the world. 

The most lucrative prizes included a luxury liveaboard trip on the Socorro Vortex, Indonesia liveaboard trips (and 50% off a companion) on the S.M.Y. Ondina and M.Y. Oceanic, a 7 night Palau liveaboard trip with Solitude Liveaboards, a 7 nights Solomon Islands liveaboard trip on the Solomon PNG Master, a 7 nights Solomon Islands liveaboard trip with Bilikiki Cruises, a 7 night dive package at Villa Markisa Resort in Bali, Indonesia, a 9 night Passport to Paradise dive package at three Indonesian destinations with Critters@Lembeh and Murex Dive Resorts, and a variety of gift certificates from Bluewater Photo. Premium travel prizes are provided by VoliVoli Beach Resort (Fiji), Siladen Resort & Spa (Indonesia), two packages with Solitude Liveaboards (Komodo, Indonesia, and Lembeh Straits, Indonesia), Atlantis Dive Resort (Philippines), Manta Ray Bay (Micronesia), Spirit of Freedom Liveaboard (Australia), Atmosphere Resort & Spa (Philippines), Aiyanar Dive Resort (Philippines), Crystal Blue Resort (Philippines), Blackbeard’s Cruises (Bahamas), El Galleon Beach Resort (Philippines), Aquamarine Diving and the Watergarden Hotel (Bali, Indonesia), Eco Divers Lembeh (Indonesia), Scuba Club Cozumel (Mexico), and premier scuba travel agency Bluewater Travel. Premium gear prizes are provided by Bluewater Photo, SEA&SEA, Ikelite, and ThinkTANK Photo. 

See our list of full prize descriptions for more details.

Sixteen different categories ensure a competitive contest for all levels and disciplines of underwater photography, including compact, mirrorless, and DSLR cameras. There is also a new category called “Underwater Art.”

The quality of image submissions was incredible this year, making judging very difficult but also proving that these photos are the best in the world. Bluewater Photo and Travel owner and Underwater Photography Guide publisher, Scott Gietler comments, “This year’s outstanding underwater images in the Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition continue to raise the bar for underwater photographers. Myself and the other 3 judges were honored to be viewing such amazing results of the dedication and drive of the human spirit.” 

 

Media Contact 

Nirupam Nigam

Managing Editor, UWPG

info@uwphotographyguide.com 

 

Complete list of winners: 

 


Best of Show 

“Courting Devil Ray Ballet” by Duncan Murrell

 

Wide-Angle

1st François Baelen 

2nd Grant Thomas

3rd Celia Kujala

4th Geo Cloete

5th Edwar Herreno

6th Daniel Flormann

HM Steve Kopp

HM Wu Yung Sen

 

Macro 

1st Jeff Milisen

2nd Chun Zhou

3rd Fabio Iardino

4th Jinggong Zhang

5th Tianhong Wang

6th Stefano Proakis

HM Shane Gross

HM Dennis Corpuz

 

Marine Life Behavior

1st Duncan Murrell

2nd Anders Nyberg

3rd François Baelen 

4th Richard Barnden

5th Flavio Vailati

6th Liang Fu

7th Mei Hing Sin

HM Doris Vierkötter

HM Richard Barnden

HM Els Van Den Borre

 

Portrait 

1st Claudio Zori

2nd Christina Barringer

3rd Doris Vierkötter

4th Shane Keena

5th Mirko Zanni

HM Jinggong Zhang

HM Matteo Visconti

HM Kyler Badten

 

Coldwater

 1st Greg Lecoeur

2nd Tyler Schiffman

3rd Claudio Zori

4th Rémi Masson

5th Eiko Jones

HM Henley Spiers

HM Simon Lorenz

HM Adam Martin

 

Nudibranchs 

1st Flavio Vailati

2nd Fredrik Ehrenström

3rd Bettina Balnis

4th Giacomo Giovannini

HM Chun Ho Tam

 

Supermacro 

1st Edison So

2nd Wayne Jones

3rd Ludovic Galko-Rundgren

4th Leon Zhao

5th Gaetano Gargiulo

HM Iyad Suleyman

 

Reefscapes

1st Yen-Yi Lee

2nd Tobias Friedrich

3rd Alex Lindbloom

4th Renee Capozzola

HM Fred Bavendam

HM Brett M Garner

 

Novice dSLR 

1st Alvin Cheung

2nd Antonio Pastrana

3rd Marie Charlotte

4th Steven Walsh

5th Alvin Cheung

 

Mirrorless Wide-Angle 

1st Eugene Kitsios

2nd Pier Mane

3rd Pier Mane

4th Max Holba

HM Fabrice Dudenhofer

HM Pier Mane

 

Mirrorless Macro 

1st Steven Walsh

2nd Owen Yen

3rd Younghun Kan

4th Enrico Somogyi

HM Rafi Amar

 

Mirrorless Behavior

1st Fabrice Dudenhofer

2nd Debbie Wallace

3rd Yeh Hung Wei

4th Lorenzo Terraneo

5th Tiffany Poon

HM Pier Mane

 

Compact Wide-Angle 

1st Melody Chuang

2nd Andrea Falcomatà

3rd Alessandro Raho

4th Andreas Schmid

HM Jon Anderson

HM Miguel Ramirez

 

Compact Macro

1st Sejung Jang

2nd Kate Tinson

3rd Matteo Pighi

4th Sunbong Jung

HM Jim Chen

 

Compact Marine Life Behavior 

1st PT Hirschfield

2nd Miguel Ramirez

3rd Jin Woo Lee

4th Danny Van Belle

HM Dennis Corpuz

HM Jack Berthomier

 

Underwater Art 

1st Bruno Van Saen

2nd Jordan Robins

3rd Guillaume Néry

4th Dennis Vandermeersch

HM Alexandre St-Jean

HM Thomas Heckmann

 

The Underwater Photography Guide is the #1 destination for all things underwater photography. Featuring highly-regarded tutorials, technique tips, in-depth gear reviews, amazing international workshops and breaking u/w photo news, UWPG is here to help divers around the world achieve their photo and video goals. For more information, please visit http://www.uwphotographyguide.com 

 

Media Contact 

Nirupam Nigam

Managing Editor, UWPG

info@uwphotographyguide.com 

Full Article: Ocean Art Photo Competition 2018 Judges Comments

The Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition is one of the most prestigious underwater photo contests in the world, attracting some of the world's most talented photographers. 16 different categories ensure a fun competition for all camera classes and disciplines of underwater photography. 

If you haven't yet, be sure to check out the 2018 Ocean Art Contest Winners.

Ocean Art would not be possible without our esteemed judging panel, who have decades of experience and some of the most prestigious awards in diving, photo, and video industries.

Here is what our judges had to say about this year's competition.

 

Marty Snyderman

 

The author of Dive Training magazine's Behind the Lens column, Marty Snyderman has made his living as an underwater photographer, photography instructor, author, and speaker for close to 40 years. He has won many prestigious awards (including an Emmy) and has been featured in many top publications worldwide.

www.martysnyderman.com


I am not sure how many years I have been a judge, but I am sure that every year the entries get better and better. Certainly, this year was no exception!

That, of course, is good news. But it sure makes having your work recognized and the judging more challenging. 

There were sixteen categories, and all were filled with more than just a few images that caused all of the judges to sit up and take notice. With that thought in mind, one thought I would like to share with everyone that entered is that if your photograph didn’t win or get recognized, that does not mean your image was not a great shot. Please take that comment to heart.

As has been the case in the past, as judges we have our personal biases. As a result, we have our disagreements. But it always seems to be about the placement of a photograph or two, not whether an image is worthy of being recognized. If you have been involved with contests over the years, you have probably heard stories about heated arguments between the judges. But that has yet to be the case with us. Everyone is treated as an equal, and everyone is entitled to their impressions.

With regard to passing along my two cents worth of advice to future entrants: I suggest reading the instructions and category definitions carefully and twice to be sure you enter your photographs in the appropriate categories and within the described parameters. Be sure you enjoy the entire process of image making, not just the final processed image. Have fun! And please do enter again next year. We love seeing everyone’s work. I think I can speak for all the judges when I say we find the images to be inspiring. So, thank you!

 

Here’s to a Happy, Healthy, Safe, Photography-Filled 2019 for All!

Martin Edge

 

Author of "The Underwater Photographer," a best selling book on learning underwater photography.

www.edgeunderwaterphotography.com


This year's Ocean Art Competition had the most entries in the competition to-date.  That is a substantial number of images to judge and critique.  When I sit behind my own desk for the very first round of judging above all else I am looking for the ‘Wow’ factor to hit me straight between my eyes.  Nothing short of amazing, mind blowing and wonderful will stop me in my tracks. Not with so many images to get through.  So, first round images must be immediate.  By that I mean that they have to attract the eye of the judge instantly.  We don’t have time to wander during the first-round process.  We are looking for eye catching, striking, attention grabbing, stunning, dazzling, and astonishing images from the very start.  If you did find yourself in the 2nd round of judging, then congratulations to you all.  You have done remarkably well.

In the 2nd round, once again we make time individually to critique and savor those images which we may have overlooked and which Tony, Marty, Scott and myself may have picked up on.  Likewise, images continue to be discounted for errors in exposure, focus, composition, and the like.  At this stage the quality is exceptionally high, and we don’t go looking for errors as a matter of course. After all, we have championed our own favorites through the process, so small errors tend to find us as we explore round 2 Images yet again.  On the final night, ‘3rd round' we judge together with a ‘Skype Conference Call’ between the four of us.  Not surprisingly, we agreed and we disagreed. However, we were all unanimous for the image voted Best in Show 2018.  I loved this shot from the very first time I set eyes on it sitting in my ‘box room’ in a cold and wet weary day in the UK.  

I’d also like to mention that I believe this year’s quality of entries where collectively the best I have seen in this competition since I have been judging it.   

 

Thanks to Marty, Tony, Scott and Nirupam.  Love judging with you guys!  Long may it last!

Tony Wu

 

Author of a coffee table book entitled Silent Symphony, which received the grand prize for best book of the year at Antibes in 2001. He also won the prestigious Veolia environment wildife photographer of the year award.

www.tonywublog.com


I once again had the distinct pleasure of waking up at 4:00am on a dark, cold, winter morning to argue about photos with Martin, Marty and Scott. For some reason, even after so many years of these conversations, Marty just can’t seem to comprehend that I’m always correct ;)

In all seriousness, we had a great time once again, particularly given the challenge posed by having to reach consensus on some outstanding images.

From a personal perspective, I was delighted to see so many terrific entries in the Marine Life Behavior category. I know I’m not supposed to have favorite subjects/ categories, but I’m flawed. Can’t help it.

As is always the case with the subjective process of judging photographs, we had some things that everyone instantly agreed upon, and other things for which we could find minimal common ground. That is the nature of all judging, which is the reason why people who took the winning and recognized photos should be happy and everyone else should not be terribly upset. There were a lot of great images, which is definitely a good thing, but it also means that making final choices is a difficult process.

If you’re interested, there are a few guiding principles that I tried to adhere to in assessing any given photo (including my own):

1. Originality. If a photograph has been done well already, whether in this contest or others, don’t enter a clone or near-clone and expect to win. Sure, there are probably some contests where the judges are not aware of other winning images, or perhaps aren’t concerned, but I point out clones when I see them, and I’m pretty sure we’re all in agreement on this. Producing a xerox copy is not art.

2. Photography. Um duh, right? This is a photography contest, so photographic qualities, skill, etc. should be important. Amazingly, in many contest results, I see mediocre photos of impressive subjects being rewarded. Big sharks, whales, bait balls, etc. are without a doubt stunning subjects. A mediocre photo of a stunning subject is just that. A mediocre photo. For the judging process in a photography contest, I will always choose a stunning photo of a mundane subject over a ho-hum image of an amazing one.

3. The Litmus Test (extension of point 2). When in doubt, here is a question I ask of myself, and also asked out loud to the others: If this subject were not a rare/ unusual/ intrinsically stunning subject, if it were something that you saw every day and didn’t think twice about as subject matter, would this photograph be a great photograph? This is a tough test to pass, intentionally so.

4. Manipulation/ Harassment. Here is the bottom line. We are not naive. Combined, we have like a million years of diving/ photography experience (i.e., we’re old), and I am a behavior/ biology guy. When we see animals that are totally not in their natural environment (like those placed on surfaces where a soft-bodied animal would be getting zapped by a zillion nematocysts), the photo will be tossed out, with prejudice.

5. Meaning. A beautiful and technically well-executed image that also conveys something important/ valuable rises to the top. “Meaning” can mean many things—something to do with biology/ lifecycle, something to do with the environment, and much more.

Congratulations to the winners, and I hope these points are helpful for future contests, whether this one or others. I look forward to arguing with my fellow judges again.

 

Scott Gietler

 

Owner of the Underwater Photography Guide, Bluewater Photo, Bluewater Travel, and founder of the Ocean Art photo competition - Scott has been teaching underwater photography workshops around the world for several years.

As we approach the 10 year anniversary of the Underwater Photography Guide, I still enjoy judging these amazing images more than ever. This year was "year of the behavior", as the bar in the marine behavior categories was higher than ever. As always, the different perspectives of other 3 Marty, Martin and Tony were appreciated. In addition to incredible behavior photos, this year saw a lot of Humpback Whales and Crocodiles. Both must be in abundance around the world! Kudos to the participants for following the rules, and not being afraid to think outside the box. We appreciate everyone who took the time to enter, and wanted to call out the growing number of entries from Asia, signified by a larger number of category winners and placers call the Asian continent their home base. We look forward to seeing all of you next year.

Back to the Ocean Art 2018 Winners page

 

Full Article: Diving French Poly: Moorea, Bora Bora, and Huahine

 

All of my shark diving up to this point has been with skittish, aloof species like scalloped hammerheads, gray reef sharks, white tip reef sharks, black tip reef sharks, and large but seemingly mindless whale sharks. (No offense, whale sharks – I still love you). As such, I have always thought of sharks as beautiful, amazingly well-honed apex predators, but not particularly high up on the “personality” ladder. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love sharks, but the ones I had seen were not winning any personality contests when compared to marine mammals, octopi, turtles, or cuttlefish. Not to say they were down at the bottom either, with the nudibranchs, jellyfish, crabs, and goldfish…but I would definitely put them in the bottom half.  

Moorea

With my first dive in Moorea, I learned that there are, in fact, some sharks which are quite high on the personality ladder! I learned this courtesy of Neunoeil, a 3 m long lemon shark who is older than me by a year (she was born in 1984), and according to Moorea Blue Diving’s info on its resident lemon sharks, she is the “oldest resident alpha female, caring and affectionate.”

Throughout the dive, she followed us around like a very curious and friendly puppy dog, circling in for a closer look, then swimming off into the blue… but always coming back after a few minutes. Every time she came by, I hurriedly got my camera ready for the shot. But although she was nice, much to my disappointment she did not come right up to my dome port. It was still a lot of fun watching her swim by.

Part of her charm, and photogenic appeal, is that she is always smiling. That part comes down to her lemon shark physiology; her teeth are so large that she can’t actually close her mouth! That must make things a little awkward at shark parties. You know, like when you’re at a party with someone who can’t stop smiling…that gets awkward after a while, right? 

This was my first time diving with a shark with real personality, and it was phenomenal. There was no food in the water to attract her, but she just wanted to check us out and hang out with us.

The shop’s schedule for a typical morning 2-tank dive is one dive with the resident lemon sharks, and one with lots of turtles. Soon enough we started looking for turtles, and saw some nice ones hanging out in the coral. Shooting with a fisheye, there’s always the desire to get closer, but once they start making any kind of movement, I know that I’m too close and back off. So I couldn’t get right up to this guy, but it was still a decent shot.

There were also large clumps of fire coral, part of Moorea’s healthy coral ecosystem – watch out!

When Life Gives you Lemons…

For our second dive, the dive guide dropped a barrel in the water with a tuna head inside. The point was to attract lemon sharks with the scent, but not to feed them. And attract them it did, as we quickly came upon three sharks circling the barrel. Once we settled down on the bottom and stopped moving, they came fairly close to check us out, but mostly just kept circling and circling the barrel. I think it is fair to say they are also one of the most focused shark species. Nothing was distracting them from that barrel. 

On this dive we had Neunoiel and two non-resident sharks hanging out with us.

The next day our first dive was with lemon sharks, and this time there were a whopping 10 (!) large lemon sharks in the vicinity of the barrel. Neunoeil, Tampax, Stallone and 7 non-residents. It’s too bad they don’t wear name tags, as their distinguishing features are hard for the untrained eye to pick out. However, our guides were very sure about who had been at the party, and showed us afterwards in their illustrated book. 

As we crouched down in the sand between the corals, watching the sharks circling, I set up my strobes and camera for an upwards shot of a very close lemon shark (2-3 ft away). This meant increasing the shutter speed to avoid blowing out the surface of the water, and keeping the strobe power fairly low so as not to blow out the white undersides of the sharks. 

This was the shot that I planned before we even got into the water, my Playing to Win Shot which I thought I had a decent chance of getting. 

Playing to Win Shot: The ideal “competition winning” shot that you envision for the specific dive conditions, subject and background you are shooting. You can read more about this mindset here.

Although they are very large sharks, and they did come over to check me out, they were not coming close enough for me to get my playing to win shot. But that is the nature of shooting with a playing to win mindset – almost all of the time, you won’t get that perfect shot that you really want. But it will help you get the best shot you can, especially if using it in conjunction with a good Continuous Improvement Mindset. And most importantly, if the stars align and everything comes together to give you the split-second opportunity to take that winning shot, you will be ready!

As usual, there was temptation to stray from my playing to win setup. There were lots of large lemon sharks nearby. And if I only turned up my strobe power and dropped my shutter speed, I could get some head-on shots of them circling the barrel. But I decided to wait for my opportunity. So I waited, and I waited, and I waited. Nothing. And the sharks kept circling. Then our great dive guide came up and got me very nice and close, and two of the circling sharks started coming straight towards me, at a great upwards angle. But alas they turned, still maybe 2-3 feet too far away for my winning shot. It was still a nice shot, and one that I would have messed up if I had changed my settings to shoot from further away.

After spending some time enjoying the circling sharks, we headed off to look for nurse sharks (none to be found, shucks), and then returned to the barrel. I kept my settings as I had the first time, and then we had our best encounter, with Tampax. She swam right between Lisa and me, allowing for a very nice shot. Good thing, again, that I had stuck to my Playing to Win settings!

Turtle Mania

 

Later that day we went to Coral Wall, a site known for having tons and tons of turtles. The guide told me that on a bad day they would see a few, while on his best day they had seen 15. 15 turtles on one dive! 

I lost count of how many we saw on our dive, but I know it was at least 6. They were all sitting in the coral, nice and docile. Most of my experience with turtles has been when they are swimming. But the really neat thing about when they lie in the coral is that it allows for some very different compositions. The first was a bird’s eye view – I guess this makes it a bird’s eye fisheye turtle shot. What I love about this shot is that it brings out the amazing patterns of this green turtle’s shell – something which often gets lost in the mad scramble to photograph the photogenic “old man turtle face.”


The second was a “turtle’s eye” (right?) view of the turtle sitting in the coral, right at eye level. I love the effect of getting the fisheye lens so close to the turtle’s head, and how that lets me take advantage of the distortion of the fisheye lens to add a feeling of depth to the photo.

 

What a great day of diving…10 lemon sharks, 6 turtles and some very high quality, close-up encounters. Certainly nothing to complain about there.

Dive Logistics

Diving with Moorea Blue Diving was fantastic. The dive guides knew their stuff and were very friendly. The rental gear was top notch and communication with the shop was excellent. We were staying in Tahiti, and each morning we took the 35 minute ferry ride from downtown Papeete to Moorea. From the Moore ferry terminal, the owner picked us up to take us to the shop, and then dropped us back at the terminal when we were done. It would make more sense to stay in Moorea to dive there, but it still works fine from Tahiti if you don’t have time (for us, we decided too last minute to get good accommodations). 

Bonus Activity - Lagoonarium

Another interesting attraction in Moorea was the Lagoonarium, a great snorkeling setup with small huts and a course of underwater ropes out on a small motu (island) 5 minutes by boat from Moorea. There they did feedings to attract large amounts of blacktip sharks, stingrays, and all kinds of fish. It’s a lot of fun to do for half a day, but I would prioritize the diving over doing this activity if time is limited. 

Final Thoughts on Moorea

As we had not had any good turtle or lemon shark experiences diving elsewhere in French Polynesia, this was the perfect complement to our experiences in Fakarava and Bora Bora. If you are already on Moorea, for example for the humpback trip, I think it’s a no-brainer to at least do one or two days with the lemon sharks and turtles. If you are going somewhere else, like Fakarava or Rangiroa, then it would be easy to add a day or two. The lemon sharks and turtles are a very nice complement to all the reef sharks and fish in Fakarava. And if you wanted to do more diving in Moorea, the conditions are great for beginners, and there are other dive site options so you don’t get bored. 

Bora Bora

We did a total of five dives on Bora Bora. Yes, Bora Bora of the crazily expensive overwater bungalow fame. But instead of spending lots of money on luxury accommodations, we rented an AirBnB in town for less than $100/night and used the money we saved to get in the water a lot!

Inside the reef, the visibility was decent but not amazing, and there were mantas everywhere. At one point we had three swim past us. I think we probably saw 7 or more over the course of a dive, though it’s hard to tell if there were any repeats. And we learned a very valuable lesson from our dive guide – the way to have the best manta encounters was to drop down to the bottom or onto the reef (being careful not to damage anything) as soon as you saw them, and then wait. It turns out that mantas are actually really curious, and if you stay against the bottom and stay calm, they will often come over and check you out!

That was very interesting, as when I dove with mantas in the Galapagos, it was a bit of a free-for-all where everyone scrambled to get into the path of the manta to get the best shot. But this sitting down nicely and calmly and waiting was a whole different, and much better experience. 

So while clinging close to the reef, I watched mantas circling around a few metres away – close enough to enjoy, but not close enough for a good photo. I kept my settings dialed in for my Playing to Win Shot - a manta within about 3 feet of me, just in case.

All of a sudden, one came right towards me. I could see right down it’s massive, gill-filled mouth. And my strobes lit it up very nicely, because they were set for exactly this type of encounter.

Then it turned and looked me over as it swam past. I have had close manta encounters before, but never the eye contact, the feeling of having one look me right in the eye. Seriously awesome.

After the encounter with this curious manta, I have decided to move mantas a few steps up the personality ladder. 

Dive Logistics

We went with Eleuthera Bora Dive Center, who were excellent. The dive guides were great, the rental gear quite nice, and the communication easy and smooth. They picked us up from our place before the dives and then dropped us off afterwards. We did two morning 2-tank dives and one afternoon dive. The morning dives tend to have one dive inside the lagoon, to dive with mantas, followed by one dive on the reef outside the lagoon, for sharks.

Bora Bora has a lot of luxury resorts, which are all located on the outlying motu islands, across the lagoon from the main island. If that’s your thing, go for it, but they are not particularly budget friendly. We got a very affordable AirBnB, which was basic but certainly adequate accommodation, about a 15 minute walk from the main town of Vaitape. As mentioned, it was less than $100/night. But bring some earplugs, as there are a lot of noisy roosters around!

Final Thoughts

Bora Bora provides great opportunities to see mantas and eagle rays in the lagoon, up close, though with potentially difficult visibility (mantas) or current (eagle rays) conditions. The diving on the ocean side was not terrible, but it was also not nearly as good as Moorea or Fakarava (or Rangiroa, from what we heard). Overall, it was fun, and a worthwhile stop for the mantas, but other than that there are better diving options in French Polynesia.

Huahine

We didn’t really do Huahine justice for diving, as we only did a couple of easy dives. But we did have some other very cool underwater photography experiences. And we absolutely loved the laid-back, non-touristy vibe of the island. 

We did a morning tour called the “Natural Aquarium”, with Huahine Nautique. This was basically a snorkeling tour in a shallow area, surrounded by convenient ropes, where an old local fed the resident black-tip sharks and other reef fish. There were a ton of blacktip sharks, and although they came right up to Lisa’s GoPro (thanks, SeaLife Aquapod), they were more wary of my camera and kept their distance. So I didn’t get great shots of the action, but we did see a lot of blacktip sharks, and we did get some very nice video. 

After having issues getting blacktip sharks to “pop” when shooting them just in ambient light in Moorea, I decided to bring my strobes, and I think they helped me get a stronger shot here. Without them, the sharks would have blended into the background more.

Sacred Blue-Eyed Eels of Faie

What exactly does that gobbledygook mean? Well, it's only the name of one of the most charismatic and amazing underwater animals that you have never heard of. There is a river in the small town of Faie with a large population of very large blue-eyed eels, which are very friendly and not at all shy. As soon as you step into the water, they come right for you. We visited a total of three times, partly because they were a lot of fun, and partly to get the photos I was looking for.

The first time, I tried to use my strobes. Big mistake, as the brown water and very non-photogenic concrete and rock substrate impeded good photos.The next couple of times, I just shot ambient light. The river was too shallow to immerse into, so had to shoot everything blind.

This was another good example of using the Continuous Improvement mindset – shooting a location, checking the results, tweaking, iterating, and improving, and then trying again. And then again. It was only on the third visit that I got my best shot, below.

Actually, if I’d had more time I might have gone back once more if there was a day with particularly strong sunlight, to try to get more shots with cool light beams in them. 

 

Want help booking your French Polynesia dive trip? Visit the Bluewater Dive Travel website, or drop them a line at info@bluewaterdivetravel.com!

Bonus Video

Check out our short video to get a bit better of a feel for the lemon sharks, mantas, crazy black-tip chaos, island scenery, and, saving the best for last, the incredibly charismatic blue-eyed eels!

Gear Links

 Additional Reading

Full Article: Video with the Panasonic GH5

About a year and a half ago I upgraded from a Light and Motion Bluefin housing and Sony video camera to the Panasonic GH5 and Nauticam housing. In that time I’ve put the GH5 through its paces on approximately 250 dives in Puget Sound and elsewhere around the globe. As a video shooter I really appreciate being able to shoot at 4k60p. The greater resolution allows for subtle zooming effects without loss of image quality as I output video at 1080p. 4k also helps with image stabilization which I find critical. Youtube is filled with jumpy videos and I’d never want to be in that category! The higher frame rate can also be reduced in half to provide dramatic slow motion effects.

In my video “Exploring the Salish Sea 2018” I began experimenting with snoot techniques to isolate macro subjects. Puget Sound is mostly muck diving and a mucky background isn’t the best thing to emphasize, especially when so many colorful creatures inhabit the area. While the snoot adds an extra frustrating complication to the process, the results are worth the struggle when stubby squid, grunt sculpins, nudibranchs, sea spiders and wolf eels are seen in intricate detail. 

One additional piece of equipment I added to my setup is the SmallHD 501 monitor in a Nauticam housing. I quickly found out trying to view the screen on the back of the GH5 was mostly impossible as the angle was too great in most cases to view properly. The monitor, on a ball mount with extended clamp, allows me to move it around for the perfect angle to frame subjects. In addition, I’ve enabled focus peaking, exposure peaking and a histogram to really help with focus and exposure.

The winter months provide the best visibility in Puget Sound and I collect video clips from dives during this time with a goal to get at least one good scene per dive. After each dive I import clips into Final Cut Pro on an iMac to build a library of scenes. Final Cut Pro allows you to keyword clips and I go through this process to help organize clips into logical groups. When it comes time to put clips on the timeline I search by keyword, say stubby squid, and Final Cut Pro will list all the stubby squid clips. From here I can determine the best scene and favorite them. Having the editor show me all clips I have favorited becomes the basis for the initial rough cut. Then it’s just a matter of finessing the timing, and applying the polish of color correction and other effects to produce the final cut.

Equipment Used:

Editor: Final Cut Pro X

Full Article: An Underwater Photographer's Holiday Gift Guide 2018

The holidays can be the toughest season to be an Underwater Photographer - especially if you're in the market for a new camera system. With underwater photography equipment being a niche market built for very precise needs, it can be hard to find the right holiday deals. In partnership with our sister company, Bluewater Photo, we have created a holiday gift guide to help you navigate this holiday season's specials for underwater photography. If you're looking for holiday gifts for an underwater photographer or some great deals for yourself, this guide is definitely worth checking out.

 

Check out a full list of holiday specials at Bluewater Photo!

 

Newest Gear

  • Sony RX100VI - Premium compact camera with improved image quality, auto-focus and image stabilization for high quality underwater photos, and a new 200mm full frame equivalent zoom for great topside versatility. 
  • Nikon Z7 - Nikon's first mirrorless camera, with a full-frame 45 MP sensor packed into a mirrorless-sized body. Check out the UWPG pre-review for more info.
  • Canon EOS R - Canon's first full-frame mirrorless camera, with a 30 MP sensor. Priced a bit above the Nikon Z6, but below the Z7 and the Sony A7RIII, it's another interesting option with a claimed ability to autofocus down to -6 eV. Check out Bluewater Photo's announcement for more info.
  • Nauticam macro to wide angle lens - Interchangeable lens shooters take note! Nauticam just released an extremely innovative wet lens which converts a 60mm full frame equivalent macro lens into a wide angle lens with 150 degree angle of view. Now you can switch between macro and wide angle underwater, within only a few seconds!

 

Bundles & Packages

  • Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Bundle - The perfect option to enter the world of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras without breaking the bank, and save $700 when buying the package. Just add the renowned Olympus 60mm macro lens or an 8 mm fisheye lens and port, and you will be all set to take very high quality underwater photos.
  • Olympus TG-5 Packages - The Olympus TG-5 is the little compact camera that could. Along with providing solid image quality and 4K video, at a very affordable price, it excels at taking macro photos with its phenomenal microscope mode. Check out our detailed UWPG review here. We even have a great article from a seasoned DSLR macro shooter who brings a TG-5 along with his DSLR to take photos of extremely small, hard-to-reach subjects.

 

Gifts Under $1000

  • iTorch Symbiosis Pro Strobe with Video Light - A great strobe with a built-in video light on top, simplifying your rig, adding versatility, saving you space and reducing your mount requirements. Plus it's $200 off!
  • Sea & Sea YS-D2J Strobe - the latest version of the classic standby. Comes with a free 4-pack of Eneloop Pro rechargeable batteries.
  • Olympus 8mm f/1.8 fisheye Pro lens - the best fisheye lens for micro-four-thirds, allowing for dramatic wide angle photography, in a compact and weatherproof package. With a maximum aperture of f/1.8, it is also great for star photography. $150 off.

 

Gifts Under $500

  • Kraken Universal Smartphone Housing with Depth Sensor - Works for both android phones and iPhones, and includes a vacuum leak detection system to protect your phone from flooding. The perfect option for the person who loves taking photos with their phone but doesn't want the bulk or expense of a larger camera system.
  • Kraken Sports KRL-02 Wet Wide Angle Lens - Shooting a compact camera like the TG-5 or Sony RX-100? Take stunning wide angle photos with the 150 degree field of view provided by this excellent lens. $150 off.
  • GoPro Hero 7 Black - The latest GoPro model, with improvements over the already excellent 6. The ratio of video/image quality to size/cost beats any other underwater camera, hands down. There is a reason so many people use GoPros underwater - they are tiny, super easy to use, and capture great videos with no hassle.

 

Gifts Under $300

  • Light & Motion 2500F Video Light - Small and compact video light which produces a wide, powerful and even beam for great video color. Factory sealed so you don't have to worry about flooding. $134 off.
  • Bluewater Photo 1000 Lumen Focus Light - Bright and wide white light in a compact body, along with a red mode for skittish subjects. Also comes with a "snoot" attachment allowing for creative lighting options.
  • Thinktank Camera Bags - Roller bags and backpacks designed for underwater photographers. They provide padding and protection for all of your gear and fit most carry-on requirements.

Stocking Stuffers

  • AO Cooler Bag - An affordable and very convenient padded bag for your camera rig, which fits as carry-on, protects your gear on the dive boat and doubles as a convenient dunk-tank for cleaning your gear after diving. 
  • Bluewater Camera Care Kit - Useful accessories to keep your camera kit in great shape.

 

Check out a full list of holiday specials at Bluewater Photo!

 

Full Article: Bluewater Photo 1000 Lumen Focus Light

Focus lights are an often-overlooked piece of equipment that can make a huge difference to your underwater photography. A great focus light allows you to get sharp focus even in dark or nighttime conditions, while also being compact, light, easy-to-use, reliable and affordable. 

Bluewater Photo Store recently released their new 1000 lumen focus light. It was designed by underwater photographers and manufactured by Kraken Sports, a well-known focus and video light brand. So how does it stack up?

Specs and Key Features

  • 1000 Lumens (wide white beam)
  • Modes: White, Red, SOS
  • Beam Angle: 100°
  • Battery: 1 x 18650 (3400 mAh)
  • 80 minute burn time on full power
  • Depth Rating: 100m / 330ft
  • Material: Aviation Grade Aluminum
  • Size: 33.8mm x 127.5mm
  • Weight: 200g on land w/ battery / 100g in salt water w/ battery
  • Single on/off/mode switch
  • Double o-ring seal
  • Two mounting options: ball mount and YS mount
  • Comes with a "snoot" adapter to create a narrow spot beam

The Bluewater Photo 1000 Lumen Focus Light is available now!

At 1000 lumens, with a wide 100 degree beam, this light has more than enough power to help you achieve focus in dark or nighttime conditions. It also has that very important feature for taking shots of any skittish subject - a red mode. It's hard to overemphasize how important it is for your focus light to have a red option. Since water absorbs red light first, many animals cannot even see red light. So animals which would be scared off by a bright white light will sit calmly under a red light, while you lock in your focus and take your shot. 

The single on/off/mode switch makes it easy to operate, even if using it on a night dive. The battery can be swapped out between dives, which can be very important if using the light heavily for macro shooting or night diving, where there is not enough time to recharge between dives. And the battery is sealed with a double o-ring, to reduce the risk of flooding.

Along with getting sharp macro shots, this light includes a "snoot" adapter which can be put onto the light to narrow the beam down to a spot beam. This allows for the photographer to get creative with spot lighting. The light is especially good for producing macro photos in which the subject is lit up but the background (especially if it is on something bright, like white sand) is dark. 

Comparison to the Competition

There are a number of similar lights available from a variety of manufacturers. Here is how they stack up on the key features.

 

Bluewater 1000

L&M Sola Dive 800

L&M Sola Photo 1200

Kraken WSR 1000+

iTorch Fishlite V-12

L&M Gobe 1000

Lumens (white)

1000

800 (flood)

500 (spot)

1200

 

1000 (flood)

800 (spot)

1200

1000

Red Option

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Add-on req’d

Beam Angle

100 deg

60 deg (flood)

12 deg (spot)

60 deg

100 deg

90 deg

60 deg

Burn Time

High – 80 min

High – 70 min

Low – 280 min

High – 70 min

Low – 280 min

High – 85 min

High - 60 min

High – 90 min

Low – 720 min

Size

5” x 1.3”

4” x 2.1” x 2.1”

4” x 2.1” x 2.1”

Uknown

4.76" X 1.22"

4.9” x 1.9” x 1.9”

Weight

200 g

244 g

248 g

Uknown

181 g

178 g

Battery Style

Removable

Integrated

Integrated

Removeable

Removable

Integrated

Charge Time

Uknown

2.5 hrs

2.5 hrs

Uknown

Unknown

3 hrs

MSRP

$170

$250

$300

$190

$150

$180

 

If you expect to use this light fairly heavily in a dive day, then you should consider a light with a removable battery. 

This narrows things down, removing the Light & Motion options from consideration. This leaves the Bluewater focus light, the Kraken WSR 1000+ and the iTorch Fishlite V12. The Kraken WSR+ is the most versatile of these options, but also the most expensive, while the Bluewater and iTorch lights provide better value. If you are interested in having some more creative lighting options available, then the Bluewater light is a good choice, as it is the only one which comes with a snoot adapter. 

If you expect to use the light less intensively during a dive day, consider a light with an integrated battery system, as that is easier to maintain and less likely to flood. 

The lights with integrated batteries avoid the risk of flooding after changing batteries. However, the distinct disadvantage of this design is that if the light runs out of battery power, you have to charge it before you can use it again, and charge times range from 2.5 to 3 hours.

The Sola Dive 800 and Photo 1200 are both lights with nice specs, but somewhat high price tags. The Light & Motion Gobe provides a lot of versatility (including land usage) and through the purchase of different interchangeable heads, can be used for many different purposes. 

Conclusion

The Bluewater focus light is a well-thought-out light designed to accomplish its core purpose very well, which is to give you enough light to lock in sharp focus for as much burn time as you need. It is very competitive with the other options available, with the added option of creative lighting effects via the included snoot adapter. This light should be seriously considered by anyone looking to get a focus light.

 

The Bluewater Photo 1000 Lumen Focus Light is available now!

Full Article: Time is Perfection: the Launch of the Socorro Vortex

The Price of Perfection is Time

It is often said good things come to those who wait, but sometimes the wait can be a bit longer than expected. The Pelagic Fleet team knows this feeling all too well. The Fleet’s newest addition, the Socorro Vortex was scheduled to make her maiden voyage last month to Revillagigedo, Mexico; however, due to delays in an extensive retrofitting project the luxury liveaboard is now set to depart on March 10. 

 

Socorro Vortex | 2019 from Pelagic Fleet on Vimeo.

 

In a striking video, Pelagic Fleet’s CEO, Jorge Hauser, acknowledges that perfection takes time and comes at a price. As an underwater photographer and ocean conservationist, Hauser understands the disappointment that can come with delays, but also assures everyone that the wait is well worth it.

 

The Magic of Revillagigedo

Once complete, the Socorro Vortex will be amongst the finest liveaboards in the world, with an enviable itinerary to experience some of the world’s most revered dive sites in North America’s largest marine protected area. As most avid divers know, Revillagigedo, a remote archipelago, boasts a treasure trove of marine life within its domain. Dive trips to the archipelago are nothing short of magical. Marine life encounters consist of false killer whales, bottlenose dolphins, whale sharks, hammerheads, manta rays and much more.

 

Designed for Life in the Lap of Luxury

When your entire day revolves around eating, sleeping, and diving, it doesn’t hurt to do so in the utmost style. The Vortex has been designed to accommodate far more guests than it will actually ever host, providing those lucky few with a great deal of privacy and a real sense of exclusivity. 

Renowned designer, Peter Hughes, explained how the team could have easily added four more staterooms, but opted for quality over quantity. For the past year, the dive industry legend has been overseeing the retrofitting project. Hughes’ lengthy and successful career of building and designing boats for the dive industry is brought the Pelagic Fleet to team up with him. In fact, he was recently awarded for his “Distinguished Service” to the dive industry at the NOGI’s awards ceremony, which is part of the annual scuba diving trade show - DEMA.

 

Enticing New Features

Originally a formidable Canadian Coast Guard vessel constructed almost thirty years ago, the Vortex will feature a floor-level jacuzzi on its top deck, an open-air bar, and a gourmet dining area for 14 guests. The team has outfitted the 140-foot aluminum hull ship with details most liveaboards often overlook, such as proper lighting, space, and the finest materials.

The Vortex boasts some impressive features. While mechanical details of the vessel may not interest those more focused on ocean and wildlife; most will take notice when some of those features translate into more time spent underwater.

Time Saved is Time Diving!

Equipped with two brand new MTU 12V4000 2,750-horsepower engines worth $1 million dollars and a Rolls Royce transmission, the Socorro Vortex will be one of the world’s fastest liveaboards to Revillagigedo. With a top speed of 21 knots and a cruising speed of 14 knots the Vortex will reach Socorro in ~18 hours, as opposed to the 25 hour average. Those extra hours saved equates to a few more dives that would not have been possible on a slower boat. And for anyone that has been diving in Revi, the idea of a few more dives is quite an exciting prospect!

  

It’s clear that this labor of love will be worth the wait. While the crew could have cut corners to meet its deadline, it should comfort future guests that they have not sacrificed their brand’s standards. In fact, with the Vortex, Pelagic Fleet is sure to set a brand new standard for luxury dive liveaboards!

 

Interested in experiencing the Socorro Vortex for yourself?

Be sure to book your trip through our helpful staff at BluewaterTravel!