^

"From my own point of view, I have been captivated not only by the winning images but also by the stories behind how those images were achieved. The conception, the planning and the physical effort to achieve a successful result; it is those efforts that we, as judges, pay our respects to by taking out two days to meet up, sit together and look in detail at all the images. It is a mammoth task but one that we all agree is a privilege to be part of."

Peter Rowlands, Chair of the jury 2017

Nauticam Apeks Cameras Underwater Scuba Travel Magic Filters UwP Mag SmugMug Mikes Dive Store Backscatter Acacia Resort Club Paraiso Resort SIREN FLEET Master Liveaboards The Junk Liveaboard Suunto UK Agulhas house Aiyanar Resort Sindbad Dive Club Aqaba Ocean Frontiers Focus Visuals G-Technology Blue O Two

Award Winners
Copyright UPY/Gabriel Barathieu Underwater Photographer of the Year, 2017
'Dancing Octopus' by Gabriel Barathieu (France)

Alex Mustard:  Both balletic and malevolent, this image shows that the octopus means business as it hunts in a shallow lagoon. The way it moves is so different from any predator on land, this truly could be an alien from another world. A truly memorable creature, beautifully photographed.

Peter Rowlands:  Vibrant contrasting colours, detailed delicate textures and a perfect pose. Add the right choice of lens for the situation and they all combine to produce a Champion.

Martin Edge:  I cannot praise this photograph enough. As soon as I first set eyes on it as we worked our way through the Wide Angle Cat, I knew it was destined for a huge success. One amazing Image!

[media ref: 001]
Copyright UPY/Nick Blake British Underwater Photographer of the Year, 2017
'Out of the Blue' by Nick Blake (UK)

Martin Edge:  What I really like about this image is the enclosure of the light within the Cenote. The author has contained all the sunlight so the eye of the viewer cannot escape. The lone diver is positioned within the beams and I do believe that the author meant for this to happen. Stunning natural light wide-angle!

[media ref: 102]
Copyright UPY/Horacio Martinez Up and coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2017
'Oceanic in the Sky' by Horacio Martinez (Argentina)

Peter Rowlands:  There was a lot of competitive images in this category, as you would expect but this one was a serious contender right from the start. The photographer has 'seen' the light and realised its dramatic effect extremely well and used it to contrast the small shark in a big, blue, lonely world. Very evocative indeed.

[media ref: 701]
Copyright UPY/Nicholai Georgiou Most Promising British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2017
'Orca Pod' by Nicholai Georgiou (UK)

Peter Rowlands:  Most underwater photographers would be happy to get a shot of a single killer whale in its environment but Nicholai had the composure not to panic and time the shot perfectly as a pod of killer whales passed by heading into the setting sun. I'm jealous.

[media ref: 704]
Wide Angle
Copyright UPY/Ron Watkins WINNER: 'One in a Million' by Ron Watkins (USA)

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.

Alex Mustard:  A beautiful and original image from the ocean, a worthy winner. Its power comes from the contrast in colour, yellow versus blue, and the contrast in shape, star versus circles, between the subject from the background. Most photographers would swim up to the subject, probably shooting it from below, Ron found a far more striking composition with this top down view, making use of the moon jellies as a background.

[media ref: 101]
Copyright UPY/Nick Blake RUNNER UP: 'Out of the Blue' by Nick Blake (UK)

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.

Martin Edge:  What I really like about this image is the enclosure of the light within the Cenote. The author has contained all the sunlight so the eye of the viewer cannot escape. The lone diver is positioned within the beams and I do believe that the author meant for this to happen. Stunning natural light wide-angle!

[media ref: 102]
Copyright UPY/Edwar Herreño THIRD: 'Interaction' by Edwar Herreño (Colombia)

I was lucky to join an expedition aboard MV ONDINA covering Raja Ampat North, Central & South. The South is one of my favourite places because only few boats go there. We went to dive to the sea mount 'Karang Paradise' where the biodiversity is something unique; endless coral fields, large congregations of fish and big pelagic travellers passing by. At the end of one of the dives, I found this enormous coral field full of different groups of fish. I wanted to show in my pictures the motion (I've taking motion pictures with very slow shutter speed for long time), so I set up my camera on top of a rock (I didn't have my tripod), then after few minutes completey still, this big congregation of big eye jacks came and complete surround me. A magic moment!

Alex Mustard:  The jacks surging over the corals captures the density of life on Raja Ampat’s reefs. The long exposure contrasts the speed of the predators with the slow growth of the coral, which creates the ecosystem that supports them. Healthy reefs are about more than beautiful corals, they are about an abundance of fish, especially big fish.

[media ref: 103]
Copyright UPY/Eero Hällfors HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Walking' by Eero Hällfors (Finland)

Its was the first cold days last November and the lake had just frozen. I had a plan to do some ice diving and take nice pictures of the lake getting stronger ice cover. I didn't have much success with this plan so I started to look upwards through the ice in order to locate my fellows on the ice. Instead of them I realized that our two dogs were walking just above me with my wife. The other dogs stood still for a moment to sniff the ice - that is when I took this pic.I think it was worth of freezing fingers and one hour job, including sawing a hole in the ice and dragging all the gear onto the ice in a sledge.

Alex Mustard:  Ice diving often yields original underwater images, especially when photographers exploit the up view through a solid surface. Although the photographer entered other images of his dogs, this one stood out to us because the fisheye distortion makes this look tantalisingly like a polar bear.

[media ref: 104]
Copyright UPY/Fabrice GUERIN HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Frozen Hunting' by Fabrice Guerin (France)

The weather was cloudy and the temperature of water was 2°C. Orcas push fish towards the coast as this makes them easier to catch. Our boat captain stopped near a school of herring. When I was in water, I saw that it was not deep, so it presented an opportunity to photograph with the light being reflected off the sand. I waited for 20 minutes in front of shoal of herring hoping to see an orca. Suddenly a humpback whale appeared. What a surprise!! It was an amazing cold encounter!

Alex Mustard:  A stunning behavioural 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.

[media ref: 105]
Copyright UPY/Yannick Gouguenheim HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Prince of the waters' by Yannick Gouguenheim (France)

The common toads start going back to the river in February in order to reproduce. The frozen waters of this small river are by then clear enough, and ideal for underwater photography. This image was taken in natural lights and apnea. I chose to work on blacklights to value this iconic species from fresh water. The wide angle lens and close-up shot adds an interesting dynamic to the picture as well. The challenge was to progress under the subject and to get a shot once the subject was aligned with the sun all while ensuring a framing including the trees on the shore.

Martin Edge:  When you have a low sun in the sky and the ability to shoot upwards through snells window then all the topside influences begin to come together. Tree's, beams, blue sky etc. This image goes even further with a precise placement within the frame of the silhouetted toad in the sunbeams. Excellent arrangement of all the elements.

[media ref: 106]
Copyright UPY/Damien Mauric HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Morning Elegance' by Damien Mauric (UK)

When I reached the seabed, I was hoping to see some of the superstructure of this shipwreck. It was impossible to identify the cargo holds, the hull, the rigging and netting of this fishing vessel because it was literally covered by thousands of fish of numerous species swimming and dancing between the rusted metal parts and sandy patches. As they kept playing nicely in front of me, I waited patiently for the current to push their beautiful dance in front of my camera. The elegance of this constantly moving form inspired this image.

Alex Mustard:  A really complete schooling image. It is a shot that gets all the details spot on. The fish form a pleasing ball formation, those at the front are pleasingly aligned and give great eye contact and there is a lovely blue background to compete the composition.

[media ref: 107]
Copyright UPY/Patrick Neumann COMMENDED: 'Finally Whalesharks' by Patrick Neumann (Germany)

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.

Martin Edge:  Call it either 'The Peak of the Action' or 'The Decisive Moment' It matters not because everything within this image has come together! The shape of Snells Window. The pose of the shark. The position of the sunburst and the arrangement of all the other action captured within the frame. Even the two divers, middle right of the frame are perfectly posed. I'm sure Patrick took many more shots of this encounter but sometimes it can be a challenge knowing which shot of many to enter. In my opinion, an excellent choice of submission.

[media ref: 108]
Copyright UPY/Tony Myshlyaev COMMENDED: 'Silversides at Twilight' by Tony Myshlyaev (Canada)

After finding this location, the jetty and silversides were on my mind for a long time. And when the monsoon rains took a short break, I jumped in the water to execute this idea. The main obstacle was that the school was too evasive for a fisheye lens and the sun was falling too fast to execute the idea. I began to compromise my settings and already considered the endeavour a loss but then some trevally arrived to feed. This was perfect, the silversides forgot about me. Simultaneously a passerby arrived. He positioned himself perfectly on the jetty above. Seeing the opportunity, I told him not to move and pressed the shutter as quickly as possible. The next moment this image appeared on my screen. Moments later, with a smile on my face, I watched the last rays of light fade on the horizon.

Peter Rowlands:  This is a beautifully taken, perfectly composed shot capturing the last moments of the day. It had very strong competition from the other images which pushed it down the order. Maybe, in hindsight, the hard work visualising and getting this shot should have been rewarded more.

[media ref: 109]
Copyright UPY/Mario Vitalini COMMENDED: 'Sun shine after the storm' by Mario Vitalini (UK)

It was a fairly choppy week and the surface conditions where less than ideal for the classic "cathedral" sun beams. Swimming around Sha'ab Claudia cave system in Fury Shoal I noticed our dive guide, Annette, pointing her torch to the ground. Everything felt into place and this was my take on a classic shot.

Martin Edge:  Dramatic use of light both from the torch of the diver and the natural sunbeams. There is so much image depth in this shot which emphasise the beams in the background and the centre of interest - the lamp of the diver. A good choice also in removing any colour with a mono like treatment.

[media ref: 110]
Macro
Copyright UPY/SO YAT WAI WINNER: 'Prey?' by So Yat Wai (Hong Kong)

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?

Peter Rowlands:  This shot works on so many levels; like a Sci Fi encounter in outer space, the fortuitous (for once) backscatter creates a perfect starry background which makes the main subject seem huge and menacing. Perfect composition leaves you in no doubt and you can only fear for the 'little fella' on the right.

[media ref: 201]
Copyright UPY/Jenny Stromvoll RUNNER UP: 'Graceful ballet ' by Jenny Stromvoll (Mozambique)

Since we found this dive site, which consists of a sea pen forest at 34m, we have discovered new species to the area. One of my favourite subjects has been the blue sea pen which hosts different shrimps and gobies. With its flowing lines and beautiful polyps any subject inside this orange and blue sea pen is beautifully offset and lends itself to an artistic composition. Once I learned to dive with sea pens and their inhabitants, I got to know that they are quick to retract into the sand if threatened. Coupled with this, a deep nitrox decompression dive adds to the complexity. My husband found this sea pen on a recent dive and even though he had a camera himself, he was kind enough to give me an opportunity to take some photos.

Martin Edge:  It is true to say that this was a favourite with all three judges and throughout the process we admired it more and more. It's so simple in its composition within the frame and it has a softness to it which works so well. I anticipate that many others, faced with how to process this shot would have gone for the pin-sharp treatment, myself included but the delicate high key lighting, the colour combinations and choice of aperture are all in play with this soft, simple and eye popping image.

[media ref: 202]
Copyright UPY/Dragos Dumitrescu THIRD: 'Fire Shelter' by Dragos Dumitrescu (Romania)

The underwater realm is stunning. But most of the time we tend to see only the rare and unique critters while the most common subjects are set aside. This tube Anemone (which you can find almost everywhere) is a shelter to a bunch of juveniles until they can manage on their own. They have an entire universe in there with plenty of adventures taking place. My purpose was to bring out the beauty which is not regularly seen. I used the backlighting technique and also a fine touch of strobe from the front to make the juveniles pop-up.

Alex Mustard:  A photo that proves that you don’t need a rare critter to produce a winning image. Photographic creativity is a much rarer trait. A simple scene transformed by the mind and skills of the photographer.

[media ref: 203]
Copyright UPY/Fábio Freitas HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Backlight Shrimp' by Fábio Freitas (Brazil)

Shrimps are challenging objects 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 too smart putting the light exactly where I want to. I took only 4 pictures, and the shrimp vanished. It is very important to know the techniques and mainly to know how to use them, so we can, in some special situation, get different pictures than usual.

Martin Edge:  Such delicate lighting as resulted in a frame within a frame. Precise exposure was the key to this.

[media ref: 204]
Copyright UPY/Susannah H. Snowden-Smith HIGHLY COMMENDED: '"Expectant Parents"' by Susannah H. Snowden-Smith (Cayman Islands)

"Expectant Parents" - A pair of two claw shrimp, including one with eggs, in the bottom of a purple vase sponge. Two claw shrimp are a rare find on Grand Cayman; these are the only ones I've seen in over 300 dives on the island! When diving, I have made a habit of looking into every purple vase sponge I come across. On this particular day, my husband and I went to a secret spot on Grand Cayman. We call it "Magicland" as we always find the most amazing creatures there. I had never seen these shrimp beforetwo claw shrimp as I would come to find out later. I placed one strobe along the side of the sponge to provide backlighting, and another pointing into the top of the sponge to provide fill light.

Alex Mustard:  Shrimps inside sponges are common subjects, but this one stands out as a photograph. The framing and the focus allows the pair of shrimps to balance each other in the picture and for both to tell the story of the parents to be.

[media ref: 205]
Copyright UPY/Dragos Dumitrescu HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Fishing fish' by Dragos Dumitrescu (Romania)

Frogfish are some of the most photogenic subjects in macro areas. But apart from their yawning and weird looking shape, their most prominent action is "fishing for fish". This picture was about capturing the hypnotic movement of the frogfish's luring. Fascinated by these weird looking anglerfish, with their lures and baits, I was trying to transfer the "magic" that attracts their unsuspecting prey into a still image. Using a slow shutter speed my goal was to capture in one shot the whole process of luring while, at the same time, emphasizing the special texture of the hairy frogfish. It took a while, observing the behavior and few shots to get the right settings, but in the end the action got captured.

Alex Mustard:  A macro photograph that is truly macro art. A long exposure that doesn’t just capture the fishing behaviour, but also gives the surroundings a painterly feeling, without outcompeting the main subject.

[media ref: 206]
Copyright UPY/John Parker HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Paddle Flap Rhinopias ' by John Parker (UK)

The back lit Paddle Flap Rhinopias was taken near Scuba Seraya, Tulamben, Bali. I spent almost the whole dive with dive guide “Paing” (who kindly aimed my snoot for me) trying to get a decent back lit shot of the Rhinopias. I took 30 to 40 frames to get the lighting right and get a black background which was difficult as it was daylight and at only 12 metres. I used 2 Inon Z240 strobes to light the fish. One strobe was fitted with a Retra LSD Snoot and was hand held; the second strobe was very low power to provide a bit of front fill light. I was pleased to get a good Rhinopias shot having failed the day before trying to photograph a Lacy Purple Rhinopias at 33 metres running out of deco time.

Peter Rowlands:  Backlighting is hardly a new technique underwater but, when the subject is right, the technique never fails to appeal. A kiss of front lighting was a great decision.

[media ref: 207]
Copyright UPY/Steven Kovacs COMMENDED: 'larval Lionfish' by Steven Kovacs (USA)

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.

Peter Rowlands:  Judging is a very subjective process and as I write this caption some two weeks after the judging I can't help but feel that I should have fought more for this exquisite image to be pushed a little higher up the order.

[media ref: 208]
Copyright UPY/Luc Rooman COMMENDED: 'Clownfish Swirl' by Luc Rooman (Belgium)

Towards the end of the dive I suddenly saw a nice Anemone with clownfish. After some minutes the clownfish to have studied I saw that this clownfish is the same button swam in the Anemone, I focused on the clownfish and so I have to take several pictures through the aluminum tube that mounted on my port was so that I have obtained a round mirror effect.

Alex Mustard:  Creative techniques have always been a part of photographic competitions. The key to winning is to be original and use the technique well, with a subject it suits. The colours of the anemone fish make this swirl stand out.

[media ref: 209]
Copyright UPY/Katherine Lu COMMENDED: 'Nudi Art' by Katherine Lu (USA)

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 Nudi Art.

Alex Mustard:  A very memorable image, taking a common subject and transforming it into something truly original through the photographer's ingenuity. Shows that common subjects and challenging local conditions can produce wonderful pictures.

[media ref: 210]
Wrecks
Copyright UPY/Csaba Tökölyi WINNER: 'The wreck of the Louilla at sunset' by Csaba Tökölyi (Hungary)

This is the wreck of the Louilla resting on top of Gordon reef in the Straits of Tiran on the edge of the Sinai. Beneath her lies a pile of her anchor chains, giving the form of a whale. Wrecks become part of the eco-system in no time. Soft corals develop very soon and they can become shelter for schools of juvenile fish. But also, they can have a devastating effect on their surroundings. This wreck sits on top of Gordon reef, battered by the waves and is slowly deteriorating. Last summer, part of the superstructure collapsed, and the wreck lost it's epic, cinematic look. In a few decades, the reef should be free again from the remains of this once huge freighter.

Martin Edge:  This image immediately caught my eye in the first round of judging 'Wrecks'. An ideal subject for a split shot, superb and subtle use (I believe) of fill in flash' on both top and bottom of the wreck with the low sun in the far background. The compositional weight of the foreground, both under & over is also very well balanced. I've seen quite a few attempts at this wreck before but never as well executed as this.

[media ref: 301]
Copyright UPY/Andrey Narchuk RUNNER UP: 'Precontinental dreams' by Andrey Narchuk (Russia)

'Precontinental' is not just a wreck. It was dream of Jacques-Yves Cousteau and humanity about life in the Ocean. 50 years ago, we were closer to that dream than now. Now the only fish live in this residential unit.

Alex Mustard:  The wreck category is not just for pictures of ships, but for any image taken on a wreck. This photo perfectly captures the feeling of glass fish sweeping from side to side inside a ship. A creative technique that feels appropriate to the subject and story.

[media ref: 302]
Copyright UPY/Kieran Hatton THIRD: 'Rising Sun - Nippo Maru' by Kieran Hatton (UK)

Engine rooms in Truk Lagoon are popular places; I’d made a plan with the group that they would head there at the beginning of the dive and I’d venture in at the end. I’ve taken an image similar to this before but had never played with remote lighting prior to this trip. Entering through the blast hole at 45m it took about 30 minutes to position the lights, get set up and wait for the silt to settle; being on a rebreather really helps with the rust percolation. I hoped to share the detail and scale with this picture. Gauges with the faces still in, light streaming through from above and the video lights illuminating the walk ways to give a sense of scale. The light bursting through the gantry like the ‘rising sun’ seemed fitting.

Peter Rowlands:  As a keen wreck photographer the subtlety of this shot really appealed to me. Everything had been carefully chosen. Camera position, time of day and additional lighting. When we judged this image we had no idea or inclinations how deep it was. 45 metres. Wow!

[media ref: 303]
Copyright UPY/Nadya Kulagina HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'The Haunted Room' by Nadya Kulagina (Kazakhstan)

On my way back from the dive, I noticed this room flooded with light. The rays of light streaming down through portholes were lined up so nicely creating a mysterious look of what this room might have looked like when the Umbria was still intact and plying the seas. I couldn’t miss an opportunity to take a picture. The wreck lies on its side with the portholes looking up toward the surface, so the saloon is turned sideways, which is very confusing to a human eye. I flipped the camera vertically to take this shot. Since I used a very slow shutter speed to expose correctly for the sun beams and still be able see the far back of the room, I had to rest the housing on the side of the opening through which I was photographing and hold my breath in order not to blur the image.

Martin Edge:  The Wreck Cat was strong this year and one image which particularly caught my attention was this internal view. The position of the sunbeams pouring onto the decking is particularly eye-catching and the author has exposed for both midtones and highlights. The composition leads the eye back and forth through the wreck and towards a door in the distance. The depth perspective of this image and its view is most eye catching.

[media ref: 304]
Copyright UPY/Gianni Pecchiar HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Propeller of the the "Michelle"' by Gianni Pecchiar (Italy)

The wreck of the Michelle lies in navigation trim at a depth of 10 meters pointing SW and the bow is almost always dark, since it is never lit by sunlight. My idea was to backlight the darkness of the propeller and the rudder and also a part of the stern. To do this I had to use 4 flashes connected together, positioned on homemade stands, hidden behind each propeller blade and remotely triggered with a 15 meter cable to the camera. Very exhausting but I did it.

Peter Rowlands:  As Gianni's caption reveals, a lot of work was put into achieving this shot but it was certainly worth it. Converting the image to black and white creates mood and the backlighting is very effective. Also the position of the diver is perfect. All in all, this is a very well executed shot.

[media ref: 305]
Copyright UPY/Torbjörn Gylleus HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'The operation was successful' by Torbjörn Gylleus (Sweden)

I was returning to Truk Lagoon after ten years with a list of photo subjects that I wanted to focus on. The operating table in the sick bay of the Shinkoku Maru was one of those subjects, and we did three dives on that wreck. My brother hovered close to the ceiling with two light sources, used in combination with my camera strobes. I also wanted to capture the faint natural light in the background to create some mood and depth in the image by using a slow shutter speed. One of the challenges here was to prepare and shoot quickly before the rust flakes started falling down from above causing backscatter, but the image came out as I wanted.

Alex Mustard:  A still life image that communicates perfectly the mood of a wreck, of a ship and the sick bay stopped in time. The lack of fish and a diver increases the somber, reflective mood. The carefully controlled foreground lighting and the depth created by the distant background combine to complete a subtly brilliant picture.

[media ref: 306]
Copyright UPY/Tanya Houppermans HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Capturing History' by Tanya Houppermans (USA)

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.

Peter Rowlands:  I can well imagine the excitement of descending to a familiar wreck and finding that the visibility is way above average; the opportunity to capture a large section for the first time but then another underwater photographer starts to spoil the shot until you realise that he is actually contributing a great sense of scale and definitely adding to the composition.

[media ref: 307]
Copyright UPY/Marcus Blatchford COMMENDED: 'Jill Bomber' by Marcus Blatchford (UK)

I visited Truk Lagoon to dive the infamous "Ghost Fleet". After a week this was a bit of a curved ball compared to the rest of the huge, amazing shipwrecks we dived and simply just a plane. To be more exact a Nakajima B6N "Jill" Bomber. The resort we stayed in ‘Blue Lagoon’, in WW2 was a Japanese airfield. The Jill is around 200m from the bar. My tactics changed for the plane, up until this point I had been aiming for simple photographs but for the Jill I decided to try to map the area using 3d photogrammetry. I captured 408 photos of the aircraft which when fed into some very cleaver whizzbangery resulted in a complete orbital 3d model.

Martin Edge: Alex Mustard:  This shot really jumped out at me. I'm sure it was the way in which the author choose to cut around the plane and leave the surrounding background a striking jet black. Composition is strong and the more I saw it the more I liked it. Do take the time to read the author, Marcus Blatchford's 'Back Story' above. I think his account of how that shot was taken will be of great interest to you all. It was clear during judging that this image was produced with photogrammetry, which is allowed in our rules, and also is gaining popularity as a way to use an underwater camera as a research tool in marine archaeology. Marcus has taken it one step further by making a beautiful image too.

[media ref: 308]
Copyright UPY/Nadya Kulagina COMMENDED: 'Three Warriors' by Nadya Kulagina (Kazakhstan)

Having seen hundreds of images of these three beautiful Fiats that rest in one of the holds of the Umbria wreck, I decided to take an image that would stand out from the others. The idea was to use off-camera strobes to light up the cabins of the three cars. Unfortunately, one of the strobes was too far and refused to fire. The hold with the cars is relatively small and very dark, so I had to be very careful not to kick up silt and rust. And I was very limited on time as the rest of the group was already breathing down my neck. To me, these three cars stand tall as the famous three warriors by a Russian artist Victor Vasnetsov, hence the title.

Alex Mustard:  A pleasing composition and a strong idea, that would surely have finished even higher with a more reliable strobe!

[media ref: 309]
Copyright UPY/Steve Jones COMMENDED: 'Last Flight' by Steve Jones (UK)

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 metres. I only had one dive on the wreck and the depth gave me very limited time in which to work so good communication between myself and my buddy, Andi Marovic was essential: I thoroughly briefed him on what I was trying to achieve before the dive so he could also visualise the image I was aiming for. I wanted to capture an image that showed the true scale of the aircraft so I shot with natural light and colour balanced the image during post processing.

Peter Rowlands:  I still can't believe it but I had to fight the other judges to keep this shot in the top 10. OK, the quality of images in this category was extremely high but I found this to be such a powerful shot yet so simple in it's execution. As is often the case where another diver is included for scale, a significant part of the credit should also go to them for their contribution to the composition.

[media ref: 310]
Behaviour
Copyright UPY/Qing Lin WINNER: 'Your home and my home' by Qing Lin (Canada)

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.

Martin Edge:  One of my favourite fish to photograph is the clown. They make great images and when combined within a complementary colourful anemone they will always stand out. In recent years we are seeing more and more parasites within the mouth of the clowns and it was this that we noticed when judging. Now, I've seen many individual clowns with this parasite but never have I seen a parasite in each of three. Add to this behaviour a colourful anemone lined up across the image. Six eyes all in pin sharp focus, looking into the lens of the author. Talk about 'Peak of the Action' This was one of my favourite shots from the entire competition

[media ref: 401]
Copyright UPY/Jean Tresfon RUNNER UP: 'Humpback whale feeding on krill.' by Jean Tresfon (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!

Peter Rowlands:  What an amazing shot and how must it have felt actually being there! The framing is well timed with great eye contact. All I can really add is Wow!

[media ref: 402]
Copyright UPY/Liang Fu THIRD: 'Cleaner' by Liang Fu (China)

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.

Martin Edge:  I'm sure that the majority (including myself) would have been more than happy to capture the cleaner shrimp within the moray eel's mouth. However Liang Fu went one step further. He came up with the idea to progress the exact same subject but to introduce some imagination and creative lighting between dives. This is creative thinking both in and out of the water at its best. A well deserved third place in a challenging category.

[media ref: 403]
Copyright UPY/Mikko Saareila HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'The festive table' by Mikko Saareila (Finland)

The pike had already been partially eaten when I arrived. I stayed farther away waiting for the sunset. While twilight was descending signal crayfish crawled from their holes starting their meal. It seemed that some of them spent more time fighting over the meal than eating. I carefully began to take pictures and finally got close enough to obtain the desired images. Vuoksi, my hometown river. had given the best again.

Alex Mustard:  Creepy behaviour and an expertly crafted photograph. A very strong contender in a fiercely competitive category.

[media ref: 404]
Copyright UPY/Greg Lecoeur HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Dolphins hunting' by Greg Lecoeur (France)

Since last year, sardines have become victims of overfishing and climate change. They are the main food source of marine life, many species such as pinguins, sea lions, sharks, dolphins and more... are dependent on them for their survival. During their migration along the wild coast, all the predators work together to hunt sardines but the action is more and more unpredictable. To capture this moment, I had spent several days on the ocean to have one chance to witness this behaviour.

Alex Mustard:  Action, action, action. Dolphins with sardines spilling out of their mouths. What more can you ask for in a behaviour category.

[media ref: 405]
Copyright UPY/Pasquale Vassallo HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Views at dawn' by Pasquale Vassallo (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.

Peter Rowlands:  Such a delicate image and perfectly timed yet it still tells the story of two crabs taking a chance and seeing where their lives will take them.

[media ref: 406]
Copyright UPY/Simone Caprodossi HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'The Contenders ' by Simone Caprodossi (United Arab Emirates)

We actually went to Bahia Magdalena to photograph blue and mako sharks offshore. We had no baiting success that morning so on the way back we stopped by a small beach where fisherman land their catch. As we arrived we could see tens of pelicans flocking around a fishing boat for scraps from the nets. So we started throwing our leftover bait in small scraps as fisherman regularly do and quickly had crazy pelican action around our boat. Hanging by the side we were able to shoot them going for the fish with fully extended pouches and contending with each other. The photo opportunities were great so we decided to convert the next day of shark attempts to more pelican shooting. Building on the first day experience, the next day we oriented the boat for better light and played with split levels to try to catch the lively action both above and below the water.

Alex Mustard:  Great underwater action and a worthy split level made by the pelican swallowing its catch above the surface.

[media ref: 407]
Copyright UPY/Warren Baverstock COMMENDED: 'Planktonado' by Warren Baverstock (United Arab Emirates)

On my last visit to Djibouti I suspended a large LED light from the rear of the boat to attract plankton so I could photograph night time feeding whale sharks. After three nights, a whale shark finally showed up and started to feed on the plankton. Making every attempt to enter the water quietly, the shark still became spooked and disappeared without a single photograph being taken. Moving out into the darkness away from the boat, I hung on to the anchor line and kept perfectly still in the hope that the shark would return. After an hour the shark returned and my first glimpse of it was an outline of a large mouth which appeared from depth as it fed on the tornado of plankton that swirled and constantly morphed into different shapes. I spent a further hour with this feeding shark and gained an incredible experience and some remarkable photographs including this one.

Alex Mustard:  An original image of a plankton feeder at work. The dark frame really highlights the action and the attractive coil of plankton seems to be being sucked down into that cavernous mouth.

[media ref: 408]
Copyright UPY/Luc Rooman COMMENDED: 'Toads mating' by Luc Rooman (Belgium)

For several years we have been following toads mating in the fresh water lake of Turnhout (Belgium) usually in the months of March or April if the weather conditions are 8°C and with humid weather. The toads are in the shallow areas of the lake where we can take photos with natural light while snorkeling.

Peter Rowlands: Behaviour and the results of behaviour both caught in a well balanced composition.

[media ref: 409]
Copyright UPY/Edwar Herreño COMMENDED: 'The Game' by Edwar Herreño (Colombia)

6:30 am and a 4 metre tiger shark was about to breakfast on a hawksbill turtle next to the boat. I took my camera, jumped into one of the skiffs and went closer. That was one of the image that I had wanted to get for years (I had been working there for 11 years doing 4 dives per day). It was dark so I pumped up the ISO to 800; then when I got close, I stuck half of my body into the water; one of the skiff drivers was holding my legs. I took as many pictures as I could but they moved a lot! The Tiger was trying to bite the turtles head off while the turtle defended herself by showing her back. It went on like that until one of them gave up.

Alex Mustard:  The week after judging Italian scientists discovered a fossil of a 100 million year old shark feeding on a turtle. Showing this isn't anything new in the ocean. Photos that capture the moment, certainly are something new.

[media ref: 410]
Portrait
Copyright UPY/ifj. Lorincz Ferenc WINNER: 'Face to face' by ifj. Lorincz Ferenc (Hungary)

We were photographing a big school of bat fish in front of the fully blue background in Shark Rafeen, Rash Mohamed National Park in Egypt, but it is extremely hard to capture a school of fish in a nice position, especially with divers swimming by all the time, so I gave up trying. Not so far from the others I noticed a crevice in a rock, which fish used as a cleaning station, and slowly, very slowly, I swam into the gap, switching places with the cleaning fish. This made it possible to photograph this bat fish front on.

Peter Rowlands:  One of the most useful things about UPY Yearbooks is that they are perfect reference works for underwater photographers to see exactly what works and wins in this competition. Here is a great example of what really works as a portrait. The eye contact is immediate and they are pin sharp but it is the mouth and lips which deliver the character. The lighting and colour contrast lifts the subject from the background and, for me, the four little fish in the background are the icing on the cake.

[media ref: 501]
Copyright UPY/Guglielmo Cicerchia RUNNER UP: 'Big Red ' by Guglielmo Cicerchia (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.

Alex Mustard:  Portraits don't have to be cute or quirky. This one tugs the heartstrings, as the scorpionfish strains against the net. The long exposure and zoom really adds to the drama of the scene.

[media ref: 502]
Copyright UPY/Dragos Dumitrescu THIRD: 'Hypnotic' by Dragos Dumitrescu (Romania)

Pygmy seahorses are some of the most shy beings I've ever met. The strobes and strong light are not to their liking and most of the time they just turn away. My goal was to use as less light as possible so I've built my own snoot in order to accomplish that. It creates a "needle" of light. Not bothered by flashes or torches, this pygmy looked straight into the camera offering me one of the most rewarding hypnotic portraits I have ever shot.

Martin Edge:  This is one of the best pygmy shots I have judged in recent years. Simply excellent.

[media ref: 503]
Copyright UPY/Damien Mauric HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Imp of darkness' by Damien Mauric (UK)

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.

Alex Mustard:  Prehistoric, this iguana looks like an ancient sea monster. A fantastic animal portrait.

[media ref: 504]
Copyright UPY/Liang Fu HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Thanatos' by Liang Fu (China)

I always like shooting skeleton shrimps. I had imagined a skeleton shrimp as Thanatos, the Greek god of death, holding his divine swords. I found this skeleton shrimp on the top of its habitat. I placed my torch behind to create full moon beams. When it straightened up its body, it was right in the beaming circle. Then all I had to do was press the shutter.

Peter Rowlands: Simple yet so effective. Backlighting has almost x-rayed the shrimp and the pose captures the character. That's a portrait.

[media ref: 505]
Copyright UPY/David Barrio HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Kiss me!' by David Barrio (Spain)

El Bajón is an impressive dive located at El Hierro Island marine reserve and, due to its non fishing status in the area, some dusky groupers (Epinephelus marginatus) have been able to grow and reach large sizes (the species is classified as endangered in the IUCN Red List). It is interesting that these large specimens have grown accustomed to divers and, sometimes, they let photographers get close, or very close, like in this picture (other times they just ignore all divers). It is a pleasure just being able to dive with these giants and it is even better when they collaborate and stand looking at their reflection on the dome port for some minutes, letting the photographer experiment with light and composition.

Martin Edge:  It's the precise balance of all the facial features which attracted me to this image during our first round of judging. Eyes - Mouth - Eyes - Mouth! The balance of the composition is so exact that all these qualities stand out. Then we embark on yet another look inside the mouth, just in case we have missed something.

[media ref: 506]
Copyright UPY/Jeff Milisen HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Lophiodes fimbriatus' by Jeff Milisen (USA)

Blackwater diving, defined as drifting through the open ocean at night over thousands of feet of water, is all about seeing life that you have never witnessed before. One night, my buddy pointed out what looked like an egg-yolk jelly, which aren't commonly found in the shallows around Hawaii. But as I looked closer, fins and eyes started to appear and I realized this wasn't a jelly at all, but an anglerfish! The 3 cm long fish with 6cm long tendrils was wonderfully camouflaged to look like a stinging, inedible jelly. You won't find Lophiodes fimbriatus in any book on Hawaii's fishes-this is the first time it has been observed this far east, and possibly the third time it has ever been seen at all!

Alex Mustard:  What a fantastic character, it is hard to imagine a fish so bizarre can really exist.

[media ref: 507]
Copyright UPY/Greg Lecoeur COMMENDED: 'Green Turtles in the rays' by Greg Lecoeur (France)

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.

Alex Mustard:  A perfectly judged composition balancing the three elements - two turtles and the setting sun. Greg has timed the image to perfection to capture perfect symmetry in the turtle's poses.

[media ref: 508]
Copyright UPY/FRANCIS PÉREZ COMMENDED: 'Sealion playing with starfish' by Francis Pérez (Spain)

In Los Islotes there is one of the most important Sealion kindergartens in Mexico. I went there looking for pictures of sea lions eating on the big sardine banks. I was not lucky, because there were no sardines, but I found many interesting things, such as the one I show in this photo, a juvenile sea lion playing with starfish. I was surprised to see the stars passing each other or even as they approached the camera with them in the mouth, to leave them and then to catch them again. My intention was to capture the moment when sea lions caught a star with their mouths, to capture a dynamic image. I spent about four hours in the water, I came and went to the area where there were more juveniles, until finally getting closer and little by little and with respect I was able to capture this photo.

Alex Mustard:  Fun and comedic character, revealing natural play behaviour, so important in the development of intelligent sea lions.

[media ref: 509]
Copyright UPY/Adriano Morettin COMMENDED: 'Hyppocampus guttulatus double exposure' by Adriano Morettin (Italy)

I tried photographing this seahorse for several months because I wanted to do exactly this type of photography with double exposure made directly underwater without changing the lens and performing two consecutive shots. When at last I have found him I thought that this was the chance of a lifetime and I did not have let slip out a series of shots that I consider among the best I've done in my long career as an underwater photographer.

Martin Edge:  A stunning shot and another favourite of mine. The balance of the composition and the weight between seahorse and sunbeams is perfect. The colour combinations between the two also work so well together.

[media ref: 510]
Compact
Copyright UPY/Jenny Stromvoll WINNER: 'I’ve got my eye on you!' by Jenny Stromvoll (Mozambique)

I have shot many whip gobies but this particular shot was taken with the Inon compact bug-eye lens which added a lot of character to the goby’s eye. The trick was to get close enough without the goby moving away. I was fortunate enough to find a very forgiving goby who allowed me into his private space. I knew I had to get down low and shoot up to include the surface of the water. I shot this scene many times before getting the image I was after.

Martin Edge:  For me this was an instant first place. The compact bug-eye lens is not easy to use but Jenny got the better of this tool. I think it was important to create some depth within the image and this has been done so well by opening-up the background water column. Try to imagine this image with a black background! There would have been such little depth, it would have been all about the goby and nothing else. Instead, the blue water background situated towards top left of the frame allows the eye of the viewer to wander back and forth again and again.

[media ref: 601]
Copyright UPY/Fabio Russo RUNNER UP: 'Zeus free swimming ' by Fabio Russo (Italia)

John-Dory (Zeus faber) normally live very deep. However, at night, in winter, they may climb up in shallower water to feed. I was very trilled to find one at less than 10 m of depth which was very unusual.

Alex Mustard:  Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication wrote Leonardo da Vinci. Great job.

[media ref: 602]
Copyright UPY/David Alpert THIRD: 'Orca' by David Alpert (UK)

In January 2016, I travelled 350km inside the Arctic Circle to dive with Orcas having trained for over 6 months to improve fitness levels and get used to the specialised freediving equipment and 4-degree water. On our last attempt to dive with them a large male with a dorsal fin approximately 6ft tall turned round and then as if to bid us farewell swam calmly swam right past us. In January the sun never rises much above the horizon and it was in the last few moments before sunset that I took this photo. One cannot use strobes because the older females still recall the days when flashes of light meant harpoons. So this natural lighting effect is dramatic!

Peter Rowlands:  An image doesn't have to be pinsharp to produce an effect and this shot, taken on a compact camera just before sunset with just natural light, is a prime example of getting the composition right and just take the photograph. I think it is a remarkable testament to both the photographer and the camera in such testing conditions.

[media ref: 603]
Copyright UPY/Nicolas Cimiterra HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Mediterranean sea Regalecus glesne' by Nicolas Cimiterra (France)

With my friends, we planned to dive in April, the best moment to observe this extraordinary fish, just after the phytoplankton bloom. During the day the water was very clear but it gradually becomes loaded with macroplancton (jellyfish, ctenophores, etc.). The first observation of the Regalec occurred at dusk. It probably followed the vertical migration of plankton. This image was taken at night. Going up from the depths parallel to the chain of the buoy (anchored on a bottom of 2300 m), this individual was observed several times for a few seconds or tens of seconds, moving away or disappearing in the depths to reappear a few meters further away. I was able to take several shots of this beautiful and exceptional fish, but he disappeared again into the darkness all too soon. It was an amazing human and naturalist experience.

Alex Mustard:  A very rare creature, but also a hauntingly beautiful picture. Stunning.

[media ref: 604]
Copyright UPY/Jenny Stromvoll HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Coral safehaven' by Jenny Stromvoll (Mozambique)

While searching for soft coral cowries inside the thistle corals, I came across this goby. For me the colour of the Dendronephthya flesh and the goby’s very translucent body and striking green eyes, would make a very delicate and soft photo. I wanted to get a photograph with a lot of depth to it, which was achieved by framing the goby with the soft coral branches. Personally this is one of my favourite photos as it has such a feminine touch to it.

Peter Rowlands:  Such good use of the out of focus foreground to draw the viewers eye in and the pastel colours are just gorgeous.

[media ref: 605]
Copyright UPY/Lorincz Ferenc  HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Hunter of the Night' by Lorincz Ferenc (Hungary)

The carnivorous lion fish often comes close when seeing a flashlight during a night dive, since the illuminated smaller fish are an easy prey. On this particular dive, they came annoyingly close and even swam into the domeport of my camera again and again. That is how I took the picture, the lion fish literally hit my camera; leaving me only one choice: to illuminate him from the sides.

Alex Mustard:  A stunning image, kept down the order only by the similar image of the John Dory. That's the nature of competitions, someone else's photo can determine where you place.

[media ref: 606]
Copyright UPY/Alexander Franz HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Hanging Around' by Alexander Franz (Germany)

Gili Raja Wreck is only for experienced divers. Deep down at 50m the atmosphere is gloomy, you see bullet holes and remains of the ships load, colours disappear. The pink shining frogfish, hanging in the ropes immediately caught my attention - but when diving with guests I usually don't bring my camera. Impatient I waited for the decompression time and the surface interval to end, I grabbed my camera and my buddy and I went down again and luckily found the frogfish, still hanging in the same position.

Alex Mustard:  The simple power of pinky-red on cyan blue makes this a very compelling frogfish portrait. It reveals the extraordinary places that these fish set their ambushes.

[media ref: 607]
Copyright UPY/Jenny Stromvoll COMMENDED: 'Hello World!' by Jenny Stromvoll (Mozambique)

I found this cluster of Cuttlefish eggs on a reef called Doodles in Ponta do Ouro. All the eggs looked dark to start with, however, as I looked closer, I noticed one slightly more opaque than the rest. This one was getting ready to hatch! In order to ready himself for defensive manoeuvres in the outside world, he absorbed the last drops of ink which his mother had infused into the egg sac. This is when I pressed the shutter button. Moments later the tiny creature set off to start his new life in the big blue.

Peter Rowlands:  Perfect timing to capture the start of a life. Well lit and composed. A credit to the capabilities of compact cameras.

[media ref: 608]
Copyright UPY/Linda McKean COMMENDED: '"Welcome To The Jungle..."' by Linda McKean (USA)

Diving with Blue Iguana Charters and all the shark action at Tiger Beach, the Bahamas was one of the most exciting UWP opportunities of my life. I really wasn't sure what it would be like but the best way I can describe it is that we were surrounded by sharks. The most numerous were the Carribean Reef and Lemon Sharks, but the stars of the show were clearly the magnificant female Tiger Sharks. Their beauty, size and graceful movement captivated me as they slowly cruised the area and I wanted to capture that feeling in my photographs. I was about two meters off the bottom when I took this face-on shot of one of the Tiger Sharks the dive crew called "Smiley" due to the little crooked smile she always seems to have on her face,

Peter Rowlands:  A simple yet captivating portrait which captures everything that is charismatic about these apex predators.

[media ref: 609]
Copyright UPY/Fabio Russo COMMENDED: 'Negative pole ' by Fabio Russo (Italia)

The ventral side of an ocellate torpedo, or eyed electric ray (Torpedo torpedo) is not easy to photograph I took advantage of a free swimming one and quickly descended to the seabed to shoot its underside. For attack and defense, the torpedo can deliver a strong electric shock of up to 200 volts, so it's not a good idea to touch it.

Peter Rowlands:  Perfectly composed and lit this shot provides an unusual view of a Torpedo Ray.

[media ref: 610]
Up & Coming
Copyright UPY/Horacio Martinez WINNER: 'Oceanic in the Sky' by Horacio Martinez (Argentina)

This was my first Red Sea experience, and my first liveaboard-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.

Peter Rowlands:  There was a lot of competitive images in this category, as you would expect but this one was a serious contender right from the start. The photographer has 'seen' the light and realised its dramatic effect extremely well and used it to contrast the small shark in a big, blue, lonely world. Very evocative indeed.

[media ref: 701]
Copyright UPY/Sean Landsman RUNNER UP: 'A migratory alewife swims through turbulent flow.' by Sean Landsman (Canada)

This image is part of a larger project to document the anadromous (adult growth in saltwater, birth/spawning in freshwater) fishes of eastern North America. It depicts a migratory alewife barreling through the turbulent flow at the base of a fish ladder. This location in Prince Edward Island, Canada has a dam that impedes access to the spawning habitat. Alewife need slow-moving pond or lake environments to spawn in and can only access them with fish ladders or similar structures if a dam is present. Anadromous fishes like alewife transport high-quality marine-derived nutrients into freshwater ecosystems, providing food for all sorts of aquatic organisms. It was very difficult to see the fish moving through the bubbly water, much less time my trigger finger with their movements correctly. It took dozens of frames to get this one image, but all it takes is one!

Alex Mustard:  An eyecatching and novel image of an every day fish, shows persistence, knowledge and creativity from the photographer.

[media ref: 702]
Copyright UPY/Catalin Craciun THIRD: 'Under My Umbrella' by Catalin Craciun (Romania)

The idea for this photo came from the need to show people that freediving is not ONLY about going down and up on a line but rather exploring, dreaming and applying it for having fun and to explore . This photo was taken at Freediving Coron in the Philippines where we teach freediving courses all year round in the famous Barracuda Lake which offers us perfect water and surrounding conditions: warm (and hot deeper than 14m) water, good visibility, no waves, no current; a dream for anyone who wishes to learn to freedive. The freediver is Mary Jane Paula Jumuad, Apnea Total Freediving Instructor and the deepest Filipina freediver. This photo was taken using only natural light at around 9m depth and freediving as well.

Alex Mustard: A delightful composition and an original concept make this shot truly memorable.

[media ref: 703]
Copyright UPY/Nicholai Georgiou HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Orca Pod' by Nicholai Georgiou (UK)

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.

Peter Rowlands:  Most underwater photographers would be happy to get a shot of a single killer whale in its environment but Nicholai had the composure not to panic and time the shot perfectly as a pod of killer whales passed by heading into the setting sun. I'm jealous.

[media ref: 704]
Copyright UPY/Simon Staiger HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'purple shelter' by Simon Staiger (Germany)

It was the last dive of our holiday and I knew that this amphipod was living in the purple tunicates, which were very common there. So I decided to dedicate this dive to this little critter. After a while I found a tunicate with its inhabitant. It was fascinating to see this tiny creature, hiding in his beautiful purple home, almost only visible threw the viewfinder. To capture this image, I adjusted the lens on its minimum focus distance to achieve the largest magnification and aimed the strobes with full power from either side of the tunica to proper light the the small guy inside its shelter.

Alex Mustard:  An enticing composition, with the purple swirls of the sea squirt framing the crustacean against the black background.

[media ref: 705]
Copyright UPY/Jade Hoksbergen HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Medusa Blenny on the Lookout' by Jade Hoksbergen (UK)

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.

Alex Mustard:  Delicate pastel colours and soft textures frame this pin-sharp and characterful portrait.

[media ref: 706]
Copyright UPY/Dave Baker HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Tiger Beach' by Dave Baker (UK)

Fed up with getting fleeting glances of sharks and then seeing them disappear into the depths I decided to take a trip to Tiger beach in order to get up close to these magnificent creatures. I wasn't disappointed . I tried to capture as much of the experience as I could in one shot so positioned myself behind some coral with the boat on the surface. It was then a case of waiting for the Sharks to swim over with the added bonus of a diver descending from the boat as well

Alex Mustard:  Three species of shark and a huge tiger shark dominating the frame. The coral and boat complete a very satisfying composition.

[media ref: 707]
Copyright UPY/Léna REMY COMMENDED: 'Through the coral window' by Léna Remy (France)

Looking at this beautiful frame of flower coral, on Tulamben USS liberty wreck, I noticed this yellow fish turning quickly around the coral. I positioned myself to have blue water background surrounded by red coral. I waited for the fish to take this posture in the middle of the coral window. I was happy to capture the short moment the fish looked at the camera, exactly in the middle of the blue.

Alex Mustard:  What a pretty image. The red gorgonian and the yellow damselfish contrast beautifully with the blue water. A perfectly timed capture.

[media ref: 708]
Copyright UPY/Patryk Pinski COMMENDED: 'Sunset' by Patryk Pinski (UK)

This photo was taken at the sunset during a St John’s safari in Egypt, last March. Almost at the end of the dive we came across a smack of jelly fish swimming close to the surface. I could not resist photographing of this beautiful creature with the sunset in the background. After a few shots using strobes to enhance a shape of jelly fish I got the photo I was satisfied with.

Peter Rowlands: An appealing and delicately lit shot which slipped down the order because we felt the composition was a little unbalanced.

[media ref: 709]
Copyright UPY/Christophe Lapeze COMMENDED: 'Whale calf posing' by Christophe Lapeze (France)

I travelled to French Polynesia for a once in a life moment of playing with a whale calf and I decided to devote a whole week to this. One morning, the magic happened. A mother and a calf were sleeping quietly at 15 meters. When they feel safe and unafraid, they can really come close to you. And this six tonne 6 meter calf was amazingly playful. Strobes were not allowed but you don't need them. The contrast of the deep blue and the sunlight were enough. The difficulty was to be at the right place according to the sunlight and to get a gracious pose from the calf: another photographer on the other side, the whale posing, a few bubbles out of his blow-hole, a short eye contact, Click! Fixed in my memory forever.

Peter Rowlands: I am naturally drawn to shots like these and especially to subjects like these. I fully accept that as an image in the Up and Coming Category it has much stronger competition but this has captured the ‘This is what it’s like ‘being there’ factor.

[media ref: 710]
British Waters Wide Angle
Copyright UPY/Melvin Redeker WINNER: 'Eye to eye' by Melvin Redeker (The Netherlands)

In 2011 I saw my first orcas in the North Sea. It was the inspiration for our Dutch photo project 'In the North Sea'. We needed the iconic killer whales to raise attention that the North Sea has many fantastic ecosystems and habitats. But first I needed to learn diving and handle an underwater camera. We had studied the behavior of the Mousa pod over a few weeks and decided the best opportunity would come if I hid on the seabed just below the coastal rocks while the orcas are hunting seals. So I was dropped by Fiona (my wife) from our RIB in an area where we anticipated them to come for seal hunting. Staring in a wall of water, suddenly the pod appeared. Totally silent. Eye to eye with these mighty apex predators, my heart skipped a few beats.

Peter Rowlands:  My heart skips a beat just looking at this image! The eye contact and the close proximity together with the silence. This is a groundbreaking shot for British waters.

[media ref: 801]
Copyright UPY/Richard Shucksmith RUNNER UP: 'Competition ' by Richard Shucksmith (UK)

I was out off the coast making images for Scotland: The Big Picture - a project about rewilding 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.

Martin Edge: Superb capture by the author. The power of the gannets is so very well emphasised in this particular frame. In the post process it must have been a challenge which specific image to enter into this competition. The author choose well We all loved this shot!

[media ref: 802]
Copyright UPY/Trevor Rees THIRD: 'Under the old packhorse bridge' by Trevor Rees (UK)

For this photo I travelled to the Lake District for a dive in the River Duddon. An old stone packhorse bridge, called Birks Bridge, crosses over a small but deep gorge in the rock and there is just enough depth for a dive. For most of the year the water flow is too fast and frantic for taking pictures but I waited for a period of suitable dry weather to get the shot I wanted. My wife, who I am trying to entice back in to diving with some gentle sites, patiently modelled for me. It was fun working together to create this image.

Alex Mustard: A classy image that shows something fresh for UK underwater photographers. Great team work by Mr and Mrs Rees, photographer and model.

[media ref: 803]
Copyright UPY/Steve Jones HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Amphibious helicopter' by Steve Jones (UK)

This Wessex Naval helicopter was purposely sunk at the National Diving and Activity Centre in Chepstow and being such a photogenic wreck it is an excellent location to practice photography and lighting skills. Remote strobe was used for this shot, with my own strobe triggering one attached to the diver via a remote sensor. The important thing was to get the angle of the beam correct and my buddy, Terry Ayling’s arm helps diffuse the strobe beam preventing it from overpowering the image. The wreck lies at 25 metres.

Alex Mustard:  The composition produces a dynamic image and the off-camera strobe draws you in. Fine work.

[media ref: 804]
Copyright UPY/Spencer Burrows HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Three's a Crowd' by Spencer Burrows (UK)

Having tried and failed for the past 5 years to see Pike behaviour during the breeding season, my luck eventually changed. Males entice females to release their eggs by nudging the females' abdomens with their tails. The males release clouds of seminal fluid called milt all around the females, increasing chances of fertilisation. Pike can lay between 25,000 to 225,000 eggs. I took shots of 2 - 6 pike breeding; I settled on this image for submission as I felt the image had more character and pleasing a photographic standpoint.

Alex Mustard: Excellent eye contact, character and composition saw this image triumph over many with similar subject matter.

[media ref: 805]
Copyright UPY/Dave  Peake HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Tumbling Autumn Leaves' by Dave Peake (UK)

This image is one of many taken in Dartmoor National Park, UK with the aim of capturing some underwater movement. Autumn in the rivers and streams can be very colourful with fallen leaves tumbling along. Depending on the speed of the flow I have experimented with various apertures and shutter speeds and each image can be totally different. The colours and artistic shapes have inspired me and they appear at times to be like an oil painting or better still a ' Water Colour '. The camera can be mounted on a small tripod or held as still as possible just under the interface of water and air and a slow shutter speed used. I am fortunate to live near the National Park and when sea conditions are not good this is where I retreat and experiment.

Alex Mustard:  A very imaginative and beautifully balanced image. A favourite with all the judges. Groundbreaking work.

[media ref: 806]
Copyright UPY/Trevor Rees HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Blue wow factor' by Trevor Rees (UK)

This was my first attempt at photographing a blue shark, having never seen these wonderful creatures before. I had failed to get out the previous season to try and see one but a window of opportunity and a calm sunny day eventually came my way. I joined a group of friends on a fast rigid hulled inflatable out of Penzance. We waited for well over 2 hours, far out at sea before anything appeared. As promised by our skipper, the blues finally turned up. It was worth the wait. I slipped in to the water with my camera to see what I could capture.

Peter Rowlands: The number of blue shark shots this year was way up on last year and led to a certain amount of 'subject fatigue' but this classy portrait lifted our jaded eyes.

[media ref: 807]
Copyright UPY/Laura Storm COMMENDED: 'Sun Nomad' by Laura Storm (UK)

Perfect conditions, ripple-free sea and a rare encounter are a kind of magic. Freediving in the remote blue waters of the Scottish Atlantic we came across this strange, saucer-like shape basking at the surface. A huge Sunfish flopping lazily from side to side! Mola Mola are one of the most mysterious and shy of all pelagic nomads and in the summer months they drift into our waters on the Gulf Stream. Trying to frame these peculiar-shaped fish is something of a challenge. I approach it indirectly, finning slowly around to position the sun in just the right place which allowed this huge ocean traveller time to get used to me. Its skin was covered in parasites and I have a notion that it thought I was some kind of cleaning station, since it let me in so close.

Alex Mustard: What a fantastic beast and beautifully photographed with the light perfectly illuminating it and its reflection.

[media ref: 808]
Copyright UPY/Cy Sullivan COMMENDED: 'Lodberry Jellyfish ' by Cy Sullivan (UK)

Living in Shetland I am surrounded by fantastic dive locations. I regularly dive near Lerwick's Lodberrys, taking in the fascinating history and marine life. The Lodberrys are a terrace of late 18th-century buildings used in the shipping trade. They are some of Shetland's most iconic structures and I wanted to try something new and show people what lies beneath the waterline of these well-known landmarks. This Blue Jellyfish (Cyanea lamarckii) is exactly what I had been waiting for this past year. After many failed attempts and much patience this Jelly slowly propelled itself into my frame and directly below Murray and Macbeath's Lodberry. I really love taking these kinds of shots as it gives people an insight into the beautiful aquatic world that surrounds us.

Alex Mustard: A very pleasing composition. Better weather would bring this image to life, and provide more light for a sharper image, promoting this picture to finish right at the very top.

[media ref: 809]
Copyright UPY/Ellen Cuylaerts COMMENDED: 'Can I help you?' by Ellen Cuylaerts (Cayman Islands)

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, I added some Sola light to the ambient light to be able to dial down my settings a bit and catch the low sun rays lighting the whiskers from both sides!

Alex Mustard: Beautiful light and a curious pose made this our stand out seal image.

[media ref: 810]
British Waters Macro
Copyright UPY/Kirsty Andrews WINNER: 'Dragon display' by Kirsty Andrews (UK)

This cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) noticed me before I noticed it. As I passed, it was skulking behind a rock and wafting its tentacles in what was either a kelpy camouflage tactic or an attempt to warn me away. Cuttlefish will often make this type of threat display and only retreat once it's clear that the diving photographer or other recipient has not been appropriately cowed. Although I was not too intimidated, I do love the pose and to me, the outstretched strobe-lit tentacles against a dark background bring to mind a fearsome Chinese dragon. Cuttlefish are fascinating, beautiful creatures and I have had some wonderful experiences in British waters watching them breed, fight, feed, or just interact with divers. I find it terribly sad that in some former hotspots, increased use of cuttlefish pots, especially during the mating season, has had a devastating impact on cuttlefish numbers.

Alex Mustard: A quirky pose with perfect symmetry, reveals the character of one of the UK’s most charismatic macro creatures.

[media ref: 901]
Copyright UPY/Matt Doggett RUNNER UP: 'Amphipod shrimp, Iphimedia obesa' by Matt Doggett (UK)

Whilst diving in Loch Carron over the New Year we noticed that these tiny, colourful amphipod shrimps occurred in their hundreds amongst the kelp in a narrow depth band between around 5-8m. They seemed to be feeding on the bryozoan Membranipora membranacea (a colonial animal) which grows on the kelp fronds and provides both the foreground and background to this image. Less than 1 cm in length, the shrimps proved an irresistible challenge to photograph during decompression stops. They often buzzed around in the spotting lamp beam like a busy swarm of wasps, meaning I had to be quick to capture one if it sat still for a second.

Alex Mustard: A beautiful capture with every element perfectly controlled, foreground, subject and background.

[media ref: 902]
Copyright UPY/Paul Colley THIRD: 'River Fly Nymph' by Paul Colley (UK)

Tiny river fly nymphs are staple food for freshwater fish and were part of a story for river conservation work. It was an experimental technique with the camera inside an open-top box and me kneeling on the river bed in waders next to a weed bed. I pre-focussed the lens and searched for the subject using live view on the camera. With such a small depth of field, having found a nymph I slid the camera backwards and forwards inside the box to find the focus point. Even in calm water, small movements meant hundreds of missed shots and it took almost a month practicing the technique to eventually capture this image. I also damaged the camera when a dog jumped into the river and water flooded into the box! Shallow water, bright sun and white reflectors helped to flood light into the scene.

Alex Mustard: Original subject. Both it and the weeds are rendered beautifully in the lighting. If the tail wasn't slightly clipped it could have finished even higher.

[media ref: 903]
Copyright UPY/Robert Bailey HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Flabellina pellucida' by Robert Bailey (UK)

These species were prolific at the time this was taken, and I wanted to create a contextual shot showing the hydroids it was feeding on.

Peter Rowlands: There was a lot of competition from nudibranch shots but this one stood out and was helped by the foreground subject at the bottom.

[media ref: 904]
Copyright UPY/Becky Hitchin HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Squat lobster quadrille' by Becky Hitchin (UK)

Long-clawed squat lobsters (Munida rugosa) are a common sight in the Scottish sea lochs, usually shooting backwards at great speed into dark crevices at the first sign of a camera being raised. It became an ongoing competition with myself to take some photographs of these squat lobsters that were not the standard and obvious pose of "close up and face on, claws extended". When I took this photograph, it was the first dive I'd ever done at this particular site, and my buddy and I descended through the first few cold metres to almost immediately light up these two squat lobsters with our torches. They really did look as if they were dancing elegantly along the sea floor, lost to their own rhythm.

Alex Mustard: It's a ten from Len. Loved by all the judges. To the scientist it shows fascinating behaviour, to everyone else these two should be on Strictly Come Dancing.

[media ref: 905]
Copyright UPY/Trevor Rees HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Purple baubles in a sea of yellow' by Trevor Rees (UK)

This close up shot of jewel anemones (Corynactis viridis) was taken on a popular wreck dive near Plymouth on England's south coast. The HMS Scylla wreck was scuttled only 13 years ago but is now well encrusted with marine life. Numerous large tightly packed jewel anemones can now be found on the top of the wreck and many of them are in a good position to get a pleasing composition. I shot as close as possible with my lens at minimum focus whilst trying to fill the frame with just tentacles and no background. Different coloured varieties exist but the ones with purple against yellow make a striking colour combination.

Alex Mustard: An attractive and original photo of a commonly shot subject. Very effective.

[media ref: 906]
Copyright UPY/Trevor Rees HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'The eyes have it' by Trevor Rees (UK)

I've tried many times to photograph these long clawed squat lobsters (Munida rugosa). For this individual I was diving in the Sound of Mull on Scotland's west coast. They are a common subject but finding a cooperative one was the key to this shot - so that I could inch slowly forward and get an intimate, closely framed head on composition. A tightly snooted single strobe gave the lighting I wanted to show off the striking red colour and large eyes of these attractive crustaceans.

Alex Mustard: A very striking composition that captures the detail and colour of this subject perfectly. You really connect with those big eyes.

[media ref: 907]
Copyright UPY/Robert Bailey COMMENDED: 'Hippolyte prideauxiana' by Robert Bailey (UK)

I was inspired by talk of this shrimp being common, but not often photographed. After speaking with Jason Gregory, someone who possesses a commanding knowledge of marine biology in the UK, I managed to track down several of these very tiny crustaceans. Exceedingly small it was only possible to make a shot like this using a Nauticam SMC super macro lens.

Alex Mustard: A rare critter well photographed with pleasing angle and symmetry in the crinoid background.

[media ref: 908]
Copyright UPY/Marcus Blatchford COMMENDED: 'Slug' by Marcus Blatchford (UK)

Having a 'Lust for Rust' I am normally seen with a dome port and fisheye lens. My prize from the previous UPY was a Nauticam SMC so with viz looking dreadful I decided to go macro. The SS Dakotian is in Milford Haven, a shallow inlet in South Wales . The wreck was covered in Jewell Anemones and Devonshire Cup Corals and I also saw maybe half a dozen of these slugs

Alex Mustard: A classic nudibranch portrait of a species that is less commonly photographed. We're also thrilled to see a UPY Prize put to such good use.

[media ref: 909]
Copyright UPY/David Morgan COMMENDED: 'Translucent Shrimp' by David Morgan (UK)

This little prawn or shrimp (Palaemon elegans) was part of a small but elusive group that I came across on a night boat dive in the Falmouth estuary. They were constantly moving around a localised part of a wreck on the seabed. I found that as I came within ideal camera range of an individual it would suddenly use its powerful tail to dart into cover, leaving an expanding cloud of silt in my viewfinder. This meant that I had to find another subject in a suitable location once again, but as you can see, my perseverance was rewarded with an 'arial' view showing the symmetry and detail of its eyes and translucent body. It is fascinating to see the smaller creatures make their appearance after dark, when the 'usual' bigger denizens have vacated the area.

Alex Mustard: Tremendous detail revealed in this tiny subject. Sometimes photos can show so much more than you can see at the time.

[media ref: 910]
British Waters Compact
Copyright UPY/Simon Yates WINNER: 'Scottish Fireworks Anemone' by Simon Yates (UK)

This was taken on my second shore diving trip to Scotland at Loch Duich near Inverinate. I had seen images of fireworks anemones (Pachycerianthus multiplicatus) taken by other photographers previously and wanted to find and photograph them myself. Previous dives were a little frustrating as I hadn't quite realised that these are found in quite deep and dark water, with the best subjects being at 25m or more. This together with a very soft silty bottom presented quite a challenge to get a well lit image. I am particularly pleased with the "glow" at the centre on the subject. Since this trip, Scottish shore diving is now an annual event for my wife and myself, with more places on the the list to visit and dive than time allows!

Peter Rowlands:  This image leapt out at us as the winner right from the start. This can sometimes be a false start as the appeal can fade with repeat viewing but this one just got better and better with all of us. Well lit and beautiful symmetrical composition. A great champion for compact photography in the UK.

[media ref: 1001]
Copyright UPY/Paula Bailey RUNNER UP: 'John Dory in the weed' by Paula Bailey (Uk)

I am always trying to capture fish and with the relatively slow focusing of the S95 and no strobe it can be quite a challenge. However John Dorys move a little bit slower than some fish and this one was playing hide and seek with me for quite a while in the weed, giving me quite a few opportunities to get that elusive fish portrait . Apart from that they are such a fantastic subject with their attractive and distinctive shape, just seeing one of these amazing fish can completely make a dive.

Peter Rowlands: I thinks it's fair to say that the John Dory is one of the most charismatic fish in British water. Distinctly marked and shaped they make great subjects but they are usually uncooperative preferring to show their tail than their face. Using the kelp to frame this fish has really lifted it as an image and the built in flash has provided just the right amount of illumination.

[media ref: 1002]
Copyright UPY/Ian Wade Photography THIRD: 'Mute Swan feeding underwater.' by Ian Wade (UK)

Photographing mute swans underwater has been a ongoing project of mine which has lasted 5 years. I found a location where the swans were used to interaction with people, so getting close to them was made much easier. To get this shot I ended up getting very wet and had to swim out to the middle of the marina. I wanted to show the underwater world of a swan feeding on the bottom of a marina. After a lot of frustration, I managed to capture the moment I wanted!

Martin Edge:  Composition works well with the diagonal line of the Swan. The reflection also adds to this image. Simple yet effective.

[media ref: 1003]
Copyright UPY/Mark Launchbury HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Cruising Predator' by Mark Launchbury (UK)

This image of a freshwater pike was taken at Dosthill Quarry a small flooded quarry in the West Midlands where the water is cold and visibility often very limited. I spotted this fish upon ascent after a deeper dive from the darker depths, I observed this fish as it effortlessly glided towards me, I positioned the camera for a head on shot but unfortunately it didn't oblige and it immediately turned around. I descended and finned beneath the fish to get ahead and approach from the opposite direction. Pausing briefly to take in my surroundings, I moved forwards very slowly to avoid disturbing both the fish and the silt below me to take this shot. I'm pleased my patience paid off to capture an image of this top predator.

Peter Rowlands:  This is an excellent fish portrait and also shows its habitat very well. The slight upward angle and fill in strobe lighting help isolate the pike from an otherwise cluttered background and the surface reflections create a nice sense of space.

[media ref: 1004]
Copyright UPY/Ian Wade Photography HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Spilt Level tadpoles ' by Ian Wade (UK)

Photographing these toad tadpoles proved really tricky. I wanted to show life above and below the water level on a compact camera. It took a lot of near misses but finally I managed to capture this image showing a spilt-level environment. I head to this location every year to photograph the tadpoles as there are masses of them here wriggling and moving around.

Alex Mustard: A very different photo and an inventive use of a compact camera to tell a story.

[media ref: 1005]
Copyright UPY/Paula Bailey HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Wolf Fish' by Paula Bailey (UK)

I love seeking out wolf fish, and as my husband and I dive St Abbs every year I am pretty good at it now, I recognise the cracks that are likely to inhabit. I love them as a subject because they have so much character, and similarl to the lobster they are a great size for a compact with a built-in flash, allowing them to compete with SLR pictures. If you approach slowly they are often quite stationary too. The older ones with the very uneven teeth are my favourite.

Peter Rowlands:  The simple secret with compact photography underwater is, as Paula says, go for subjects of a certain size at a certain distance so the flash can do its job. Here is a perfect example.

[media ref: 1006]
Copyright UPY/Paula Bailey HIGHLY COMMENDED: 'Lobster' by Paula Bailey (UK)

We dive St Abbs every year. It is hard to beat the diving out there as there is so much to see and if you are lucky, good visibility. Lobsters are easy to find and they are a great subject for a compact as they are often fairly stationary allowing the camera time to find a sharp focus, and the fact they are often in a crack means a compact can be an advantage over a bulkier SLR. They are also an ideal size for a compact using the built-in flash, I can get close enough to light them well. When I am struggling for a good subject on a dive I often seek out a lobster. I love their character, especially when they rush you!

Alex Mustard: A quality portrait of one of the UK diving's quality subject. Claws, colour, eye contact, job done.

[media ref: 1007]
Copyright UPY/Kerry Lewis COMMENDED: 'Coryphella sea slug eating hydroid' by Kerry Lewis (UK)

I took this photograph during a trip to the Isles of Scilly, with a group of marine biologists, photographers and keen amateurs. We were collecting habitat and species data for the Marine Conservation Society's Seasearch programme. Underwater images are a fantastic way of recording and reviewing important information, and for sharing the experience with others. I am a particular fan of nudibranchs - or sea slugs - and can easily spend a whole dive searching them out for photographs. I love the challenge of capturing small subjects, and took a few images of this beast - a Coryphella lineata - munching away on the Tubularia hydroid. The site, Hard Lewis Rocks in the Isles of Scilly, was especially colourful, with walls of jewel and plumose anemones. It is the jewel anemones that provide the bright green and pink background in this shot.

Peter Rowlands:  Much is made in photographic circles of large image sensors being able to produce appealing shallow depth of field and this is true but it does not mean that small sensor compacts can't produce it either as this delicate portrait shows. Choosing the pastel coloured jewell anemones make a beautiful complimentary background.

[media ref: 1008]
Copyright UPY/Guy Mitchell COMMENDED: ' Zeus Faber' by Guy Mitchell (UK)

It's always a thrill to see one of these as it's my favourite UK fish. Such an unusual looking but beautiful fish, they only visit the shoreline for a few months of the year so sightings are few and far between. I was lucky to come across this one at my local dive site in Babbacombe and even luckier that it was swimming away from my buddy towards me so I ended up with some great close-up shots. It was an early morning dive so the background is dark and this seems to make the fish stand out really well. Have probably only seen around a dozen of these in ten years of UK diving but they never fail to impress and are great subjects for the underwater photographer.

Peter Rowlands:  John Dorys must be the most striking fish in British waters and this is a most striking portrait of one. Great eye contact and well chosen framing.

[media ref: 1009]
Copyright UPY/Charles Erb COMMENDED: 'Dahlia anemone' by Charles Erb (UK)

The site where I took this image, West Harker near Eyemouth in Scotland, is home to many large and colourful Dahlia Anemones. I particularly liked this specimen which made a lovely contrast with the green water. I did not notice the shrimp which was hiding under the skirt of the anemone until after I had taken the image.

Peter Rowlands:  Complimentary colours and a good choice of angle being used to lift this shot perfectly.

[media ref: 1010]

Nauticam Apeks Cameras Underwater Scuba Travel Magic Filters UwP Mag SmugMug Mikes Dive Store Backscatter Acacia Resort Club Paraiso Resort SIREN FLEET Master Liveaboards The Junk Liveaboard Suunto UK Agulhas house Aiyanar Resort Sindbad Dive Club Aqaba Ocean Frontiers Focus Visuals G-Technology Blue O Two

© Underwater Photographer of the Year / Dan Bolt