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UPY  Award Winners - Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021

Renee Capozzola

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UPY  Award Winners - Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021
'Sharks' Skylight'
Renee Capozzola

This image was taken in French Polynesia, which happens to be one of my very favorite places to photograph sharks. Here, there are strong legal protections in place for sharks, allowing them to thrive and help balance the marine ecosystem. During this visit to Moorea, French Polynesia, I spent several evenings in the shallows at sunset, hoping to capture something unique. Instead of focusing on split-level images as I often like to do, I decided to try something different. I envisioned and aimed to capture the sharks underwater with the sunset seen through Snell's window. It took many attempts, but on this one particular evening, the water was calm, the sunset was vibrant, and I got extremely lucky with the composition as well. Since many shark species are threatened with extinction throughout the world, it is my hope that images of these beautiful animals will help promote their conservation.

Judge's comment: A sunset ballet of reef sharks and sea birds in a tranquil corner of the Pacific Ocean is a richly deserved winner of the Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021. This is an image of hope a glimpse of how the ocean can be when we give it a chance, thriving with spectacular life both below and above the surface.
- Alex Mustard

There was little doubt with the judges that this image was, by some distance, the deserved winner. Absolutely everything in this image is right; composition, light, colour and contrast. Pretty much perfect.
- Peter Rowlands

The first time I set eyes on this image I was nothing short of mesmerised. It’s the palet of colours which first attracted me. The stark bellies of the sharks create a kind of union with each other just above there reflections. The birds above are particular dominant in the sunset night sky and it looks like they are queuing to take their turn to feast. Mind-blowing underwater imagery at it’s very best.
- Martin Edge

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