Underwater Photographer of the Year 2018 Winners Announced

UWPOTY 2018 Title

The winners of the 2018 Underwater Photographer of the Year awards have been announced, with German photographer Tobias Friedrich taking the top prize. His panoramic shot of trucks and motorcycles inside the Second World War wreck of the SS Thistlegorm triumphed over 5,000 underwater photographs from around the world, under the discerning eyes of judges Peter Rowlands, Martin Edge and Alex Mustard. Check out the amazing shots below for a full list of category winners. More information and a full list of the results can be found on the Underwater Photographer of the Year website, where a free, downloadable yearbook of all the best photos from the event is available


Underwater Photographer of the Year 2018
Winner –  Wrecks

Tobias Friedrich, Germany 'CYCLE-WAR'

For a few years now I had had this image in mind as the motorcycles on this truck inside the Thistlegorm lie so perfectly together, but you can only barely capture it because the wall is very close. As a result, I had to create a panoramic image of the same scene to capture the whole cargo deck, including some lights that give the image more depth.

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Interior of the Thistlegorm: Canon1DX MK II and SEACAM silver housing with Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens, Seacam Seaflash 150D and Keldan video lights (Tobias Friedrich / UPY 2018)

Judge's comments:
'This is a quite extraordinary shot which must be viewed as large as possible. The bigger the better. And yet it is of a subject which has been photographed literally thousands of times. The artistic skill is to visualise such an image and the photographic talent is to achieve it. Perfectly lit and composed, I predict that there will never be a better shot of this subject from now on.' – Peter Rowlands


British Underwater Photographer of the Year
Winner – British Waters Wide Angle

Grant Thomas, UK  'Love Birds'

I have always been fascinated by over-under photography, connecting the everyday terrestrial world that we all know with the less familiar underwater secrets. I chose Loch Lomond as the location for this shot due to its idyllic scenery, water access and friendly swans. My initial idea was to frame a split shot of one swan feeding below the surface of the water but when I noticed how comfortable they were around me I was confident, with some patience, I could get that magical shot of the two. It was mid-day, sun high in the sky, I waded slowly into the shallow water, allowing the swans to become comfortable with my presence. When they began searching for food below the water line I just had to wait for that perfect moment of synchronicity.

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Taken at Luss Pier, Loch Lomond, Scotland. Canon 5D MKIII, with Ikelite housing, Tokina 10-17mm lens and 2 x INON Z240 lights (Grant Thomas/UPY 2018)

Judge's comments:
'The judging panel were impressed when we first viewed this image, But as you know, opinions can change. In this case, the swans' image got better and better over the days of judging.' – Martin Edge


Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year
Winner – 'Up & Coming

ManBd, Malaysia 'ROAR'

When I was shooting this nudibranch I was focusing on its behaviour to get just the right shot. While this happened a moray eel suddenly appeared out from the blue behind the nudi. I was shocked for a while but decided it would be a great composition. As a few minute flew by to my surprise another nudi appeared right behind the other one maybe to mate. Having both nudis and a moray eel was a double surprise for me. I then decided to wait a while longer for the nudi to be in frame with the moray eel roaring behind. It took about 30 minutes to get this shot and it was well worth it.


Taken at Yos Dive Lembeh house reef, Olympus Tough TG-4 and PT-056 housing (ManBd UiDive / UPY 2018)

Judge's comments:
'Another of my favourites in the competition. The mouth and head of the moray take up more than 50 per cent of the image frame which is all out of focus but the result is a superb demonstration of blur which I would never have believed would work against the three nudies The soft left eye of the moray together with the morays gleaming white teeth towards the bottom round off this image but there is still more to come! he three nudies look as though they are planning their escape in different directions. One superb image!' – Martin Edge


Most Promising British Underwater Photographer
Highly Commended – British Waters Wide Angle

Tony Stephenson, UK 'How Many Pike?'

Living in the East Midlands in England is a long way from the sea and as a result, a lot of my diving takes place in the quarry at Stoney Cove, the UK’s National Diving Centre. I love photographing pike and on this particular dive during the Easter holidays, a ‘group’ of males were looking for a mate. Once they found one they pursued her relentlessly and were completely transfixed on gaining her attention. This allowed me to get close in front of the fish, fill the frame and aim to get lots of good eye contact. I was delighted by the results. I hope that I have demonstrated that UK inland diving can throw up some amazing sights that are a pleasure to witness and photograph.


Taken in Stoney Cove, Leicester, England with an Olympus OM-D E-M10 MkII, with Panasonic Lumix G 8mm fisheye lens, Nauticam NA-EM10 MkII housing and dual Inon Z-240 strobes (Tony Stephenson/UPY 2018)

Judge's comments:
'We were not short of pike pictures to look at but this one captured us all. We did agree, however, that a touch of extra light (or Photoshop lightening) on the central character would have helped.' – Peter Rowlands


Category Winners

Winner – Wide Angle

Greg Lecoeur, France 'Humpback Whale Spy-Hopping'


Split image of a humpback whale holding itself vertically in the water in Vavau, Tonga, reaching out with its flipper to the photographer. Nikon D7200 / Tokina 10-17mm lens, Nauticam NA D7200 housing / natural light. (Greg Lecoeur / UPY 2018)

Winner – Macro

Shane Gross, Canada 'Seahorse Density'


Taken in a Bahamian pond with the highest density of seahorses on Earth, the location is kept secret for conservation reasons, and capturing three together is a rare event. Taken with a Nikon D500 / Nikkor 60mm macro lens / Aquatica AD500 housing and Sea & Sea YS250 lighting (Shane Gross/UPY 2018)

Runner Up – Wrecks

Giannie Pecchiar, Italy 'Safe Navigation'


The category winner was Tobias Friedrich's Thistlegorm photograph, but Gianni Pecchiar's complex shot with lighting rigged inside the wreck, and directing the divers to time their bubble exhalation, came in a close second place. Taken on Marco Polo's house reef in Rijeka, Croatia, with a Nikon D7200, AFS 10,5 mm F2,8 fisheye lens, Seacam Silver Prelude housing and 4 cable-wired Seacam Seaflash 150 flash units (Gianni Pecchiar / UPY 2018)

Winner – Behaviour

Filippo Borghi, Italy, 'The Fisherman'


An Asiatic cormorant hunting in the waters of Osezaki, Japan, perfectly captured with its prey using a Nikon D800E / Topina 10-17mm lens, Subal housing and Ikelitte DS160 light. (Filippo Borghi / UPY 2018)

Winner – Portrait

Tanya Houppermans,United States 'A sand tiger shark surrounded by tiny bait fish'


Judge Martin Edge referred to Tanya's photograph of the underbelly of the fierce-looking, but docile, sand-tiger shark, surrounded by baitfish as 'one of [his] favourite images from the entire competition'. Shot on the wreck of Caribsea, North Carolina with an  Olympus OM-D E-M1 / Olympus Zuiko 8mm f/1.8 fisheye lens / Nauticam NA-EM1 housing and i-Divesite Symbiosis SS-2 lights (Tanya Houppermans / UPY 2018)

Winner – Black and White

Borut Furlan (Slovenia), 'Crocodile Reflections'


Heading back out as the sun was setting after a day's diving, Borut captured this photograph of a salt-water crocodile in Cuba's Jardines de la Reina just as darkness was beginning to fall. Taken with a Nikon D800 / Nikonos RS 13mm f/2.8 lens / Seacam housing and Seacam 150 lighting. (Borut Furlan / UPY 2018)

Winner – Compact Cameras

Simone Matucci, New Zealand 'Dancing with the Giants'


Taking in Ha'apai in the Kingdom of Tonga, Simone encountered two humpback whales that 'had such a connection with us in the water, literally "dancing"'. Shot with a Sony RX100 MkIV / Wide angle Dyron lens / Aquapazza housing and natural light (Simone Matucci / UPY 2018)

Runner Up – Up and Coming

Jacob Degee, Poland 'The Hammer'


"Stay calm, be patient" was constantly echoing in Jacob Degee's mind as this female hammerhead approached in Bimini, Bahamas. Taken with a Canon 5DS / EF14mm f/2.8L II USM / Ikelite housing and dual Ikelite DS160 lights (Jacob Degee / UPY 2018)

Runner Up – British Waters Wide Angle

Nicholas More,UK 'Shark Speed'

902Nicholas More

Grant Thomas's award-winning photograph took first place in this category. Runner-up Nicholas More makes an annual pilgrimage to Cornwall to interact with and photograph blue sharks. He managed to catch this graceful creature on a cloudy day using a Nikon D500 / Tokina AT-X 10-17mm F3.5-4.5 DX Fisheye lens / Nauticam NA-D500 housing and dual Inon Z240 strobes (Nicholas More / UPY 2018)

Winner – British Waters Macro

Henley Spiers, UK 'Battle of the Tompots'


Despite appearances, these two tompot blennies, are not kissing but engaged in a ferocious battle over mating rights. Henley captured the photo under Swanage Pier in Dorset, with a Nikon D7200 / Nikon 60mm lens / Nauticam NA D7200 housing / dual Inon Z240 strobes (Henley Spiers / UPY 2018)

Winner – British Waters Compact

Vicky Paynter (UK), 'Scratchy Seal'


On a last-minute club trip to the Farne Islands, Vicky encountered this grey seal pulling some 'interesting shapes' as it had a good scratch at the itch in its tale. Captured with a CanonPower Shot S110 / Ikelite Ultra Compact Housing 6242.11 / natural lighting and the built-in lens. (Vicky Paynter / UPY 2018)




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