OriginalDIVEphoto 2019: THE WINNERS

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The winner of the Original DIVE Photo Competition 2019 is David Valencia, who manages a dive centre in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with a stunning shot of swirling mobulas in Mexico. Runner-up was Alex Dawson, from Sweden, with a dramatic wide-angle image of a freediver under the ice in Greenland.

The judges - leading underwater photographer Alex Mustard, DIVE publisher Graeme Gourlay, Louisa Fisher of Original Diving - also selected 18 other images which will be featured in the next issue of DIVE.

With nearly 1,500 entries from around the world, there was an awesome array of stunning images for the judges to consider. 'We had a lot to discuss when we met,' said DIVE's publisher Graeme Gourlay. 'There was just so many first-class images. This is the competition's first year and we were delighted to see that so many great underwater images are being taken. It was a treat going through them all.'

Louisa Fisher, head of diving with Original Diving, said: 'We were so excited to see so many fantastic entries for the #originaldivephoto competition and it was such a pleasure looking through them with the rest of the panel - I think we were all yearning to dive after the incredible array of scenes and marine life! A huge thank you to everyone who entered: a very inspiring collection of images.'

The first prize is a holiday for two to the beautiful Atmosphere Resort & Spa in the Philippines, including seven nights full board, transfers,  20 dives with nitrox, two massages, a fitness/yoga class, a whale shark trip, wine tasting and private dinner. Second prize is a Paralenz underwater action camera worth more than £649. Twenty of the judge's favourite images will be published in the Autumn issue of DIVE and the photographers will each receive a digital subscription.

IN THEIR WORLD by David Valencia


'Mobulas gather seasonally in the productive waters of southern Baja California, Mexico. These reproductive aggregations can number in the thousands of individuals.  To be among them, in their world, is a humbling and unforgettable experience.' David Valencia, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico 

'I love the energy in this photograph, it transports you right into the heart of this vortex of rays. As a diver, I just want to be right there, as this mobula swirl around me feeding in the plankton-rich water.' Alex Mustard 

Instagram @ david_valencia_photography

 BLUE SPOTLIGHTS by Alex Dawson 



'This image is from March this year in the Somerliq fjord near Tasiilaq in eastern Greenland. Freediver Anna von Boetticher was freediving under the pack ice in minus two degrees Celsius water three to four times per day. Here she had just completed a 90-second dive to an underwater canyon under an iceberg 15m below the solid  ice.'  Alex Dawson, Stockholm, Sweden

'What a spectacular scene, truly a view from another world. The atmosphere is tremendous and the light is skilfully captured by the photographer. The freediver looks so vulnerable among these great slabs of ice and is harmoniously composed with the largest block of ice.' Alex Mustard

Instagram @ alex_dawson_photography 


GOBY ON WHITE by Nick More



'The picture was taken in Lembeh, Indonesia in October 2018. A head-on portrait of a goby sitting on a white encrusting sponge. I used a wide aperture to blur the detail of the sponge and focus only on the expressive eyes of the goby.' Nick More, Exmouth, Devon, UK

'Simple images are never simple to produce and I am sure that to get such a symmetrical composition of this tiny goby, photographed on the underside of a leather coral, took a large dose of patience and skill.' Alex Mustard

 Instagram @ nicholasmoreuw



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'I am drawn to the challenge and precision of macro underwater photography as it reminds us to really take the time to appreciate the fragility and complex beauty of the ocean environment. This ecosystem is often the first to be impacted by change and it will be a tragedy if we lose it.'  Ian Kay, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 


'Light is so often the key to memorable photography and that is certainly true here, as the hard, directional light reveals both the stunning colours and dramatic shapes of this sea slug’s body.' Alex Mustard

Instagram @ ministryofgiraffes

MOUTHFUL by Sander van der Heijden

Brooder SandervanderHeijden

'The yellowhead jawfish holds its eggs in its mouth while they grow. The fish aerates the eggs by first spitting them out and then sucking them back up. A shot that requires a lot of patience!' Sander van der Heijden, the Netherlands

Instagram @ sander_van_der_heijden

FAMILY TIES by David Valencia

Orca DavidValencia

'Orcas have long been thought of as dangerous to be in the water with. The truth is orca culture is deeply family oriented and complex. Older females are the leaders in the pod and will teach younger members skills for survival. Pods can communicate with distinct calls and whistles – these vocalisations have distinct dialects similar to the variety in human accents. This female moved forward as I diving down attempting to get close to one of the younger males of the pod.' David Valencia, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico 

Instagram @ david_valencia_photography

 GLOWING STARS by Charlie Hwang

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'This shot of a whale shark was taken at Doljo Point, Bohol, Philippines.' Charlie Hwang, Seoul, South Korea

Instagram @ joyscuba


DAWN PATROL by Jim Catlin



'This shot was taken as the sun was rising at Sting Ray City in Grand Cayman. It is one of the most magical places to photograph at this time of day before the crowds arrive. This particular morning we were lucky enough to have perfect conditions and everything came together for me as the three rays glided past in formation'.  Jim Catlin, Marlow, Buckinghamshire, UK

 Instagram @ jimcatlinphotography


Sea Horse Under Sea Beams 1 6C copy 2

'The image is a double exposure of a thorny seahorse taken in Lembeh, Indonesia.  I backlit the seahorse with a narrow beam torch and used a tiny bit of flash on the front to see the beautiful detail on the seahorse. I then took a second shot of the sun with the same lens with the strobes off. The image is combined in camera. I was pleased with the eye contact.' Nur Tucker, London, UK

Instagram @ nurtuckerphotography


by Joel Wilson

Swell Shark Embryo opc

'The swell shark is oviparous, so it lays eggs as part of its reproduction process. These eggs are nearly translucent when they are laid and then become more opaque throughout the gestation process. In order to get this shot, I had to backlight the egg just the right amount so as to show the embryo while trying not to brighten the egg case it was encapsulated in. It took a while as my focus constantly picked up light from the egg case, blurring the embryo. Patience and steady hands paid off and I was rewarded with this remarkable shot.' Joel Wilson, Catalina Island, California, USA 

'This image certainly meets the "original" brief, being not just a view in water, but inside the egg case of a shark - I am guessing a swell shark - in California. The photographer has placed a light behind the egg case to reveal the unborn baby, unmistakably a shark, inside.' Alex Mustard

Instagram @ scuba_joel




'Floating through the crystal clear waters of the Mayan underworld at Cenote Nariz in Mexico. Lighting shots of underwater caves is challenging but it also allows for infinite possibilities. This shot utilises only off-camera lighting to show the divers in a 'bubble' of illumination moving through the cave with only darkness ahead and darkness behind.' Tom St George, Tulum, Mexico

Instagram @ tom.st.george


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'This shot of a dugong was taken at Abu Dahhan, near Marsa Alam, Egypt. I like that the slow shutter speed allows you to see the dust disappearing into the dugong's mouth. I also  like the perfect position of the golden trevally.' Thomas Heckmann, Germany

'A classic portrait, elevated to being truly special by fabulous details: the perfectly posed pair of fish and the feeling from the shape of the snout that the dugong is hovering up the seabed.' Alex Mustard

Instagram @ uwphoto_by_torso


eye of a hermit crab wo watermark


 'This extreme close-up of the eye of an anemone hermit crab was taken on a night dive in Raja Ampat, ' Kate Allan, Sydney, Australia

 Instagram @ callan540

NIGHT JEWELS by Horacio Martinez 

OD Final HM Preferred


'This crustacean was floating around during a black water dive in the Lembeh Strait, Indonesia. Its antennae are actually much longer (about double what you see) but I had to crop them to fit it into the frame. Black water diving is a completely new thing for me, but I find it absolutely fascinating, with endless otherworldly creatures and full of surprises. I’m already thinking about what trips I can do to further this technique!' Horacio Martinez, London, UK

 Instagram @ horaciomartinezphotography



Manta Ray Tight Crop 2 Jake Wilton


'Our large female residential manta ray, Isobel, cruises the sand flats of Ningaloo Reef. Isobel measures 3.8m wide and seldom leaves the coral bay area.' Jake Wilton, Ningaloo, Western Australia

Instagram @ jakewiltonphoto

DISCO SQUID by Enrico Somogyi

Colour squid

'I shot this in Anilao on a night dive. I used a slow shutter speed with two continuous lights. On the left side a red one and on the right side a blue one.' Enrico Somogyi, Leipzig, Germany
'Here the photographer has experimented with a long exposure at night to capture a sharp image of the squid with his strobes and then reveal streaks of colour from coloured torches shining on the subject.' Alex Mustard
Instagram @ enricosomoygi

THE SCREAM by Enrico Somogyi


'The hairy frogfish I found in Lembeh. After several shots, he began to yawn. Then just in the  right moment, I pushed the trigger,' Enrico Somogyi, Leipzig, Germany
Instagram @ enricosomoygi


Porecelain crab

'This shot was taken in Manado, North Sulawesi in November 2016. The crab is backlit through its host anemone, highlighting its feedings arms held aloft in the current.' Nick More, Exmouth, Devon, UK
 Instagram @ nicholasmoreuw

 SUBMERGED ME by Rahul Mitra 

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'I feel truly blessed to witness all the magic underwater and capture them, and show it to the world.'  Rahul Mitra, Andaman Islands, India
Instagram @ rahulmitra93

DARTH VADER by Kathrin Landgraf-Kluge

'We spotted this red devil scorpionfish diving in Lembeh Strait in Indonesia in October 2017. I took this photo using a snoot borrowed from my guide … actually, it was the first time I had used one! I really liked the light effect making it look like Darth Vader.' Kathrin Landgraf-Kluge, Leipzig, Germany
Instagram @ kathrin_underwater

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