Eighth Annual Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest Winners Announced

ocean art 2019 title image

The prestigious Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition, organized by the Underwater Photography Guide, has announced its 2019 winners. As usual, the annual competition attracted an extremely high calibre of photographs from around the world, in an increasingly competitive competition. Two new categories for 2019 - 'Blackwater' and 'Conservation' proved to be extremely popular, with photographs from each providing highlights of the competition.

Ocean Art 2019 judges included renowned underwater photographers Tony Wu, Martin Edge, and Marty Snyderman, accompanied by Underwater Photography Guide publisher and owner of Bluewater Photo and Travel, Scott Gietler. Sixteen different categories provided a competitive contest for all levels and disciplines of underwater photography, including compact cameras, novice shooters, and DSLR cameras. Over $85,000 in prizes were available, making the Ocean Art prize value among the highest in the world.

'The quality of images submitted this year was exceptional - making judging very difficult and demonstrating that the winning images are some of the best in the world,' said Scott Gietler. 'I continue to be amazed by the wonderful images that today's underwater photographers are producing. The two new categories, Conservation and Blackwater, were true standout categories. Especially the Conservation category - the winning images produce powerful emotion, and will influence a new generation of ocean conservation.'


Best of Show and Coldwater Winner

Greg Lecoeur - Crab-Eater Seal

ocean art 2019 greg lecoeur crab eating seal

'During an expedition on a small sailboat, we explored the Antarctica Peninsula by diving below the surface. Although the conditions were extreme with a temperature of -1°C, we documented extraordinary marine fauna at home in a fragile ecosystem, such as on this image: crabeater seal. We also saw leopard seals, gentoo penguins, Antarctica fur seals, and wedded seals. All these marine animals are affected by global warming with the melting of the ice. Despite the name, crabeater seals don’t eat crabs. Krill make up to 95 per cent of a crabeater seal’s diet. Crabeater seals have developed a sieve-shaped tooth structure that filters krill, much like whale baleen. They suck up water containing krill, close their jaws, and push the water between their specialised teeth, trapping the krill inside.'

Shot in the Antarctica Peninsula with a Nikon D500 Camera, Tokina 10-17mm Lens, Nauticam NA-D500 Housing, Dual Ikelite DS-161 Strobes


Rising Star and Novice Macro Winner

Jules Casey - 'Seahorse Bus'

ocean art 2019 jules casey seahorse bus

'I've been taking videos of baby seahorses for about 3 years but only recently changed over to still photography. I picked up a second-hand TG4 early in 2019 & I've spent almost every day in the water with it since. Capturing six baby seahorses all facing in the same direction while sharing a piece of weed is an extremely challenging shot. These babies will often pull in different directions and face away from the camera. So I'm absolutely delighted to be able to share such a split second in time before this scene changed dramatically. Under Blairgowrie Marina has become a popular nursery for the birth of these baby short head seahorses and also the bigbelly seahorses. I've seen as many as 20 babies sharing the same weed. You only have a short window of opportunity to capture this because their survival rate is so low.'

Shot in Blairgowrie Marina - Victoria, Australia using an Olympus TG-4 Camera with Sea & Sea YS-03 Strobe


Wide Angle

Nicholas More - A Blur of Sweetlips

ocean art 2019 nicholas more a blur of sweetlips

'This photograph was taken in November 2019 during the last morning of a liveaboard trip to Raja Ampat, Indonesia. We were diving Saundereck Jetty when I came across this school of yellow ribbon sweetlips at approximately 25m, over a patch of hard corals. What I found really beautiful about the scene was the cloud of convict blennies swarming all over the reef. Ribbon sweetlips (Plectorhinchus polytaenia) are nocturnal hunters but during the day they form dense schools on the reefs of Raja Ampat, sheltering from the strong current. Capturing this classic schooling behaviour was at the top of my photographic hit-list. To allow the sweetlips to be centre of attention, I used a slow shutter speed and accelerated panning to blur the background. This effect also helps to reinforce the unity of the school moving as a group, in the same direction.'

Shot at Saundereck Jetty, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia with a Nikon D500 Camera, Nauticam NA-D500 Housing, Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 AT-X 107 DX AF Fisheye Lens, Zen 200 Dome Port, Dual Inon Z330 Strobes.



Stefano Cerbai 'Radiography'

ocean art 2019 stefano cerbai radiography

'This photo was taken in Puerto Galera, in the Philippines. During a daytime dive I saw this seahorse, and I decided to put the flash behind him with a snoot creating a backlight.'

Shot in Puerto Galera, Philippines with a Nikon D7200 Housing, Nikon 60mm Macro Lens, Isotta Housing, Dual Inon Z-240 Strobes


Marine Life Behavior

Paula Vianna - A Friendly Ride

ocean art 2019 paula vianna a friendly ride

'Pink whip rays catching a ride on a small-eyed ray. The theory is that by doing this they seek protection from predators, save energy and also get leftovers from the big ray. This rare behaviour was captured on the SS Yongala shipwreck, on the Great Barrier Reef off Ayr, in Queensland, Australia, and has been registered on the same dive site for around a decade, with different individual small-eyed rays... Could this be passing on through generations?'

Shot at the SS Yongala Wreck - Queensland, Australia with a Canon 5D Mark III camera, Canon 16-35mm EF Lens, Nauticam Housing, Zen Glass Dome Port, Dual Inon Z-240 Strobes


Virginia Salzedo - Gaspare

ocean art 2019 Virginia Salzedo Gaspare

'During a night dive I met this nice seahorse. I was immediately surprised by his punk hairstyle.'

Shot at Santa Caterina, Puglia, Italy with a Nikon D500 Camera, Nikon 60mm Macro Lens, Isotta D500 Housing, Dual Ikelite Strobes



Jenny Stock - Treats From Maloolaba River

ocean art 2019 jenny stock treats from maloolaba river

'The Mooloolah River is a rich treasure trove of nudibranchs. Over 350 species have been found along the 600m river bank. The real challenge is to get a photograph that depicts the stunning form of these tiny creatures. I fell in love with flabellina lotus in particular. I returned to the river every weekend for four months to try to achieve an image where the flabellina's vivid purple cerata popped against a jet black background.'

Shot at Toilet Block - Queensland, Australia with a Canon 5D Mark IV Camera, Canon 100mm F2.8L Macro Lens, Nauticam Housing, Nauticam SMC Diopter, Dual Inon Strobes



Paolo Isgro - Clownfish Eggs

ocean art 2019 paolo isgro clownfish eggs

'There are three key components that resulted in this photo... 1. I used a 24 mm lens and an electronic reverse ring adaptor + 40 mm extension ring to get a great magnification. 5 mm fills the long side of the frame - this means 4.5X optical magnification on my cropped Canon 7D sensor (22.5 mm). 2. My friend and dive master Ajiex Dharma in Tulamben was able to find these clownfish eggs and assist me during the shoot holding the snoot in the right position. 3. A lot of patience to manually focus and composing this shot'

Shot at Seraya Secret - Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia using a Canon 7D Camera, Canon 24mm Lens, 40mm Extension Tube, Sea & Sea MDX-7D Housing, Inon Z-240 Strobe, Lardino Snoot



Eduardo Acevedo Fernandez - Raja Ampat

ocean art 2019 eduardo acevedo fernandez raja ampat

'Sweetlips are very common in the Raja Ampat area. You can see them in popular dive sites such as Kape Kri and Sawandarek jetty. But this time, I was lucky. I was able to find a small group of this fish in shallow water, around 14 meters deep, with full cover by glassfish. The conditions were perfect, clean water, not too deep, and sunny. It was a great opportunity which I'll always remember with this incredible photo'

Shot at Missol - Raja Ampat, Indonesia using a Canon 5D Mark IV camera, Canon 15mm Fisheye Lens, Seacam Housing, Dual Inon Z-240 Strobes.



Fabien Michenet - Snaketooth Swallower

ocean art 2019 fabien michenet larval tripod fish

'The observation of juvenile deep-sea fish is possible during blackwater drift dives offshore as some species begin their life in the epipelagic zone (between the surface and 200m). Finding and photographing these juveniles is certainly one of the most fascinating aspects of these dives above the deep-sea bottom. This individual is called a snaketooth deepsea swallower (Champsodontidae-Kali macrodon). It lives its adult life posed on the deep sediment waiting for preys passing nearby. With a very large head and very developed pelvic and pectoral fins, it has a very different morphology from the adult. As soon as they are disturbed, these fish could tend to let themselves sink to the deep. Before taking the first shot of this beautiful juvenile, I took care to reduce the intensity of my focus lights and properly orient the flashes so as not to overexpose the shiny eyes and properly illuminate the fins.'

Shot at Tahiti Island, French Polynesia, using a Nikon D810 Camera, Nauticam NA-D810 Housing, Nauticam CMC Wet Lens.



Shane Gross - Victim

ocean art 2019 shane gross victim

'My dive buddy came to me in tears talking about a poor turtle that was already long dead, tangled in fishing line. She didn't have time to remove the line so she told me where it was and I went back. I didn't want any scavengers to also become entangled. I took my camera because images like this can become warnings for the future. We don't want any other turtles, or any creatures, to become doomed to the same unfortunate fate: drowned and wasted thanks to our negligence.'

Shot at Sea Garden - Eleuthera, Bahamas with a Nikon D500 Camera, Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye Lens, Aquatica D500 Housing, Dual Sea & Sea YS-250 Strobes


Underwater Art

Francisco Sedano - Psychedelic Seahorse

ocean art 2019 francisco sedano psychedlic seahorse

Shot with a Olympus E-PL2 Camera, Olympus 60mm Macro Lens


Novice Wide Angle

George Kuo-Wei Kao - The Shepherd

ocean art 2019 kuowei kao the shepherd

'I was taking a photo of a cute school of sweetlips at about 28 meters deep. I couldn't get a satisfying composition until my guide showed up and looked like a shepherd of the school.'

Shot at Sauwandarek - Raja Ampat, Indonesia using an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Camera, Olympus 8mm Fisheye Lens, Nauticam NA-EM1MKII Housing, Howshot Dome Port, Dual Inon Z-330 Strobes


Compact Wide Angle

Talia Greis - B L E N D E D

ocean art 2019 talia greis blended

'I had never seen or even heard of this magnificent king of camouflage prior to taking it's shot, as it's a rare sighting that requires an equal balance of luck and persistence. The yellow crested weedfish can be found deep amongst the kelp gardens of Shelly Beach, and is so similar in appearance to its environment, that finding one requires active investigation. It's movements sway like the seaweed it buries itself in, it's colour almost identical, making it the ultimate master of disguise. The only way to capture this moment was to hang back, remain still, and wait for the perfect moment it decided to surface and analyse my presence.'

Shot at Shelly Beach, Sydney, Australia using a Sony RX100 V Camera, Dual Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobes, Nauitcam RX100 V housing


Compact Macro

Stan Chen - Lemon Goby'

ocean art 2019 stan chen lemon goby

'These lemon goby parents spawned their eggs on a glass fragment that caught my eyes. I decided to take shot to record this because it presented how fish can coexist with human garbage. The lemon goby parents were very shy and they kept moving around. So I held my breath carefully and waited about 40 minutes and finally, the goby parents gathered together and protected their eggs. I immediately took the shot and captured this unique picture. It was an unforgettable moment for me to see how great the goby parents are to utilise human waste for their hatching eggs. And life continues....'

Shot in Lembeh, Indonesia using a Sony RX100 IV Camera, Acquapazza Housing, Sea & Sea YS-D2 Strobe, Arch Torch D11V, Nauticam SMC-2 Diopter


Compact Behavior

Ferenc Lorincz - Open Mouth Grouper

ocean art 2019 ferenc lorincz open mouth grouper

'I was taking this picture at a cleaning station. The fish let me approach as they were focused on cleaning the fish. At the house reef this was observed on several dives. The cleaning station is an excellent scene for the underwater photographer.'

Shot at Marsa Shagra Eco Diving Village, Red Sea, Egypt using a Nikon Coolpix P7000 Camera, Fantasea Housing, Fantasea Big Eye Wet Lens, Intova ISS 4000 Flash


For a complete list of all the winning photos and the runners-up, plus a compendium of resources for photographers of all levels, visit the Underwater Photography Guide's website at www.uwphotographyguide.com/2019-ocean-art-contest-winners



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