The Spectacular Winning Photos From Underwater Photographer Of The Year 2019

Underwater Photographer of the Year has just announced the winners of its 2019 photo contest. Photographer Richard Barnden of the UK won both Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 and British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 for his photo titled “The Gauntlet”.


Behaviour category winner. The Gauntlet by Richard Barnden (UK) in Fakarava South Pass, French Polynesia. “The estimated 700 sharks that patrol the mouth of the Fakarava South Pass begin to hunt at night … This unlucky parrotfish dodged in and out of the patch coral heads looking for somewhere to hide … In desperation it hurtled straight towards me as I snapped a few passing shots and curled up into a ball as the frenzy of sharks shot past, leaving only but a few falling parrotfish scales behind”. (Photo by Richard Barnden/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)

More: Underwater Photographer Of The Year


Wide Angle category winner. Gentle Giants by François Baelen (Reunion) taken off Saint-Gilles, Reunion Island. “At the very end of the day, this humpback whale was resting 15 metres down and allowed me to free dive centimetres away from her tail. I told my friend I wanted him to be part of the shot, but didn’t need to ask the playful calf. He was very curious. From down there, the scene looked unreal and I’m glad that this photograph has captured this moment. Humpback whales are amazing and peaceful animals and I still can’t believe they are still being hunted by mankind today”. (Photo by François Baelen/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Wide Angle category runner-up. Curious Crabeater by Jessica Farrer (US) taken in Pleneau Bay, Antarctic Peninsula. “As a biologist I have been working with seals for many years and traveling to the Antarctic since 2009. This is a photo from one of my favourite encounters. It was captured on a snowy dramatic day, the sky could not have been more perfect … There was a group of eight crab-eater seals cavorting around the bergs and they spent the better part of an hour spy hopping, splashing and circling around us. It was one of the most memorable experiences I have had with this species”. (Photo byJessica Farrer/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Macro category winner. Fast cuttlefish by Fabio Iardino (Italy) in the Gulf of Trieste. “In the first three months of the year I often go to the Gulf of Trieste in the north-east of Italy where I do night dives to take pictures of small cuttlefishes, more precisely of the species Sepiola sp … During the research I found this sepiola … Looking at his way of moving, I was reminded of the idea of trying to make a panning shot and to photograph the effect of the movement to give dynamism to the image. Using the slow sync flash technique … I managed to capture an image”. (Photo byFabio Iardino/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Macro category runner-up. Inside the eggs by Flavio Vailati (Italy) in Anilao, Philippines. “I went to the Philippines to photograph these critters. I had already seen this nudibranch on these eggs but to make this shot I had to wait for it to position itself in the point that I had imagined. While I was waiting I prepared the snoot on my flash and my additional lens. I had only one shot because although slow, it moved quickly enough!”. (Photo byFlavio Vailati/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Macro category third. Tiger Wave by Henley Spiers (Philippines) in Anilao, Philippines. “The face of a tiger cardinal fish, open-mouthed, with sharp teeth protruding, and eggs within, is captured within a wave of blue. Cardinal fish are famous mouth-brooders, with the male responsible for guarding the eggs until they are ready to hatch. I have long been fascinated by this behaviour and spent three dives with this particular individual, slowly earning sufficient trust to allow me the intimacy to capture this image in close confines”. (Photo byHenley Spiers/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Wrecks category winner. Big Guns by René B. Andersen (Denmark) off Malin Head, Ireland. “HMS Audacious, which lies at 64 metres off Malin Head, was a dreadnought battleship which struck a mine in 1914. After she capsized, the shell magazine exploded and she sank. I used a tripod and 3 Big Blue video lights to illuminate the turret with the majestic 13.5-inch guns and myself as the model … It took some time before achieving this shot and at 64 metres, the clock ticks fast. That is the challenge with deep-wreck photography”. (Photo by Rene’ B Andersen/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Wrecks category runner-up. Wreck of the Chrisoula K by Tobias Friedrich (Germany) in Abu Nuhas Egypt. “Because the bow sections of the Chrisoula K wreck in the Red Sea are too big to be taken in one image, my idea was to create a panoramic view from multiple images and merge them together to one big panorama to get a nice view of the whole wreck from that perspective”. (Photo by Tobias Friedrich/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Behaviour category runner-up. The Heat Run by Scott Portelli (Australia) in Vavau, Tonga. “The heat run is the ultimate wildlife encounter, multiple whales competing for a female, the chase can last for hours or even days. Often many dolphin species are found moving with the humpback groups … On this day we jumped in with this group of 16 whales and 50 dolphins moving at high speed, trying to position ourselves in the right place to capture something amazing that not many people have experienced. It was truly heart-thumping and adrenaline-pumping action to be a part of”. (Photo by Scott Portelli/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Behaviour category third. On the summit by Fu Liang (China)in Lembeh, Indonesia The photo was taken in Lembeh Indonesia. “The snake eel with a magnificent cleaning shrimp hanging around on it. My goal is to use strong shadow to empower the interactive behaviour between snake eel and cleaning shrimp. So I shot vertically to let the subject fill the frame. I used one snoot to lighting up the eye, and another snoot with a side-back light on the shrimp to sketch the shape of the sneak eel”. (Photo by Liang Fu/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Portrait category winner. Fly high and smile by Nicholas Samaras ( Greece) in Stratoni, Chalkidiki peninsula, northern Greece. “Abandoned by swimmers and divers for many years because of the gold mine just on the edge of the gulf, I visited Stratoni three times in August 2018 for a seahorse project. On my last visit I was planning to create a group photo of seahorses, when a small ray appeared on the scene. I managed to swim with him and place my camera underneath to capture a portrait of his belly with the mouth and nose looking like a smiling happy angel’s face”. (Photo by Nicholas Samaras/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Portrait category runner-up. Oh no, Godzilla by Bruce Sudweeks (US) in Cabo Douglas, Galapagos, Ecuador. “The Galapagos islands are the only place on the planet that you can see marine iguanas in their natural habitant. This photo looks like the fictional character Godzilla smiling before starting some mischief”. (Photo by Bruce Sudweeks/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Black and white category winner. Between Two Worlds by Henley Spiers (Philippines) in Isla Espiritu Santo, Baja California, Mexico. “I found myself hovering between two worlds. Below, an enormous school of fish covered the bottom as far as I could see. Above, a single Cormorant patrolled the surface, catching its breath and peering down at a potential underwater feast. The cormorant, better designed for swimming than flying, would dive down at speed, aggressively pursuing the fish. The school would move in unison to escape the bird’s sharp beak, making it difficult to isolate a single target”. (Photo by Henley Spiers/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Black and white category runner-up. Mercury Tunnel by Ken Kiefer (US) in Eden’s Rock, Grand Cayman. “My wife and I were visiting Cayman for the first time. We were mostly diving from a boat on this trip and heard a rumour about silversides making a short appearance near Devil’s Grotto. It is a rare event, but absolutely magical to witness. Hundreds of thousands of these tiny fish flow like mercury through the multiple swim throughs trying to avoid becoming dinner for the massive tarpon in the area … I was thrilled to capture the moment!”. (Photo by Ken Kiefer/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Compact category winner. Hairy in the Sunrise by Enrico Somogyi (Germany) in Ambon, Indonesia. “I woke up early in the morning to get a half-and-half shoot with a fishing boat and the sunrise. This was the first picture. The second picture with the Hairy Frogfish I take on Laha 1. To get the two pictures together I was using the double-exposure setting in the camera”. (Photo by Enrico Somogyi/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Compact category runner-up. Glow in the Dark by Man BD (Malaysia) in YOS Dive Lembeh, Indonesia. “Shaun the sheep is everyone’s favourite nudibranch but I wanted to make it different than others. I decided to do light from the bottom Instead from the back. When I did the nudi glowed so I shot it using a Bigblue torch without using any strobes”. (Photo by Man BD/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Up and coming category winner. Paradise by Taeyup Kim (South Korea) in South Fakarava, French Polynesia. “Overwater, beautiful resorts and palm trees … Underwater, nearly 1m depth, colourful hard corals and reef fish. For the first dive here, I was running out of time for preparing ascent. And I request only diving this specific area for the nice split shots. I worked for about 30 minutes. Surface was not that calm because of the boat which made waves. Secondly my posture was really unstable in super shallow depth, surrounding hard corals for lifting my dome and getting right composition”. (Photo by Taeyup Kim/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Up and coming runner-up. My place under the boat by Matej Bergoc (Slovenia) in Island Solta, Croatia. “This shot was taken in a remote bay of Solta island, during this year sailing in Croatia. I was aiming to capture just the silhouette surrounded by the beautiful radiant blue background. It took few attempts before her legs, arms and hair were in perfect composition. It was far more difficult for my girlfriend to sit under the boat and pose without any additional weights, then it was for me taking the shot”. (Photo by Matej Bergoc/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


British Waters Wide Angle category winner. Off the wall by Robert Bailey (UK) in Isles of Scilly, UK. “Our dive group was on a private charter late last summer. The skipper dropped us on this lovely wall festooned with invertebrate life. I was keen to capture a good wide angle scenic featuring jewel anemones and a diver. The offshore site afforded us clear water. I took advantage of the opportunity, and encouraged my wife Paula to work her way into the frame. I took 20 shots in a series on this portion of the wall before settling on this image”. (Photo by Robert Bailey/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


British Waters Wide Angle category runner-up. Grass snake swimming along a garden pond by Jack Perks (UK) in Nottinghamshire, UK. “I’m always on the lookout for unusual freshwater subjects and grass snakes are a species I’ve been after for years. I was told about a pond where the odd grass snake hangs around the lilly pads for frogs. I put my drysuit on and got into the water and could see one slithering along the surface. Slowly making my way towards it with my head only just poking above I got the spilt shot”. (Photo by Jack Perks/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


British Waters Macro winner. Beauty in the Mud by Arthur Kingdon (UK) in Loch Duich, Scotland, UK. “Easter 2018 found me diving in Loch Duich on the west coast of Scotland. My target subject was the fireworks anemone, but while searching for them, I spotted a length of plastic pipe lying partially buried in the mud. Moving cautiously to avoid stirring up the silt, I reached the open end and found this collection of marine life. A long clawed squat lobster posed proudly outside his man-made home, which he shared with numerous brittlestars, while dainty sea loch anemones decorated the entrance”. (Photo by Arthur Kingdon/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


British Waters Macro runner-up. Swanage Sea Hare by Paul Pettitt (UK) in Swanage Pier, Dorset, UK. “This picture of a sea hare was taken just before the major restoration works commenced on Swanage pier. The subject was crawling along a broken pier leg, and was perfectly positioned for me to take a picture. These creatures are often mistaken for nudibranchs, but are a different group of sea slugs. The sea hare’s colour tends to adhere closely to the colour of the weed on which it feeds … Its my quest to promote the beautiful Sea life we have here in the UK”. (Photo by Paul Pettitt/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


British Waters Living Together category winner. Morning Tide Mackerel by Victoria Walker (UK) in St.Ives Harbour, Cornwall, UK. “This huge shoal of mackerel forgot to check the tide tables! Caught out by the spring low tide in St Ives harbour, hundreds were stuck for a few hours until the tide came back in. I’d been out for a swim, when I came upon this event. The local fisherman told me it was very rare so I slowly immersed myself into the pool to capture the spectacle. I had to sit very still not wanting to panic the fish, after just a few minutes they were swimming all around me”. (Photo by Victoria Walker/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


British Waters Compact category winner. Playtime? by Martin Edser (UK) in Farne Islands, UK. “If ever there was an invitation to play this was it! I love diving with and photographing seals, and have dived with them round the UK but this was my first trip to The Farne Islands. The younger pups especially were very curious of us lumbering black bubble monsters. This adorable seal pirouetted and arabesqued around me before sliding in and flicking sand over itself in a final attempt to get me to play. I have tried to focus and lock on the face but also capture a sense of movement”. (Photo by Martin Edser/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Marine Conservation category winner and Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year 2019. Caretta caretta turtle by Eduardo Acevedo (Spain) in Los Gigantes, South Tenerife, Canary Island, Spain. “Caretta caretta turtles spend much of their life in the open ocean. They come to the Canary Islands after crossing the Atlantic from the Caribbean beaches. The journey may take years, and they have to avoid dangerous traps such as plastics, rope and fishing nets. This turtle was entangled in a net … but was very lucky to chance upon the help of two underwater photographers to free her”. (Photo by Eduardo Acevedo/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Marine Conservation category runner-up. Killing angels by João Rodrigues (Portugal) in Muncar, east Java, Indonesia. “Mobula rays are caught and brought by villagers to Munca, the second largest port in Indonesia. A typical victim of bycatch, mobula ray gills are extracted and exported to China for use in traditional medicine. This image depicts a local villager processing a mobula with a traditional katana. I chose this dramatic moment, which invokes the exploitation of these charismatic animals, to raise awareness about their cruel reality”. (Photo by João Rodrigues/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)


Marine Conservation category third. Silent Killer by Noam Kortler (Israel) in Red Sea Eilat, Israel. “After a stormy day I want on a normal dive when I came across so much garbage everywhere, so I decided to put my camera down and start filling my BCD pockets with plastic cups and other plastic waste. One plastic cup took my attention as it looked strange from a distance. When I got close I was shocked from what I saw. Inside the squeezed cup there was a seahorse trapped and drifting in the current”. (Photo by Noam Kortler/Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019)

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