Scuba Diving Magazine's 2016 Photo Contest Winners | Scuba Diving

Scuba Diving Magazine's 2016 Underwater Photo Contest Winners


We won't lie — the underwater photo contest is one of our favorite issues to produce here at Scuba Diving magazine. For the 12th year, we've asked underwater photographers of all skill levels to submit their best work to the Through Your Lens photography competition, and we marvel at how many beautiful images you all have shared. Our contest is divided into four categories — Wide-Angle, Macro, Conceptual and Compact Camera — with an additional grand-prize winner overall. We hope you enjoy this amazing compilation of the oceans and underwater worlds we hold so dearly, and we hope that you'll submit your best photos to the 2017 contest.

A very special thanks to our prize donors: Aggressor Liveaboards, Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo, Cressi USA, Hollis, Oceanic Scubapro, SeaLife Cameras, Sherwood Scuba and Underwater Kinetics

Without your remarkable contributions, we could not continue our support of this contest and the photographers who inspire us.

And now, the winners!

Grand Prize Winner

Vania Kam

Jellyfish with Crab Hitchhiker

Prize: $1,000 cash and a liveaboard trip aboard the Sri Lanka Aggressor

Vania Kam

"Sometimes called the crown or cauliflower jellyfish, Cephea cephea is a large jelly that can reach 19 to 23 inches in ­diameter. It has multiple wartlike ­projections on top of the central mound of its bell, which is surrounded by a “moat.” It is targeted by the jellyfish ­fishing industry, especially during large blooms, and is eaten as a ­delicacy or for traditional medicinal ­purposes in China and Japan. When I ­spotted this beautiful jellyfish, I was ­actually looking for the tiny fish that often swim around them; instead, I found this palm-size crab riding on it. Sea turtles prey on Cephea cephea; ­shortly before spotting this one, we saw a giant green turtle nearby."

Location: Cebu, Philippines
Camera Gear: Nikon D750, Sigma 15mm lens, Nauticam housing, two Inon Z-240 strobes
Camera Settings: f/11, 1/200 sec, ISO 125

Wide-Angle Photography Winners

Rodney Bursiel

Great White Shark Isla Guadalupe

Prize: A liveaboard trip to Hawaii on the Kona Aggressor II

Rodney Bursiel

"In 2014, I was looking for a great white shark dive when I learned of Solmar V’s Guadalupe Island trips. Going in, I figured it would be a one-time deal because I generally choose new adventures over repeat destinations. The dives were exciting, with two sharks keeping us entertained. I left feeling as if I didn’t get the perfect shot, so in 2015, I decided to return. What a difference a year makes! This time we were in the company of nine great whites and a hammerhead. It was nonstop action. I was there in August — when the water is clear and the males are making their appearance (females don’t show up until later in the season). While the females are bigger, the males tend to be more active and more photogenic. They gave us quite a show. I am officially hooked and will be making my third trip this year."

Location: Isla Guadalupe, Mexico
Camera Gear: Nikon D800, 16 mm/f2.8 lens, Ikelite housing, ambient light
Camera Settings: f/10, 1/160 sec, ISO 1000

Al Hornsby

Crocodile Green Seaweed Underwater

Prize: Cressi Master T10 regulator plus black/yellow Air Crystal mask and yellow/silver Reaction fins

Al Hornsby

"You spend your days traveling among the Okavango Delta’s tributaries until you spot what you are looking for: a Nile crocodile. You back-roll in, going straight to the bottom — there is no surface time near silhouette-hunting crocs. Settling on the bottom in the 1- to 2-knot flow, you move through 55-degree water with maybe 10 feet of viz. Then, there it is … a seemingly prehistoric creature. They’re sometimes huge — more than 12 feet — and sometimes small juveniles. On some dives, there’s a quick glimpse before it moves; on others, you’ll get a photo or two before it’s gone. Occasionally, the croc remains utterly still, allowing you to capture image after image from less than 3 feet away."

Location: Nile River, Egypt Camera Gear: Nikon D800, 18-35mm zoom lens, Sea&Sea MDX housing, twin YS D-1 strobes
Camera Settings: f/5.6, 1/125 sec, ISO 400

Greg Lecoeur

Underwater Photo Sardine Run South Africa

Prize: $250 gift certificate to Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo; Underwater Kinetics Aqualite Pro 100 Lite & Flex Grip; and SeaLife Cameras AquaPod

Greg Lecoeur

"During the migration of the sardines along the coast of South Africa, all of the marine predators are running for sardines. We spent hours on the ocean looking for action, especially the activity of the gannet birds. We heard frantic sounds of gannet birds becoming louder, and spotted their dives from the air, which seemed to accelerate as they shot straight down, piercing the surface of the sea. Before I got into the water, I could not imagine the incredible spectacle that would be found under the surface. I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time to photograph the predation."

Location: Sardine Run, South Africa
Camera Gear: Nikon D7000, Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 lens, Nauticam housing, two Ikelite DS160 strobes
Camera Settings: f/9, 1/200 sec, ISO 200

Macro Photography Winners

Vania Kam

Nudibranch with Eggs Macro Photography Winner

Prize: A liveaboard trip to Palau aboard the Rock Islands Aggressor

Vania Kam

"This nudibranch (Favorinus tsuruganus) — an aeolid nudi — was ­munching on eggs laid by a nudibranch of a different species. When I found this ­particular nudi, it was lying on the rock inside the eggs. I tried a few “normal” shots but didn’t like the effect. It then started slowly crawling around the eggs, and then back to the wall and then back to the eggs. I knew I wanted it standing right in the middle as if it were looking out a window, so I waited — and waited — until it finally walked to the exact position where I ­wanted it to be. I then adjusted my strobes on both ends of the eggs so the thick layer of eggs would block out the light, creating this dramatic effect."

Location: Anilao, Philippines
Camera Gear: Nikon D7000, 105mm lens, Nauticam housing, two Inon Z-240 strobes
Camera Settings: f/16, 1/125 sec, ISO 100

Jerry Arriaga

Macro Photo Underwater Ladybugs

Prize: Scubapro MK25 EVO/S600 Deep Blue Titanium Core ­regulator

Jerry Arriaga

"This Gammaridean isopod colony — better known as ladybugs — was hanging out on a particularly colorful feather star at the Yellow Wall of Texas dive site, which drops to about 130 feet at its deepest point. Ladybugs can be found here on soft corals, sea squirts, feather stars — everywhere! It’s a challenge to take photos of ladybugs because they are tiny. I chose this particular group because of the way they were all gathered together; it was not easy because there was swell, so keeping still was difficult. I ­persevered, spending almost the whole dive to get the shot."

Location: Komodo National Park, Indonesia Camera Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 100mm macro lens with a +10 wet diopter, Sea&Sea housing, two Inon Z-240 strobes, Light and Motion focus light
Camera Settings: f/32, 1/200 sec, ISO 320

Natalie Bondarenko

Underwater Macro Photo Octopus Eye

Prize: Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo FLIP4 Filter Kit for GoPro; Underwater Kinetics Aqualite-S 90 Light & Aqualite-S 20 Lamp Head; and SeaLife Cameras AquaPod

Natalie Bondarenko

"The mecca of macro in the Philippines, and maybe one of the best ­critter dives in the world, is Secret Bay off Anilao. It’s rare to meet the giant octopus in Secret Bay because there is almost no place for one to hide — there’s only black sand. The ­octopus sat exactly in the ­middle of an old tire. I approached it ­gradually, trying not to scare it, in hopes of capturing an image of the octopus on the tire. As I came closer, it hid inside. A great many shrimp inside the tire began to crawl on its body. My patience paid off with this image."

Location: Secret Bay, Anilao, Philippines
Camera Gear: Nikon D7000, Nikon 60mm lens, Ikelite ­housing, two Ikelite 1255 strobes
Camera Settings: f/9, 1/400 sec, ISO 400

Conceptual Photography Winners

Conor Culver

Conceptual Underwater Photo and Tree

Prize: A liveaboard trip to Belize aboard the Belize Aggressor IV

Conor Culver

"The idea came to me right after photographing this ball of striped eel catfish in Alor, Indonesia. Looking at the shot, I noticed how closely they resemble the foliage at the top of a tree. I wanted the background to appear cold, with snow and a dead tree for the venomous fish to swim through. I searched around Colorado and found these two trees — but I would have to wait for snow. After several weeks, it finally fell. It took several months of work to complete this photo, clipping out the catfish, masking them into the tree and its branches, and creating the shadows. It turned out to be one of my favorite images."

Location: Indonesia (fish); Colorado (background)
Camera Gear: Nikon D800E, Nikkor 60mm macro lens (eel catfish); Nikkor 70-100mm zoom lens (background); Ikelite housing, two DS160 Substrobes
Camera Settings: f/20, 1/200 sec, ISO 250 (eel catfish); f/32, 1/40 sec, ISO 100 (background)

Shot by: Jim Chen

Freediver and Whaleshark Underwater Photo

Prize: Hollis 200LX + DCX Yoke regulator and Oceanic Manta Ray fins

Jim Chen

"This whale shark was feasting on plankton close to the surface of Cenderawasih Bay while my buddy and I were freediving 85 feet below. We kept our distance from the gentle giant, watching the ocean’s largest fish in an inverted, handstandlike ­position. Observing the shark this way is like having a bird’s-eye view of a land-dwelling creature, and I am very pleased with the unique composition of this image."

Location: Cenderawasih Bay, Indonesia
Camera Gear: Nikon D800E, Nikkor AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR lens, Seacam housing
Camera Settings: f/22, 1/100 sec, ISO 800

Irwin Ang

Concept Photo Scorpionfish Underwater

Prize: $250 gift certificate to Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo; Underwater Kinetics Aqualite-S UV-395 Light and Hand Mount; and SeaLife Cameras AquaPod

Irwin Ang

"I don’t have a specific style in my underwater photography — I just try to be different and use fresh ideas and techniques. When I saw this weedy scorpionfish (Rhinopias frondosa), I kept thinking to myself, I have got to do something special. I had only my dive torch, so I used it for backlighting. After around 100 clicks on the shutter, I checked the images on my camera screen and found this one. I knew I had achieved the picture I had hoped to create."

Location: Lombok, Indonesia
Camera Gear: Nikon D7000, Nikkor 105mm lens, Nauticam housing, Inon LED ­flashlight LF800-N
Camera Settings: f/16, 1/125 sec, ISO 125

Compact Camera Photography Winners

Shot by: Albert Sáiz Tezanos

Underwater Photo Parrotfish in Indonesia

Prize: A liveaboard trip aboard the Bahamas Aggressor

Albert Sáiz Tezanos

"The dawn is dark; it’s so early that there is not much natural light to work with. I try different angles and settings, but my single strobe doesn’t have enough power to illuminate the shot I want. Because of the number of photographers and divers around, the parrotfish are stressed and soon will leave. I begin to feel frustrated. Finally I lie down on a sandy slope and wait until they pass by. Just be patient. Then I thought, What if I play with the natural light? So I turn off the strobe and the sun of the new day begins to shine — and here they come!"

Location: Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia
Camera Gear: Canon PowerShot S95, Canon WP-DC38 housing
Camera Settings: f/4, 1/125 sec, ISO 400

Rafael Cosme

Nudibranch and Emperor Shrimp Underwater in Indonesia

Prize: Sherwood Scuba Magnum regulator plus an Onyx mask and snorkel set

Rafael Cosme

"This nudibranch is often accompanied by the emperor shrimp. The average length of the nudibranch is about 5 centimeters (2 inches) and the shrimp about 10 millimeters (half-inch). They were in a place called Red Sand, a few meters from the Liberty wreck."

Location: Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia
Camera Gear: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II, Saga Dive +25 close-up lens, Isotta RX100 M2 housing, Inon Z-240 strobe with EasyFit Dive diffusers
Camera Settings: f/11, 1/500 sec, ISO 100

Lisa Hutchinson

School of Hammerhead sharks in the Galapagos

Prize: Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo FLIP4 Filter Kit for GoPro; Underwater Kinetics Aqualite Pro Duo Lighting Kit; and SeaLife Cameras AquaPod

Lisa Hutchinson

"I was ­clinging to the large ­boulders at Wolf Island while ­watching frequent passes of ­schooling scalloped hammerheads. It was late afternoon and the sun was beginning to fall, ­creating opportunities for ­semi-silhouetted shots from below that still captured some detail of the sharks’ features. I turned off the strobe, and from there my only task was simply framing the greatest number of sharks that I could."

Location: Wolf Island, Galapagos
Camera Gear: Canon PowerShot G11, Ikelite ­housing
Camera Settings: f/2.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 100

Pete Oxford

Whale Shark Below Boat

A whale shark below the Damai ship in Cenderawasih Bay, Indonesia.

Pete Oxford

Jason Sintek

Freediver and Humpback Whale

A mother humpback whale alongside a freediver in Vavu'u, Tonga.

Jason Sintek

Justin Gilligan

Mating Cuttlefish Underwater

Two Australian cuttlefish mating in Whyalla, South Australia.

Justin Gilligan

Noel Guevara

Harlequin Sweetlips fish black and white

A pair of harlequin sweetlips fish above hard coral in Triggerfish City, Tubbataha, Philippines.

Noel Guevara

Matt Draper

Humpback Whale Calf

A humpback whale calf swimming in Vavu'u, Tonga.

Matt Draper

Kim Choon Tan

Colorful Frogfish Underwater Photography

A brightly colored frogfish rests in Lembeh Strait, Indonesia.

Kim Choon Tan

Katherine Lu

Conch Eyes Underwater Photo Contest

A pearl conch or "gong-gong" peeks out of its eyes in Semakau, Singapore.

Katherine Lu