Italian photographer Davide Lopresti has been named Underwater photographer of the year 2016 for his stunning seahorse image titled Gold. Showcasing some of the most breathtaking images captured beneath the depths in the UK and around the world, the annual competition receives thousands of entries from talented photographers.
Underwater photographer of the year – winner.
Gold by Davide Lopresti (Italy)
Location: Sistiana – Trieste, Italy‘Over the years the Mediterranean’s population of seahorses has drastically reduced. Their numbers have only recovered thanks to public awareness and a significant restocking campaign … For this shot, I used a long exposure and camera panning, to give dynamism to the image. I then used a focused beam of light from my strobe to freeze the details in the subject. My aim was to give the scene a sense of grace and strength simultaneously.’
British underwater photographer of the year – winner, also winner, British macro category.
Catshark Supernova by Dan Bolt (UK)
Location: Thurlestone, Devon, UK‘Just off a headland in this beautiful bay is a reef system favoured as a laying ground for the eggs, or ‘mermaids purse’ of the smallspotted catshark. The day I chose to visit the reef I came across many egg cases wrapped tightly into the weed. Positioning my strobe carefully took some time but the resulting image, with the low-visibility providing a celestial-like quality, shows the hidden beauty within this system of reproduction.’
Wide-angle category winner
Underwater fisherman by Mike Korostelev (Russia) Location: Kuril Lake, Russia‘Cages are more commonly associated with photographing sharks, but I constructed a cage to keep me safe as I captured the fishing behaviour of the bear. I waited many hours in the cold water for the bear to come close enough. The bear’s strategy is to start by sitting down, putting his head under the water and looking for fish. Once the fish start to ignore him, he creeps closer before making his crucial lunge to snare a large salmon in his paws, or teeth.
Mangrove sunset by Fabio Galbiati (Italy)
Location: Bangka island, Indonesia.‘On the first days of my trip, the bad weather prevented us from diving. So we took advantage of the pristine mangrove nearby. It was a big surprise because there were so many subjects everywhere and the light effects produced by the sun and mangroves were beautiful. I decided to make a shot at sunset, and after a long search I found the right root with this nudibranch intent on feeding. After framing to restrict the backscatter I only had to wait for the sun to do its duty and press the shutter!’
Wide-angle category third place
Lagoon by Greg Lecoeur (France)‘French Polynesia is an amazing place for nature lovers. In the lagoon of Moorea I was snorkeling with an abundance of marine life, most notably these black tip sharks. The topography of the mountains in the background inspired me to realise this half and half photo.
Macro category winner
A Family Affair by Thomas Heckmann (Germany) Location: Tugboat, Curacao‘I was unable to descend … so my only possibility was a shot from the surface. It was too rough for a normal over/under shot. I decided to try a wave and wreck shot with the island of Curacao in the background. I needed several tries to compose the wreck, the wave and the island in one shot. But at the end I got this real over/under shot with a total other view of the famous wreck.
Macro category runner-up
Truck Parking by Anders Nyberg (Sweden)
Location: SS Thistlegorm, Egypt, Red Sea‘I really like the SS Thistlegorm and can not get enough of this beautiful wreck. What makes the wreck so unique is the great opportunity to create stunning wreck images, especially if you add one or more off camera strobes to create more depth in the image. For lighting, my buddy and I placed the 3 off camera strobes, one strobe in each truck and a torch in the engine compartment in the first truck. I could easily spend many dives entirely inside this captivating wreck.’
British waters compact category winner
Hello Ducky! by Paul Colley (UK)
Location: river Test, Hampshire, UK‘While trying to photograph trout with a home-made pole-cam, a raft of mallard ducks muscled in to steal food intended to entice trout to the camera. This initial nuisance became an interesting opportunity and, shooting blind with the camera on the pole, I managed to catch the trout below water with a duck swimming overhead … This needed a low viewpoint, an upward camera angle and a metric tonne of patience to allow all the elements to come together and make the picture work