The 2016 Underwater Photographer of the Year Contest

 Source: The Atlantic |

(QNO) - Organizers of the Underwater Photographer of the Year Contest have just announced their winning photos for 2016. The winner Davide Lopresti beat entrants from 54 different countries with his portrait of a spiny seahorse taken in Trieste, Italy. Prizes and commendations were also handed out in a number of categories, including Wide Angle, Macro, Wrecks, Behavior, Up & Coming, and, in British waters, Wide Angle, Compact, and Macro shots. UPY has been kind enough to share some of this year's honorees with us below.

A Family Affair. Winner, International, Wrecks. I was unable to descend because I had to take care of Maja, my five year old daughter who is unable to snorkel by herself. 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 & wreck shot with the island of Curacao in the background. All taken while swimming together with my daughter. 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 view of the famous wreck. #  © UPY / Thomas Heckmann
A Family Affair. Winner, International, Wrecks. I was unable to descend because I had to take care of Maja, my five year old daughter who is unable to snorkel by herself. 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 & wreck shot with the island of Curacao in the background. All taken while swimming together with my daughter. 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 view of the famous wreck. ©Thomas Heckmann
Gold. Underwater Photographer of the Year. Overall Title Winner. Also winner of International Macro. 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.  Areas of the sea have now been set aside, protected from harmful fishing methods like trawling. This has allowed vulnerable and delicate creatures, like sea horses, to return. This is what I hoped to celebrate with this image. 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. Taken near Sistiana, Italy. © UPY / Davide Lopresti
Gold. Underwater Photographer of the Year. Overall Title Winner. Also winner of International Macro. 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. Areas of the sea have now been set aside, protected from harmful fishing methods like trawling. This has allowed vulnerable and delicate creatures, like sea horses, to return. This is what I hoped to celebrate with this image. 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. Taken near Sistiana, Italy. © UPY / Davide Lopresti
Millions of crabs. Third Place, International, Behaviour. Every year, millions of crabs (Polybius henslowii) form large red masses in places along the coast of Portugal. This high density of swimming crabs is somewhat rare. On this day we first spotted some dispersed crabs, but it took us almost an hour to find a higher concentration. And a further 20 minutes of blue-water diving until I noticed this immense ‘red cloud’ made up of maybe several thousand crabs swimming through the water. Taken in the Berlengas Natural Reserve, Portugal.  © UPY / Rui Guerra
Millions of crabs. Third Place, International, Behaviour. Every year, millions of crabs (Polybius henslowii) form large red masses in places along the coast of Portugal. This high density of swimming crabs is somewhat rare. On this day we first spotted some dispersed crabs, but it took us almost an hour to find a higher concentration. And a further 20 minutes of blue-water diving until I noticed this immense ‘red cloud’ made up of maybe several thousand crabs swimming through the water. Taken in the Berlengas Natural Reserve, Portugal. © UPY / Rui Guerra
Transparent Trick. Highly Commended, Up & Coming. We found the Moray on a late afternoon diving trip with my diving buddy, with cleaner shrimps on his head. I spent a lot of time waiting for him to open his mouth wide so I could take a photo of it, but was unsuccessful. Right after I let my photographer buddy use the Moray as a model, he opened his mouth. When my buddy was done taking photos, he let me get back to our model, but by that time, the Moray had his mouth closed again! Taken in the Red Sea, near Egypt. © UPY / Ferenc Lorincz
Transparent Trick. Highly Commended, Up & Coming. We found the Moray on a late afternoon diving trip with my diving buddy, with cleaner shrimps on his head. I spent a lot of time waiting for him to open his mouth wide so I could take a photo of it, but was unsuccessful. Right after I let my photographer buddy use the Moray as a model, he opened his mouth. When my buddy was done taking photos, he let me get back to our model, but by that time, the Moray had his mouth closed again! Taken in the Red Sea, near Egypt. © UPY / Ferenc Lorincz
Part of the Illusion. Winner, British Wide Angle. The National Dive & Activity Centre is the deepest inland dive center in the UK. The day the photo was taken, the dive plan was to explore the deep end, a dive we had done many times before but this time I dived
Part of the Illusion. Winner, British Wide Angle. The National Dive & Activity Centre is the deepest inland dive center in the UK. The day the photo was taken, the dive plan was to explore the deep end, a dive we had done many times before but this time I dived "un-plugged" (without my strobes). With the exception of this change to my camera technique, there were no planned shots either my buddy or I wanted to achieve - just a fun dive with ad-hoc photos along the way. Shortly after this photo was captured, in 6 degree water and 2 hours of decompression ahead of us, we turned and started the long ascent back to the surface. Taken at the National Dive & Activity Centre, Chepstow, UK. © UPY / Marcus Blatchford
Icebreaker. Commended, Wide Angle. We planned to dive in April in Greenland to specially photograph the icebergs. In spring the visibility is very good. The water is about -2° Celsius, but at the sight of the ice during the dive, the icy temperature can quickly be forgotten. The structures of the giant are shimmering blue-greenish in the strong sunlight. In some places sharp edges like oversized axes rise from the ice and in others the ice is traversed by fine cracks that run like veins through it. Almost everywhere is a thin, transparent layer of ice, only a few centimeters thick, over a solid white core that looks like snow. Taken near Tasiilaq, East Greenland. © UPY / Tobias Friedrich
Icebreaker. Commended, Wide Angle. We planned to dive in April in Greenland to specially photograph the icebergs. In spring the visibility is very good. The water is about -2° Celsius, but at the sight of the ice during the dive, the icy temperature can quickly be forgotten. The structures of the giant are shimmering blue-greenish in the strong sunlight. In some places sharp edges like oversized axes rise from the ice and in others the ice is traversed by fine cracks that run like veins through it. Almost everywhere is a thin, transparent layer of ice, only a few centimeters thick, over a solid white core that looks like snow. Taken near Tasiilaq, East Greenland. © UPY / Tobias Friedrich
Pilot Whales. Highly Commended, Wide Angle. During a day sailing the Mediterranean Sea, I was very lucky to find a big pod of Pilot whales that accepted me in the blue water. They were turning around me, it was an amazing experience and a great opportunity to photograph them.  © UPY / Greg Lecoeur
Pilot Whales. Highly Commended, Wide Angle. During a day sailing the Mediterranean Sea, I was very lucky to find a big pod of Pilot whales that accepted me in the blue water. They were turning around me, it was an amazing experience and a great opportunity to photograph them. © UPY / Greg Lecoeur
Slug. Highly Commended, British Waters Macro. This delightful little guy was on a strand of kelp at 15 meters in a gully of the South Coast of the UK. It was an emotional experience all round. #  © UPY / Alex Tattersall
Slug. Highly Commended, British Waters Macro. This delightful little guy was on a strand of kelp at 15 meters in a gully of the South Coast of the UK. It was an emotional experience all round. © UPY / Alex Tattersall
The odd couple. Third Place, International Macro. During a night dive at around midnight, I found this pair of seahorses (Hippocampus guttulatus). I watched, mesmerized as they swam in the shallows holding each other by the tail. The scene was something majestic, a magic only enhanced by the beauty of the location, illuminated by the full moon. Taken in the Ionian Sea near Taranto, Italy. #  © UPY / Gianni Colucci
The odd couple. Third Place, International Macro. During a night dive at around midnight, I found this pair of seahorses (Hippocampus guttulatus). I watched, mesmerized as they swam in the shallows holding each other by the tail. The scene was something majestic, a magic only enhanced by the beauty of the location, illuminated by the full moon. Taken in the Ionian Sea near Taranto, Italy. © UPY / Gianni Colucci
Beach Guardians. Highly Commended, Wide Angle. Returning from a dive with bull sharks I saw a beautiful flock of seagulls flying very low over a crowded beach. These white creatures are comfortable with human presence, they usually fly low and gently over people looking for food; this behavior allowed me to try to shoot them from beneath the water. It took many tries visiting the area and thousands of photos before getting it. With this photograph I want to show that ordinary subjects can become extraordinary depending on the perspective you see them from. Taken near Playa del Carmen, Mexico. © UPY / Alejandro Prieto
Beach Guardians. Highly Commended, Wide Angle. Returning from a dive with bull sharks I saw a beautiful flock of seagulls flying very low over a crowded beach. These white creatures are comfortable with human presence, they usually fly low and gently over people looking for food; this behavior allowed me to try to shoot them from beneath the water. It took many tries visiting the area and thousands of photos before getting it. With this photograph I want to show that ordinary subjects can become extraordinary depending on the perspective you see them from. Taken near Playa del Carmen, Mexico. © UPY / Alejandro Prieto
Planktonic Predator. Runner Up, British Macro. In the summer of 2015, Scottish Natural Heritage asked a dive team to conduct site monitoring of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) which included North Rona, which is where this image was taken. We had come to the end of a dive inside a cave. Just before we reached the surface we noticed an unusual amount of zooplankton which had become trapped inside the cave entrance. We then spotted a couple of tiny, post-larval monkfish feeding on the plankton, something none of us had ever seen. Getting an in-focus shot with my macro lens was easier said than done with prevailing swell, but I managed a few before the boat came to pick us up. © UPY / George Stoyle
Planktonic Predator. Runner Up, British Macro. In the summer of 2015, Scottish Natural Heritage asked a dive team to conduct site monitoring of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) which included North Rona, which is where this image was taken. We had come to the end of a dive inside a cave. Just before we reached the surface we noticed an unusual amount of zooplankton which had become trapped inside the cave entrance. We then spotted a couple of tiny, post-larval monkfish feeding on the plankton, something none of us had ever seen. Getting an in-focus shot with my macro lens was easier said than done with prevailing swell, but I managed a few before the boat came to pick us up. © UPY / George Stoyle
What Feeds Beneath. Runner Up, International, Behavior. I entered the cold November water to photograph a pair of humpback whales which passed by very quickly. Swimming back to the boat I saw a small moving object in front of me; it was a Hawaiian petrel submerging its head to feed on the tiny crustaceans. Under normal circumstances as you get close it will fly away, but surprisingly, it just kept feeding in front of me. By approaching very slowly I was able to get close from beneath, thankfully it stayed there for a few moments allowing me to capture this behavior. Taken near Todos Santos, Mexico. #  © UPY / Alejandro Prieto
What Feeds Beneath. Runner Up, International, Behavior. I entered the cold November water to photograph a pair of humpback whales which passed by very quickly. Swimming back to the boat I saw a small moving object in front of me; it was a Hawaiian petrel submerging its head to feed on the tiny crustaceans. Under normal circumstances as you get close it will fly away, but surprisingly, it just kept feeding in front of me. By approaching very slowly I was able to get close from beneath, thankfully it stayed there for a few moments allowing me to capture this behavior. Taken near Todos Santos, Mexico. # © UPY / Alejandro Prieto

 Source: The Atlantic