From oceans to lakes to swimming pools, the Underwater Photographer of the Year contest celebrates all kinds of images taken from below the water’s surface. This year delivers the competition’s most spectacular batch of winners to date including an extraordinary shot face to face with a Great White Shark and a surreal glimpse at a shipwreck off the coast of Norway.
This years contest spanned 13 categories including four focusing specifically on imagery taken in waters surrounding the United Kingdom. From 4,200 entries covering 71 countries the top Underwater Photographer of the Year award went to Spanish photographer Rafael Fernandez Caballero for an incredible and rare shot of five whale sharks hunting at night.
“To capture five whale sharks in one frame is already considered to be super lucky for a photographer, but to get them at night is just incredible,” explains one of the judges, Tobias Friedrich. “The photographer did an amazing job to not just capture the five animals, but he managed to get them in a very nice formation and also put some excellent light on them. Very well done and a truly deserved winner of this year.”
Winning the British Photographer of the Year prize was a frightening shot of a great white shark from Australian-based Englishman Matty Smith. The photographer had been trying to get this particular shot for several years and ultimately had to design his own remote camera rig to achieve his vision.
“Some techniques I had previously tried failed terribly, so this time I designed and constructed my own carbon pole and remote trigger,” says Smith. “This enabled me to safely lower my camera and housing into the water with my own 12” split shot dome port attached. Surprisingly the sharks were instantly attracted to the camera with no extra bait needed, in fact it was a battle to stop them biting the dome port!”
Other highlights include a unique look at frog mating season from Finnish photographer Pekka Tuuri, an evocative and gorgeously lit shot of the Tyrifjord wreck in Norway, and an incredibly surreal inverted image of a swimmer standing in a pool.
Take a look through our gallery at more shots from this year’s wonderful competition, and check out past winners here and here.