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BSoUP / DIVER Annual Print Competition 2017
Organised by the British Society of Underwater Photographers
in association with DIVER Magazine

at the

DIVE SHOW, NEC Birmingham

21-22 October 2017


The annual BSoUP / DIVER Print Competition was held at Dive 2016 at the NEC, Birmingham over the weekend of 21-22 October. Eighty of the best prints in four categories were mounted for display and judging by the visiting public. This year nearly a thousand visitors completed voting slips.

The best of show and winner of the Grand Prize was selected by an independent panel of judges comprising Nigel Eaton, Chief Editor of DIVER Magazine, and Paul Colley, Chairman of BSoUP and Martin Edge, author and underwater photo-journalist. The judges also highly commended sixteen prints.

"The judges thought that the competition was of a very good standard overall this year, with some outstanding images at the high end. Some otherwise excellent submissions were let down slightly by basic errors, including, but not limited to: framing (most often too tight); sensor dust spots and backscatter that could have been processed out within the rules; blown highlights (pure white with no detail where the composition demanded it); cluttered compositions, most often too much background or other distracting detail; lack of contrast; over-processed images (too much contrast or unnatural colours); and errors in lighting (for example harsh shadows in an image where the intent was very obviously full lighting of the subject, or subject eyes in deep shadow on head-on shots). The judges selected an overall winner and a runner up. They felt compelled to provide feedback on a number of other images that had drawn them in to a much closer look at the detail"

Results - The Judges' Choice

Overall Winner - Nick More

Nick More

Blue Blur © Nick More

"Whilst judges are inevitably becoming saturated by exposure to Blue Shark images, and it's tempting to just admire them and pass by now, the right image will still stop you in your tracks. This was one of them. The image of the shark itself is impressive enough. Razor sharp detail and perfectly controlled exposure. But these days that is not enough to win and the photographer knew it before he got into the water. He was willing to risk many unsuccessful shots during these rare and expensive encounters by using a less-predictable, but high payoff technique. As a result, he has rendered the surface and above water detail in a way that supports the overall story and composition. Those who know the set up can work out that the dive boat is in the picture, but the slow shutter reduces it to subtle and very attractive colour accents. The result is an extra splash of colour and movement, which supports and balances the picture of a sleek predator racing through the surface of the water. An outstanding piece of underwater art. We just loved it."

Nick was the winner of the Grand Prize of a voucher courtesy of Kungkungan Bay Resort (KBR) Lembeh. The prize includes a beach front cottage suite, 3 meals per day, 2 dives x 6 diving days and tax (excluding flights).

Runner-up - Chris Knight

Chris Knight
American Alligator¬† © Chris Knight

"The quality of this image was evident to all three judges from the outset. The black background adds menace to a subject that looks capable of creating it and the creature is eyeballing the viewer with a pin sharp blue eye. The teeth are perfectly exposed (difficult to do with these subjects). But it's the reflection and interesting surface detail that sets this image into the realm of something special. The leaves and the mirror reflections that merge into the upside down alligator's eye and jaw line are beautiful little accents of detail and colour. One judge felt that the lack of enclosure of the reflection at the top edge of frame slightly unbalanced the image. It could have been subtly faded more towards black as it left the frame, perhaps with a graduated filter in post processing. But that was a minor and subjective point. We all thought that it was a stunning image."

Highly Commended - Chris Knight

Chris Knight
Lions Mane Jellyfish © Chris Knight

"We had a lot of discussion about this one, but thought that the fundamentals were so good that it had to be mentioned. The subtle transitions of blue through to white provide a stunningackground. The jelly is soft by nature and enough is captured in detail to make the subject pop from the background. But we could not agree on the basic framing, which is rather central. This inevitably loses some of the subject off the bottom. That is OK for a jelly with long stingers if the intent is to show the main body in detail. But there is a lot of negative space unused above the jelly and, whilst wonderfully rendered, we had a split opinion about its value to the overall balance of the image. In any case, we all liked the picture enough to have a good discussion about it."

Highly Commended - Mark Launchbury
Mark Launchbury

Curious Cuttle © Mark Launchbury

"It's a simple behaviour image of an interesting creature, but it has great features including fantastic rendering of the emerald green water, a very nice composition that emphasises the habitat and a peak of the action shutter release against colourful negative space that gives the picture an edge. On fine detail, we found some dust spots or backscatter that could have easily been processed out, but it's a super image."
Highly Commended - Laura Storm

Laura Storm

Ethereal Warrior © Laura Storm

"This almost abstract image drew all three judges in for a long look to determine the subject matter. In that sense it immediately succeeded by engaging us very strongly. On closer look, we saw how very careful lighting had revealed the subtle contours of an almost ghostly face covered in fine strands of algae. And then we found snails, mussels and all sorts of fine colours and textures. It's a dream-like image that sets you thinking in so many different ways. Very creative work that drew high praise from all of us."
Highly Commended - Laura Storm
Laura Storm

Pike Portrait © Laura Storm

"New ways of presenting common subjects always catch a judge's eye and this one did. The basic image is strong anyway, but you feel that it was shot with monochrome in mind. The eye engagement is as good as it gets. We felt that we were being eyeballed by this predator, even in the safety of the the NEC! It's teeth are just visible and slightly menacing. The lighting and processing are very good. It allows the subject to be completely enclosed in the frame due to the light drop-off and so the eye never wanders off subject. Beautifully thought through and presented. "
Highly Commended - David Morgan

David Morgan
Think Pink © David Morgan

"You will probably not see a sharper print of such a small subject. The detail is fabulous and the diagonal composition very strong. There's just enough background detail to show the habitat but so well controlled with depth of field that it adds and never detracts from the main subject. The unusual viewpoint allows both eyes to be rendered in focus. Something that really added to this excellent image."

Highly Commended - Jon Batchelor

Jon Bachelor

Anemonefish © Jon Bachelor

"At first look, this was a very pretty but in many ways standard presentation of a common subject. But we all felt compelled to look at it more closely and the more that we looked, the more that we liked it. We guessed it was taken on the Barge in the Red Sea, but we had not seen this perspective before. What we really liked was the quality of the background layers that set off the main subject so well whilst also adding depth to the image. Added to this was the perfect timing that placed both anemone fish facing into the frame with room ahead of them, and the lovely contrast of big against small. "
Highly Commended - Chris Knight

Chris Knight
Spotted Dolphin © Chris Knight

"You might on the one hand pass this image by with a smile to acknowledge that it is beautiful, but that you've seen it before. On the other hand, when you stop to look at the details, you find it to be an exquisite capture of a very charismatic animal. The light on the dolphin is fabulous and lacks the harsh shadows that you so often see in these pictures. The detail is razor sharp and clear on every inch of the animal in view. Although there is no water surface in view due to the viewpoint and/or depth of the encounter, the perfect graduation of colour from almost white to sky blue provides a fine art backdrop. However, there is just enough detail in the sandy sea bed to gain that depth perspective. So we thought that this was a very different presentation of the subject and the result of clever shooting and/or very careful post processing and printing. It gave the runner up a close run for its money."
Highly Commended - Cheng Han

Cheng Han

Silent Sirens © Cheng Han

"The flowing subject matter, vibrant colours of the backdrop, accents of light and careful balance in the overall composition create a striking and partially abstract image. As a footnote, although we do not allow aquarium shots, the rules do allow pool fashion shots and yet we see so few of them. We had not anticipated that the traditional categories would render the distinction between UK and overseas meaningless in the context of a pool shot, but did think it unfair to judge these types of images in a UK category, where all of the other subjects would inevitably be a restricted range of marine life. BSoUP will re-consider the rules for next year. Meanwhile, that does not detract from this image, which we thought was beautifully executed and presented."
Highly Commended - Henley Spiers

Henley Spiers
Tompot Blennies Fighting For Mating Rights © Henley Spiers

"By rendering the foreground and background habitat as pleasing bokeh, the eyes and face patterns of both bennies pop well in an eye-catching moment. The side-on viewpoint emphasises the struggle. The blurring of the mouths due to movement or more likely depth of field detracted slightly, but this was a great image that suited the symmetrical framing."
Highly Commended - Gareth Milson

Gareth Milson

Blue Shark © Gareth Milson

"Among the very many attractive Blue Shark pictures, we were inevitably looking for things that made a difference and in this case the sunlight, a small portion of sky through Snell's window and some highlights around the face and gills all add a little something extra that grabs the attention. The shark itself is caught in stunning detail and in a nice pose. The framing is sufficient to capture the entire shark, but arguably a little tight on the left hand side. Overall though, a beautiful high quality print."
Highly Commended - Nick More

Nick More

Salty Croc © Nick Moore

"The Cuban saltwater crocodile is another subject in danger of being overworked, but when photographed to a high technical standard and in such a pleasing composition, it's still going to impress. The sharp teeth (i.e. in focus!), very strong eye engagement and the superb addition of mutton snappers as secondary subjects (in perfect position) all add to the story in a very engaging image. With strong reflections and some blue sky colour accents, it is a super rendition of an impressive creature. To be uber critical, whilst we did not mind the small natural bubbles and backscatter at the surface, which make the image feel very authentic, there was a hint of chromatic aberration in some of the whitest reflections."
Highly Commended - Justin Beevor

JUstin Beevor
Juvenile Harlequin Sweetlips © Justin Beavor

"We've seen many of these images before and there is always a danger that the fashion has faded, but we give credit where it was due. This was a very well executed image providing a fine art feel through the implied movement and moment of suspension as the flash froze the fish in frame. The eyes were a little soft and some residual backscatter could have been cloned out, but full marks for using the slow shutter speed technique to render a very artistic view of this juvenile sweetlips."

Highly Commended - Ellen Cuylaerts

Ellen Cuiylaerts
Trifecta © Ellen Cuylaerts

"An unusual subject photographed at the peak of fast action resulting in a pleasing composition dominated by yellow-on-blue colour contrasts and three distinctly different profiles of a very interesting fish. The surface texture brought in by vertical framing adds depth to the picture; it would not have worked as well without this. The overlap of an almost-hidden fourth Dorado in the background became a minor distraction, but the quality of the print is outstanding, with the almost watercolour look providing a fine art feel to this very beautiful image."
Highly Commended - Kirsty Andrews

Kirsty Andrews
Dancing Boxfish © Kirsty Andrews

"Originally displayed upside down, this image was always going to catch the eye! It's a great behaviour shot in its own right, but by setting blue against yellow, and yellow/white against black, it becomes a very striking composition. It is beautifully lit and the detail is crisp. And with clear implied movement, it is also dynamic. Slightly stronger eye contact could have pushed this even higher up our list of final deliberations, but it's a fine image."
Highly Commended - Sean Chinn

Sean Chinn
Silky Shark © Sean Chinn

"Although in some ways this is arguably an unremarkable portrait of a shark, the night shot and use of a background boat or diver light to provide an unusual green colour accent really set this image off. We loved the resulting reflections and also sufficient negative space around the shark to heighten the night atmospherics. The gloss finish of this high quality print was a great choice."
Highly Commended - Michael Gallagher

MIchael Gallegher
Caribbean Reef Octopus © Michael Gallegher

More ..
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BSoUP / DIVER Print Competition Winners  
(more recent results can be found in the competition galleries)  
Results 2017 Results 2012
Results 2016 Results 2011
Results 2015 Results 2010
Results 2014 Results 2009
Results 2013  

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