Winners of the 18th annual Through Your Lens photo contest have been announced by organisers PADI and its club magazine Scuba Diving, which says that almost 2,600 entries were received from around the world.
Although it was the first photo contest that Boz Johnson had ever entered, the diver had been an underwater photographer for 14 years and carried off the Grand Prize with his image of a flying fish gliding just below the surface at night off Anilao in the Philippines.
“I have always struggled with surface-reflection images – buoyancy and positioning are extremely awkward, and any small chop in the water gives me motion sickness after about five shots – but on this night, conditions were perfect,” Johnson explained.
“We spotted several flying fish from the boat in the flat-calm surface, and it didn’t take long to find them once we were in the water. I spent a few minutes shooting before I eventually found a good position for my focus light and strobes that compensated for the issues I was having maintaining buoyancy and stability just below the surface.” (Nikon D850 & 60mm macro lens, Nauticam housing, two Inon Z-330 strobes, i-Torch focus light, f/22, 1/200th, ISO 100)
The competition accepted submissions in four categories: Macro, Wide-Angle, Behaviour and Compact Camera. To win the Macro category, Yury Ivanov captured an image of a 15mm butterfly sea-slug on a piece of algae during a dive trip to Alotau, PNG.
“I had to use a close-up wet lens in order to get closer to the model,” he said. “The background wasn’t nice, but I saw a leaf on the seabed and put it behind the animal to make the picture more pleasing to the eye.” (Nikon D7200, Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 macro lens, SubSee +10 close-up wet lens, Sea&Sea housing; two Sea&Sea YS-D2 strobes, f/18, 1/160th, ISO 100)
Wide Angle was won by Alex Dawson thanks to a shot taken on the first dive of an ice-diving expedition in eastern Greenland with fellow-freediver Anna Von Boetticher.
“I was shocked that the whale carcass was so intact and huge,” he said. “Anna started diving around the whalebones, so I placed my external lift farther away to get some depth.” (Nikon Z9 & 8-15mm @15mm lens, Nauticam housing with Saga port, Bigblue VL15000P & AL1200 lights, f/5.6, 1/100th, ISO 500)
Salvatore Ianniello topped the Behaviour category with an unusual shot taken after he had spotted a barrel jellyfish while freediving near Bacoli in the Gulf of Naples in Italy.
“I looked a little bit closer and saw that there were crabs riding along with it,” he said. “That’s when I started to take a lot of photos to capture the behaviour.” (Nikon D800E & 10.5mm fisheye lens, Isotta D800 housing, two Inon Z-240 strobes, f/20, 1/160th, ISO 160)
The Compact Camera category won by Miguel Ramirez also demonstrated how close observation can pay off in underwater photography. His image was captured on a night dive off Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean where, watching a big Spanish dancer nudibranch, he was surprised to spot a small emperor shrimp almost hidden in its gills.
“The shrimp was shy, so it took a little patience to photograph it,” he said. (Olympus TG-6, Nauticam housing, two Inon Z-330 strobes, f/14, 1/60th, ISO 100)
Johnson won US $1,000 from Scuba Diving and a British Virgin Islands liveaboard trip from Aggressor Adventures, which also provided week-long safari trips in different parts of the world for each of the four category winners.
The submissions “exceeded our expectations”, said Andy Leisner, PADI Worldwide’s chief consumer officer and Scuba Diving publisher. “The imagery in this annual collection of underwater photography is outstanding, unique and captures what a very small portion of the global population has had the opportunity to experience: the other stunning 70% of our watery planet.”
“We are on a mission to encourage more people to experience, explore and protect our shared blue planet, with the 2022 Through Your Lens images playing a powerful role in sparking positive ocean change.” More of the photos can be seen here.