hidden hit counter
HomeScuba DivingWinning Images from Scuba Diving's 2022 Underwater Photo Contest

Winning Images from Scuba Diving’s 2022 Underwater Photo Contest

Skillful underwater photography has the ability to inspire us, transport us to new worlds, and reveal places we never knew existed. Technical expertise and opportunity converge, generating images that stun our readers and stretch the imagination. These winning photos bring the underwater world to life in ways that make us reach for our fins, itching to feel the pressure of several atmospheres cradling us beneath the surface, holding us steady in the places that bring us endless joy. Each year, as we judge the thousands of submissions that come flooding in—exactly 2,590 this go-round—we fall in love with the ocean all over again.

A very special thanks to our prize donors: Aggressor Adventures, Scubapro and SeaLife Underwater Cameras. Without your remarkable contributions, we could not continue our support of this contest and the photographers who inspire us.

Behind the Shot 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. 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.

Camera Gear Nikon D850; Nauticam housing; 60mm macro lens; two Inon Z-330 strobes; i-Torch focus light

Settings f/22; 1/200; ISO 100

Prize Trip aboard BVI Aggressor and a $1,000 cash prize

Weird, wonderful, perplexing and hilarious—animal behaviors never cease to entertain and astonish us. For those fortunate divers who are present to witness a remora hitch a ride on a whale shark,a pom-pom crab grasp a protective anemone bodyguard in each claw, or a male pufferfish meticulously construct an elaborate, symmetrical nest, the moment is unforgettable. But when a photographer is able to capture and communicate these habits and rituals, the results are magical, even for those stuck on dry land. This year’s winners knocked our neoprene socks off and left us wondering, What’s going on here?

First Place — Salvatore Ianniello

Behind the Shot This photo was taken in the Mediterranean Sea, near Bacoli, which is located on the Gulf of Naples in Italy. While I was freediving, I came across this jellyfish—Rhizostoma pulmo—known commonly as the barrel jellyfish. Its sting is painful, but not deadly to humans. I looked a little bit closer and saw that there were crabs riding along with it. That’s when I started to take a lot of photos to capture the behavior. I chose this particular shot from the many that I took because I felt it was the most impactful.

Camera Gear Nikon D800E; Isotta D800 housing; two Inon Z-240 underwater strobes; Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens

Settings f/20; 1/160; ISO 160

Prize Trip aboard Palau Aggressor II

Second Place — Luc Rooman

Behind the Shot This photo of a perch eating another perch was taken on a night dive during the Open Belgian Underwater Photography Championship in a freshwater lake near Antwerp. I saw the perch take its prey in the light of my dive light and so I was lucky enough to take several pictures as the perch hovered quietly. In the end, the photo was the winning fish portrait at the Open Belgian championship.

Camera Gear Nikon D810; Hugyfot housing; Backscatter Mini Flash and snoot; Nikon 60mm macro lens

Settings f/16; 1/125; ISO 100

Prize Scubapro MK11/S270 regulator

Third Place — Yves Guenot

Behind the Shot We were lucky enough to be able to travel at the end of 2021 to North Sulawesi on a diving cruise. During a macro dive on this cruise I was able to capture this photo of a moray eel being cleaned. This is not an aggressive pose but rather an invitation for the little bluestreak wrasse to begin a cleaning session on the eel’s wide-open mouth. This fleeting moment was made possible thanks to the speed of my reflex camera.

Camera Gear Canon EOS 5D MK IV in a Seacam housing; two Seacam Seaflash 150D strobes; Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens

Settings f/16; 1/160; ISO 100

Prize SeaLife Sea Dragon 2000F photo-video light

With so much wonder beneath the waves, it’s no great surprise that our Wide-Angle category winners chose to capture as much of the scene as possible. The ethereal seascapes, awesome encounters and envy-inducing experiences submitted to the competition this year left us with hearts in our throats and stars in our eyes as we grappled with the grandiose scope of our watery world. These winning shots remind us of the ecosystems that beckon from below, and propel us willingly—into each scene like only wide-angle photographs can.

First Place — Alex Dawson

Behind the Shot This shot was taken in Eastern Greenland during an ice diving expedition with my friend and fellow freediver buddy Anna Von Boetticher. As I got down under the ice on the first dive and my eyes started to adjust to the darkness, I was shocked that the whale carcass was so intact and huge. Anna started diving around the whale bones, so I placed my external lift farther away to get some depth.

Camera Gear Nikon Z 9 in a Nauticam housing with a Saga port; Nikon 8-15mm @15mm; Bigblue VL15000P and AL1200 dive lights

Settings f/5.6; 1/100; ISO 500

Prize Trip aboard Red Sea Aggressor III

Second Place — Valentina Cucchiara

Behind the Shot Jardin del Edén (Ponderosa) was my first cenote dive in 1998. It blew my mind. Twenty years later I was still mesmerized by those curtains of light and those mangroves but had not yet taken a memorable photo there. I spent a whole day there with cave-diver friend Bernie Carrion, waiting for the perfect light to feature my new Dive- Xtras BlackTip DPV.

Camera Gear Sony a7R II in a Nauticam housing; Sony 16-35mm f/4 lens; two Inon Z-330 strobes

Settings f/6.3; 1/125; ISO 1600

Prize Scubapro MK11/S270 regulator

Third Place — Tobias Fredreich

Behind the Shot During a liveaboard trip to the Maldives, on a route to the deep south, we stopped at Thaa Atoll for the night. Luckily there was one whale shark attracted to the lights of the boat, and we had the opportunity to snorkel with it. I waited for the moment to capture it in the exact right light and movement.

Camera Gear Canon EOS-1D X MK II in a Seacam housing; Canon EF 8-15mm fisheye lens; two Seacam Seaflash 150D strobes

Settings f/5; 1/80; ISO 1600

Prize SeaLife SportDiver underwater smartphone housing

Found on almost any dive boat and accessible to shooters of all skill levels, today’s compact cameras punch way above their weight in terms of dollar value. Don’t believe us? Take a look at some of this year’s winners in the Compact Camera category, which turned out some of the most unique and technically masterful image submissions in the entire photo contest. There are no parameters for this category, except that photos must be taken on a point-and-shoot, non-SLR camera, which leads to a lot of variety among submissions—and makes our judges’ job that much more difficult!

First Place — Miguel Ramirez

Behind the Shot During a night dive off Réunion Island, I noticed a huge Spanish dancer nudibranch. Observing its gills—oh surprise—I saw a small shrimp! It turned out to be an emperor shrimp that was hidden in the gills. The shrimp was shy, so it took a little patience to photograph it.

Camera Gear Olympus TG-6; Nauticam housing; two Inon Z-330 strobes

Settings f/14; 1/60; ISO 100

Prize Trip aboard Roatan Aggressor

Second Place — Kathrin Landgraf-Kluge

Behind the Shot I took this photo during my first visit to Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, when I had just started with underwater photography. I had not seen a conch snail before, and I was really fascinated by its eyes and by the cautious but also somehow curious look about them. I tried to get a front shot with both eyes in focus. Moving very carefully to not disturb the conch snail, I was lucky and got this shot with both eyes looking at me like it was trying to say, “I am shy.”

Camera Gear Canon PowerShot G16; Canon WP-DC52 housing; 5+ wet lens; single Sea&Sea YS-03 strobe

Settings f/3.5; 1/15; ISO 80

Prize Scubapro MK11/S270 regulator

Third Place — Brenda Hill

Behind the Shot This mother octopus nurtured her eggs in a tube at Blue Heron Bridge during March and April 2022. The first time I saw her with them, it seemed that the eggs were empty. As the weeks progressed, the shapes of growing babies became evident. This photo was taken approximately three weeks into development. Between weeks seven and eight, the eggs hatched overnight. It was an honor to watch the sacrifice of this octopus mother as she fanned her babies and never left the eggs.

Camera Olympus TG-6 in an Olympus PT-059 housing; Bigblue 1,000-lumen handheld light

Settings f/6.3; 1/200; ISO 200

Prize SeaLife SportDiver underwater smartphone housing

There’s something to be said about finding beauty in the little things—literally. The winning photographers in this year’s Macro category have created memorable, standout compositions from animals so tiny that many other divers might have finned right past them, unaware of the minuscule marvels hiding right in plain sight. Simply finding these elusive critters and snapping the shutter isn’t nearly enough, especially in such a consistently competitive category. Each of these three winning photographs had that extra something that pushed it above the many worthy submissions entered in this year’s contest.

First Place — Yury Ivanov

Behind the Shot I found this tiny beauty while on a dive trip in Alotau, Papua New Guinea. It’s a butterfly sea slug (Cyerce nigra). It “stands” on the algae and scans the molecular composition of water. The creature’s body is only 15 mm long. I had to use a close-up wet lens in order to get closer to the model. 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.

Camera Gear Nikon D7200; Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 macro lens; SubSee +10 close-up wet lens; Sea&Sea housing; two Sea&Sea YS-D2 strobes

Settings f/18; 1/160; ISO 100

Prize Trip aboard Bahamas Aggressor

Second Place —Volodymyr Ivanenko

Behind the Shot Marsa Alam is famous worldwide in the diving community not only for rare dugongs and big green turtles, but also for its incredible night dives with a colorful diversity of species. That was a target during my first trip there. I was very lucky to notice a tiny octopus flying peacefully and shining in front of me at just 7 meters of depth. It was small as a fingernail and moving all the time, so it was quite hard to make a good shot. While taking a photo I was thinking that this creature seemed like a real alien from space, staying visible and invisible at the same time. It was very friendly and fearless.

Camera Gear Canon EOS 5D MK IV in a Nauticam housing; Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro lens; Inon Z-330 strobes

Settings f/16; 1/180; ISO 200

Prize Scubapro MK11/S270 regulator

Third Place — Angelyca Nery

Behind the Shot With different kinds of critters and the occasional patches of fauna, Secret Bay in Batangas is the perfect playground for an underwater macro photographer like me. One gloomy afternoon, my buddy and I went for a shore-entry dive and explored the shallower part of the site, with a depth of around 12 meters. Examining the crinoids, we found this beautiful black and white shrimp, a master of camouflage! Taking the colors of its host, the shrimp blends perfectly well with its
environment, giving potential predators a run for their money.

Camera Gear Nikon D850 in a Subal underwater housing; Nikon 105mm f.2/8 lens; Backscatter Mini Flash

Camera Settings f/29; 1/160; ISO 200

Prize SeaLife Sea Dragon 2000F photo-video light



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments