Underwater wonders revealed: Winners of photography competition announced

Wednesday 19th November 2014

Fireworks anemone (Pachycerianthus multiplicatus) © Kirsty Andrews

An explosion of colour in the dark depths has stolen the show in one of the UK’s most celebrated underwater photography competitions

Every year, the BSoUP competition entries illustrate how spectacular and stunning our sea life is 

Kirsty Andrews’ print of a fireworks anemone is the winner of the British and Irish categories in the sixth annual British Society of Underwater Photographers (BSoUP) DIVER print competition, sponsored by The Wildlife Trusts.  Nick Blake’s print of a jellyfish and sunburst is the winner in the advanced British and Irish category.

Kirsty Andrews captured the nationally rare fireworks anemone - a beautiful burrowing marine invertebrate – whilst diving Loch Duich, a Scottish sea loch. She took the photograph at Easter when the climate was verging on tropical and the visibility was better than anywhere else in the country this year.  Kirsty said:

“Loch Duich has a very muddy, silty bottom, a habitat perfectly suited to these wonderful creatures but quite challenging for photography.  I was really pleased to capture the elegance of the anemone, which I've only ever seen at this site.”

The winner of the ‘Advanced British and Irish category’ - for underwater photographers who have previously won a national or international competition - is Nick Blake with ‘Jellyfish and sunburst’ (pictured below), taken in Lundy.  Nick said:

“My image was taken at Lundy Island in June. We were on our first dive and waiting for seals when, during a quiet period, I noticed the jellyfish close by. I spent a good 15 to 20 minutes shooting them and that experience led me to realise just how many varied and fantastic opportunities Lundy, and British & Irish waters, have to offer.”

Joan Edwards, Head of Living Seas for The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“Every year, the BSoUP competition entries illustrate how spectacular and stunning our sea life is.  Some may dismiss UK seas as dull and grey but images like Kirsty’s and Nick’s illustrate the beauty to be behold, if only we take a closer look.  

"From the far North to the south west, there are thriving habitats to be explored and these images will help us raise awareness of what is at stake if we don’t protect them for the future.”

Judging took place at the Dive Show in Birmingham (on Sunday 23 October) with more than 1,000 votes cast by members of the public in the four categories and a panel of judges selecting the overall winner.  An enchanting subject – with bright tentacles which bring about visions of a firework exploding in the clear night sky – the fireworks anemone clearly captured the public’s imagination.  This shot secured a quarter of all the public votes cast for the 15 prints displayed in this category.

A selection of images from The Wildlife Trusts’ category in previous print competitions can be viewed at www.wildlifetrusts.org/bsoup.

To view all the winners in the 2014 competition visit the BSoUP website. DIVER magazine will publish some of these images its 2015 calendar and in its December 2014 issue.

Notes for editors:

British and Irish category winners’ details

This category is for underwater photographers who have never before won a national or international competition

Winner and highly commended by the judges:  Kirsty Andrews' fireworks anemone, photographed in Loch Duich with a Nikon D300 (pictured above)

Kirsty is based in Bristol and has been diving for 14 years.  She is a member of Clifton Sub-Aqua Club, the Bristol Underwater Photography Group and BSoUP.  Kirsty picked up a second-hand DSLR camera at the Dive Show two years ago and has never looked back.

Kirsty will receive a trophy, a copy of ‘Underwater Photography. Art & Technique.’ courtesy of the author Nick Robertson-Brown of Frogfish Photography, a copy of ‘Winning Images with Any Underwater Camera: The Essential Guide to Creating Vibrant Photos’ courtesy of the author Paul Colley, and an annual membership to the Wildlife Trust of her choice plus Paul Naylor’s book – ‘Great British Marine Animals’ and a Wildlife Trust mug and bag designed by Debbie Mason.

Highly commended by the judges: Elaine White – Diver on Land Rover (pictured left) taken at Chepstow National Dive Centre (Nikon D7000).

Elaine was 'totally speechless' on learning of her success. She lives on the Wirral in Merseyside, where she works the nightshift in a hospital cleaning the operating theatres.  

Elaine bought herself a compact camera for a trip to Yap in 2006, just to take snapshots, having never used a camera before.  Elaine undertook a basic underwater photography course whilst there and became hooked.

Runner up: Kirsty Andrews – Yarrell’s blenny (pictured below) was taken in Scotland with a Nikon D300

Kirsty said: “The Yarrell's blenny was hiding in a crevice on a reef outside Mingulay in the Outer Hebrides.  

"Blennies really appeal to me with their cheeky-looking faces, although Yarrell's is often overlooked in favour of its more colourful cousin the Tompot.

"I was pleased that the public voters seemed to like this portrait shot with the distinctive bushy tentacles.  Despite the forlorn expression, no blenny was harmed in the making of this photo!”

Advanced British and Irish category winners

This category is for underwater photographers who have previously won a national or international competition.

Winner: Nick Blake's 'Jellyfish and sunburst' was taken in Lundy with a Nikon D700

Highly commended by the judges:Nick More's 'Blue shark' was taken in Cornwall with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 (pictured below)

Nick said: “We had flat, calm conditions 20 miles out in the Atlantic, which allowed me to capture the shark’s reflection and also its bow wave as it patrolled the surface.  This was one of my favourite encounters of the year and really whetted my appetite for UK diving. I’ll be in UK waters an awful lot more next year!”

Nick has been diving primarily around the UK since his early teens. His interest in photography extended into the water in 2004. Nick lives in Woking, Surrey.  He will receive a trophy, a copy of ‘Underwater Photography. Art & Technique.’ courtesy of the author Nick Robertson-Brown (Frogfish Photography) a copy of ‘Winning Images with Any Underwater Camera: The Essential Guide to Creating Vibrant Photos’ courtesy of the author Paul Colley and an annual membership to The Wildlife Trust of his choice, plus Paul Naylor’s book- Great British Marine Animals and a Wildlife Trust mug and bag, designed by Debbie Mason.

Runner-up: Dan Bolt 's 'Grey seal' was photographed around Lundy Island with an Olympus E-PL5

Dan lives in south Devon where he is a web developer.  He has been shooting underwater images for 14 years.  Dan’s image of a grey seal was shot while snorkelling around Lundy Island.

British Society of Underwater Photographers (BSoUP) www.bsoup.org 

The 2014 awards ceremony took place on Tues 18 Nov at Imperial College Union, London.

The BSoUP / DIVER Annual Print Competition 2014 is organised by the British Society of Underwater Photographers, in association with DIVER Magazine at the DIVE SHOW, NEC Birmingham.

Formed in 1967, the British Society of Underwater Photographers is the largest such society in the UK and also one of the oldest in the world.  It was formed to create a forum for the exchange of ideas and information about underwater photography as well as to put the activity on the map.  Today the Society has over 300 members ranging from divers who have just started to take photographs underwater to world-renowned professionals.

More information about this year’s competition is available here

Tagged with: Living Seas, BSoUP