A panorama photograph of British World War II military vehicles deep inside a shipwreck in the Red Sea sees German photographer Tobias Friedrich named Underwater Photographer of the Year 2018.
Friedrich’s photograph triumphed more than 5,000 underwater pictures entered by underwater photographers from all around the world.
“Cycle War” was taken in Egypt and shows Norton 16H motorbikes loaded in Fordson WOT 3 trucks, with soldierfish schooling above. Friedrich explains, “I had had this image in mind for a few years, but it is impossible to capture in one photo, because there is not space inside the wreck to photograph this scene in a single frame. My solution was take a series of pictures and stitch them together as a panorama.”
Chair of the judges, Peter Rowlands, added: “This is a quite extraordinary shot which must be viewed as large as possible. The artistic skill is to visualise such an image and the photographic talent is to achieve it.”
The title of British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2018 goes to Grant Thomas from Glasgow, who now lives in New Zealand. His photo of swans called “Love Birds” was taken in Loch Lomond, Scotland. Thomas explains, “I have always been fascinated by over-under photography, connecting the everyday terrestrial world that we all know with the less familiar underwater secrets. The swans were searching for food beneath the surface, I just had to wait for that perfect moment of synchronicity.”
Competition judge Martin Edge commented, “The symmetry makes this image a stand out.”
The Underwater Photographer of the Year competition also aims to promote new photographic talent. Malaysian Man BD was named as Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2018 for his image “Roar”, showing a pair of sea slugs with a gaping moray eel as a background, photographed in Indonesia. “When shooting these nudibranchs I was focusing on getting the shot,” explains Man, “when suddenly a moray eel appeared behind. It still took me about 30 minutes to get this shot.”
Competition judge Martin Edge commented, “Great photography to use the moray as a background, with its gleaming white teeth, adds so much drama.”
The title of Most Promising British Underwater Photographer, 2018 goes to Tony Stephenson from the East Midlands in England. His image “How Many Pike?” reveals pike courtship in Stoney Cove, Leicestershire. “I love photographing pike and on this dive during the Easter holidays, these males were looking for a mate,” commented Stephenson.
Competition judge, Alex Mustard added: “Fascinating behaviour from one of the UK’s top predators and a great advert for diving in freshwater in the UK.”
About Underwater Photographer of the Year
Underwater Photographer of the Year is an annual competition, based in the UK, that seeks to celebrate photography beneath the surface of the ocean, lakes and even swimming pools. British photographer Phil Smith was the first underwater Photographer of the Year, named in 1965. Today’s competition has 11 categories, testing photographers with themes such as Macro, Wide Angle, Behaviour and Wreck photography, as well as three categories for photos taken specifically in British waters. This year’s judges were experienced underwater photographers Peter Rowlands, Martin Edge and Alex Mustard.