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Underwater Photographer of the Year (UPY2019) – Portrait winner

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UPY2019 NicholasSamaras
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UPY2019 – Portrait winner

Credit name: Nicholas Samaras/UPY 2019
Nationality: Greece
Image caption: Fly high and smile
Country taken: Greece
Location: Stratoni, Chalkidiki peninsula / Northern Greece
Camera make: CanonEOS 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM + Kenko TelePlus
ISO: 125
Aperture: f/13
Shutter: 1/80
Lighting used: Retra Flash
Housing: Sea & Sea MDX-5D MKII

Abandoned by swimmers and divers for many years because of the gold mine just on the edge of the gulf, Stratoni is a well kept secret for scuba divers and macro photographers.
I visited Stratoni three times in August 2018 for a photo project dedicated to the seahorse colony that managed to survive there. On my third and last visit I was planning to create a specific group photo of seahorses, before the sunset using natural light.
Just on time of the big finale, a small ray came into the scene! Hidden in the sand a few centimetres from my camera, took off swimming in the shallows. I managed to swim with him and place my camera underneath to capture a portrait of his belly with the mouth and nose looking like a smiling happy angel’s face, with the sun beams on the background softening the colour to emerald.

Judge's comments

Superb impact from the very first moment it was presented. Perfect composition within the image frame and the understated colours. To top it off the authors comments above say it all… a Smiling Happy Angel's Face. One of my favourites from the entire competition.
Martin Edge

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Mark Evans
Scuba Diver's Editorial Director Mark Evans has been in the diving industry for nearly 25 years, and has been diving since he was just 12 years old. nearly 40-odd years later and he is still addicted to the underwater world.
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