Judges

ALLEN WALKER

JUDGE CONVENER

I fell in love with underwater photography because of its essence, difficulty and pure rawness, which allows the photographer the freedom to paint his canvas and create fine art that tells a story. Underwater photography is most probably the truest form of wildlife photography that any photographer can experience. The underwater photographer is extremely limited by equipment and fully exposed to nature and its elements in every conceivable way, no hides, 4×4’s, barriers etc. Just imagine walking around a game reserve amongst lions, leopard, wild dogs, elephant, buffalo and rhino with the normal non threatening buck, bush pigs etc. around you. Only a raw nervous energy that heightens your senses, stirs your emotions and enhances your creativity. You have the freedom to photograph these awesome animals, and of course, totally rely on the fact that they are not planning to eat you, well that is UWP and why I find this genre of photography most appealing. The studio is a moving, changing and a all encompassing live canvas. It has texture and substance that can be touched and felt, very unlike air. The medium constantly changing and it has many limitations e.g. time, movement, density, light etc. making it a very demanding, yet stimulating to work in, taking it to the next level is a constant goal and I love the challenge to “get the shot”! I try my best to highlight the beauty of the ocean and the need for its conservation by using the skills I have – photography, to show the animals that people fear and kill in a different light, to create beauty, to create compassion and more importantly to show human interaction with these magnificent animals so that there is a sense of connection by the viewer. Essentially, I am a photographer with a passion and I take any and every moment I can to do any kind of photography given the opportunity.

ACHIEVEMENTS

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MICHEL LONFAT

JUDGE

The need to be in the water …. The desire to share my passion … The envy to educate people about the beauty and richness of our oceans, lakes and rivers …. ” Born in Sierre, a small town in the middle of the Swiss Alps in December 1968, I have lived all his youth abroad, My father was working for an International Oil Company.
I had the chance to experience scuba diving in Papua New Guinea in 1985 where I achieved my first Scuba Diving Certification. From this experience on, all my holidays were based on the sport I loved to practice only at sea. It was only in 1995 that I discovered scuba diving in our cold waters in Switzerland, participating in a course for the obtention of a new Diving Certification in the Lake of Geneva … and it was for me the “Spark” – the beginning of a real Passion. Since then, I dive regularly, exploring lakes, rivers and seas all around the world with my wife Caroline – fortunately – sharing also my passion.
I discovered Underwater Photography almost by accident, during a visit to the Maldives and it is for a cruise in Thailand in 2003 that I bought my first camera with an underwater housing. From this experience, the passion of Underwater Photography has accompanied me in all his dives.
Currently my main purpose is to show people my Passion, My Work and above all my Desire is to cultivate a greater awareness of the surprising beauty and riches of the underwater world there is in lakes and rivers. My favorite subject in Freshwater is : the Pike Fish

CONTACT:

E-MAIL: caroetmichel@netplus.ch

WEB: www.michel-lonfat.ch

ACHIEVEMENTS

Golden Diver 2014 Theme Series at the “Festival Mondial de l’Image sous-marine of Marseille”

2008/9 World Champion by underwaterphotography.com.

Co-director of Festisub – the Swiss international underwater festival

President of Festisub’s photo contest since 2010.

3 TIPS FOR COMPETITORS

  • Always be happy!
  • Never touch – just take pictures!
  • And tell the world how important our oceans are!

TANYA HOUPPERMANS

JUDGE

Tanya Houppermans began her diving career in 2008 and quickly fell in love with the underwater world. She became a passionate shark conservationist after learning that more than 70 million sharks are killed by humans every year worldwide. To help with shark conservation efforts, she decided to start photographing sharks to show the public that these misunderstood animals are not the vicious monsters so often portrayed by the media, but that they are actually beautiful, graceful, intelligent creatures that desperately need our help. In 2015 Tanya left her career as a mathematician and military defense analyst to pursue underwater photography and marine conservation full time. Her images and articles have appeared in print and online publications in over 20 countries, and she has been the recipient of numerous international photography awards. As part of her work, Tanya conducts field work for scientists and researchers by acquiring the images they need to further their studies. Tanya is also involved in promoting adaptive scuba diving for those with disabilities, as her own son is a scuba diver who has autism. Whenever possible, Tanya, her husband, and son travel to dive destinations around the world to experience the underwater world together as a family.

ACHIEVEMENTS

  • 1st Place in Portrait Category – 2018 Underwater Photographer of the Year
  • 1st Place in Sharks Category – 2015 World Shootout and 2017 World Shootout
  • 1st Place Shipwrecks Category – 2015 World Shootout
  • Grand Master Award – 2016 UnderwaterPhotography.com Annual Awards
  • Inducted in the Ocean Artists Society in 2016

3 TIPS FOR COMPETITORS

  • Pay attention to composition! Think about things like: negative space (Is there too much or too little?); the placement of your subject (Having your subject in the center is usually not as interesting as offset a bit); the background (Is the horizon level? Is there anything in the background distracting from your subject?).
  • Use post-processing to your advantage, but don’t overdo it! Spot removal, adjusting brightness/exposure, correcting white balance, and tone adjustments are simple things that will improve nearly any photo. Just be careful not to go overboard on the sharpness, contrast, and saturation.
  • Be your own worst critic. Try to honestly assess the quality of your images and ask yourself what you can do to improve (there is ALWAYS room for improvement). Study photos taken by photographers whose work you admire, and ask yourself how your photos compare. Of course, you don’t want to copy the work of others; try to develop your own style. But it doesn’t hurt to look at others images to see what makes them stand out. Is it impeccable lighting? A unique angle? Tack-sharp focus? All of the above? Take those traits and try to apply them to your own photos to get the “wow” factor. Remember, judges only have a short period of time to glance at each image before going on to the next. Try to make yours a photo that grabs their attention so that they can’t help but stop and stare.

MARKUS ROTH

JUDGE

Born in September 1976, Markus Roth’s passion for photography reaches all the way back to his childhood. The son of the well-known sports photographer Hans-Alfred Roth has learned in his early childhood how fascinating it is to captivate special moments on film or memory chip. He has been addicted to the underwater world since 2004. Thus, next to his wife, Judith; his camera has been his constant companion. Apart from local waters, the main international dive sites Markus Roth has visited so far are the Maldives, Negros in the Philippines, Lembeh Strait, Bangka and Bunaken in North Sulawesi, Weda Bay in East Halmahera, Ambon, Saparua on the Malukku Islands, the Jewels of Indonesia, Cenderawasih Bay, Triton Bay, Manokwari & Raja Ampat in West Papua. He really likes extraordinary remote places like Cenderawasih Bay, Triton Bay or Weda Bay.
Being the first diver at a reef has become an obsession for him. His pictures and articles have been published in magazines and newspapers world wide. Just to name a few: TAUCHEN, UNTERWASSER, EZ-Dive Magazine, Asian Diver, Diver, Sport Diving (Australia), Dive Pacific, DIVE THE WORLD, Buddy Potapeni, Niugini Blue, Divemaster, Wielki Blekit, Natures Playground, The Dive Site, Silent World and Geolino.

CONTACT:

Markus Roth – MaRo-Visions, An der Huelle 17, 50259 Pulheim, Germany

Phone: +49 2238-4782561, Mobile: +49 172-2088098, Email: markus@maro-visions.de, Web: www.maro-visions.de

ACHIEVEMENTS

  • 1Besides being published worldwide, I have been a speaker at BOOT Show Düsseldorf for 8 years, diving Resort & Travel Expo Hong Kong and ADEX Singapore.

3 TIPS FOR COMPETITORS

  • Be different. F.E. shoot wide-angle on a typical Muck dive
  • No image is worth harming an animal or its habitat.
  • Stay focused, but never be rugged.

GREGORY LECOEUR

JUDGE

Native from Nice, on the French Riviera, the Mediterranean Sea put its spell on Greg during his childhood -developing his interest in marine biology and his desire to explore. After finishing his business studies, he joined the family company and then launched his own venture in the neighbouring state. When he wasn’t working he went diving. The sea became a devouring passion. He collected scuba diving certificates, invested in technical diving equipment, discovered underwater photography and accumulated lots of miles… It is his passion to be under water and photographing the marine life to be able to show it to those who have to stay on the surface as well as to the enthusiasts of diving and underwater images.At 32 years old with the Diving Instructor certificate in his pocket, he left his comfortable life, sold his company and took off to realise his dream. One year around the world with his underwater camera. He explored the Americas: The adventure began with the Galápagos and then continued to Ecuador, Florida, Bahamas, Honduras, Yucatán, Baja California, California, Hawaii and British Columbia … When he returned to France, he shared his impressions and images through french and international magazines. Since then, he is fully living his passion whilst traveling the Blue Planet presenting the underwater world through his own eyes and his style of photography.
By capturing unexpected scenes of marine life, he is seeking to catch the attention of the general public in order to raise awareness of the fragility our ecosystems and the preservation of biodiversity.

ACHIEVEMENTS

  • His portfolio was rewarded in 2015 by a gold diver at the Festival of underwater images of Marseille.
  • During 2016, he was recognised internationally at prestigious photographic events and his images were awarded and exhibited in four corners of the planet.
  • In December 2016, National Geographic named him “Nature Photographer of the Year”.
  • Greg is an ambassador for Nauticam and Aqualung brands who support him during his adventures.
  • 3 TIPS FOR COMPETITORS

    • Photograph with your heart.
    • Be creative.
    • Tell a story with your photo.

SIRACHAI (SHIN) ARUNRUGSTICHAI

JUDGE

Sirachai (Shin) Arunrugstichai is a photojournalist, with specialization in marine conservation issues.
Originally trained as a marine biologist, he first picked up camera to document coral reef biodiversity, while working in the field with several conservation organisations in Thailand.
After realizing the potential impact of photography for conservation, he later shifted his focus from scientific research to photojournalism, working on assignment for several international organizations such as IUCN, Oxfam, Greenpeace and National Geographic (Thai Edition).

ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Working on assignment for several international organizations such as IUCN, Oxfam, Greenpeace and National Geographic (Thai Edition)

3 TIPS FOR COMPETITORS

  • Once you believe that you got the shot, it usually is not the best you can do. Just keep on trying to push it further.
  • It is when the different layers of elements align together in the frame, which gives good narrative to your photos.
  • For me, pre-visualising the shot, sketch them up and spend the whole day working on yield me the best result. Most of the time, it will be different from your plan in real situation, but at least you would have some ideas to work on instead of coming up with something while everything pass by.

GORDON HILES

JUDGE

Born in Pietermaritzburg; went to school in Cape Town; lived in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town.
Worked at SABC TV 1973 -1994; freelancer thereafter. Began free-diving/spearfishing as young teenager in the mid 60s in Cape Town.
Scuba diving course 1984. Currently hold DM and Inspiration re-breather certification.

ACHIEVEMENTS

  • 6 years in TV & Film Industry as DoP and Film Producer
  • 35 years working as an Underwater DoP/Cinematographer
  • Clients: National Geographic, Discovery Channel, BBC Bristol, Smithsonian Institute
  • Activity: Began filming underwater with sharks in Gansbaai in 1984; filmed several underwater commercials and feature films; highlight in 2005 – filming of the Dave Shaw Boesmansgat body recovery attempt.

3 TIPS FOR COMPETITORS

  • Ensure steady camerawork.
  • Pay attention to framing, focus and composition (apply the ‘Rule of Thirds’).
  • Always keep the WOW! factor in mind.

CHARLES MAXWELL

JUDGE

I started diving in 1968 and soon afterwards bought my first Nikonos stills camera and a box of single use flash bulbs. In those days underwater movies were shot on film that was both expensive and came with many challenges. Many years later I ventured into the world of underwater video. By then I was a qualified professional diver and had very little time for sport diving. My newly acquired underwater video camera was soon put to use for my first commercial filming job for a then new TV program called Carte Blanche. The job was to film the Green Point sewage pipeline, near Cape Town, that had been damaged in a storm. From diving in raw sewage things could only get better
EMAIL: charles@underwatervideo.co.za
WEBSITE: www.underwatervideo.co.za

ACHIEVEMENTS

  • I have worked for many TV production companies and specialized in filming sharks and the Natal Sardine Run in the early days. I was honored to receive an Emmy in 2000 for my footage of a frantic sardine baitball used in the BBC’s Blue Planet.

3 TIPS FOR COMPETITORS

  • Variation of shots. Think like an editor and change angles, frame, camera movement etc.. Keep camera steady unless the story calls for unsteady, jerky shots (e.g. an action re-enactment). I have seen footage where each clip is beautifully filmed but all the clips are too similar.
  • Tell a story with an introduction, main story and conclusion. Naturally it need not be shot in that order. I have been on a number of shoots where the climatic shot (aka the Killer Shot) is achieved early in the allotted days but is used at the end of the production.
  • Broadcast professional cameras are bulky but very stable in the water. Small Go-Pro type cameras have come a long way and offer great quality when shot in raw but the shots are often too unstable. Try building a simple stabilising rig for small cameras.