Scuba Diving magazine recently unveiled the winners of its annual “Through Your Lens” photo contest, honoring five gorgeous underwater images including a jaw-dropping photo of a whale shark with 50 fish hitching a ride inside its mouth.
This year’s winners were chosen from over 2,600 photos—the most ever sent in over the contest’s 16-year history—and a total of 5 images were recognized as better-than-the-rest. There’s the grand prize winner and four 1st place winners in each of four main categories: Behavior, Compact Camera, Macro, and Wide Angle.
The grand prize this year went to photographer Evans Baudin for what the magazine describes (accurately) as a “mind-blowing image.” The photo shows a head-on view of a 39-foot-long female whale shark whose mouth is filled with fifty remoras tagging along for the ride.
You can see the photo, gear, settings, and the photographer’s description below:
Description: In June 2020, with a special permit, I went on an expedition to document marine life and the effects of reduced marine traffic due to COVID-19. After two hours in the water with a school of silky sharks near the surface, our boat captain yelled, “Whale shark, right behind you!”—a 12-plus-meter female. The surprise was twofold when I discovered about 50 remoras peacefully enjoying a free ride in her mouth!
Gear: Sony Alpha 7R III in a Nauticam housing; Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L fisheye; natural light
Settings: f/8; 1/250; ISO 640
Of course, calling Baudin’s photo mind-blowing takes nothing away from the rest of the images that were recognized. Each category winner is striking in its own right, and several of the Honorable Mentions and 2nd and 3rd place winners that Scuba Diving magazine highlighted in the winners announcement are also well worth checking out.
So scroll down to check out all four category winners for yourself, and then head over to the official winner’s announcement if you want to see the kind of competition these photographers were up against:
Behavior Category Winner
Description: Captured during a daytime dive at Blairgowrie Pier in Port Phillip Bay, Australia, this shorthead seahorse was feeding near the surface and freely swimming from one floating piece of weed to the next. I’m not sure if the seahorse mistakenly grabbed hold of the pipefish with its tail, confusing it for a piece of weed, or if this was deliberate. The pipefish immediately struggled to break free from the seahorse’s grip. This interaction lasted only about 10 seconds, which was just enough time to set up the shot.
Gear: Olympus TG-4; Olympus PT-056 housing; Sea&Sea YS-01 strobe
Settings: f/6.3; 1/200; ISO 200
Macro Category Winner
Description: You never know what you are going to find when you go on a black-water dive. One night it may be tiny larval fish, another a mako or silky shark, but mostly you are searching through the plankton for tiny creatures as you float along with the current over deep water. Persistence and concentration are the keys to success in finding your subject as you drift along. About 45 minutes into my 90-minute dive, I started to spot small clumps of sargassum floating by, always an exciting sight on a black-water dive. I found this seahorse in the third clump I investigated.
Gear: Nikon D500 with a Nikon 60mm f/2.8 macro lens in a Nauticam housing; two Sea&Sea YS-D1 strobes; Fix focus lights
Settings: f/20; 1/250; ISO 200
Compact Camera Category Winner
Description: As a SeaLife camera brand ambassador I always have a DC2000 with me, in addition to my DSLR setup, to take a few side shots. I find it very interesting to see what I can shoot with a very small camera like the SeaLife and how close I can get to the quality of the images I shoot with my DSLR. This juvenile wonderpus was sitting on a palm leaf, a very nice subject to be tested. The dive was done near Anilao, Philippines, with Crystal Blue Resort and the support of photographer Mike Bartick.
Gear: SeaLife DC2000; SeaLife macro lens; Sea Dragon 3000F light
Settings: f/3.2; 1/400; ISO 125
Wide Angle Category Winner
Description: On the surface at the cenote’s entrance, I had no idea what sort of space lay beneath the small pool. Only when I descended and positioned myself outside the area lit up by sun was the dark space revealed. When my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I perceived the huge dimensions of the space. My buddy, hanging above that cloud and lit by sun rays, appeared so small that I spent the whole dive shooting from distance, trying to capture the tiny diver in that huge space.
Gear: Nikon D850; Sigma 15mm FE f/2.8 lens; Subal housing
Settings: f/8; 1/40; ISO 640
Image credits: All photos credited individually, used courtesy of Scuba Diving Magazine.