Photography

The best of the 2021 Underwater Photographer of the Year Awards

The best of the 2021 Underwate...
Runner-Up, Behavior. This is a picture of blenny in a fight. It is a species of chaenopsid blenny found around Japan and South Korea. Its most distinctive feature is its hairstyle, which is often referred to as Punk Blenny or Mohican Blenny.
Runner-Up, Behavior. This is a picture of blenny in a fight. It is a species of chaenopsid blenny found around Japan and South Korea. Its most distinctive feature is its hairstyle, which is often referred to as Punk Blenny or Mohican Blenny.
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Winner. Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021. 'Sharks' Skylight'.
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Winner. Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021. 'Sharks' Skylight'.
Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021. Most Promising British Underwater Photographer 2021. 'Tying In'.
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Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021. Most Promising British Underwater Photographer 2021. 'Tying In'.
British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021. My Backyard Winner. 'While You Sleep'. This final shot is a culmination 25 hours over 4 nights of lying in darkness, covered in mud, waiting on natures unpredictable elements to align.
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British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021. My Backyard Winner. 'While You Sleep'. This final shot is a culmination 25 hours over 4 nights of lying in darkness, covered in mud, waiting on natures unpredictable elements to align.
Winner, Macro. Pontohi pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus pontohi) is one of the smallest and most recently discovered seahorses. They usually live on reef walls and can be hard to find
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Winner, Macro. Pontohi pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus pontohi) is one of the smallest and most recently discovered seahorses. They usually live on reef walls and can be hard to find
Runner-Up, Macro. 'larval Lionfish'.
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Runner-Up, Macro. 'larval Lionfish'.
3rd Place, Macro. 'Dream ship'.
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3rd Place, Macro. 'Dream ship'.
Winner, Wrecks. 'BOWLANDER'
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Winner, Wrecks. 'BOWLANDER'
Runner-Up, Wrecks. 'Reclaimed by the Ocean'.
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Runner-Up, Wrecks. 'Reclaimed by the Ocean'.
3rd Place, Wrecks. 'Golden Hour at the Georgios'. The Georgios shipwreck in Neom, Saudi Arabia along the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea. In 1978, this large cargo ship from England became stranded on a reef at night and then suffered a large fire
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3rd Place, Wrecks. 'Golden Hour at the Georgios'. The Georgios shipwreck in Neom, Saudi Arabia along the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea. In 1978, this large cargo ship from England became stranded on a reef at night and then suffered a large fire
Winner, Behavior. Marlin are one of the fastest fish in the sea, a terrifying predator for a small fish in the great blue desert
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Winner, Behavior. Marlin are one of the fastest fish in the sea, a terrifying predator for a small fish in the great blue desert
Runner-Up, Behavior. This is a picture of blenny in a fight. It is a species of chaenopsid blenny found around Japan and South Korea. Its most distinctive feature is its hairstyle, which is often referred to as Punk Blenny or Mohican Blenny.
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Runner-Up, Behavior. This is a picture of blenny in a fight. It is a species of chaenopsid blenny found around Japan and South Korea. Its most distinctive feature is its hairstyle, which is often referred to as Punk Blenny or Mohican Blenny.
3rd Place, Behavior. 'Milk feeding'.
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3rd Place, Behavior. 'Milk feeding'.
Winner, Portrait. As the Asian sheepshead wrasse grows older, it changes sex from female to male and at the same time it develops a large lump on its head.
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Winner, Portrait. As the Asian sheepshead wrasse grows older, it changes sex from female to male and at the same time it develops a large lump on its head.
Runner-Up, Portrait. Japanese manefish is not a fish that can be found by looking for it. It can only be encountered by diving when a perfect tide brings them close to shore.
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Runner-Up, Portrait. Japanese manefish is not a fish that can be found by looking for it. It can only be encountered by diving when a perfect tide brings them close to shore.
3rd Place, Portrait. 'French Angel'.
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3rd Place, Portrait. 'French Angel'.
Winner, Black & White. This photograph was taken at Leru Cut in the Solomon Islands.
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Winner, Black & White. This photograph was taken at Leru Cut in the Solomon Islands.
Runner-Up, Black & White. 'Time Travel'.
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Runner-Up, Black & White. 'Time Travel'.
3rd Place, Black & White. 'Double turtle'.
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3rd Place, Black & White. 'Double turtle'.
Winner, Compact. 'Doule (Kuhlia Rupestris) near the surface'.
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Winner, Compact. 'Doule (Kuhlia Rupestris) near the surface'.
Runner-Up, Compact. 'Rainbow Goby'.
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Runner-Up, Compact. 'Rainbow Goby'.
3rd Place, Compact. 'Pelagic stingray (Pteroplatytrygon violacea)'.
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3rd Place, Compact. 'Pelagic stingray (Pteroplatytrygon violacea)'.
Runner-Up, Up & Coming. 'Toward Shining Light'.
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Runner-Up, Up & Coming. 'Toward Shining Light'.
3rd Place, Up & Coming. 'Resplendence - Black browed Albatross'.
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3rd Place, Up & Coming. 'Resplendence - Black browed Albatross'.
Runner-Up, British Waters Wide-Angle. It’s the microscopic plankton which draws the massive Basking Shark up the west coast of Britain and into the narrow channel between the Isles of Coll and Tire.
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Runner-Up, British Waters Wide-Angle. It’s the microscopic plankton which draws the massive Basking Shark up the west coast of Britain and into the narrow channel between the Isles of Coll and Tire.
3rd Place, British Waters Wide-Angle. 'Grey seal gully'.
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3rd Place, British Waters Wide-Angle. 'Grey seal gully'.
Winner, British Waters Macro. The variable blenny (Parablennius pilicornis) is a relatively new arrival to UK coastal waters, with its origins from more southerly waters (it has been recorded throughout the Mediterranean Sea).
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Winner, British Waters Macro. The variable blenny (Parablennius pilicornis) is a relatively new arrival to UK coastal waters, with its origins from more southerly waters (it has been recorded throughout the Mediterranean Sea).
Runner-Up, British Waters Macro. 'Stalkie on Bootlace weed'.
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Runner-Up, British Waters Macro. 'Stalkie on Bootlace weed'.
3rd Place, British Waters Macro. 'Nest buddies'.
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3rd Place, British Waters Macro. 'Nest buddies'.
Winner, British Waters Living Together. 'SS Hispania'.
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Winner, British Waters Living Together. 'SS Hispania'.
Runner-Up, British Waters Living Together. 'Crab affairs'.
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Runner-Up, British Waters Living Together. 'Crab affairs'.
3rd Place, British Waters Living Together. Anchored in a sheltered inlet on Loch Carron, western Scotland, this floating pontoon is used by local fishermen to stow their gear when not being used.
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3rd Place, British Waters Living Together. Anchored in a sheltered inlet on Loch Carron, western Scotland, this floating pontoon is used by local fishermen to stow their gear when not being used.
Winner, British Waters Compact. 'Sunrise Mute Swan Feeding Underwater'.
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Winner, British Waters Compact. 'Sunrise Mute Swan Feeding Underwater'.
Runner-Up, British Waters Compact. 'Hold Tight'.
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Runner-Up, British Waters Compact. 'Hold Tight'.
3rd Place, British Waters Compact. 'Pinky'
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3rd Place, British Waters Compact. 'Pinky'
Winner, Marine Conservation. A tightly inhabited village off the coast of Panama in Guna Yala region serves as a microcosm reminder of how humans across the planet are consuming land and space at a rapid rate.
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Winner, Marine Conservation. A tightly inhabited village off the coast of Panama in Guna Yala region serves as a microcosm reminder of how humans across the planet are consuming land and space at a rapid rate.
View gallery - 35 images

A stunning shot looking up at a pair of reef sharks during sunset has won the prestigious 2021 Underwater Photographer of the Year contest. The spectacular highlighted images this year span everything from surreal undersea wrecks to rare glimpses of little-seen sea creatures.

This year’s contest was the biggest to date, comprising more than twelve categories covering every kind of underwater photography imaginable, including Wide-Angle, Black & White, Wrecks, and Macro. An additional four categories focus especially on British Waters, celebrating the origins of the competition.

Winner. Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021. 'Sharks' Skylight'.
Winner. Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021. 'Sharks' Skylight'.

US photographer Renee Capozzola snagged the overall Photographer of the Year prize with a gorgeous shot taken in French Polynesia. Capozzola, the first woman to ever win the top prize, spent days trying to find a unique angle on these oft-photographed sharks.

“Instead of focusing on split-level images as I often like to do, I decided to try something different,” Capozzola says. “I envisioned and aimed to capture the sharks underwater with the sunset seen through Snell's window. It took many attempts, but on this one particular evening, the water was calm, the sunset was vibrant, and I got extremely lucky with the composition as well.”

Winner, Black & White. This photograph was taken at Leru Cut in the Solomon Islands.
Winner, Black & White. This photograph was taken at Leru Cut in the Solomon Islands.

Martin Edge, one of the judges this year, says he was mesmerized when he first saw Capozzola’s photograph.

“The stark bellies of the sharks create a kind of union with each other just above there reflections,” says Edge. “The birds above are particular dominant in the sunset night sky and it looks like they are queuing to take their turn to feast. Mind-blowing underwater imagery at it’s very best.”

British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021. My Backyard Winner. 'While You Sleep'. This final shot is a culmination 25 hours over 4 nights of lying in darkness, covered in mud, waiting on natures unpredictable elements to align.
British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021. My Backyard Winner. 'While You Sleep'. This final shot is a culmination 25 hours over 4 nights of lying in darkness, covered in mud, waiting on natures unpredictable elements to align.

Mark Kirkland won the British Underwater Photographer of the Year prize for an image the judges deemed nothing short of a masterpiece. Kirkland took more than two years to capture the shot he wanted after first conceiving the image when he came across a small muddy pond that is alive with frogs for only a few nights every year.

“Technically assured, artistically innovative and revealing an original and valuable view of the life of frogs,” says Alex Mustard, one of this year’s judges. “Every aspect contributes to the story, spawn shouts what’s happening, bare trees show season, the sky demonstrates time of day, tower blocks reveal location, even the droplets on the dome look like stars!”

Runner-Up, Wrecks. 'Reclaimed by the Ocean'.
Runner-Up, Wrecks. 'Reclaimed by the Ocean'.

Take a look through our gallery at all the top shots from this year’s Underwater Photographer of the Year contest.

Source: UPY

View gallery - 35 images
1 comment
1 comment
Nelson Hyde Chick
The way we are going, there will be little to no life in our oceans in the upcoming decades, so capture this while you can!