Awards + Books

Behind the Shot: DEEP Indonesia Best of Show Over-Under

Behind the Shot: DEEP Indonesia Best of Show Over-Under

Ambassador Grant Thomas recently swept the 2019 DEEP Indonesia Photo Competition taking away Best of Show and a Gold in Over-Unders plus a Silver placing in the Divers category. 

We talked with Grant to find out what's behind the winning shot titled "Papuan Sunset."

Congratulations on your well deserved wins! Where and when was the top shot taken?

Lissenung Island, Papua New Guinea which s a small private island in the southwestern Pacific.

The image was shot at sunset but was planned days in advance to ensure that low tide occurred at the same time and also to scope out a good location where the reef, island and sunset would line up.

What camera and lens were you using?

A Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR with Tokina AT-X 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 DX Fisheye lens.

It's difficult to get such a clean shot. How did you avoid water droplets on the dome?

I spit on the dome then submerge and shoot a series of burst shots as I lift the camera up.

Grant Thomas Ikelite Ambassador

Was an artificial light source necessary to highlight the coral?

Yes I was using two Ikelite DS161s which were perfect for illuminating the large area due to the high power and fast reload times. 

Was it a set up? Did the guy on the boat have to make multiple passes?

I was actually very lucky with this shot as it was complete coincidence that the man just happened to be paddling past. I waved at him and he paddled towards me, as he did I snapped a couple of shots. 

About how many shots did you have to take to get the one

I only managed to take 5 shots with the fisherman however, I did take around 600 pictures in total. Firstly I had to find the perfect spot where everything in the frame lined up and then I had to create the symmetrical water line with some reflection of the reef on the surface, which was tricky due to current and waves. I was also in the water for around 3 hours leading up to sunset to prepare composition, lighting finding an area I could position myself without damaging any coral.

Grant Thomas Ikelite Over-Under

You also received an Honorable Mention for your over-under of a turtle hatchling. Was that taken at the same time? 

I took the baby turtle shot the day after this one, at the same location. Lissenung Island Resort have a fantastic turtle conservation project in which they find and collect eggs from turtle nests in the local area to prevent them from being harvested by people. They then transport the eggs carefully back to the resort where they are placed back into a controlled nest area until ready to hatch.

I was very lucky to be staying at the resort while two of the nest were hatching and I can definitely say, floating around the ocean with over 200 baby turtles swimming past was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had!  


DEEP Indonesia Photo Competition

Ever thought about entering a photo competition? You should!

The annual DEEP Indonesia competition is organized by DivePhotoGuide and Wetpixel and is open to everyone. Some of the best underwater photography in the world competes in a grab for more than $45,000 in travel and equipment prizes. The judging panel in 2019 included Aaron Wong, Christian Vizl, Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock, Adam Hanlon, and Andrew Marriott.

15% of the proceeds of the competition are donated directly to marine conservation efforts. So it's a win-win for everybody and a good reason to submit your entries for next year.


All images copyright © 2019 Grant Thomas


Additional Reading

Grant Thomas Ambassador Profile

Expedition | Tonga Humpback Whales | July 23-30, 2019

How to Shoot Split Shots (Half-In, Half-Out of the Water)

Reading next

Freediving a 60 Ton Statue in the Bahamas with Jenna Martin
Coral Reef Restoration Program in Bonaire