The Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest, organized by Underwater Photography Guide, is one of the most prestigious photo competitions among underwater photographers. And with $100,000USD awarded in prizes there's more than a few reasons for winners to do a victory lap.
This year, a number of Ikelite Ambassadors and customers took home valuable prizes in addition to bragging rights (and a ton of publicity). Read on to get a behind the scenes look at the shots, the gear, and how you could become a winner next year. Congratulations to our Ambassadors, customers, and all of the winners of the 11th annual Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest.
Ikelite Ambassador | Steven Kovacs
3rd Place Black Water
Honorable Mention Blackwater
"I'm very humbled to place in such a competitive contest. Both photographs were taken in Kona, Hawaii on blackwater dives using an Ikelite housing and Ikelite DS160 Strobes.
It was my first time seeing that pretty species of flounder. With flounders, my goal is to usually photograph a profile showing the transparency and any color patterns of the entire fish.
The 3rd place finisher was a previously unseen species of deep water Ipnops. That one was a little more challenging to shoot as the streamers and fins would many times be in disarray and not pleasing aesthetically. The challenge was to get a nice portrait while also showing the beautiful streamers and fins in a nice position. Fortunately, it was fairly cooperative, and I was able to spend some time with it."
- Steven Kovacs
Ikelite Ambassador | Bryant Turffs
2nd Place Marine Life Behavior
"I’m pleased to have this image included in the winners of this years Ocean Art competition. The encounter leading to this image was special because it was taken near home, it was in freshwater, and resulted from patience and deep observation. We have the best ability to make special images near home because we can return to these spots and improve on our previous effort. Under-explored sites, like freshwater ecosystems, often offer the opportunity to make novel images and patience is often required to capture the peak of action (I spent 4+ hours in cold, by Florida standards, water). To have this effort come together and be recognized is great! To make the image I was shooting my Ikelite 200DL housing for Canon 7D Mark II and a Tokina fisheye lens. The zoom fisheye allowed for framing the medium size subject while capturing its environment. I was using dual DS160 Strobes for lighting, equipped with dome diffusers to spread even light on the close focus subject."
- Bryant Turffs
Ikelite Ambassador | Lorenzo Terraneo
Honorable Mention Portrait
"That dive, in my favorite stretch of sea in Italy (Capo Noli), was the second and last of the year, 2020, two weeks before Italy went into lockdown for Covid-19. Probing the bottom on a day filled with suspension, I caught a glimpse of something. Facilitated by my 45° viewfinder, I understood what kind of subject it was, very rare to encounter if not attached to a fish. To make the most of the situation, I used a snoot in front of my powerful DS161 which in the meantime I had detached from the arm to be able to illuminate the subject. At that point, with two wet lenses (+10 and +5) attached, I had a good subject size. A lot of patience, and after several attempts, I managed to coordinate the focus (particularly difficult) with the right direction of the flash modeling light."
- Lorenzo Terraneo
Ikelite Ambassador | Josh Blank
Honorable Mention Wide Angle
"I photographed this image of schooling bumphead parrot fish on the Great Barrier Reef. The best time to see the bumpheads in such a formation is during the early hours of the morning shortly before sunrise. With very limited natural light, my DS160 strobes were crucial in capturing the image and allowed me to bring back the natural colour of each fish. Using an 8-15mm fish eye lens, I was able to get nice and close to the school while fitting them all into the frame with ease."
- Josh Blank
Ikelite Customer | Julian Nedev
2nd Place Underwater Art
f/13 • 1/160 • ISO 400 • Canon 5D Mark IV
Ikelite Customer | Andrew Cummings
4th Place Portrait
f/16 • 1/250 • ISO 200 • Ikelite DS160 Strobes
Ikelite Customer | Frank Begun
Honorable Mention Portrait
f/32 • 1/125 • ISO 100 • Dual Ikelite Strobes
Think you've got what it takes?
If you've been curious about entering a photo competition check out our article Photo Contest Tips from a 100x Winner that includes tips and insights from Steven Kovacs, Ikelite Ambassador and photo contest winner 100+ times over. One of his biggest tips? Get better, not bitter: "Rather than worry about results, I use contests as a kind of motivator to go out and try to produce photographs that have an impact."
Aren't sure about a contest yet but still want to show off your work? Become an Ikelite Featured Customer to start testing the waters!
If you are looking for more tips on how to improve your photography check out our Photo School and YouTube channel where we publish tons of content to help you become the next big thing on the photo competition scene.