The Guru Grand Award Winner, 2021

We are delighted to announce the Winner is Amanda Blanksby, Wembley, Western Australia with her portfolio of images all taken in Western Australia.

The competition’s Guru Award was created to celebrate an underwater photographer with talent, skill and creativity who can deliver with more than one high calibre image ….  an award for an excellent photographer, not simply an excellent photograph from a pool of the highest scoring entrants who entered 5 images in the Awards.  Please see Amanda’s images below.

Image 1: Who doesn’t love a smiley fish!! These porcupine fish seem to be content with their life swimming round in the ocean. Bussleton Jetty, WA

Image 2: On this particular dive under Busselton Jetty, the Old Wives were hanging around one of the pylons. Busselton Jetty, Busselton, WA

Image 3: This is looking into the engine room of the Lena wreck at around 15m deep, with a school of snooks swimming around. The Lena Wreck, Bunbury, WA

Image 4: Fan worm swaying with the water movement.  Playing with a slower shutter speed and 2nd curtain flash to create a more abstract feel. BHP Steelworks Jetty, Cockburn Sound, WA

Image 5: This is based on practicing intentional movement with ND filters, whilst photographing post sunrise, on a deserted beach. Salmon Holes Beach, Albany, WA

UTA:     Amanda, what was it that inspired you to take up nature photography?

AB:       I wanted to learn what the fish were that I saw underwater so back in around 2003 I bought a point and shot Sony camera in a housing and took photos of fish. I used it first on a dive trip to Sipadan in Malaysia. They were not very good photos. Just ID shots so I could head back after a dive, pull out my fish book and learn the name of the fish. I have since learnt a lot about photography, improved my skills and slowly upgraded my camera gear.

UTA:     What is your aim when you’re taking images?

AB:       To showcase how interesting the underwater world is. Not that many people get to escape underwater and it is such a different world. There is such a variety of creatures underwater and they all exist in a different way to what we do above water. I also love the fact that by using the strobes to light the image you get to see the colours as they are rather than what you can see with the naked eye underwater.

 UTA:    How will winning the Underwater Tour Award help you moving forward?

AB:       Very happy to be awarded the Guru prize. I dive as a means of de-stressing. I feel so much better after I have escaped underwater. I always have a camera in my hand. I don’t actively take photos to enter into competitions, I take photos to showcase the underwater world.

UTA:     What do you consider your own challenges when taking photos?

AB:       There are lots of challenges. The creatures don’t stay still. You are moving as well as the creatures you are photographing. Being confident with the camera gear is well as your dive skills maintaining buoyancy is essential. You only have a limited time underwater, basically the volume of air in your tank. Sometimes you can be underwater and not really find much to photograph, or the creatures are not really in the right location.

UTA:     Do you have any preferred underwater subject or concept?

AB:       I love photographing underneath jetties! I am a marine structural engineer so I work on projects designing jetties. I love photographing the life under a jetty as well as the structure and shapes created.

UTA:     What has been your best moment underwater so far?

AB:       I have had many moments underwater as I have dived in various destinations in south east Asia and Australia. One moment I recall is being in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, underneath Arborek jetty surrounded by a massive school of fish. The fish just kept swimming around and around and as you swam through them they just naturally parted and joined together again.

UTA:     What are you planning next?

AB:       Given we can’t travel overseas I am planning to continue to dive locally in Western Australia and have a liveaboard booked to the Abrolhos islands, of the coast from Geraldton, in late August.

“What great prizes with Canon continuing to develop its stance with the full frame mirrorless system, ideal for underwater photography as the housings are smaller and lighter than the full frame DSLR equivalents.

I will be interested to explore the range of underwater housings, ports, lights and accessories available from SEACAM.  A big thank you to both SEACAM and CameraPro.” Amanda Blanksby, 27 May 2021

You can see the Grand Guru winning announcement here, made by Phill Joshua from CameraPro:

The Prize (value $10,000):  $5000 of products from world famous SEACAM Silver range.  The Grand Prize winner can make their choice and spend their silver dollars as they wish from SEACAM’s product range.  A Canon EOS R6 – an outstanding mirrorless camera provided by CameraPro together with a $200 CameraPro voucher.

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