We are delighted to announce Wayne Osborn from Applecross, WA as the winner in this category.
Wayne’s eye catching image was taken on the Wakatobi reefs in Indonesia and is captioned: The healthy, lush and biodiverse marine micro-environment of a tropical coral reef outcrop.
Category Definition: Underwater photographs depicting marine/aquatic environments. May include marine animals. Can be taken in freshwater or the ocean. Seventy percent (70%) of the image must depict water.
UTA: Wayne, what was it that inspired you to take up nature photography?
WO: I have always found one of life’s great pleasures to be wandering around the sea bed with a camera in hand. There is always something new to discover underwater and fascinating behaviour to observe – even on the most mundane of dives.
UTA: What is your aim when you’re taking images?
WO: To me it has been the magic of documenting (in my own small way) the underwater world. In recent years, it has been to gather content for the online books Pam [Osborn] and I publish on Apple Books. Between us, we have 22 books online, the weightiest is our Reef Fish book at 1389 pages with 752 species. We have made them all free downloads so anyone can enjoy them.
UTA: How will winning the Underwater Tour Award help you moving forward?
WO: It is flattering to be personally recognised but I really hope the image could be used to further recognise the groundbreaking environmental leadership of the Wakatobi Dive Resort. The image was taken at Roma, one of my favourite dive sites and shows a healthy, flourishing coral reef. Wakatobi’s unique partnership with their local communities show just what can be done in environmental stewardship of coral reefs that would be otherwise under extreme pressure from artisanal fishing and poaching. It is worthy model of sustainability where the diving activity pays for the protection of the reef system to the economic benefit of local communities.
UTA: What do you consider your own challenges when taking photos?
WO: Firstly, it is to be a responsible observer so buoyancy control and ethical photography techniques are a priority. Secondly, there is the sheer challenge of doing justice to the subject. It is always great when you can tell a story and look with fresh eyes and techniques. The evolution of digital camera technology is allowing us to do things today that were totally unimaginable when I started out with a Nikonos II film camera. I think continuing to evolve as a photographer and taking advantage of what technology offers so you can showcase the underwater world in the best way you can is the challenge.
UTA: Do you have any preferred underwater subject or concept?
WO: I enjoy shooting megafauna (whales) to macro equally and anything in between. Whatever is on offer.
UTA: What has been your best moment underwater so far?
WO: I have undertaken 5 expeditions to the Azores to photograph sperm whales. When a 50 tonne curious whale decides to approach within arms length, that gets the adrenaline running in a very good way. The best day was with a pod of sperm whales that had birthed two calves overnight. We sat at a respectful distance and had no expectation of being able to get in the water with them. They had other ideas and brought the babies across to us. The encounter ran over six hours. The second best was a 5 day expedition to satellite tag dwarf minke whales on the Ribbons Reefs.
UTA: What are you planning next?
WO: It will be wonderful just to be able to travel again and build more content for our books. I have just bought Nauticam’s innovative Extended Macro Wide Lens (EMWL) and am very pleased with limited results so far. I feels like one of those game changing technology advances and I can’t wait to put it to use in the Coral Triangle.
You can see the ALex Kydd’s announcement here:
The 2021 Underwater Scenes Category Prize: $500 cash, a SCUBAPRO Glide BCD, a Momento Pro $200 voucher and a Living Image A2 size premium cotton paper print of the winning image.