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2009 British Underwater Image Festival Results
By Jason Heller, May 21, 2009 @ 11:53 AM (EST)
Winners of the 2009 British Underwater Image festival have been announced. Congratulations to DPG's Keri Wilk for placing first in the Open category, and congrats to all the winners!
 
The leading lights of marine photography jostled with some rising stars at this year's British Underwater Image Festival (BUIF), sponsored by Canon and Cameras Underwater. With more than 1,000 entries from 20 different countries across the various stills and video categories, the judges had their work cut out, but as ever the process was as enjoyable as it was painstaking. The winners were announced at the Dive Fest event held in Cornwall over the weekend.

For the still images section, judges Alex Mustard, Colin Doeg, Charles Hood and Simon Rogerson met at DIVE magazine's offices and commandeered the boardroom for an entire day. Every print was examined in fine detail, and the slow ritual of picking out favourites and arguing over personal perspectives began in earnest.

British Underwater Image Festival - BUIF 2009Keri Wilk's skilful 'over-under' image of a sealion barrelling through the water was a clear winner in the Sea&Sea sponsored open section. This was a fast-moving subject captured at the peak of the action, and with the context of the topography in the background. This photo had it all - dynamism, charm and a great sense of place.

Also in this category, Helmut Theiss's precise portrait of a seahorse on a seapen was a popular third place, while Alex Mustard in particular was impressed by Tim Priest's circular fisheye portrait of a lionfish over coral, a technical triumph that earned him second place.

The entries were similarly impressive in the PADI-Digital Underwater Photographer category for compact users, in which Martin Greaves triumphed with a wide-angle shot of divers exploring Silfra Lake in Iceland. Martin was on hand to accept the award, and confessed that the water was so cold his hands were in pain and he had considered leaving the camera on land, only taking it in at the last BUIF 2009moment!

In the Apeks British category, it was a close-run thing between Malcolm Nobbs' arresting portrait of a pike and Rob Bailey's exultant grey seal taken in the Scilly Isles, which was the eventual choice for first place. The judges felt that the sheer joy and personality of the image marked it out as something truly special - a true ambassador for UK diving.

There were many impressive entries in the Portfolio section, which was sponsored by Poseidon. Once again, pinnipeds featured among the winning subjects, while Anna James made her BUIF debut with an artful series of swimming babies. After much discussion, first place went to Fredrick Ehrenstrom of Sweden, with his vision of lilies in a freshwater lake. As a unifying subject, it was simplistic, but the pictures were taken with such precision, and the selection presented with such clarity, that it emerged as a popular winner.
British Underwater Image festival Portfolio
Among the finalists were a few composite images that were created using editing software. While the rules of the contest did not forbid such use of Photoshop, the consensus among the judges was that such techniques had to be perfectly executed in order to achieve success. 'Seals and fresh water subjects did well this year, but that is by no means a sign that people should concentrate exclusively on these subjects for future BUIF contests,' judge Simon Rogerson said. 'In my experience, each year's winners have little to do with what has passed before, and everything to do with what is cutting-edge at the time of judging.'

The DVD section of the competition was decided over a long but inspirational day at Peter Scoones's London flat, with judging carried out by Scoones, Colin Doeg and myself.

Again, we had a dedicated British section sponsored by Denney Diving, which was a close thing between two excellent night diving films set in the Channel Islands. After some deliberation, the quality of footage in Sue Daly's 'Night Dive' was sufficient to take first place, with Jo Mahy's 'The Night Shift' a close second.

In the Amateur section (sponsored by Scuba Travel), Istvan Nemeth of Hungary triumphed with a comedy extravaganza 'Wacky Races', inter-cutting footage of various marine creatures on the move and creating a compelling race scenario. Playing to Peter Scoones' advice - 'keep it short and funny' - the effects-laden film had the Dive Fest audience in fits of laughter. Dave Peake, whose 'Autumn Gold' came third in the Amateur section, was singled out for praise by Scoones for his simple, economic approach to filmmaking.
Spanish filmmaker Leandro Blanco dominated the Mares Professional category, winning first place with his paean to marine conservation, 'Voices We Shall Never Hear'. An elegant, moving film, it featured a succession of marine marvels densely edited together with the filmmaker's own soundtrack. Although Blanco is a commercial airline pilot by profession, his video work is of such a high quality that it can hold its own at the highest level.
Coming second in this category was Champ Williams of the USA with 'Attack of the Sea Slugs', a macro epic of predation in miniature. A popular choice, Simon Spear's DVD 'Sharks in British Waters' clinched third place. While much of the film consisted of above-water interviews, its breakthrough footage of blue sharks, spurdogs and porbeagles in British seas impressed the judges.

'We would like to thank everyone who entered this year's BUIF,' said DIVE editor Simon Rogerson. 'Once again, we have seen how much talent there is out there, and the photographers and videographers have more than risen to our challenge. I am especially grateful to Canon, Cameras Underwater and our other sponsors for coming up with such generous prizes. Watch this space for BUIF 2010!'

DiveFest: the Splash-in

British Underwater Image Splash InUnderwater photographers braved choppy seas and low visibility to take part in the Splash-in contest laid on as part of the weekend festival held in Cornwall. With boat diving out of the question, it all came down to who could get the most out of Mevagissey Harbour, the nearest shore diving venue.

Peter Scoones led a team of judges who were impressed by the determination of the competing photographers. Ultimately, the prizes were dominated by a group of three serious lensmen who travel together and support each other as a team, albeit a competitive one. So, congratulations to Rob Bailey (first place, Wide-Angle), Trevor Rees (first place, Close-up) and Charles Erb (first place, Fish Portrait).

Otherwise, stabs at humour succeeded where underwater conditions would have had most divers pulling out their hair. Richard Holden of Severnside Sub-Aqua Club entered a photograph of one of the Dive Fest red beanie hats floating underwater. He may have sacrificed his free gift, but in doing so secured a commendation.

Here are the full list of winners and runners-up:

PRINT


Sea & Sea Open Category Award
First: Keri Wilk (CAN)
Second: Tim Priest (GBR)
Third: Helmut Theiss (GER)

Open Commended
Karen Doody (USA)

PADI Digital Underwater Photographer Award
First: Martin Greaves (GBR)
Second: Helmut Theiss (GER)
Third: Luke Atkinson (GBR)

APEKS British Award
First: Robert Bailey (GBR)
Second: Malcolm Nobbs (GBR)
Third: Helen Parris (GBR)

Poseidon Portfolio Award
First: Fredrick Ehrenstrom (SWE)
Second: Anna James GBR)
Third: Dennis Vandermeersch (BEL)

Hot Shot Image of the Year
(as voted by the public online at www.divemagazine.co.uk):
Jim Garland (GBR)

DVD

Mares Professional DVD Award
First: Leandro Blanco (ESP)
Second: Attack of the sea slugs / Secret Weapon by Champ Williams (GBR) w
Third: Sharks in British Seas by Simon Spear (GBR)

Tony Backhurst Scuba Travel Amateur DVD Award

First: Wacky Race of Underwater Animals by Istvan Nemeth (HUN)
Second: Earth Resistant by Zsolt Sasdi (HUN)
Third: Underwater Borneo by Jo Horrocks (GBR)

The Denney Diving British DVD Award

First: Night Dive by Sue Daly (GBR)
Second: The Night Shift by Jo Mahy (GBR)
Third: Autumn Gold by Dave Peake (GBR)

SPLASH-IN


Wide Angle Category
First: Robert Bailey (GBR)
Second: Dave Peake (GBR)
Third: James Lancaster (GBR)
Highly Commended: Richard Holden (GBR)

Fish Portrait Category
First: Charles Erb (GBR)
Second: Trevor Rees (GBR)
Third: Chris Court (GBR)


Close-up Category
First: Trevor Rees (GBR)
Second: Dan Bolt (GBR)
Third: Charles Erb (GBR)
 
A complete gallery of winning images can be found here.

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