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British Underwater Image Festival 2011 – 1st and 2nd Place

This year’s British Underwater Image Festival attracted hundreds of entries across all of the categories, showcasing the very best in underwater photography and filmmaking.

Now in its sixth year, BUIF is the biggest competition of its kind in the UK. It comprises two sections – the video category is judged by BAFTA-winning cameraman Peter Scoones and the stills section is judged by DIVE regulars Alex Mustard and Charles Hood. Joining them on both judging panels were DIVE editor Simon Rogerson and Colin Does, founder of the British Society of Underwater Photographers. The awards were presented at a ceremony held at the Big Scuba Show in London’s Olympia, where 50 of the best photographs were on display. The winning DVDs were shown in a dedicated film theatre.

Stills section If previous years have seen marked trends popping up in the stills category, this year’s entries were notable for their variety. There were plenty of entries depicting scenes from Hanifaru, site of a newly-discovered manta ray aggregation in the Maldives, but for the most part the entries were of varied subject material – everything from toads to humpback whales. In the Suunto Open Section, the judges were unanimous in their praise of Simon Brown’s intricately lit photograph of  Royal Navy clearance divers staging a mock underwater fight. The photo is obviously a set-up [in fact, it was staged to make a Christmas card for the team], but the precision of its lighting and the subtlety of the composition create a dramatic image. Interestingly, Simon’s photograph was taken using remote flashes, currently a fashionable technique among underwater photographers, and used here to compelling effect.

There was a glut of excellent entries in the Apex British Section. The judges were torn between some quality work, but eventually gave first place to Keith Lyall’s atmospheric diver shot from the wreck of the James Eagan Layne in Whitsand Bay, Cornwall. The PADI Digital Underwater Photographer category is for users of compact cameras, and was dominated this year by a hard-working British photographer, Dan Bolt. He took first place with a striking silhouette shot of a diver taken in a river, while his super sharp seal photo took second place in the same category.

The judges had tougher time going over the Fourth Element Portfolio section, which is open to many different interpretations and can generate entries that are hard to compare. In the end, Warren Baverstock’s manta rays from Hanifaru won everyone’s admiration and first place.

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