Best Photos 2013

As in previous years it is time to review and select my best/favourite photos of 2013. I always really enjoy looking back over all the posts and pictures I’ve made throughout the year and reflecting upon how fortunate I am to go to such great places and have such supportive people in my life. I found it gratifyingly difficult to choose my top ten this year but I can see a few areas where I’d like to improve upon next year (like getting some decent shots of Mantas). With no further ado, and in no particular order, here are this years top ten (click each for larger version on pbase):

Top Ten Underwater:

This year, for me, has been the year for schools of fish and photos with movement in them…

Sweepers: This cave in the Red Sea was the first time I truly realised how versatile my new camera set up is. I saw the cave, and thought this could do with some backlighting. Popped off my strobe right there and then and took the shot I wanted. After many years of electronic sync cords, the fibre optic can-get-wet kind are incredibly freeing for my photography.

Under the Jetty: These little schooling fish under Arborek Jetty in Raja Ampat, Indonesia were like, as cheesy as it sounds, poetry in motion. Constantly tumbling and swirling into new shapes, beautiful to watch.

Wonderpus: Also from Raja Ampat, at a divesite called the Algae Patch, this cheeky little wonderpus.

Reef top: Another wide angle shot, this time of a reef top in the red sea. Near sunset to low sun hits the water at a good angle for shallow water photos such as this one. Most of the colourful reef fish which inhabit the reef during the day have already gone to bed so I was lucky to get this stream of fish swimming past in the background.

Grumpy Snappers: Its tricky to get a head on shot of the schooling snapper because if you swim at them they disperse (and all your fellow dive buddies groan in frustration as you mess up their shots). They look so adorably grumpy though so I took advantage went I found myself alone with them.

Worried Dad: Human fathers don’t know how lucky they have it. In the sea it’s often the males that give birth, or in the case of this Jaw fish, brood the eggs in his mouth. He occasionally spits them and jiggles them around until they are aerated. Fascinating to watch but don’t get too close or he disappears into his hole.

Underwater Train: Something you don’t usually see underwater – a train. This was blown off the wreckage of the Thistlegorm. This famous world war two ship wreck in the Red Sea has so much cool stuff inside the main wreck (motorbikes, trucks, guns etc) and often strong currents around the exterior that I’d never actually seen the second train which is around 10-15m swim away. On this dive the sea was calm and blessedly free of other divers so we not only got to the train but all the way to the front of the wreck to see the guns. See some of my other photos in this blog post.

Schooling Snappers: I’ve tried to see the impressive schooling fish aggregations at Ras Mohammad on quite a few years and this year I actually got quite a few shots I was please with. I think not having to psh so much weight through the water with my smaller camera allowed me some extra swimming power to keep up with them.

Tiny Cowrie: I found this beautiful cowrie in Indonesia at the beginning of the year while searching this sea fan for pygmy seahorses.

Swirling Barracuda: To round off my underwater choices here are some schooling barracuda from the Red Sea, which reminds me I still need to process the video from this trip, I think I might have some nice footage of these guys.

Favourite Other Photos from 2013:

This year I got married to Mike, I didnt take many photos but I did produce a video I was quite pleased with.

We went on honeymoon to Venice, I liked these two because they are a bit ‘postcardy’

Also, This year I’ve been finishing off the first module of my photography degree course. I’ve really enjoyed some of the lighting techniques such as this spotlighting of Danbo here:

I also enjoyed the trip to Kew Gardens to do one of my assignments on colour:

If you’ve made it this far through the post then well done and I hope you enjoyed :) If you want to see the other photos I enjoyed taking this year I put a whole bunch in a gallery on pbase here. Last years top photos post is here. Stay tuned next year for more underwater fun.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013

Wildlife Photographer of the yearYou’ve probably seen that the winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 were announced last week, I congratulate all the winners on their wonderful images. The overall winner, Essence of elephants by Greg du Toit is pictured below but what I’ve been most impressed by is the celebration of the oceans that seems to be going on across the exhibition, not only limited to the underwater category. I’m especially pleased by all the familiar names of friends & acquaintances, congratulations guys! I wrote to the NHM press department and they’ve let me use these images in this ocean special review of the exhibition. I haven’t seen the photos in person yet but as always I look forward to seeing the full exhibition before it closes early next year. Click on each of the images in this post to read the full captions associated with them.

Overall Winner & Winner of Animal Portraits:

Essence of elephants - (Greg du Toit / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

Essence of elephants – (Greg du Toit / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

WINNER of Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 by 14-year old Udayan Rao Pawar:

Mother's little headful - (Udayan Rao Pawar / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

Mother’s little headful – (Udayan Rao Pawar / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

WINNER: The World in Our Hands Award:

The fish trap - (Mike Veitch / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

The fish trap – (Mike Veitch / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

WINNER: Behaviour: Cold-Blooded Animals:

Dive Buddy - (Luis Javier Sandoval / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

Dive Buddy – (Luis Javier Sandoval / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

RUNNER-UP: Behaviour: Cold-Blooded Animals:

Confusing beauty - (Julian Cohen / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

Confusing beauty – (Julian Cohen / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

WINNER: Underwater Worlds

Feast of the ancient mariner - (Brian Skerry / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

Feast of the ancient mariner – (Brian Skerry / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

RUNNER-UP: Underwater Worlds

Lionfish bait - (Alex Tattersall / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

Lionfish bait – (Alex Tattersall / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

I loved all of the underwater world category

COMMENDED: Nature in Black and White

giant with sunbeams - (Alexander Mustard / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

giant with sunbeams – (Alexander Mustard / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

WINNER: Animals in their Environment:

The water bear - (Paul Sounders / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

The water bear – (Paul Sounders / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

I also liked this image – though not underwater, its often one of my fav categories…
WINNER: Wildscapes

The Cauldron - (Sergey Gorshkov / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

The Cauldron – (Sergey Gorshkov / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013)

I hope you enjoyed this watery highlight of the WPOTY Exhibition, do go and see it if you’re in London. You can see a selection of the other images at the NHM online galleries here. And congratulations again everyone – I know some of you read this blog :)

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is co-owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide. The original photographers hold the copyright to these images. Permission granted for their use in this article by Natural History Museum.

Top 10 underwater photos

Following on from last weeks post where I took you down memory lane with my 10 years taking underwater photos, I have come up with my favourite 10 images that I’ve taken underwater (whittled down from my fav 85 here). I don’t think they are necessarily my best but I like them the most. So with out further ado – here they are in no particular order…

Please let me know what you think in the comments below…

Happy World Octopus Day!

Today is World Octopus Day!

octopus infographic

I love these guys, I’m glad they get their own day. I enjoyed seeing the video & infographic (below) from the National Aquarium but I prefer my creatures out in the open ocean here are a few charters I’ve met on my travels:

Octopus in the Red Sea:

Blue ring – Danger!

I’d heard a lot about these guys, killers with blue rings. I was expecting a proper sized octopus. I couldn’t stop giggling when I saw him. So tiny! I was sure to keep my pinky fingers out of his reach thou, just in case ;)

Coconut shell octopus are often found living inside discarded bottles and other trash these days but in 2007 I managed to actually find one with a coconut shell!

But do wonderpus & squid get a look in, here are some I met in Raja Ampat?

Open House London: City Hall

The weekend before last, much of London opened its doors to the public for the yearly open house. We only got around to seeing City Hall – but what a place!

After going through airport style scanners (no penknives etc) you are herded to the lifts up to see the amazing views of London from the viewing balcony which spans the whole way around the top floor.

On the way back down you can take the spiral (helical) staircase around & around all the way down to the great auditorium area. I very much enjoyed taking photos on the way down (don’t forget to look up). You need a super-wide-angle lens for this though! Here are some of my photos from the day.

We were even on London Bridge when it opened for a passing tall ship, which I’ve never seen despite living in London all my life.

I put all my random London photos here in my London Gallery. I hope to get around a bit more at next years open house london but I hope you enjoyed my take on City Hall :)

Shark week 2013

As you probably know its been #SharkWeek this week. Shark week was started on the discovery channel in the late ‘80s as a way to educate people about sharks with a weeklong schedule dedicated to them. The only bit of shark week I caught was a blatant fear mongering piece called great white gauntlet, where abelone divers have to face the danger of diving with great whites without a cage. Well so? They are obviously greedy idiots! Abelone are edible sea snails which fetch a load of cash. Great white sharks are wild animals and need to be respected as such. I wouldn’t go sniffing around a hungry lion or a tiger and expect him not to want to eat me. Any wild animal would so why blame the sharks? Its very sad that the discovery channel isnt taken more oppertnity with shark week to raise awareness of for the plight of sharks rather than the “plight” of greedy idiots.

Sharks in the media are often only portrayed as killing machines and whilst I have a healthy respect for my safety whilst I’m in the water with them, mankind is the aggressor here, we kill millions of sharks per year with the barbaric practice of shark fining (hacking off the fins of sharks and tossing the rest back into the sea to slowly starve to death or drown). Sharks don’t produce many young and the demand for shark fin soup has driven many species to the brink of extinction (as an aside, the same folks who like to eat shark fin soup are usually the same folks who like Abelone). As a tribute to sharks worldwide I give you my list of sharky link. If you have any good ones please add them in the comments below.

I choose not the eat seafood but even if you don’t want to go that far why not spread the word and take the pledge?

While you’re at it check out my sustainable seafood guide at the bottom of my sidebar on the right ->

This is a whaleshark from Mexico – they only eat plankton:

This is a woebegone (carpet shark) in Indonesia.

this is the closest I’ve ever come to a hammerhead shark (its plastic :() I’d love to see them in the wild, hopefully I’ll still be able too one day.

First Attempts at Light Painting with iPad & Sparklers

For one hour one March 23rd people around the world were turning off their lights to raise awareness of climate change, this one hour is called Earth Hour. So once its all dark – then what? Myself, @RealMichaelToye & @LBrimson took this opportunity to play with a feature of my new camera: Live Time. This is like bulb mode only better because you can see the photo building up on the screen. We had a few technical difficulties (I think theres some settings I haven’t quite figured out and it kept going to sleep and not starting the exposure when expected) but overall we had a lot of fun (and delicious Mojitos, thanks Mike) and celebrated Earth Hour in style. Here’s what we came up with. For most of them we used indoor sparklers (glad we didnt buy the outdoor ones since it was snowing)!! But for this Earth Hour one above we used an app called eightbit on the iPad (we tried it on the iphone but it didnt quite ever come out). We were in the pitch black but I bet when we try this again with some lights on the scene we’ll get some great images with spooky floating text.

You can see the full gallery here.

Happy Valentines Day

I hope you like my two little harlequin shrimp from Bali (above) who are enjoying a fine dining experience of starfish legs. It reminds me of the prince song, I wonder if they have any coffee. I tried to snoot the light into the corner so it looked like a heart shape, hopefully that comes across :)

Happy Valentines Day Mike!

Here’s hoping you are all having a great day whether you have a special valentine or are chilling out on your own today in an anti valentine tradition.


HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!! I’d like to thanks all my friends, family and visitors to this blog for being so supportive.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog….

Apparently, 600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

I’d like to thanks Mark Graf, Poul Brix and Mike Toye for being my top commenters in 2012.

My top visited post for last year was Best Photos 2011 so perhaps my Best Photos 2012 will be this years winner we’ll have to see!

Right, now back to the Champers! Have a Happy New Year!