A rare and fascinating portrait of a Crab-Eating Macaque resolutely swimming through the ocean, captured by Suliman Alatiqi, tops this year’s Ocean Art underwater photography contest. The photo is a result of weeks of planning and documentation, and it represents the zeal and commitment needed to capture the world’s best underwater image.

Although the AI revolution has quickly changed the global photographic landscape, this year’s winners are a testament to humanity’s creative perseverance over machine.

In order to address generative AI concerns, the competition organisers -the Underwater Photography Guide – this year added two new categories: Underwater Fashion and Underwater Digital Art. These allowed for free reign in editing.

Both professional and amateur photographers were catered for, with three compact camera categories: compact wide angle, compact macro and compact behaviour.

Ocean Art 2023 judges included famous underwater photographers Tony Wu, Mark Strickland and Marty Snyderman. After judging the competition, they all advised future competing photographers not to over-process their shots. Marty Snyderman commented “Some very well composed and otherwise technically solid captures had to be eliminated as the post-processing appeared to be too heavy-handed. Colours in those images were “punched up” with vibrance or saturation to the point that subjects or scenes suffered in our view. The same sort of heavy-handedness was evident with the use of sharpening, contrast and clarity tools.”

No such problems with this striking image of Whitetip reef sharks at Roca Partida, Mexico. Again taken by Suliman Alatiqi 

Ocean Art 2023 awarded $120,000 worth of prizes! From liveaboard trips to dive resort stays to underwater camera equipment and gift vouchers. Each photographer got to choose their own prize. The judges evaluated thousands of entries from over 90 countries before selecting the final winning set of images.

The photos are truly inspiring, especially those that show what can be done with a compact camera. Why don’t you give it a go next year? Or perhaps you entered this year? Let us know in the comments.

Winning Images from the 12th Annual Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest


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