Ocean Views 2015: The Joy of Pursuit

Third Place: Siphonophores at Sunrise by Matty Smith

I remember when I became aware that underwater photography had truly become mainstream. I was on a great white shark trip at Guadalupe Island, Mexico, with 19 other guests. The cruise director was briefing us on what to expect from the week, and he wanted to know how many underwater photographers were on board. I was accustomed to being one of five or six photographers on a boat, but on this trip 20 hands shot into the air. Wow, every single passenger on board was an underwater photographer.

The next day when I looked at the camera table I realized the approaches to underwater photography represented were numerous and varied. The assembled tools of the trade ranged from multi-thousand-dollar digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras in extravagant aluminum housings to moderately priced point-and-shoot cameras in Ikelite polycarbonate housings. There were even iPhones in plastic bags. This was before SeaLife and GoPro cameras had begun to percolate so pervasively through the underwater imaging space, but even then the options were quite eclectic.

I think that's when it hit me: Underwater photography is not about the cameras we buy, it's about the passion we have. Each photographer was excited for his or her time in the cage and for the opportunity to get close to a great white shark. We were all eager to view the beauty of the sea and to share our vision and photographic execution with others.

We can share our discoveries via dive media such as Alert Diver and, most often, via social media. Facebook and Instagram are the new portals to underwater imaging, and on any given day the images that appear in my news feeds are spectacular.

Photo contests such as Ocean Views, run in partnership with Nature's Best Photography magazine, are like social media on steroids. Not only will a wide audience get to view the winning photographs, but unlike the transitory "likes" an image might garner online, the prizes awarded to the winners are of great value — travel and equipment worth thousands of dollars, donated by our generous sponsors.

Congratulations to the photographers whose images have made it to these pages. Your photos have risen to the top of a fiercely contested field of extraordinary images. We honor your achievement, knowing all the while your greatest prize will have been the pure joy of the pursuit.
View the Contest Galleries
Ocean Views 2015 winners gallery

Ocean Views 2015 bonus gallery

© Alert Diver — Q2 Spring 2015