In 2013 Alex Mustard was named the GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 with his stunning image entitled “Night Moves.” It remains the only time an underwater image has been the overall winner in this prestigious contest.
Alex says: “As a photographer you always enter competitions knowing that there is a lot of luck in how the results fall for you. On a different day a jury could easily select entirely different winners. So I am so pleased that, this time, luck was on my side and that NIGHT MOVES was successful amongst 20,000+ photos entered.
“I am particularly happy it was this shot because not only it is visually intriguing, but it is also uses a very novel technique in underwater photography, as it was taken at night, using continuous lighting and a tripod. It is a long exposure (3 seconds) showing bar jacks (predatory fish) hunting over a coral reef, the long exposure rendering the fish like swirling phantoms against the inky, black sea. On the right you can see the outline of one fish as it stops to feed, its trail showing how it swooped down, across the frame to catch its prey. Around the central reef sponge you can even see the trails of the smaller fish and zooplankton that the jacks were hunting. The longer you look, the more you see.
“As I said in my acceptance speech I was inspired to be more daring with my photographic approach after coming to the GDT’s International Nature Photography Festival as a speaker two years ago and took this photo on the very next shoot I did at the East End of Grand Cayman. Daring to be different is not always an easy route for photographers. Classic wildlife shots tend to get many more “likes” (to use the Facebook vernacular), while more creative shots will divide opinions. Some people will hate this shot, but I also know that many people love it. It is much better to illicit these strong emotions if we want our images to resonate and stop viewers and intrigue them in the natural world.
I took this photo with my Nikon D700, Nikon 16-35mm, Subal ND700 housing and Zen 230 dome. Tripod and Sola Light.