Competition Rules & Guidance

Last updated: 12th June 2021

1. Instructions & Entry Fees

  • The current entry fee for the Scuba.Digital Underwater Photography Competition (SDUPC) is set out in our pricing list.
  • At no point will we hold any payment information, which will be handled by our payment processor Stripe.
  • To submit images, you must first log in or register (with) your free Scuba.Digital profile. In our shop you can then select the number of images you would like to submit. After you have paid the required entry fee, you can upload your images. You can view your uploads as well as make changes to the photo information.

2. Competition Rules

  • All photos in the SDUPC categories have to be taken underwater. However, you are allowed to submit split-level images as long as one part of the image is underwater.
  • Images that show or were produced by the handling, harassment or manipulation of marine life are forbidden.
  • Photos taken in pools, aquariums or controlled environments are not allowed, except for entries in the Underwater Art category.
  • All photographs entered into the competition must be taken in the period 30 September 2018 – 30 September 2021.
  • All categories are open to amateur photographers only. That is, photographers who are neither semi-professional nor professional and have never won an underwater photography award or whose entries have been published by 30 September 2021. If you have been paid for your work as a photographer, you are not eligible (you must decide for yourself whether you are considered an “amateur”, please do not ask the competition organisers).
  • After paying the entry fee, photographers can submit images in all categories. Please remember that once you have paid, you cannot change the number of entries, but you can purchase additional entries.
  • The deadline for entries is strictly 30 September 2021 23:59 (GMT).
  • All photos must be the work of the photographer taking part in the competition.
  • You are allowed to enter images taken on a compact camera into any category.
  • A single image may be submitted in multiple categories; however each submission counts as an entry. A single image may only be awarded a prize in one category.
  • Photos must not be more than three years old on 30 September 2021 – the closing date of the competition. That means they must have been taken after 30 September 2018.
  • Please do not place any watermarks on submitted photos.
  • The judging is anonymous and images that contain a watermark of the photographer will be excluded from the competition.
  • We do accept black and white images in all categories.
  • The decision of the judges in all matters shall be final.

3. Image Specifications

  • JPEG/JPG or PNG images only.
  • Minimum height and width of 1,000px.
  • Maximum height and width of 2,500px.
  • Maximum file size of 10MB.
  • Colour space should ideally be RGB.
  • Watermarks are NOT permitted. Watermarked images will be disqualified from the competition.
  • We do accept scanned slides.
  • Any “advanced” editing must be indicated in the caption.
  • Winners will be asked for high-resolution files for coverage of the competition in the diving media.

4. Editing

  • For the sake of simplicity, there are no specific restrictions on post-processing. However, this is not an editing competition, but a photo competition. Our judges will have the final say as to what they accept or do not.
  • We highly value authenticity. Edits that enhance the photographer’s original image are acceptable as described below. We will not accept any editing that misrepresents the scene and the original shot.
  • Note that in the Underwater Art category there are no limits in terms of editing – everything is allowed, hence the name. Only for this category you can ignore the following editing rules.
  • Cropping is allowed, but the winning images must still meet the above image specs.

4.1 Allowed Changes / Editing

  • Colour temperature, contrast, brightness, minor dodge and burn, sharpening, saturation, tonal adjustments, colour balance, etc.
  • Rotation, flip & flop
  • Limited removal of backscatter. This does not include adding dust/scratch layers, removing divers, bubbles, fish, ropes or blacking/burning the background of an image.
  • Cropping (as long as you still meet the image specifications)

4.2 Not Allowed Changes / Editing

  • No composite images inlcuding blending exposures in camera or in post-processing, HDR, focus stacking, etc.
  • No cutting and pasting parts of other images, cloning or creating objects such as adding divers, fish, objects, or glow to simulate a torch for instance.
  • Excessive blur, darkening of the background, or vignetting.

5. Image Copyright & Usage

  • The copyright of all photos and images entered into SDUPC will remain with the photographer.
  • SDUPC reserves the right to reproduce the best images royalty-free. However, this will only be done in connection with sharing the competition results and promoting the Scuba.Digital Underwater Photo Competition. The photos are always used with credit to the photographer such as “©John Smith/SDUPC 2021”.
  • SDUPC reserves the right to share these images with our media partners and sponsors. They will showcase the results of this competition and reward the photographers with a high profile exposure for their talents.

6. SDUPC Competition Categories

The categories of the Scuba.Digital Underwater Photo Contest are defined below. Our judges have the final say in selecting the winners in a category.

  1. Wide Angle: For wide angle images taken anywhere in the world. Wreck photos are welcome in this category, but you might want to enter them in the “Wreck” category.
  2. Macro: For close-up/macro images shot anywhere in the world.
  3. Wrecks: For wide-angle to macro shots taken on wrecks anywhere in the world. The wreck can be the main subject or simply the backdrop for a marine life, macro or diving photo.
  4. Nudibranchs: For photos of any kind of nudibranch.
  5. Free Diving: For photos of all types of freedivers. Please note this category specifically excludes images of scuba divers.
  6. Divers: For photos of any type of diver (excluding freedivers).
  7. Portrait: Portrait images can have been taken anywhere in the world.
  8. Black & White: For black and white images of any underwater subject, including macro or wide angle, taken anywhere in the world. Toning and tinting is allowed. Black and white photos can be entered in all categories, but have a higher probability of success in this category.
  9. Underwater Art: Photos submitted in this category can be taken in any underwater environment – including controlled environments such as pools and tanks. The main subject can be anything from an abstract concept to a person such as a diver, free diver or underwater model to fish. In this category there are no restrictions on post-processing.
  10. Compact: For wide-angle or close-up/macro shots taken anywhere in the world with a compact camera. This includes photos from mobile phones and stills from action cameras, but not mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses.
  11. Sharks: For images of sharks of all kinds including Whale sharks.

The categories 1 – 9 and 11 are open to photos taken with any type of camera including DSLR, mirrorless or compact.

The Compact category is ONLY for compact cameras and must be taken with a point-and-shoot camera which does not have interchangeable camera lenses.

7. Judging

There will be two rounds of judging as described below:

  1. Public Judging: Consists of a public vote. Each member of Scuba.Digital receives one vote per category (10 votes in total). The top 10 photos voted for by the public will move on to the final round of judging. Public voting will close on 14 October 2021 (2 weeks after the closing date). If a photo does not meet the rules and category requirements, it will be excluded and the photo with the next highest number of votes will take its place. The 10 photos from each category that are voted into the final will be exhibited at Scuba.Digital 2021.
  2. Final Judging: There will be a single judge for each category. Final judging of photos will take place during Scuba.Digital 2021 and each category winner and runner-up will be announced during the show. The winners of each category will go forward to the overall winner voted by the judges who will have one vote each and not be permitted to vote for their own category.

8. Prizes

The overall winner of the Scuba.Digital Underwater Photography Competition (SDUPC) will win the following prize:

Liveaboard Trip to Cocos Islands aboard the Argo (currently scheduled for May 18-28, 2022) for the winner only. Excludes flights, hotels, tips, and extras.

Each category will have a first and second prize.