Photosub Annual Meal – 2023

The Photosub Annual Meal 2023 was held at the Percy Arms Pub in Chilworth, Surrey.  

The event was attended by 22 club members plus our guest judge Nick Blake and his wife Sharon. Following arrival drinks and general socialising, members enjoyed a three course buffet meal.

Following the meal the Annual Competition images were projected. The competition comprises the usual 4 categories with a total of 135 images (up from 109 last year) submitted by 15 members. To encourage more competition participation there is no date limit on images allowing members who are no longer diving to participate.

  1. Green Water Macro/Close Up (26 entries)
  2. Green Water Wide (29 entries)
  3. Blue Water Macro/Close Up (42 entries)
  4. Blue Water Wide (38 entries)

Our competition judge was Nick Blake who is well known to many club members particularly through BSOUP, and as a former member of Photosub before moving to live in the Lake District. Nick is a highly accomplished and well respected underwater photographer with many competition wins to his name. Images were provided to Nick ahead of the event to allow him to review at his leisure and by attending the meal Nick was able to provide comprehensive feedback on his choice of images.

Following the welcome from our Chair, Joss Woolf , Nick said a few words on how he performed the judging before the images were projected.

A big thank you to Joss as Chair and to Keith and all the Photosub Committee for the kind invitation to myself and Sharon to join you all for this evening’s Annual Dinner and photo competition. My thanks also for the opportunity to judge this year’s entries to the competition.

Its proved to be a very enjoyable, though a challenging process to arrive at the final results. So many great images made it very difficult  to separate them.

A few words on how I went about it. I loaded all the entries into a Lightroom catalogue which worked very well for image review and also enabled me to make use of the histogram in there to have a good look at exposures. I aimed to reduce the number of entries  in each category to about half on the first review, and then to around 8 or 9 on 2nd review, though with sense checks throughout the process going back to the full set of images. 

From there, I spent a long time finalizing positions, and in fairness the placings and HCs were very much interchangeable in many cases. Of note, the Blue Water Macro category was very much a case in point, and the placing of images changed several times before I settled on the final set.

Several factors ultimately influenced positioning, including composition/framing, technical aspects such as exposure and lighting and of course the ‘Wow’ factor. I noticed some images seemed underexposed, some had clipped highlights, though in most cases these were recoverable and would have further strengthened some images. Also apparent were some compositions where background or foreground elements were a little distracting, which did influence positioning in some cases. Across the categories, there are inevitably several images of the same subject, such as seals, frogfish and shrimps, which really added to the challenge, given there were many excellent, competing images of a similar subject.

Overall, a very strong set of inspiring entries which made it challenging, but personally energising and hugely enjoyable to review.

The results are as follows with judges comments attached for each image.

Green Water Macro/Closeup

1st Place : Martyn Guess

Tompot Blennies were very much in evidence and this one stood out for me. A lovely portrait shot which differed from other entries in its shallower depth of field. The Blenny’s face pops against the background to really bring its character to the fore, with the depth of field working well moving through the frame to the fins, and allowing the background to blur away. A lovely shot.

2nd Place : Pash Baker

Great to see a Seahorse in the Green Water category and I really liked this shot. Well captured, setting the Seahorse nicely into its surroundings. I felt the image could have been enhanced with a slight crop in from the right, to bring the Seahorse’s eye more onto the third in the frame, and give the image a little more balance. Nevertheless, a super capture.

3rd Place : Joss Woolf

Something different in this image and a fascinating subject. It’s one which I have not photographed myself, though this shot has certainly inspired me to consider it. I love the surface tension around the Frog’s leg and the eye focused towards the surface. It combines to create a peak of the action moment, as the frog is about to break surface and breathe.  Great shot!

Highly Commended : Keith Lyall

A subject which presents a real depth of field challenge, this image is very nicely captured, sharp and detailed around the eye and face. Set diagonally across the frame and against a black background, it works well.

Highly Commended : Martyn Guess

A great capture of this shrimp. I like the body length shot here as opposed to head on, which really reveals the detail and colour of the subject. The surroundings around the shrimp serve well to frame the subject, though I felt less lighting onto these areas would further help the subject to stand out.

Commended : Keith Lyall

A lovely  Tompot Blenny shot with beautiful lighting of the subject. I did find the tilted positioning of the Blenny a little distracting though, which ultimately limited the opportunity for a higher placing.

Green Water Wide Angle

1st Place : Martyn Guess

A fabulous shot which really showcases the energy of a diver and Seal interaction. The sun rays streaming through the water are dramatic, balanced well by excellent strobe lighting of the Seal and diver’s fin. The eye contact between diver and Seal completes the shot. A super image!

2nd Place : Nur Tucker

A great capture of these diving birds. The number of birds in the scene really adds to the drama, further enhanced by the bubble streams as they dive down, giving a sense of speed and drama. Subtle light rays in the background help convey that link from the surface to the underwater realm. It all combines into a super image.

3rd Place : Gill Marsh

The curvature of the shark’s body as it swims into the frame works well, further enhanced by the sunrays through the scene and across the shark itself. It combines to make a lovely shot, and one which perhaps could also work well in black and white.

Highly Commended : Martyn Guess

A great Seal shot, beautifully lit, tack sharp and packing a real punch. The framing of the subject and close proximity really reveals the curious nature of this seal, enhanced further by the fabulous whiskers. A cracker which could easily have made top 3.

Highly Commended : Nur Tucker

I like the positioning of the two birds opposite each other in this shot, which combined with the panoramic type crop works well for a balanced image. The white areas of the birds seemed a little over bright though, which distracted a little.

Commended : Joss Woolf

The symmetry of the two subjects and their playful nature, combined with great eye contact makes for an appealing image.

Commended : Rob White 

I liked the framing and composition of this Blue Shark shot and the strength of eye contact, though the harshness of the surface reflection beyond the blue across the top of the frame proved distracting and therefore limited opportunity for a higher placing.

Commended : Keith Lyall

The sunrays bursting through the pier structure are impactive, set against the green water background and the highlights are well controlled by the photographer, creating a pleasing natural light scene.

Blue Water Macro/Closeup

1st Place : Martyn Guess

A terrific snooted shot. Super lighting and technically very well executed, which really shows off this incredible subject at its best. The exquisite colours draw you in to study the ornate details of this Harlequin shrimp. Underpinned by a strong foreground and dramatic black background, it all combines for a superb image, and one I would love to capture. 

2nd Place : Rob White

A delightful image which absolutely maximises the complementary colours of yellow/gold with blue, combining here to make for a mesmerising shot.  This fascinating subject is beautifully lit, sharp where it needs to be with pleasing depth of field and a dreamy blue foreground. I wondered if a slight crop in from the left would enhance the image further, nevertheless a cracking shot.

3rd Place : Martyn Guess

There were a total of 3 frogfish images in this category and I liked them all. Ultimately, I was drawn to this image, which really stood out for me by its capture of the frogfish in its full form, rather than head on. A lovely shot and very well executed with great lighting.

Highly Commended : Sue Guess

A lovely shot of this Cuttlefish, where there is so much to like. The framing of the Cuttlefish in amongst its surroundings really works well, the lighting revealing just enough of the background, allowing the Cuttlefish to take centre stage. Great lighting and technical execution, it could easily have been top 3.

Highly Commended : Ian Mill

A fascinating moment of capture of these Nudibranch. Impressive lighting really adds some colour and punch to the subjects and image overall. Well controlled depth of field and sharpness, particularly the rhinophores. Great shot.

Highly Commended : Ian Mill

A super portrait shot of this frogfish. The square crop works very well indeed allowing the frogfish to really fill the frame. Impressive lighting and technical execution reveal all its features in beautifully sharp detail.

Commended : Gill Marsh

A one of a kind subject amongst the entries for this category.  I like the eye contact and facial detail of the subject, which is well captured and sharp, though slight clipping of the whites and the offset nature of the wings distracted a little in the final analysis.

Commended : Mike Davidge

A number of Seahorse images across the category, with this one appealing to me the most. Nicely framed and lit, it sits well against the darker background.

Commended : Rob White

A fascinating image of this Starfish and what I take to be a spawning event. Good lighting of the subject brings out the detail of the starfish, with the black background really showing off this event, and the great timing of the capture.

Blue Water Wide Angle

1st Place : Nur Tucker

This grabbed my attention from the 1st review and really jumped out. I really like the photographers approach of inverting the image which makes it different and delivers a ‘wow’ factor.  As I studied it, I recollected a comment from Martin Edge during some tuition with him several years back to always rotate an image through each 90 degrees as they can work from different viewpoints. The strong sunrays are dramatic and the inversion makes the most of eye contact with the subject, whilst the snorkelers in the background don’t detract. A very creative and artistic approach. Excellent!

2nd Place : Ian Mill

A lovely capture of a cave scene. The coral is nicely lit and the image balances well using both flash and natural light, with the coral foreground, through to the diver in the background. I like the framing of  the cave walls out to the back of the image, which helps  take you through the scene. Similar competing images were entered, though the balance here won through.

3rd Place : Nur Tucker

A delightful natural light shot and silhouetted subject. The scene instantly appealed to me, and the more unusual nature of this subject draws you in. The positioning of the subject as it dives down adds to the scene and no doubt was an exciting moment of capture. Given the close proximity of the subject’s head to the rock face, I dwelled on this image for some time, and greater separation would have elevated its final placing. Nevertheless, a super capture!

Highly Commended : Martyn Guess

I really liked this image of the 2 Lionfish together, and facing each other. The positioning of them, slightly offset and creating a diagonal, adds to the composition, and the coral to the left completes the scene nicely, adding some vibrancy and set off against a pleasing blue background.

Highly Commended : Keith Lyall

The positioning of the diver works well in the blue, balancing with the rocks on the right. The wreck works nicely as foreground subject. I found the diver’s secondary bubbles at the top of the scene a little distracting though overall a well composed and appealing wreck shot.

Highly Commended : Ian Mill

The foreground coral is nicely lit and framed well. There is a real sense of scale against the background jetty, with the natural light and sunrays streaming through and adding real impact to the scene. Highlights are well controlled, though some slight distractions to the left and right frame edges. Lots to like though in this shot and a great capture.

Commended : Pash Baker

A striking shark image, well captured against a vivid blue background.  The shark’s pectoral fin leads the eye nicely into the subject and frame overall.

Commended : Martha Tressler

These schooling catfish make for an impactive and dynamic shot and gives a real sense of their chaotic nature as they surge forward. Well captured and sharp. I wondered if it might also work as a black and white image too.

Commended : Keith Lyall

An interesting and moody wreck shot, where the wreck itself balances well against the line of divers moving through. The image did strike me as being a tad underexposed, and a slight boost in blacks/shadows would perhaps further enhance the scene. 

Len Deeley Trophy

Following the death 7 years ago of club founder and driving force Len Deeley, a new trophy was created by Pash Baker and Jo Horrocks in memory of Len. This trophy is presented on a yearly basis at the club annual dinner. 

Club Chair Joss Woolf introduced this years recipients, Martha Tressler & Anthony Holley. Martha & Anthony have been members since the early days of the club and are regular attendees at club events. They have hosted BBQs at their house in Southampton and Martha has been Treasurer/Membership Secretary for many years supporting the organisation of the many club events. The Len Deeley award recognises their support and contribution to the successful running of the club.


These events do not run successfully without the help of a number of club members and thanks go to:

  • Nick & Sharon Blake for attending the evening and for Nick’s judging and comments during the results presentation.
  • Keith Lyall & Jo Horrocks for organising the venue and engaging with the Percy Arms staff to plan the evening.
  • Martha for managing the meeting finances and collection of payment.
  • Roger for providing all event communication.
  • Keith for organising and running the club competition.
  • Joss for providing the evening introductions.

Finally thanks to all who who entered and congratulations to all winners.