Report: CMAS World Underwater Photography Championship

CMAS World underwater Photography Championship 2015

By Rob Aarsen, with images by Jos Broere, Folkert Kazemier and Rob Aarsen.

The 15th CMAS World Championship underwater photography took place in Zeeland, The Netherlands, from 21 to 25 May. Of almost 100 participants from 20 countries Damir Zurub from Croatia emerged as the best all-round photographer, winning gold, silver and bronze medals in the categories close-up, close-up with theme (lobster) and wide angle with model, respectively.

Damir Zurub and assistant Elizabeta Žalac: World Champion (Jos Broere)

Elizabeta, happy. (Rob Aarsen)

Parade in Zierikzee, Zeeland. (Rob Aarsen)

Chairman of the Dutch Underwater Federation Jack de Vries: “Welcome to the biggest artificial reef in the world.” (Rob Aarsen)

Gold: Croatia, silver: France, bronze: Spain. (Jos Broere)

Close-up with theme: Dutch party! (Jos Broere)

“I can’t grasp what just happened,” says Damir, who started in underwater photography a mere three years ago. “This is only the second competition I participated in, after the European championship a year ago.” His winning macro photo is a double exposure made with a Nikon D7000, 105mm macro lens and a single Inon Z240 strobe with snoot. Stephane Regnier (France) and Jose Antonio Garcia Garcia (Spain) were the runners-up with silver and bronze.

Team Denmark entering the water. (Rob Aarsen)

Working outside the comfort zone near location Zeelandbrug. (Rob Aarsen)

Snoots are an essential accessory. (Jos Broere)

Alex Mustard in action in Zeeland. (Rob Aarsen)

A deserving champion

Damir Zurub 15th world champion underwater photography

“The winner of this competition is a deserving world champion,” says jury member Alex Mustard. “This type of photography is mostly popular in countries with clear waters and given the conditions I think we are offering the participants a proper challenge photographically. The conditions in The Netherlands are not strange, just different from what most participants are used to having. Great for pushing everyone outside their comfort zone and revealing the real talent.”

The diving took place in 4 competition zones in the ‘Grevelingemeer’ and ‘Oosterschelde’, part of the Scheldt estuary in the southwest of The Netherlands.

“Visibility is an issue,” admits Edward Centelles, captain of the Spanish team. “Marine life is great but there are lots of particles in the water. So strobe positioning and using snoots will be critical.”

Alex Mustard took some time off to get into the water and familiarize himself with the conditions before going on the jury.

A warm atmosphere

It took 138 volunteers to make the event a success. Location manager Ingrid Raaben heads a team of 30 people at the Zeelandbrug competition zone, where the participants dive from shore.

“It’s really cool to see how a group of volunteers gets together and goes to work quite purposefully in a relatively short time. Everyone is proactive. If there is a problem then we have half a word and that’s enough to solve it.” Ingrid supervises a team of stand-by divers, dive leaders, logistics people who carry the dive gear to and from the waterline, catering, helpers in the water and traffic controllers. At the dive site Neeltje Jans – only open for this occasion by special permission – volunteers from Belgium ferry the participants to and from a mussel farm in RIB’s. On top of that there are team controllers to seal the camera housings and keep an eye on the memory cards. Lifeguards, Royal Dutch Navy and medical staff supervise the safety.

“Working days were from 04.30 tot 00.30 hrs. on average,” says Ingrid. “The second competition day everybody was tired but still in high spirits.”

Similar teams worked on the three charter ships ‘Panda’, ‘Onrust’ and ‘Tertius’ that were used at the dive sites Den Osse and Dreischor Gemaal in the Grevelingen. Participants value the organization by the Dutch Underwater Federation as ‘superb’. Pekka Tuuri (Finland) summarizes the general feeling: “Things are running smoothly and all the volunteers are very friendly. It’s a warm, cordial atmosphere. We have a hectic schedule but due to the realistic timetables we are busy, but not too busy.”

Concentration at volunteer briefing. (Rob Aarsen)

Back on board. Weather conditions were favourable. (Jos Broere)

Entering Deltapark Neeltje Jans for the public jury meeting. (Rob Aarsen)

Many side events: presentations and this try and dive with cameras. (Rob Aarsen)

For more images, please see the event’s Facebook page.

  1. Rob Aarsen’s report from the event.
  2. Full results of the championship.