A panorama photograph of British World War Two military motorbikes deep inside a shipwreck in the Red Sea sees German photographer Tobias Friedrich named Underwater Photographer of the Year 2018. Friedrich's photograph beat more than 5,000 entries by underwater photographers from around the world.
Cycle War was taken the Red Sea off the coast of Egypt and shows Norton 16H motorbikes loaded in Fordson WOT 3 trucks aboard the SS Thistlegorm, with soldierfish schooling above. Friedrich explains "I had had this image in mind for a few years, but it is impossible to capture in one photo, because there is not space inside the wreck to photograph this scene in a single frame. My solution was take a series of pictures and stitch them together as a panorama."
Chair of the judges, Peter Rowlands, said: "This is a quite extraordinary shot which must be viewed as large as possible. The artistic skill is to visualise such an image and the photographic talent is to achieve it."
The title of British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2018 goes to Grant Thomas from Glasgow, who now lives in New Zealand. Love Birds, his photo of swans, was taken in Loch Lomond, Scotland. Thomas explains "I have always been fascinated by over-under photography, connecting the everyday terrestrial world that we all know with the less familiar underwater secrets. The swans were searching for food beneath the surface and I just had to wait for that perfect moment of synchronicity."
Underwater Photographer of the Year is an annual competition, based in Britain, which seeks to celebrate photography beneath the surface of the ocean, lakes and even swimming pools. The competition has 11 categories, testing photographers with themes such as Macro, Wide Angle, Behaviour and Wreck photography, as well as three categories for photos taken specifically in British waters. This year's judges were experienced underwater photographers Peter Rowlands, Martin Edge and Alex Mustard.
IBTimes UK presents the winners, runners-up and third placed images in each category, along with selected commended and highly commended images.
The Underwater Photographer of the Year competition also aims to promote new photographic talent. Malaysian Man BD was named as Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of theYear 2018 for his image showing a pair of sea slugs with a gaping moray eel as a background, photographed in Indonesia. "When shooting these nudibranchs I was focusing on getting the shot," explains Man, "when suddenly a moray eel appeared behind. It still took me about 30 minutes to get this shot."
The title of Most Promising British Underwater Photographer 2018 goes to Tony Stephenson from the East Midlands in England. His image reveals pike courtship in Stoney Cove, Leicestershire. Stephenson "I love photographing pike and on this dive during the Easter holidays, these males were looking for a mate," said Stephenson.
You can see more winning images and learn how and where they were taken, at the Underwater Photographer of the Year website.