An incredible photograph of a Leafy Seadragon camouflaged in the shallow reefs of the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia has won the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition in 2021. It was shot by professional photographer and underwater specialist Scott Portelli. He wins AU$10,000 cash, and a holiday prize provided by Coral Expeditions
He shot the image with an Olympus OMD EM1 II with a Zuiko 60mm macro lens and Olympus strobes. Using settings of 1/250sec at f/22, ISO 100, he deliberately underexposed the image to highlight details in the appendages.
The judges were united in selecting this striking image as the overall winner from over 2,000 entries. “The backlighting has transformed the Seadragon from a tiny sea creature into the illusion of a mythical beast. Beautifully framed, the dragon emerges from the darkness, glowing with a sense of fire within," reads their citation.
Selected category winners
The South Australian Museum is running a public exhibition featuring all finalists from Friday 27 August until Sunday 31 October. The Australian Museum in Sydney will also host the exhibition from October 2021 until January 2022. You can see all the finalists on the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year 2021 webpage.
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