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Alex Kydd on Nature Conservancy Photo Contest win

Back in September, The Nature Conservancy announced the winners of its annual global Photo Contest, with Australian underwater photographer, Alex Kydd, winning and placing third in the Water category.

Big Fish in a Big Ocean. A whale shark swimming in the depths off of Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Photo: Alex Kydd.

While the Nature Conservancy Photo Contest winners showcase a dazzling display of photography from around the world, there wasn’t much PR material or information floating around to base an article on.

A record numbers of entries this year, from photographers across 150 countries, with five categories and a grand prize winner. An organisation committed to, yep, the conservancy of nature. And that’s about it.

Alex came first for his photo of a whale shark (above) and third for his photo, A Rare Encounter with Cownose Rays.

Alex is a free diver, who works in the diving tourism industry – which allows him to spend plenty of time underwater photographing nature and wildlife. While he calls Australia home the diving tourism industry takes him to plenty of exotic tropical locations, and his photos have garnered over 109K Instagram followers.

So Inside Imaging sent an e-mail to Alex, who spends plenty of time shooting on the pristine Ningaloo Reef that fringes the desert of North West Australia, to find out more about his two winning photos. Sometimes digital communication isn’t always the most efficient form of contact, and e-mails lost in the sands of time were finally re-discovered by both parties.

A large grouping of Cownose Rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) taken on Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. ‘Out of the hundreds of images I took of my cownose ray encounter, this was the last one. The encounter lasted 15 minutes at varying depths and this image was taken at around 18 metres. Freediving for photos I rarely go past 10 metres, for this encounter there was no way I could resist.’ Photo: Alex Kydd.

So here’s a little about Alex Kydd, and his winning photos.

When did you get into photography, and when did you start going underwater with it?
I first got into photography when I started snorkelling at age 18. I had a very basic set up but it was enough to keep me getting in the water. I wouldn’t go into the water without my camera. At 21 years of age, I undertook a degree in Marine Biology. My love for the ocean and photography continued to grow.

It wasn’t until I moved to Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef where I invested in a professional set up and began working as a professional underwater photographer.

Can you provide a little more information about the photos?
I captured these images while working with Coral Bay Ecotours out of Coral Bay, Western Australia.
I entered these photos specifically because I knew they were unique. The cownose rays are a rare animal to encounter – the exact species is unsure and it may be a once in a lifetime encounter.

The whale shark image I believe is unique because of the perspective. Such a large and migratory species in the vast blue ocean. The conditions where the photo was taken is very unique – no wind and incredible visibility allowed for the light rays.

What unexpected challenges do you deal with while shooting underwater?
There are many challenges you can face whilst shooting underwater. Conditions are everything. For underwater photography, you always want good visibility. Sometimes you wait a week for the water to clear up.

Additionally, when shooting wildlife, a lot of the interactions are chance. The more you go into the ocean, the better your chance of seeing that something remarkable. Every day is different.

Check out more of Alex’s photos here.

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