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Laurent Ballesta and his magnificent under-ice panorama

Listen to this article Laurent Ballesta received the Wildlife photographer of the year 2022 award in the portfolio category for, among other things, his magnificent under-ice panorama. Those who follow the world of underwater photography probably know very well who he is Laurent Ballesta. The extremely talented French photographer is the winner of many prestigious
Published: October 26, 2022 - 09:00
Updated: July 23, 2023 - 01:27
Laurent Ballesta and his magnificent under-ice panorama
Listen to this article

Laurent Ballesta received the Wildlife photographer of the year 2022 award in the portfolio category for, among other things, his magnificent under-ice panorama.

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Those who follow the world of underwater photography probably know very well who he is Laurent Ballesta. The extremely talented French photographer is the winner of many prestigious awards and the author of countless great photos.

A sea creature from the Southern Ocean
Eulagisca Gigantea ringworm Photo by Laurent Ballesta

Portfolio Award

Among Ballesa’s most recent achievements, he boasts an award Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022 in the “Portfolio” category.. It’s hard to be surprised at such a state of affairs, given his body of work includes such photographs as an ice-filled panorama.

This photo is a panorama stitched together from 24 RAW images. Along the cost of Antarctica, when small rocky outcrops reach shallow water, they cause many cracks and chaos in the ice floes. In such places, ice floes can be up to 10 meters thick. Diving in such conditions is difficult both because of the extreme cold (the water temperature is -1.8°C) and the ice maze, which can turn into a trap for divers if the ice floes shift.

The Frenchman used a Nikon D4s camera with a 17-35 mm (17mm) lens, 1/30 sec at f11 – ISO 800, and a Seacam-branded housing to take this unusual photograph. He took the photos used to create the panorama off the coast of Adelia Land in Antarctica.

An underwater panorama by Laurent Ballesta
An under-ice panorama taken consisting of 24 RAW images Photo by Laurent Ballesta

When conditions are calm enough, ice floes accumulate for several years and never melt. Therefore, seaweeds and bacteria appear and colonize the ice surface. Step by step, they change the color of the ice, turning it into a camaieu of browns, greens and yellows. Depth: 6 meters.

In the “Portfolio” category of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest, the jury awards a series of 6 to 10 photographs on a given subject. This year’s winner was a series of photographs taken in Antarctica, which showcases rarely or never before photographed species and unique underwater scenery. The idea for the expedition was conceived by filmmaker Luc Jacquet (author of March of the Penguins), who suggested that Laurent Ballesta and his team accompany him.

Antarctic sea anemone
Sea anemone Edwardsiella Andrillae Photo by Laurent Ballesta

Laurent Ballesta

He is the author of thirteen books on underwater photography. As co-founder of Andromède Océanologie, he has been leading major expeditions for 10 years. He illustrates the underwater world both as a naturalist and as an artist. The subjects of his work vary widely, as do the locations he visits.

Photo by Laurent Ballesta


Surely most of you are familiar with Irena Stangierskaya and the unique style of her photography. Although Irena usually doesn’t give interviews and lets her works speak for her, she made an exception for us. So be sure to check out what she had to say in an interview with Paul Twork, which we published in Issue 19. DIVERS24 quarterly! The digital version of the magazine is available free of charge, while you can purchase the printed version in our online store.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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