This picture was part of the winning portfolio entered by Photographer Christine Hamilton.
This picture was part of the winning portfolio entered by Photographer Christine Hamilton. The Daily Examiner

Yamba photographer scoops prize pool

A PASSION for getting up close and personal with the ocean has turned into an award-winning hobby for a Yamba woman.

Christine Hamilton, scuba diving and photographing what she finds for just four years, has taken first place in the best portfolio category of the Australia-wide Byron Bay Underwater Festival photography competition.

Chris also managed to take out second prize in the best photograph section of the festival's competition.

“I started off with just a little point-and-shoot digital camera, but graduated about 12 months ago to a digital SLR with waterproof housing and an external strobe light,” she said.

“It is a pretty big and funny-looking piece of equipment,” Christine said with a laugh.

Every Friday, weather permitting, Christine and her husband Andrew make the drive up to Byron Bay to join friends for scuba diving exploration of the ocean floor.

“My favourite thing to photograph is really big stuff like manta rays and sharks,” Christine said.

“I firmly believe that anything that is bigger than me in the ocean commands my respect and amazement.

“I also think that it is a huge privilege to see and be a part of that underwater world.”

For Christine, her hobby also presents a great opportunity to make new friends and travel the world.

“So far, my family has been to Tahiti, the Philippines, the Great Barrier Reef and we have planned a family trip to Vanuatu for my husband, Andrew's, 60th birthday,” Christine said.

Andrew also enjoys taking his dive home with him, so while Christine photographs, Andrew takes video footage of his finds.

“Andrew also entered the competition and got a special mention from the judges for his work, but unfortunately didn't make it to the top three videos,” Christine said.

If you would like to see Christine's entire winning portfolio for the Byron Bay Underwater Festival, it can be viewed at http://www.underwaterfestival.com.au

Christine also has her own website which shows all of her work from around the world and you can find that at http://www.yambabeach.net.au



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