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2015 Macro Category Investigation Conclusion Letter

The following letter has been written and published on February 11th, 2016, after investigating the claim that the 1st prize winner of the Macro Category is not a legit one.


The production carried out a thorough investigation, which involved quite a few professionals in the field of underwater photography and biology, including the World ShootOut jury panel, leading underwater photographers and scientists. Among those who have agreed that their names are published in the context of this matter are: scientist Ya’arit Levitt Barmats from the Department of Zoology in Tel-Aviv University, Roni Sofer, Adam Hanlon, Alberto Murro Pelliconi, Ariel Fuchs and Kurt Amsler. Note that others who have taken an active part in this investigation had asked that their names are left out of the post, a request we’re obviously obligated to honor.



Feb. 11, 2016

Dear Photographers,


First, I would like to share with you my appreciation of your concern and consideration regarding the fairness of competitions. I’ve been producing and directing underwater photo competitions for 11 years now. During that time I’ve managed to hand out valuable prizes worth more than one million dollars, including $220,000 in cash. A photographer cheating the competition and being rewarded with a prize he doesn’t deserve has always been my nightmare. 


5 years ago, I’ve went to court and sued an Israeli photographer who won a prize with an amazing image of a crocodile, a photograph that later on appeared to be manipulated, as we found that for the purpose of capturing the image, the crocodile’s tail was tied up.


During the judgment process of the last competition (World ShootOut 2015), we’ve also disqualified a photographer who initially won a first prize in one of the categories, as a thorough examination of his original files revealed a severe manipulation.


As per the specific case of the winning image on the 2015 Macro Category,  produced by Marco Chang from Taiwan, please see below the official statement of the production, based, of course, on a thorough investigation and examination.


A technical and professional examination of the original file (as recorded on the memory card) clearly reveals that no post processing work has been carried out on the image (such as Photoshop).

Several photographers have also expressed their concern regarding the feasibility of two shrimps appearing on a Nudibranch and the possibility of the photographer manipulating the composition by artificially positioning the shrimps on the Nudibranch. We’ve therefore consulted with a researcher from the University of Tel-Aviv, who experts in shrimps, and an additional researcher that experts in Nudibranchs. They have both presented us with the same conclusion, according to which there’s a reasonable chance of finding two shrimps positioned on the same Nudibranch.

In addition, photographer Patrick Neumann from Germany and one of the judges in this competition have both stated that they’ve personally seen Nudibranchs carrying two shrimps in the past, thus supporting the conclusion presented by the researchers.


The jury panel, which consisted of 5 judges, then received all of this information in order to reexamine the situation. 4 of the judges immediately agreed that the chances of two shrimps appearing on the same Nudibranch are fair (the 5th judge could not be reached at the moment). One of them asked that the photographer himself submits a statement regarding the image. Marco Chang then committed to the authenticity of the photograph and guaranteed that no manipulations whatsoever have been carried out.


As the producer of underwater photo competition for 11 years in a row and after having to deal with a few cases of photographers manipulating images and cheating the production in order to win prizes, I officially declare that this particular image seems to be authentic, genuine and untouched, and therefore the results in the 2015 Macro Category remain as they were initially announced, Marco Chang being the talented winner of the 1st prize.


Thanks again for your alertness, it is well appreciated.




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