EXCLUSIVE

‘A flash of silver’ and Jordan Robins had his winning image

View the full gallery of highly commended and finalist images on The Sydney Morning Herald website.

Jordan Robins, 23, had been out snorkelling for more than two hours with his camera and was just about to head home when he saw something flash beneath him.

Flash of brilliance: This photograph by Jordan Robins, taken at sunset in Jervis Bay, has won this month's Clique Challenge. <cite>Photo: Jordan Robins/Clique</cite>
Flash of brilliance: This photograph by Jordan Robins, taken at sunset in Jervis Bay, has won this month's Clique Challenge. Photo: Jordan Robins/Clique

"I saw this beautiful squid come right up to me. It must have been fascinated by its reflection in the lighting on my camera because it came so close", Robins said.

He quickly took a shot before the squid darted away. The image, taken at sunset in Jervis Bay, won this month's Clique Challenge, which focused on the theme of  animals.

Fairfax photographer Peter Rae was the judge and said Robins' winning image was "stunning".

"It's technically perfect taken in a very tricky situation, and at the same time captures the beauty of nature in all of its wildness." Rae said.

Rae said the  quality of entries was particularly strong this month.

"It was a tough finalist section, as their were several images that I would of been happy to make winners. The overall standard was fantastic, every photographer who entered can stand proud of their work. And hopefully be inspired by the winning image and the finalists."

Robins studied geoscience and marine science at Wollongong University and combines his passion for the ocean with his photography.

"In my late teens I worked at Dive Jervis Bay as a dive guide and on every dive I would take my GoPro with me taking photos of the marine life and seascapes ... this started my passion for underwater photography." Robins said.

"Then on my 21st I was given with my first DSLR. After months of hard saving I bought an underwater housing for my camera, which is what I use for all of my underwater photography today."

For Robins, underwater photography is like "meditation" from the worries of life.

"Underwater photography is a place where you can just be with yourself, you get these moments where you are just so focused on the environment around you that time flies. It's really calming."

The photographer works part-time at an events company but his dream is to one day use his background in science with photography.

"I'd love to help document research projects through photography," Robins said. "I suppose the ultimate dream would be doing the kind of work that National Geographic photographers do.

"Being immersed in the photography underwater and having an appreciation for the habits of these animals in their native habitat really helps you develop a better understanding of the environment and how fragile it is."

Appreciating the underwater seascape has put the photographer into some hairy situations.

"I remember being out with a friend once and looking up and just realising, there's a three-metre shark right above us."

Rather than be daunted, moments like this shark encounter, were what made underwater photography "special".

"You never know when that special moment will happen and you want to be there with your camera in hand ready to catch it."

Robins said the most challenging aspect of the photography was patience. "It is very time consuming and lots of patience is needed but in the end from all your hard work you will be rewarded with special photos and memories that will last a life time."

"Photography is what gets me up in the morning."

Robins wins a Clique prize pack, including a portfolio review by a Fairfax photographer, a 12-month subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan, a custom poster from PosterCandy, a voucher from Momento Photo Books, and wine from Tulloch Wines.

To vote on the Clique People's Choice Award for the May Challenge, visit cliquephotos.com.au. Voting closes on Tuesday, May 30 at 10am AEST. The winner will be announced on the Clique Photos Facebook page.

Clique Photo Club is run by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age photography departments. It aims to inspire and teach photography through monthly competitions, as well as workshops and events. To join, go to cliquephotos.com.au.