WPY 2013

Photograph Details

Commended 2013

Underwater Worlds

Bence Máté, Hungary

The great gape

For several years Bence has been photographing the huge Dalmatian pelicans of Lake Kerkini in Greece, fascinated by their size, shape and spectacular breeding colours - bright orange bill pouches set against silvery-white plumage. In this breeding site, where they are used to being fed fish offal by the local fishermen, they are unafraid of people. What Bence most wanted was an underwater view of the great bills at work. Thwarted by the poor visibility of the water, his vision became an obsession. So he built a large, floating, deep-water pool, designed a complicated water-filtering system and then set about devising a way to photograph the birds remotely. To control what was being taken under water and to check the images on a laptop, he devised a special remote-control system involving a lot of wire. Eventually, attracted by dead-fish bait, the pelicans started to hunt in the clear pool. After six weeks of hard work, he achieved his vision with this single but unforgettable image of wide-gaping pelicans from a fish's point of view.

Technical specification

Nikon D300s + Tokina 10-17mm f3.5-4.5 lens; 1/320 sec at f20; ISO 400; Subal housing; two SB-800 flashes; two Ikelite flashes; floating remote-control system.

Lake Kerkini, Greece: latitude 41.21, longitude 23.13 Lake Kerkini, Greece: latitude 41.21, longitude 23.13

Lake Kerkini, Greece

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Bence Máté, Hungary

Bence grew up in Hungary in one Europe’s most significant bird migratory and nesting areas. He took up photography when he was 13, and soon his hobby became an obsession. He has been a professional bird photographer since 2004, making a living out of wildlife photography tourism. He was won many awards for his innovative images, often using self-built equipment and hides.

  • Lunge feeding
  • Ant rider
  • Pelican perspective
  • Flight of the hoopoe
  • Brilliant show
  • Great catch
  • The lost supper
  • Workers' reflections
  • Fire on the Pantanal
  • King of the vultures
  • Leg-work
  • Attention time
  • A marvel of ants
  • Caiman's little mouthful
  • Herons in time and space
  • Portrait of a pelican
  • The bird rack
  • Hanger-trap