Two Incredible Underwater Motorcycle Photos

Rennie Scaysbrook | February 19, 2018

Two Incredible Underwater Motorcycle Photos—The annual Underwater Photographer of the Year award is an extremely prestigious artistic honor, and this year its recipient came in the form of German photographer Tobias Friedrich, who shot this incredible underwater grave of some World War II Norton 16H motorcycles lying on the back of Fordson WOT 3 trucks, themselves loaded on the British naval ship, the SS Thistlegorm.

A group of World War II Norton 16H motorcycles lay at rest in the Red Sea, surrounded by schools of Soldierfish.

The SS Thistlegorm was dispatched from Glasgow, Scotland on June 2, 1941, bound for Alexandria, Egypt, when the German Luftwaffe bombed and sank her in the Red Sea. As such, the Nortons have been laying dormant on the ocean floor ever since.

“For a few years now I had had this image in mind as the motorcycles on this truck inside the Thistlegorm lie so perfectly together, but you can only barely capture it because the wall is very close and you can’t move backward enough to capture the whole scenery,” Friedrich said. “As a result, I had to create a panoramic image of the same scene to capture the whole cargo deck, including some lights that give the image more depth.”

A statement from the Underwater Photographer of the Year’s Peter Rowlands read, “This is a quite extraordinary shot which must be viewed as large as possible. The bigger the better. And yet it is a subject which has been photographed literally thousands of times. The artistic skill is to visualize such an image and the photographic talent is to achieve it. Perfectly lit and composed, I predict that there will never be a better shot of this subject from now on.”

Photo specifications:

Credit name: Tobias Friedrich/UPY 2018

Nationality: Germany

Image caption: CYCLE-WAR

Country taken: Egypt

Location: Thistlegorm

Camera make: Canon1DX MK II

Lens: Canon 8-15mm Fisheye

ISO: 4000

Aperture: f/8

Shutter: 1/30

Lighting used: Seacam Seaflash 150D, Keldan Video lights

Housing: SEACAM silver

BSA produced literally 100s of thousands of BSA M20s, many of them bound for military use, but not many bound for a life under the sea.

Also submitted for judging at this year’s awards was another Thistlegorm image (above), this one submitted by Sweden’s Anders Nyberg. Although not selected as a finalist and ultimate winner of the award, it’s still a rather stunning and haunting image of a BSA M20, bound for Egypt and frozen in time, thanks to the German military might of the time.

“I have dived this wreck several times and I never get tired of it!” said Nyberg. “This is a well-known subject, a British World War II BSA M20 motorbike inside Hold 2 (port side, upper level) of the wreck. Usually, I use strobes for this kind of shoot but I had to try this with two video lights, I think the result works well and the lights are useful, especially when you as the photographer can see how the light is shaping and working.”
However, the judges were not on Nyberg’s side when it came to the crunch, with Rowlands saying, “There’s no doubt this is visually a striking image but it is of a subject and using a lighting technique which we have seen so much of recently. Striking, yes but not original enough to go any higher.”

Photo specifications:

Credit name: Anders Nyberg/UPY 2018

Nationality: Sweden

Image caption: BSA M20 Motorbike

Country taken: Egypt

Location: Thistlegorm

Camera make: NikonD500

Lens: Tokina 10-17mm

ISO: 200

Aperture: f/4.5

Shutter: 1/30

Lighting used: Two BigBlu VL15000P-PRO MINI video lights

Housing: Nauticam'

Rennie Scaysbrook | Road Test Editor Our newest member of staff is our Road Test Editor Rennie Scaysbrook. A lifetime rider, the Aussie made the trek across the Pacific to live the dream in the U.S. of A.