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jul 20

Show off your photos, win a free trip.

Submit your underwater photos now! (Courtesy Bobbiegirlnc/myBudgetTravel)

Next month, your underwater photography skills could win you a free dive trip in the Seychelles, a check for $5,000, and loads of other prizes.

Anyone with less–than–stellar equipment (or subpar swimming skills) can attest to the difficulty of taking underwater photos worth a hoot. All too often, the results are bubbly, blurry, or just–blue. Which makes any crystal–clear, full–color shot you manage to capture below sea level even more impressive—and valuable, thanks to Epson's annual World of Underwater Images Competition, coming up next month.

Here's how it works: Amateurs and pros alike are invited to take their best underwater shots between August 1–August 8, 2011, then submit the most spectacular images via the Epson World Shootout web site. (Contestants must register by July 30, 2011, and will be given a specific date to program into their cameras to verify the timeline.) The contest is only for images taken in natural environments—think rivers, lakes, oceans, and swimming holes, not the Lazy River at the local water park. There are seven categories to choose from, each with their own rules and submission guidelines: fresh water, ship or plane wreckage, underwater conservation, wide angle, macro and super–macro, dive destination, and amateur (which is only for photos taken with compact cameras, not DSLRs).

The cost to enter the amateur category is about $50 for three images, or $36 for one—but the prizes make it worth the investment. The 21 winners (three per category) will walk away with treats like dive vacations in the Seychelles, Galapagos, Micronesia, Palau, and Papua New Guinea; a $4,000 underwater camera system; and cash prizes up to $5,000. Winners will be announced November 19 in Eilat, a Red Sea resort town in southern Israel, and on the contest's web site.

Of course, it doesn't cost anything to submit your underwater photos for our upcoming Readers' Best Underwater Photos slideshow. Just upload them here, and you may be featured on BudgetTravel.com or in a future issue of the magazine!

Just getting your feet wet with underwater photography? May we recommend a hands–free camera like Liquid Image Works's mask-mounted snorkel cam? Also useful: Budget Travel's two-part series on how to take better vacation photos. Happy shooting!

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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