FIJI has once again captivated with her beauty — this time providing the backdrop for one of the merit winning photographs in this year's 2012 National Geographic Traveller Photo Contest.
The picture, taken by international photographer Lucia Griggi was one of 11 pictures picked ahead of 12,000 entries from 6615 photographers in 152 countries around the globe in the 24-year-old contest run by the internationally acclaimed National Geographic Traveller magazine.
According to the National Geographic website, "the winning pictures were taken in locations ranging from Afghanistan to Vietnam, and depict the beauty of the places and people that make travelling memorable".
"Entries were judged on creativity and photographic quality by a panel of photographic experts, including National Geographic contributing photographer Alexandra Avakian," the website said.
Official prizes for the winning photos included a National Geographic GalÃ¡pagos Photography Expedition a Santa Fe Workshop, a National Geographic Traveler Seminar and $200 gift certificates to B&H Photo.
Ms Griggi said she had taken the photo while in Fiji to document the Volcom Pro surfing competition held at internationally recognised surfing spot — Cloudbreak.
"The waves were going to be massive and I wanted to get in the water before the ocean became churned up and too big to swim for clean underwater photos.
"I went with Stu Johnson (the surfer in the picture) a local surfer and also a great photographer. It was a late afternoon and the light was becoming perfect as the sun was setting. Stu and I swum around and we worked on getting this photo of him duck diving. It worked out really nicely."
For Ms Griggi, taking the photo had not been the easiest of tasks because of the difficulty of underwater photography.
"You can photograph a lot underwater but it can take a long time to master a great shot. Swimming in the waves and holding the camera can be very exhausting. When you get back to your computer and look through the images is when a good shot can be identified — it's hard to know straight away!"