Mark Mathews: the photographer is better than you, right now | Photo: Ray Collins

Ray Collins has taken the winning photograph of the 2012 Nikon Surf Photo of the Year. Collins has captured Mark Mathews in a strange close-out curtain available at a dangerous wave.

The winner of the prestigious trophy was announced at the Australian Surfing Awards, held at Manly. Ray Collins had four photographs in the shortlist.

The 20 finalists, chosen by Nikon, included snappers Bill Morris, Brad Masters, Peter Joli Wilson, John Respondek, Troy Simpson, Ray Collins, Russell Ord, Luke Shadbolt, Simon Williams, Mark Onorati, Andy Chiz, Andrew Shield and Jon Wright.

Actually, Ray Collins ended up taking the first, second and third place of the 2012 Nikon Surf Photo of the Year. "A career highlight for sure", wrote Collins on his Facebook page.

The Nikon Surf Photo of the Year is a prestigious award recognising the "best of the best" in the Australian surfing photography industry. Previous winners have included Jon Frank, Peter 'Joli' Wilson, Stuart Gibson and Jeremy Wilmotte whose images are published and recognised around the world.

The photo can be taken anywhere around the world by an Australian photographer and can be drawn from action, water, lifestyle, lineup or portrait photography.

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