The Lady & the Manta

09-May-2012 Back to Image Gallery

The Lady & the Manta

Every year I lead underwater photo tours to Bali, it has become one of my favourite UW photo locations. After all, where else can you find wrecks, reefs, muck dives, mantas and giant sunfish around one island? All at a bargain price! As our dive boat approached one of the dive sites known for its resident mantas, wing tips of over a dozen manta rays splashed across the surface. The boat exploded into activity as excited divers scrambled into gear, grabbed cameras and joined the feeding frenzy in the water. Any thoughts of buddy diving were lost as the swirl of giant animals swept us up in a spinning cycle as line upon line of these ocean giants flew around, towards and over us. Mantas became our buddies that day as we were led away totally occupied with framing and shooting the action. Over 20 mantas meant everyone had a subject. Getting a good manta picture looked easy, getting a great image was something else again, especially if you wanted to include a diver in frame. In the end I would just choose any manta and any diver I saw converging towards a moment that might make a great composition. Ultimately I would be deleting many of these images as so many of these divers looked gawky, arms and legs at odd angles as they struggled to line up their own images. Finally, Cherie, always graceful, even with her video camera in record mode, converged on a feeding manta traversing my line of fire in an elegant swoop. The magic moment was there for 1/125th of a second!

Photo Data: Location: Nusa Penida Island, Bali. Genre: Wide Angle Sunlight & Strobe Fill. Photo Data: Nikon D7000, Nikkor 10.5 lens + 1.4 Teleconvertor, Seacam Housing, Single Seacam Strobe, Manual Exposure Mode. ISO 200. Exposure f8 @ 1/125th sec. Image by Kevin Deacon.

Photo Hints: Being successful at capturing images of big animal action is often a hit and miss affair that requires good buoyancy and diver skills. However you will really benefit from superior viewfinder systems as the action is so fast you might not be achieving perfect focus or framing and upon reviewing your images it is common to find you have cut off fins or tails. It is also beneficial to pre focus your lens at an appropriate shooting distance and then lock focus to prevent auto focus delays at crucial shooting moments. Equipment Comments: I owe a great deal of my success to the exceptional range of viewfinders produced by Seacam. The Seacam viewfinders are the most powerful weapons in my shooting arsenal! My Seacam S180 viewfinder is a highly magnified, line of sight, bright optical viewfinder that provides an excellent view when the action is and furious. This viewfinder is essential to clearly observe and fire in that split second moment when the subject is perfectly framed, focused and beautifully composed.

Interesting Facts: Manta Rays are found worldwide but have recently been reclassified into two distinct species. The Common Manta, Manta birostris, and The Giant Pacific Manta. These harmless giants can grow more to 6 meters or more. Incredibly, like many marine animals today, these are also threatened as they are fished for food by Asian nations and their gills are taken for Chinese medicinal purposes.

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