Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Tips for photographing Manta Rays

The Manta Ray dive site dive site visited from Matava Resort continues to amaze divers from novices to seasoned world travellers. Many have seen their first Manta's here and still have had their closest encounters. Despite having a 'dive of a lifetime' few however manage to come away with the 'shot of a lifetime'. Despite (or because of) their size, Mantas are a difficult subject - here are some tips to help capture that memorable image:-

1. You are going to need to be close. Mantas feed in plankton rich waters and cutting down the distance to you and your subject is essential. To achieve this you need to remain calm and still, perfect your buoyancy and certainly not chase your subject.

2. You have to have the right lens. Unless you want a close up of a Manta's eyeball, all that work in getting close will not pay off unless you have a wide angle lens (very wide). To get the best shots, you need to be able to fill the frame with a 5 metre Manta from about half that distance (15mm lens or less is ideal).

3. Practice composing your shots with a fixed subject before entering the water - also practice framing without the camera to your eye. Just reaching in front of you with your camera allows you to get a little closer without moving your bubbles closer. The aim is to fill the frame without cropping later on so you can maximise your image quality.

4. Consider shooting in natural light. Strobes often produce a 'stung' look from the Manta as they often flinch when a strobe fires. Our Mantas are generally at a depth of about 15 metres (45 - 50 feet). This is ideal for using something like a 'Magic Filter' which allows you to restore the natural colour balance of your photograph later on. You will of course also need to learn 'Photoshop' or equivalent as the filters work in conjunction with these programmes.

5. Take plenty of shots but don't forget to take in the Mantas beauty with your own eyes as well !