WHILE ANTHIAS are impressive en masse, we shouldn’t fail to appreciate them on an individual level, especially the males, which come in a variety of extravagant patterns, dependant on the species.
Even if you’re not a photographer, it’s worth taking time to marvel at a single anthias. Spot a male and watch his perfectly coordinated stop-start dance, darting forward to pluck morsels from the plankton brought to the reef by currents.
Anthias live in harems and from time to time the male will make a J-shaped dive in an attempt to impress his ladies.
When shooting anthias portraits with a macro lens, it’s best to seek out weak currents, to make shooting and framing easiest.
I also tend to take these pictures away from the most spectacular dive-sites and shooting portraits on training sites with shallow, isolated coral-heads.
Here the fish will be accustomed to divers, and the shallow water gives bright blue backgrounds.
Modern SLR cameras do a good job of tracking fish such as anthias with autofocus, although it still requires plenty of patience and stability to get the best images.
Some other cameras will be able to track anthias easily, while some may struggle and it will be easier to shoot using fixed focus, which requires even more patience!
If the species has attractive patterns, show it at least partly side-on, using an off-centre autofocus point to keep the eye of the fish sharply in focus.
If there is a little current, it’s quite easy to shoot anthias coming straight at the camera. If you dedicate a dive to shooting them, you will almost certainly get an image or two with its mouth open gulping food, usually with its pectoral fins fanned out attractively at the same time.
The final lens option is a zoom, somewhere in between macro and ultra- wide-angle, which means wide-angle or standard mid-range zooms.