Be The Champ! – The Spread

PHOTO TECHNIQUE

Be The Champ!

The Spread  / Alex Mustard – Misool for mantas

0719 Mustard
Reef Manta, taken with a Nikon D5 and Nikon 28-70mm lens with Nauticam WACP.
Subal housing. Seacam strobes. 1/200th @ f/9, ISO 400.

misool in raja ampat is a dream location for corals and reef life, but the more I think about it, it is also my favourite place to photograph reef manta rays.

There are lots of locations around the world where you can see majestic mantas, but Misool offers something special.

First, there are lots of mantas and their numbers are going up and up; in the first six years of the reserve, both shark and manta ray numbers rose 2000%.

Second, the area has multiple cleaning stations for divers to visit, and diver numbers are strictly controlled so that only one boat can visit a site at a time, which means that there is no wall of bubbles between you and the action.

I love shooting mantas there because the reefs are rich and flourishing. Reef mantas are great subjects on their own, but it is even better to tell their story by including some attractive scenery in the shot.

Compositionally, this means keeping a cool head and seeing the whole picture, not just “bullseyeing” the manta and clipping out the reef.

Lighting these shots is a challenge, and I typically position my strobes in the 10 and 2 o’clock positions to produce a more even spread of light on both the reef and manta.

Now I just need the manta to come close, and the trick is to stay still and stay low – nobody ever got a good manta photo by chasing one.

I try a look for an attractive coral outcrop, and duck in behind it with my back to any current.

Mantas usually approach a cleaning station upcurrent and the outcrop conceals me as they approach, and then provides me with a foreground when I shoot the action with my wide-angle lens.

Appeared in DIVER July 2019

LET’S KEEP IN TOUCH!

Get a weekly roundup of all Divernet news and articles 🤿

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Related Divernet Posts

Diver Magazine Relaunch

Diver magazine needs YOU!

Are you still lamenting the demise of Diver magazine? Well now you can help resurrect an icon as we seek to bring back the magazine

Turtles of Raja Ampat

Turtles of Raja Ampat

The Raja Ampat Creature Feature Series: Turtles Raja Ampat is the perfect diving location to find four of the seven ocean turtle species of the

manta ray and diver over reef in Komodo

Divers pitch into Komodo manta probe

Manta rays choose to stick around Indonesia’s Komodo National Park in unusually large numbers – and, according to a new diver-led study, this community could

female diver holding pair of Fourth Element Tech fins

Tech fins inspired by humpback whales

Whales provided the inspiration for optimising efficiency in Fourth Element’s latest fins, according to the Cornwall-based manufacturer. The “turbulence disruptors” on top of the blades

Last Breath portrait of Woody Harrelson

Woody dives into Last Breath remake

A new version of the British documentary-thriller that captured the imaginations of divers in 2019 is about to be previewed at the Cannes Film Festival.

Follow Divernet on Social Media