Be The Champ! – The Spread


The Spread  / Alex Mustard Manta symmetry

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Be The Champ! - The Spread 2

Oceanic manta, taken with a Nikon D5 and Nikonos 13mm. Subal housing. 2 x Seacam strobes. 1/100th @ f/13, ISO 500.

MANTA RAYS are such a graphic shape, it’s no surprise that they feature on everything from dive T-shirts to tattoos. My aim with this photo was to celebrate that distinctive shape with a symmetric image.

I was separated from the group when I spotted this large oceanic manta circling close to the small island we were diving in Galapagos.

With nobody else around I could really take my time, and got the manta used to my presence as

I slowly closed into photographic range.

She was very relaxed with me swimming directly above her, so I finned madly to keep in this position while she glided below.

From directly above I was able to shoot the attractive top-down outline of this beautiful ray, but I wanted more of the face and distinctive cephalic fins. So I kicked harder to overtake her, and then bent forward to take this picture, looking through my camera upside-down.

Then I straightened up and slowed my kicking and watched her swoop away – although she was soon back, soaring by to check me out with an eye-to-eye pass. I preferred the shot here for its symmetry to the close pass with eye contact.

Perhaps that’s the best thing about photographing mantas. Whether the photos are good or bad, the encounter is always special.


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