Species: Spotted Eagle Ray
Location: Grand Cayman
Equipment: Nikon D800, 16mm lens, Sealux Housing, INON Z-240 strobes
Settings: f/16; 1/125 sec; ISO 640
Yes I know, the shot is of the backside of an eagle ray swimming away from me. In its rapid departure the ray has stirred-up lots of sand. The reef is not the best I have ever seen, so there are many reasons that this image does not fit into the usual criteria that are thought to make up a great image. However, this shot has won every competition I have entered it in!
First I entered it into my local underwater photography club competition (NUPG) and it pipped my wife’s shot of a fur seal holding a starfish to the title! More recently it has won a major award – the Royal Society Evolutionary Biology Award.
I had seen this eagle ray feeding in the sand off a small piece of reef in Grand Cayman. I was slowly making my way to try to photograph it, taking a long, semi-circular route to try not to spook it. Alas, other divers were not so stealthy, and before I could get close, it had been spooked away by an eager diver with a GoPro! I grabbed this shot as it departed over the reef.
People really like this shot. Why? Is it because it evokes memories of diving with these wonderful creatures? Is it the movement? The huge tail that sweeps through the sand cloud? The desaturation of the scene? It was our best-selling print at Sharkfest, and it was very popular at the Dive Show. We love it.