On board we unfortunately hear and see it with some regularity. Nice people who look at their own photos after a fantastic dive and are disappointed. A fish that is only half on it or how about just a tail and all that while they thought they had the best shot during the dive. We all tend to take a quick snapshot and then continue divingjust a little too quickly. Often being led by the feeling of not wanting to be a burden to others, but the funny thing is that others often don’t have the idea that you are working on a photo for too long and eventually when you have a fantastic photo everyone wants a copy as a keepsake. And if you do want to shoot something quickly, that fish doesn’t agree and shoots away into a hole or dives around the corner behind a coral block.
Years ago I learned that you have to take the time to take a good photo. Not only for your white balance or the light, but especially for the fish. As a dive guide I regularly visit the same dive sites and sometimes I recognize a fish and I think, next time you will be mine and so it was for the famous reef Rasdhoo in the Rasdhoo atoll in the Maldives. Now you should know that I love porcupines, with their short fins and their special body they always swim around like a drunk and that always makes me smile. And I regularly come across a porcupine fish on the reef of Rasdhoo and every time I think: hmm next time I want to try to shoot a picture. The animal is quite shy and with her big eyes she often looks at us in shock just before she shoots away into the reef. And whenever I see that I think again hmm next time I should take it a bit more slowly and that’s how it happened every time and despite the many dives at this fantastic dive site I still didn’t have a picture of this beautiful animal. Fortunately I am the dive guide and there will be another dive at this site and I get another chance to shoot that photo. And when the moment finally came I had a dive where my guests preferred to go their own way, this is my chance and I swim consciously and very calmly to the place where I always see her. Hmmmwhere is she? Isn’t she always in this spot? I try to hang around as quietly as possible while carefully looking into every crack and hole. It takes a few minutes but then I see her looking at me from behind a coral block. She seems a bit anxious and certainly not willing to come out of the reef for the photo, yet she keep looking at me with interest. Maybe I should pretend I’m not there for her and so I look at the sand while keeping her in of the corner of my eye. After a few minutes she carefully comes a little further out of her hole, ha ha it works|!And with that thought I play, linger around and step by step I make myself more present. At first I just hang around and don’t look at anything and as soon as she starts to relax I take it a step further, I move slightly but still don’t look at her. Then I start playing with my camera and I don’t point the lens at anything at all, I now make a sound that she needs to get used to. And only when this beautiful animal relaxes I go one step further and now put my camera on the sand with the lens turned towards her. Little by little this little fish starts to trust me and understands that I don’t want to eat her. Of course it takes time and air and certainly here at 25 meters of depth, but it is definitely worth it!
And when I can finally start shooting, I’m not only super happy, but she also swims around me carelessly. It ends up being a real photo shoot and not only do I get the pictures I wanted, not only great video material, but also see things I’ve never seen before. Because while she quietly searches the sand for something to snack on, she accidentally bumped into my camera lens. And did you know that she can move her eyes individually? Like Napoleon wrasse? Her eyeballs spin in different directions and although I see this fish quite often, this is the first time I notice it. Fantastic! Mother nature is so incredibly beautiful and if you take your time and respect the life around you, you will see things that may remain hidden from others. And as icing on the cake, not only did i get the photos I wanted to take for so long, but a dive I’ll never forget.
Love life… blow bubbles…