Just a quickie this week but I couldn’t wait to share my shots of the very largest of the pelagic big beasts that the Maldives is so popular for.

Sheer Scale

I recently had the pleasure to visit the Maldives on MV Orion, one of the Constellation fleets most luxurious liveaboards.
Our itinerary was not specifically a photographic one, but it allowed me some options to visit Manta cleaning stations and Whaleshark hangouts.

After our check dive was one of these low sea mounts that the Manta come in to get cleaned of parasites.
Quite tricky in a way to get shots as we were strictly controlled by the guides, and rightly so. The Manta would scarper pretty sharpish if a mass of undisciplined divers were to cover and block the cleaning station.
So under instruction to stay close to the bottom of the cleaning station you have limited opportunity to shoot the Manta, unless they swim above and around you.

Generally though when folk stay fairly tightly controlled the Manta will swirl around and also over the heads of the agog divers.
Personally I don’t agree with making people lay all over the bottom, but I understand that the guides are simply managing the situation as best as they can, and when presented with people of all skill levels it’s easier to say stay down on the reef, than insist everyone hovers like a pro inches above it.
It’s unmanageable and unworkable.
I would say to you though if your buoyancy skills are good enough then hover in a prone position.
I say this because I did witness lots of peoples fins from ours and other boats all over the surrounding reef, and where they were, was lots of life, Damsels and Partner Gobies being the ones I mostly saw.
And is a manta worth more than other reef life? It’s a big question for another time.

Scuba Travel, Maldives, mantas
My strobe positioning for these two (3) Big Beasts circling overhead was more a case of luck than judgement. As they happened to be at just the right distance from me to get proper strobe coverage, with minimal backscatter. You can see it’s not as clear by the manta in the distance, bottom left.

All of these big beasts I have shot using twin strobes with the camera on manual, and in the plankton rich waters (poorer viz) they have stayed nice and clear because I am shooting with a fisheye lens.
See why shooting with a wide-angle lens is so important.

Scuba Travel, manta, diver, Maldives
One of our guides hovers perfectly and gets a great view of one of these amazing creatures.
Scuba Travel, manta, Maldives, Big Beasts
Rewarded by staying still and hovering I am treat to a very close flyby.

A Whale of a time

Before breakfast mid-week we were informed that we were going to stoke our appetites with a hunt and then a brisk snorkel with Whale Sharks, so off we set in the Dhoni, and after much searching by the skipper and guides, we happened upon one of these Big Beasts.

Snorkels, masks, fins donned we were positioned perfectly by the skipper to see the huge beast. I like to get a couple of people in shot if possible to add scale, in situations like this it would be impractical and unrealistic to expect a shot with no people in it.

Scuba Travel, whale shark, Maldives, snorkelling
Hayley and Chris trying to keep up with this big spotty thing!!!
Scuba Travel, whale shark, Maldives, Big Beasts
I was lucky that this Whale Shark turned towards me, and as it’s relatively slow-moving shutter priority has frozen its languid movements.

I am always amazed by how slowly and easily they seem to be finning, and we, by comparison, are furiously kicking away alongside.
I am not going to talk too much about the settings as I did a blog post last year for my Mexican Whaleshark trip, about using Shutter Priority on your camera and you can see it if you click here.

Ok, that’s it for now, I am away for a trip to Indonesia soon and will be wilding my snoot like a mad thing for some first-class muck diving. Check out my earlier snooting blogs here. And don’t forget you can now download them onto your tablet as a pdf, simply click the link at the bottom left of the page.