2008—Raja Ampat Islands, West Papua Province, Indonesia
The coral reefs in this region are arguably the richest in the world, in terms of marine biodiversity. Marine biologists determined in the early 2000's that more species of coral reef fish exist here than anywhere else on Earth. For this image, my friend Alberto Reija and I were exploring the soft coral gardens near the island of Gam, when we came upon a large, tightly packed school of Golden Sweepers (Parapriacanthus ransonneti). Much to my surprise, Alberto removed his mask and regulator, and poked his head, mouth agape, into the swirling school. I was able to snap off a couple frames before my laughter ruined the moment.
You may have recognized a pattern already in this article, but if you haven't, I'll tell you that I LOVED using my 10.5mm fisheye lens (now I use a Simga 15mm fisheye with my full frame sensor Nikon D3X and get similar results). These lenses manage to pack a full 180 degree field of view into the frame, which obviously will create some distortion in the resulting images. When on land, this distortion is usually too obvious and detracts from image quality, but when used underwater, and in the right circumstances, this distortion is much less noticeable. So, in addition to giving you the ultimate wide angle view of a scene, the minimum focus distance and great depth of field allow you to get to within five inches of your subject and have it, and EVERYTHING behind it, all in focus. That can lead to some really fun and interesting images. This image was a winner in the 2009 Nature's Best Photography Magazine's "Ocean Views" Competition.
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