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Behind the Shot: “Make Room for Me!”
By Amanda Nicholls, March 19, 2013 @ 06:00 AM (EST)

Editor’ Note: The author's image won bronze in the "Wide-Angle Unrestricted" category in the 2013 Our World Underwater Competition.

She was the recipient of a brand new i-Torch Pro 4 from i-Divesite. 

By Amanda Nicholls

Summer in Grand Cayman brings the most spectacular and mesmerizing underwater dance I have ever witnessed.  Thousands upon thousands (millions, in fact) of tiny silversides take refuge in tunnels, crevices and wrecks but for me, the hypnotic encounter happened last June at the Eden Rock dive site.

I’d never before seen these tunnels so cramped with furiously flying silver, little specs darting from left to right, all in unison, speedily catching glints of light for only a split of a split second.

This annual dance is triggered by safety in numbers as they frantically evade their prey……tarpon.

I wanted more than just your standard tarpon and silverside shot above

The Idea
I had photographed silversides many times before, but for this particular shot I really wanted something unique, so, to get away from the much loved black and white looking shots, I wanted something with a color that would stand out. 

I found the tunnel with the most silversides in it (no I didn’t try to count them!) and knelt on the sandy bottom, facing the opening.  I waved bye-bye to my dive buddy, and I waited…..and waited……

I couldn’t see the opening to the tunnel, the silversides blocked all vision and I found myself utterly absorbed by this spellbinding show.

The Shot

With a strong will for the shot, I forced my eyes in front of the camera lens and took some test shots.  I knew I would probably have only one chance at this, so my camera settings and strobes had to be right. 

I crossed my fingers and toes in hope that the tarpon would actually come out from behind me and swim into the tunnel entrance.  I sat and waited, eye to lens, finger to trigger.  Then, the magic happened, after about 20 minutes of waiting, cramping and wondering if my buddy was ok, suddenly, in urgent haste, a circle of silversides formed to let the oncoming tarpon into the tunnel, revealing behind it the beauty of Cayman’s clear, perfect water. 

One Shot! The flash from my strobes was enough for the Tarpon to change his route in a heartbeat and away he went.  Immediately I checked my LCD screen, screamed “Yipeeeeeee” and in celebration of the silversides and tarpon, I danced my own little dance, though not as gracefully as the fish.

The winning shot: Nikon D7000, Tokina 10 -17mm lens @ 10mm.  F7.1, 1/125th, ISO 250


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