Editor’s Note: Bert Willaert’s shot of swarming tadpoles was awarded Best of Show at DEEP Indonesia 2014. Enter your images in this year’s Underwater Competition Series to win your share of $90,000 in prizes.
I have always had a great interest in amphibians. So whenever I find myself in the vicinity of fresh water, I am secretively hoping to catch a glimps of these lovely animals. Walking along a small canal on a sunny spring morning, I quickly noticed large swarms of tadpoles navigating between patches of vegetation. The visibility seemed to be quite good—a rare thing for a canal in Belgium—and I immediately started thinking of returning with my camera and snorkel gear.
A few days later, on a windless, sunny day, I found myself in the water, surrounded by thousands of tadpoles. They were much more numerous than I had expected and they were everywhere! I had mounted a Dyron dome port on my Recsea housing for the Canon G12, as I wanted to capture these animals in their landscape. I had some difficulties finding the right exposure, since I didn’t have any strobes with me and the vegetation in the canal and trees on the banks created a lot of shadows.
The maximum depth was about six feet, including two feet of mud, so I knew I had to move carefully if I wanted to maintain the good visibility. The swarms of tadpoles did not seem to be too bothered by my presence—and some even nibbled at my skin! At one point, I looked up and saw the sun rays through the fresh green leaves. I waited for a school of tadpoles to swim by and stretched my arm out below them, taking the picture with one hand. That was the moment captured in my winning frame.
The Winning Image: "Best in Show," DEEP Indonesia 2014.
Settings: Canon G12 in a Recsea housing with Dyron dome port @ 8mm, f/4, 1/2000s, ISO 320, –1 EV