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Castaway in Paradise
Kayaker Willie Williams Paddles Above, Manta Ray Swims Below

"I ran into a manta ray and chased it as hard as I could. It was going to disappear, and it suddenly turned back and came right at me. Then five more appeared and they started doing these backflips, somewhat in unison, like they were dancing.

"They swam so close to me at one point that I thought that they might actually suffocate me. It was one of the more exhilarating marine experiences I've ever had. They're big enough that when they open up their gills, I could probably fit half my body inside them—and I'm almost six feet tall.

"You're telling yourself that they eat only plankton, but at the same time they're so big and they're so alien-like that it still makes you a little nervous."

—Photographer Peter McBride

Photography Notes

  • Camera: Nexus underwater housing with a Nikon N90 camera
  • Film: Fuji Provia 100
  • Lens: 24mm
  • Shutter speed: 1/125th
  • Aperture: f8
  • Time of day: around 11 am

"When you're shooting both over and beneath the water, the water magnifies greater than the air does, so you want to try to create as much focal depth range as possible. You can then use what's called a diopter, which will keep the out-of-water portion in focus with the underwater. But a diopter constricts you to shoot exactly half and half, and sometimes you can actually see the dividing line. Since I had initially decided to be shooting predominantly underwater with the roll, I did not have a diopter on at the time."


August 2003

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