Tips For Photographing Manta Rays

Some tips from our resident manta photographer Richard…

1. You are going to need to be closeMantas feed in plankton rich waters and cutting down the distance to you and your subject is essential. To achieve this you need to remain calm and still, perfect your buoyancy and certainly not chase your subject

2. You have to have the right lens. Unless you want a close up of a Manta’s eyeball, all that work in getting close will not pay off unless you have a wide angle lens (very wide). To get the best shots, you need to be able to fill the frame with a 5 metre Manta from about half that distance (15mm lens or less is ideal).


3. Practice composing your shots with a fixed subject before entering the water – also practice framing without the camera to your eye. Just reaching in front of you with your camera allows you to get a little closer without moving your bubbles closer. The aim is to fill the frame without cropping later on so you can maximise your image quality.

4. Consider shooting in natural light. Strobes often produce a ‘stung’ look from the Manta as they often flinch when a strobe fires. Our Mantas are generally at a depth of about 15 metres (45 – 50 feet). This is ideal for using something like a ‘Magic Filter’ which allows you to restore the natural colour balance of your photograph later on. You will of course also need to learn ‘Photoshop’ or equivalent as the filters work in conjunction with these programmes.


5. Take plenty of shots but don’t forget to take in the Mantas beauty with your own eyes as well


Richard was born in England & gravitated to water based activities from an early age starting with fishing & adding windsurfing, sailing & rowing before eventually ‘discovering’ diving in 1996. Becoming an immediate dive addict, he has been lucky enough to dive many hotspots around the world & spent considerable time & energy planning how to leave his previous career for a new one where he could combine his diving passion & working life.

Richard fulfilled this in May 2002 by buying Matava Resort next to the Great Astrolabe Reef on the island of Kadavu in the Fiji Islands. He particularly enjoys the remoteness of this unspoilt location as much of the diving is exploratory. He has also thoroughly enjoyed working with experts attracted to the diversity of the fish & coral life & has recently started collecting ID data on the many Mantas in the area. Richard is a PADI Instructor & through active environmental programmes has achieved the Project AWARE Go Eco status for Matava.

Richard Akhtar

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