Behind the Shot Decades ago, Florida banned the fishing of goliath grouper, leading to an increase in the population. Now, there are new plans to reopen fishing, which may endanger their future once again. Looking for an interesting composition for this large, easygoing fish, I got lucky when huge schools of round scad surrounded the grouper. I watched, captivated, as it swam calmly through the swirling school. I used a slow shutter speed to give a sense of movement, and waited for a goliath to emerge from the school.
Camera Gear Sony a7 RIII in a Nauticam housing; Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM lens; two Retra Flash Pro strobes
Settings f/16; 1/15; ISO 50
Behind the Shot A couple of emperor shrimp (Zenopontonia rex) living on a giant (approximately 4 inches long) Ceratosoma trilobatum nudibranch. I set out to find a sea slug with shrimp on it because it seldom happens, and I was lucky to find these animals. I waited for an interesting position, and when I got the right angle I just pushed the button. These shrimp are predators that use the nudibranch as a vehicle, keeping their open claws close to the seabed to snatch their prey—small fish or crustaceans—in an act of symbiosis.
Camera Gear Nikon D850; Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 macro lens; Nauticam housing; two Inon Z-330 strobes
Settings f/14; 1/250; ISO 320
Michael Angelo “Tacio” Bautista
Behind the Shot This photo was taken at Napaling Dive Point, a site near Panglao Island in the province of Bohol, where I lived for more than a year. A lot of scuba divers and freedivers visit the site to experience the amazing sardine run of Panglao, but in this case, we got lucky because there were only a few divers that day and the visibility was 10 out of 10. I explained to my friend what kind of shot I wanted. Amazingly, the sardines started to line up. I waited a few more seconds for the diver to be at the center and the sardines to form a perfect circle. Believe it or not, this is a one-take photo.
Camera Gear Sony RX100 M3 in a Salted Line housing
Settings f/11; 1/250; ISO 250
Behind the Shot A pair of surgeonfish in the clear, turquoise waters of Mayotte Lagoon, off the coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Islands of white sand are common in Mayotte, an overseas department of France. They attract many tourists who come to spend a few hours in these heavenly places, especially on Maji Island to the north, where this photo was taken. The surgeonfish stay close to these islets, certainly attracted by the food of the tourists.
Camera Gear Canon 5D MK IV with a Canon 15mm fisheye lens; Seacam housing; Seacam Seaflash 160
Settings f/18; 1/200; ISO 200
Behind the Shot After a nearly two-year hiatus, it was incredible to resubmerge in the water. Although arrow crabs are a common find, I am always searching for “the shot.” I found this arrow crab while on a dive near Utila, one of the Bay Islands of Honduras. All the conditions seemed to align for an incredible composition: the bright, contrasting color of the coral; the positioning of the crab; the ability to throw enough light on the scene to black out the background.
Camera Gear Canon 5DsR with 100mm macro lens; Nauticam underwater housing; two Light & Motion Sola Video Pro 12K lights
Settings f/9; 1/320; ISO 400
Behind the Shot This image was captured at the house reef in Makadi Bay last year. It was at the end of the dive when a diver from another group showed me this gathering of super- tiny Idiomysis shrimp, with each of them being less than 3 mm in size. I had seen them solitary in Indonesia several times before, but I had never seen anything like this: a swarm with hundreds of them staying together in one place! And many of them were looking at me with their comparably huge eyes. They reminded me of tiny swimming minions.
Camera Gear Canon G7X MK III; Nauticam housing; dual Sea&Sea YS-D2 strobes; stacked 5+ and 15+ wet lenses
Settings f/11; 1/100; ISO 160
Behind the Shot This photo was taken while scuba diving on Réunion, a small island in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar and Mauritius, where I have lived for 22 years. I saw this magnificent mantis shrimp coming out of its hole, looking around with those amazing, most sophisticated eyes in the animal kingdom. I was able to approach very slowly until I found myself a few centimeters from it. It watched me, and I was able to take several pictures before it disappeared! The mantis shrimp is a subject of choice for the underwater photographer because of its colors and its hypnotic eyes.
Camera Gear Hybride Panasonic GX80; Panasonic Leica 45mm macro lens; Nauticam housing; two Inon Z-240 strobes
Settings f/16; 1/160; ISO 200
Behind the Shot The saw-blade room of the Felicitas slate mine in Germany is quite far into the mine if you are on open circuit, but our team was all rebreather-equipped and had good training for longer exposure times in colder waters (46 degrees Fahrenheit). When I first came up to the saw blades they were so much bigger than I expected, so I placed one of my external lights with a double ender at the blades to get a little bit of extra light under the blades. I asked my buddies Sanne and Jojo to model for me and come along the wall while Guy helped with the main lighting. What I love most about this image is the pattern and the green colors on the wall.
Camera Gear Nikon Z7 II in a Nauticam housing with a Saga port; Nikon 8-15 at 15mm; Bigblue VL15000P and VL65000P dive lights
Settings f/5.6; 1/50; ISO 40
Behind the Shot One night in summer 2021, I dived in a fishing port at Yonaguni-jima, the westernmost inhabited island of Japan. I met an approximately 15-inch jellyfish that was getting close to the lights on the ground to gather plankton, and I found a Carangidae fish inside the tentacles of the jellyfish. As I approached them to take a picture, the fish tried to hide from me. This jellyfish has no poison, so its thick tentacles are suitable as a refuge. But the timid fish was too big to be covered. Eventually I shot the moment our eyes met through an opening.
Camera Gear Canon EOS 5D MK IV in a Nexus housing; Sigma 70mm f2.8 DG Macro Art lens; two Inon Z-330 strobes; RGBlue System02 Premium Color focus light
Settings f/14; 1/200; ISO 100
Behind the Shot Once a year, at the end of March, it is mating time for the toads. It lasts just a few days, and only at this time is it possible to get very close to them. Normally they are very shy. I was trying to get a split- shot with this toad, when he started to crawl on my small dome port. I got some pictures of this action, and this was my favorite one.
Camera Gear Sony RX100 VII; Fantasea housing; Fantasea UWL-09F wide-angle converter; three Backscatter Mini Flash strobes
Settings f/8; 1/2000; ISO 160
Behind the Shot This photo was taken during a trip to the remote Oil Rigs site in Kuwaiti waters, east of Qaruh Island. The inactive oil rigs have come to represent an important artificial reef in Kuwait, attracting divers and fishers alike. During a dive there I noticed fish swarming around a jellyfish and nibbling on it. I found it to be a unique behavior and went to photograph the feast. These three longfin bannerfish were persistent in chasing the jellyfish and did not seem to mind me being close to them. This fish species is commonly found on reefs in Kuwait.
Camera Gear Nikon D850 in a Nauticam housing; AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED lens; Sea&Sea YS-D3 strobes
Settings f/11; 1/200; ISO 500
Behind the Shot During a black-water dive I encountered this wonderful small juvenile wonderpus octopus. After taking some sharp shots that showed the animal very nicely, I wanted to get more creativity in the shots and slowed down the shutter speed to 0.3 seconds to get a nice movement of the octopus.
Gear Nikon D850 with a Nikon 60mm Macro lens
in a Seacam housing, with two Seacam Seaflash 150D strobes
Settings f/16; 0.3 sec; ISO 400
Efren De Los Santos