Behind the Shot: Seek by Nina Baxa


Nina Baxa has shared a stunning shot of a Spotted Eagle Ray on Wetpixel’s Facebook page. The image was very popular on Facebook. Here she shares how she got the shot:

Seek – Spotted Eagle Ray, Grand Cayman.

It was a quiet dive from shore with my husband and friend: calm, peaceful. We planned to dive the main wall, the boys taking their video gear while I took my trusty little Olympus E-PL3 camera with a fisheye lens to capture scenes of the wall in all its glory. We pottered around for a bit, filming the usual life going about their morning customs, and headed slowly shoreward across the sand.

A young Spotted Eagle Ray glided in, foraging, feeding, undisturbed. We gave it space and respected its routine. As I had the fisheye lens on, I knew I’d have to get as close as I could to frame it – but this Eagle Ray seemed so gracious in letting us watch its regular practice that I did not want to get too close and break the spell, this time I would just take in the moment. I let the boys swim ahead of me to film the Eagle Ray nuzzling in the sand and launching itself upwards in elegant swoops, ridding itself of the sand it had taken in with any morsels.

The boys did a great job filming without unsettling the Eagle Ray or other surrounding marine life. They signalled big OK’s, and started moving off. I hung for a few seconds longer, savouring the sight little longer– and then the unexpected happened. The Eagle Ray curved nearer, and slowed to just look at me – a split second of ‘contact’. Took my breath away. The everlasting split second came and went, the Eagle Ray slowly turned to drift off, it’s wings stationary in a symmetrical arc – I snapped out of the trance and snapped a few pictures as I swam behind before waving good-bye and joining my cheerful dive buddies.

We were not only rewarded with a memorable experience, but also with photographs and video to keep, show and share with others. I will never forget it. The underwater world is breath-taking, I’m reminded of that every time I witness it.

Special thanks to my like-minded dive buddies Len de Vries and Frans de Backer. Frans was kind enough to allow me to link his captivating short video of the very same Spotted Eagle Ray here.

Olympus E-PL3, Lumix Fisheye lens f11, 1/50 sec, ISO 200, ambient light.