In the Eye of the Beholder
It’s easy to think that it is only possible to take a striking photograph if you have the latest, state-of-the-art equipment. Of course there is some truth in this, because the more adverse the conditions, the more you need the sophisticated electronics of a more expensive camera and the superior quality of an expensive lens.

But nothing can beat a good eye for a picture: the angle you choose, the moment you select and the quality of the lighting. These are the aspects of a photograph that will make it compelling.

Steve Walker’s shot of a moray eel, right, is a good example. It was taken with comparatively modest equipment: a Sea & Sea MotorMarine II fitted with a supplementary 1:3 macro lens and a YS50 flashgun.

He used the type of film you can buy off the shelf just about anywhere – Kodak Gold 400 – and set the camera at f22 at a shutter speed of 125. Modestly, he writes: ‘I am still very much learning the ropes with the MotorMarine but feel this shot captures the moray in a very typical setting.’

One of the reasons this eel looks so alive is that its eye is in focus and appears to be looking right at you. This is the secret of all good portraits – whether the subject is a fish or a person – the eye must always be sharp.

Also, whether by luck or judgement, there is little obvious indication that a flash was used. Steve uses a Sea & Sea ball-joint arm to position his YS50 and usually removes the framing arms from the close-up lens to avoid shadows. The lighting appears natural, and the darker area in the top right-hand corner, caused by the fading power of the strobe, helps to exaggerate the contour of the moray’s nose.

A technically superior result, in terms of critical sharpness and colour, could have been obtained from a 50 or 100 ASA transparency film such as Fujichrome Velvia or Kodak Elite 100, in a housed camera with a close-up lens.

Walker, 37, from Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, works as a systems analyst. He has been diving for ten years and is a PADI Advanced Open Water diver.

He dives in the UK as well as in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. He took this shot at Elphinstone Reef in Egypt.

He has been hooked on underwater photography for many years, as he says: ‘I can’t remember the last time I went into the water without a camera’.

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