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Capturing the Cod on Camera

By Jeremy Cuff

Cod Hole is a "famous" dive site located on the Great Barrier Reef. For photo opportunities, it's a chance not to be missed. What could be better than huge fish in shallow, clear water that are unafraid of divers?

The "cod feed" involves the crew luring these huge fish to a large sandy "arena" with a holed container of "bait" – an irresistible concoction of dead fish and chum. Once in the water, the divers assemble in a large circle on the sand and wait for the container to be brought past. Several large Potato Cod remain glued to the container, transfixed by its contents. To add to the spectacle, the crew also hand feed the cod with fish.

When diving with my wife Amanda, we have an arrangement that she’ll model for me when required. This is handy when I’m shooting wide angle or fish eye, as a diver can sometimes add that extra bit of context, composition or visual spectacle to an image. After the feed was over we remained in the sandy area and "worked" the cod. I tried a few things, each time with Amanda in the background, but none of them had that indefinable “wow factor”.

I noticed that the largest specimen was never more than a foot or so from the container, so I capitalised on it's obsession by placing my camera in front the object, so that the cod was literally on the end of my dome port. I then gestured Amanda to come in closer and lie by its side whilst I fired away, careful to keep the container out of picture.

In the case of my winning image, I think it works on each of the "context, composition and visual spectacle" aspects, and is the result of teamwork between Amanda and myself.

The image was taken using a Nikon D200/Subal Housing combination with a 10.5mm fisheye lens and a single Subtronic strobe set to either full or half power. Camera settings were 1/100 th at f8, ISO 100.

September 2007

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