A lone hammer (scalloped hammerhead, Sphyrna lewini) in the open blue, around Isla Manuelita, Costa Rica (Cocos Island).

A lone hammer (scalloped hammerhead, Sphyrna lewini) in the open blue, around Isla Manuelita, Costa Rica (Cocos Island).
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Summer 2020
2020 Choice Award
Superb Composition
Pathallsd IChavez angelundercover edandaniphone Photoppy PicturePerfectMoments gooseofstrathearn +51
Absolute Masterpiece
jeffreythundathil Verokark leshalynn21 bkayserkayser alexandermarkiyanov roselij Oz44BraVo +28
Top Choice
siddushebani photos_of_afvs courtneywilson_4101 michaelpenner arieldipardo andrew37ot KTSFLOCK +27
Peer Award
RDDIIPhotography Natedoggnms aliceforrallies Isshin chiphendershot jeromelambe Mandarinetto1965 +8
Outstanding Creativity
suyashgangwar12 Kuamee64 staituk oanabotosneanu Xayirah JacobMichaelWhite rickymichiels +6
Exceptional Contrast
greatshots Lincsdna drewer1er GrillMarsh DesertAire Jacs-PE-SA LandonWisePhoto +1
Jaw Dropping
luciengeorge dannycynical msizajack ganda mjgphotog symesie04 MGNasser +1
All Star
p_eileenbaltz MichaelHannon hugh DELETED_GaryCummins Wizzard stefanmunneke AlanJakarta
Superior Skill
Ellythea DaleFPoll supergold philowen lauren-marie Cherriegill49 markmahler
Magnificent Capture
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21 Comments | Report
jessemartens January 07, 2013
Dude this is awesome!
Casper February 12, 2013
Holy guacamole, super shot
KRPoole February 26, 2013
kayacloud November 08, 2013
LeeBennett December 05, 2013
Great shot, congratulations on your feature!
jleiweke December 05, 2013
ybuhac December 05, 2013
Great shot, congratulations on feature
stefanozocca PRO
stefanozocca December 05, 2013
drakkardarkblade December 05, 2013
congrats, fantastic, please take a look at my works
AlanJakarta PRO+
AlanJakarta December 05, 2013
Terrific mono shot. Congratulations.
MGNasser December 05, 2013
I like it in B&W, Congratulations!
MGNasser December 05, 2013
I like it in B&W, Congratulations!
michellemeenawong December 05, 2013
wow, superb !
symesie04 December 05, 2013
Fabulous. Looks great desaturated.
iceman2 December 05, 2013
Wonderful shot.Congrats!
WileKyK Platinum
WileKyK December 05, 2013
Terrific shot! Congratulations.
BowmanLifeStudios December 05, 2013
Very Cool Shot, Love the mood of the gray tones and the detail. Awesome Shot!
jpblitz December 05, 2013
An absolutely eerie shot! Love the black & white.
redwriter Platinum
redwriter December 07, 2013
Amazing capture. Congrats. - Jake
rhamm PRO
rhamm December 15, 2014
great shot of the Hammerhead shark
vukzmiric January 16, 2015
how to save this picture?

Behind The Lens

Isla del Coco, better known as Cocos Island, which is a full day's journey by boat off the southwest of Costa Rica. An absolutely amazing place to dive, and rumored to be (one of?) the inspiration(s) for Treasure Island.
Hard to recall off hand when it was taken (without checking the image data), as we were diving four times a day for over a week. Probably lunchtime.
Hammerheads are so skittish around people (seriously - don't let sensationalist media try to tell you otherwise, hammers don't like people!) that it is a serious lesson in patience and persistence just to get one to come close enough to get a portrait. So ambient lighting is usually what you'll deal with, especially when in a group (4-8) of divers. In this case, the hammers were just too far away from our rocky reef hangout, and the current was just too strong to try to hang out mid-water-column and take pictures, so I wanted to capture the ghostly shadows passing overhead.
I still had my old rig for this trip, which didn't perform all that well in low light or slow shutter speeds - Nikon D70s in Ikelite housing, Nikkor 12-24mm lens under an 8" acrylic dome. I had Sea & Sea YS90 strobes, but they're simply not powerful enough for anything more than 8-10 feet away.
Witnessing a cloud of hundreds of scalloped hammerheads with your own eyes is one of the most amazing things that exists on Earth, I think. I tried to capture as much as I could of it, but my novice photography abilities coupled with strong currents and very shy, deep water animals presented serious challenges.
I converted it to greyscale and heightened the contrast a bit, and removed a lot of spots. I think I then sharpened it a bit and did a once-over with noise reduction.
In my camera bag
When I'm at home or about the neighborhood, I only use an iPhone. For traveling, I'm stuck with baggage fees: I have a 50-pound Pelican case for the underwater rig & parts, and carry two Nikon D300 bodies in my backpack, usually along with my Nikkor 18-200mm, 105mm macro, 12-24mm, and the killer Tokina 10-17mm fisheye. Then there's all the dive gear, and as a result I travel with very little clothing or non-essentials.
Cocos is serious diving - don't go there unless you are a strong swimmer, with good air-consumption rates. Adding a heavy, bulky camera rig on top of that can make an otherwise fun dive into a lesson in dangerous frustration. So, be a strong diver first. (I wasn't at the time.) After that, deep water photography requires powerful lighting, (&)or a really good sense of optimal exposure in high-contrast environments. And so much PATIENCE.

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