Tin Soldier

It's the little things that matter!
Hovering a few metres beneath the increasingly wild chop of the ocean, I came across a sheltered cleaning station with three circular batfish waiting in turn to be groomed. The contrast between the innerspace calm at that particular moment and the relentless, unforgiving wind of my other world, had me wishing the dive would last just that little bit longer.

The batfish meanwhile, blissful in their watery domain, queued without a hint of urgency as each one had its resident parasites picked off by tiny, compliant cleaner wrasse. You learn to move with a certain stealth if you want to get in close to anything underwater. There are so many factors that will spook your subject. Often at a cleaning station, small fish will give way to bigger fish and so the challenge is to appear as small and unthreatening as possible, whilst you inch ever closer in the hope of composing something worthwhile.

I had a notion of isolating one of the batfish against the stunning aquamarine of the shallow Red Sea waters. I wanted an image pure and uninhibited in its message - that each species we have in our ocean environment is as important as the next. Light underwater can be tricky and is always an interesting conundrum. The ambient light was good, and so after a little experimentation I opted to under-light with a reduced strobe output, working to keep the colours true and not to impose too much on the serenity of the cleaning station.

Photographed at Shaab Abu Kahlid, Marsa Alam, Egypt.