Blackwater Light Trails

Songda Cai's Image

On a night dive over deep water, Songda captured the luminous fin rays – or filaments – of a juvenile African pompano. Curious, he followed the fish as it glided through the water. Photographing its side profile, Songda used a slow shutter speed to capture the motion and beauty of its colourful and extravagant trailing filaments.

The filaments help the young fish drift in open water, where it feeds on slow-moving crustaceans, small crabs and fish. Its extra-long fins can also help deter predators by imitating the deadly tentacles of jellyfish. As the fish matures, its body will become more elongated and the length of its fin rays will become shorter.

Behind the lens

Songda Cai

Songda Cai


An interest in exploration from a young age led Songda to pursue black-water photography. He has since won numerous awards in international photography competitions and has been published in many renowned magazines. For Songda, being able to explore the ocean is one of the most wonderful experiences in life, and he hopes to show its unique beauty through his work.

Image details

  • Nikon D850
  • 60mm f2.8 lens
  • 0.5 sec at f29  •   ISO 160  •   Seacam housing  •   two Seacam Seaflash 150D strobes + Scubalamp strobe
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