Cayman’s best snapper found

The grand prize winner of the
photography section of the Underwater Film Festival 2010 had never entered a
competition before.

Debutant Ellary Wray’s memorable
shot of a stingray, taken at the sandbar, triumphed in a strong field of photographs
from many of Cayman’s talented visual artists. She said that she felt ‘nervous
and hopeful’ on the night whilst waiting for the judges’ decision.

“In fact, my knees were shaking as
they made the announcement! I’m very honoured to have received the recognition.
There are many talented underwater photographers in our community, and there
were some exceptional entries in the contest,” said Wray.

Degree

The photographer gained a degree in
art & design, concentrating on photography, from California Polytechnic
State University and lived and worked in Los Angeles doing  what she termed ‘odd jobs’ in the photo industry.
It wasn’t satisfying, she explained, so she decided to move to Grand Cayman to pursue other interests.

“I wanted to get away from the
photo industry – I didn’t like the whole Hollywood
side of photography there’s a lot of assisting on photo shoots where actors ask
you to retouch their faces and pretty-up images rather than just shooting what
you see.

“I moved to Grand
Cayman in the interest of an active lifestyle as a dive instructor
with no experience in underwater photography, nor an expectation to pursue it.
Shortly thereafter, the videographer at Ocean Frontiers, where I work as a dive
instructor, took another job, and his position became available,” she explained.

Studio

Having been more accustomed to
studio set-ups with controllable lighting and slightly more co-operative
subject matter on land, the transition to underwater photography in the still
and moving disciplines was difficult at first.

“But with trial and error, and some
insight from Alex Mustard during the Digital Madness workshops hosted by Ocean
Frontiers, I became more comfortable with the underwater equipment, and how
light behaves in water.

“I really enjoy getting the
opportunity to shoot macro, although I primarily shoot wide angle such as the
shots in the contest because I find it more suitable for scenic images of
divers.”

Prizes

Miss Wray’s prize for winning the
main contest is a week on the Cayman Aggressor, a dive boat that goes out for a
week and visits Little Cayman and the Brac. It
will be the first time that she has visited Little Cayman
and she said that she is looking forward to the experience.

Another image of hers, portraying
flamingo tongue on sea rod, won the Landscape category of the event and for
that Wray won a weekend at Cobalt Coast Dive Resort. Second place in Landscape
was taken by Rutger Geerling and placed third in the category was Andrea Lee.

Macro winner: Simon Dixon, who won
a weekend dive package at Sunset House; second: Rutger Geerling; third: Gary Redfern.
Creative category winner: Jay Easterbrook, who won a weekend dive package at
Compass Point Ocean Frontiers; second, Michael Johnston; third, Rutger
Geerling.

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Ellary Wray’s stunning stingray shot wowed judges to win the competition.
Ellary Wray

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