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Coral shrimpfish - Aeoliscus strigatus

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This school of coral shrimpfish were at Menjangan Island, Bali, Indonesia, last Sunday. I'd always had trouble with this subject shooting film - the highly reflective bodies tended to burn out and over-expose. I was disappointed at first that I didn't have a macro lens, but I'm happy with this wide-angle.

 

This, by the way, is the reason I'll always want to have the +2 diopter on with this lens. I did some tests the week-end before last using the 12-24 lens without a diopter. It was fine for distant coralscapes, but I couldn't focus on anything closer than two or three feet. These cooperative shrimpfish were only about one foot away from the dome port.

 

4DSCF4335_2B-F.jpg

 

Fuji S2 Pro, Subal Housing, 12-24 DX lens, FE2 port. f/8.0 at 1/90.

 

Robert Delfs

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As you say, very nicely exposed... Were you using diffusers?

 

What do you think of the diving generally around that area? Does it compare to Tulumben?

 

Cheers,

 

Bob

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No, and I didn't have diffusers on the strobe either. :D

 

Seriously, I usually do use diffusers for wide-angle, but wasn't on these dives, and I may give them up altogether when using my "back-up" strobes - Sea & Sea YS-90DXs. My "main" strobes - Ikelite SS200s - and a pair of spare batteries are already on a boat that we will be joining in March in Sorong. The strobes and the batteries weigh a ton, and we will probably be flying to Sorong on a small plane, with a tight weight allowance, so it seemed to make sense to preplace the heavier strobes and my old film housing on the boat before it left Bali.

 

The YS90DXs are fine for macro, but don't have near as much "punch" as the SS200s for wide-angle, and adding the diffusers cuts the power even more. This shot, by the way, was shot with TTL. I think there might have been -0.5 stop flash exposure compensation, I bracked 0, -0.5 and -1.0 while trying to shoot the shrimpfish in close.

 

Menjangan is a pretty reef, and the shallow water corals have recovered nicely since we were last there about five years ago, when all the acropora above 10 m. had pretty much been wiped out by the 97/98 El Nino bleaching event. We'd done a couple of not very fruitful dives at Secret Bay - we were in the wrong place - the day before. Secret Bay is just around the corner from Menjangan, so the two areas make a nice combination for several days of diving. Pretty much pure muck at Secret Bay, and a very nice reef to dive at Menjangan when you get sick of the empty expanse of mud and algae. There are some nice places to stay in the area.

 

We only did two dives at Menjangan, the wall under the sandy point on the north of the island and the area near the Anker wreck. Based on that, I'd say the area probably doesn't have anything like the diversity of Tulamben, but as walls go, it's very pretty and surprisingly healthy. (The drop-off dive at Tulamben was badly damaged by a silt-out after heavy rains last January/February, but it is coming back nicely - good marine life the last time we were there in December.)

 

We'll be going back to Menjangan soon. There are Mandarinfish in the small mangrove bay next to the Mimpi resort, and I'd like to do as many dives as needed to finally get a decent shot of one of these wonderful creatures. The Mandarins come out in the afternoon, so it should be possible to do a combination of one or two dives on Menjangan in the morning, then come back to try the Mandarins later in the day. Followed by risking DSI in the hot sulfur baths at Mimpi.

 

Robert Delfs

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Thanks for the information Robert.

I find defusers help reduce the hotspots on such critters (If they kept still long enough!)

We'll go up and give the sites a tryout in September; time allowing. I last dived the Tulamben wreck in June last year, but the viz was diabolical compared with your last posting... The humpheads could have been a herd of cows!

I'd love to dive this wreck in good viz, and maybe stop-over at the resort for a night if possible during the visit in the hope.

 

Cheers,

 

Bob

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I find defusers help...

Only if you're disarming bombs! It's

 

DIFFUSER

 

You're driving me nucking futz. You're doing this on purpose, aren't you?

 

 

Jim

AKA The Grammar Nazi

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I was talking about alka salza :D

 

This keybord can't keep up :D and there's nuffing wrong with disaming bums :D

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Remember "Missile Command"? A wonderful old Atari game. Really fun to watch cities go boom.

 

:D:D:D:D:o

 

Missile%20Command_s.jpg

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Cybergoldfish,

 

Viz in Bali (or almost anwhere really) is always a crapshoot, but I'm surprised you had such bad luck in June. Viz on the Liberty Wreck is rarely ideal, but some days are much better than others. I'm still waiting for a "perfect" wide-angle day to shoot that wreck.

 

I hope you have better luck in September. But that month is prime mola mola hunting time at Nusa Penida, so you may find it difficult to squeeze time out for any dives at Menjangan when bigger prey like molas are afoot.

 

Meanwhile, to help "defuse" the situation, here's a couple more Sunday shrimpfish shots. The first shot is flawed by the out-of-focus whip corals in foreground - they were almost touching the dome - but I still find this shot interesting. I also think the exposure of the shrimpfish bodies is better than in the first shot I posted above.

 

4DSCF4339_2-F.jpg

 

In the second shot, Sandy's face is cut in half above and between her eyes, which is too bad, as this could have been a nice shot showing a diver looking at an interesting subject, something I almost never try to shoot. The truth, of course, is that she was trying to help me "herd" the shrimpfish into position, while I was holding the housing well to the right in my right hand, at the same time "herding" the shrimpfish with my left hand, and so shooting completely blind.

 

4DSCF4344_2-F.jpg

 

And to get back on topic, what is most interesting to me about these shots, technically, is that I was simply never able to take wide-angle close-ups like these successfully with my film housing, using 20 mm lens and the SWB dome. Shooting digital with the 12-24 mm lens is a different world! I certainly plan to try to do more. Wide-angle Mandarinfish?

 

Robert Delfs

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I had a hard time exposing them, too -- for the first few shots. I love that instant feedback thing we have. :D

 

From Wakatobi last month:

 

031212_165414_9650.jpg

 

031210_171726_9388.jpg

 

And re: "defusers" vs "diffusers." Will we have to revoke the Grammar Coach title? :D

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Eric,

 

Were these shot in a coral area, or more muddy. From the coloration, I'm wondering whether they might be Centriscus scutatus, rather than A. strigatus.

 

(On the other hand, I've seen a lot of color variation in what I think were A. strigatus. At Puerto Galera in the Philippines, there is a lovely school of shrimpfish which hang out in beautiful white-colored black corals, and are almost completely white, lacking the median line found in most shrimpfish. And almost impossible to photograph.)

 

Robert

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These were shot in Sulawesi, at Wakatobi -- in the sea grass right out front. :D Not really muddy. But sandy patches all around, and a reef dropoff not far away.

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I think the trick with these is to have an extra pair of strobe arms with gloves on reaching out to herd them into the frame.

In Lembeh there was a school of maybe 20, proved frustrating & fruitless, but amazing to watch.

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I think these guys are very temperamental subjects. I have had many fruitless encounters with them, and then other times I have seen them they have been easy to approach. I guess like so many underwater subjects it is important to get the most from the subject when it is feeling cooperative!

numbers.jpg

 

Below are pictures of the only reliably cooperative type of shrimpfish! Fossilised ones! (These are from the 55Mya deposits of Monte Bolca, Italy.)

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... and then other times I have seen them they have been easy to approach. I guess like so many underwater subjects it is important to get the most from the subject when it is feeling cooperative!

Normally I have a 12mm lens on when they are!

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That is another trueism of UW Photography!

I would be interested if someone ran a wrong lens UW photo competition. Whale sharks and mantas in close-up, macro subjects shot with wide angle... Might produce some unusual shots.

Alex

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