Basslet & Cleaner Wrasse

06-Dec-2011 Back to Image Gallery

Basslet & Cleaner Wrasse

Exploring the 30 meter seafloor near the bow of the Liberty shipwreck at Tulamben, Bali, I was essentially temporarily bored as I failed to find any subjects that suited by macro lens and excited me! So, I turned my attention to the mirror basslets that were darting about as they are one of the most photogenic of this fish family and although difficult and time consuming to capture I decided I had nothing to lose. After a few moments of spinning and twisting following the fishes erratic movements and shooting every time the auto focus locked on I was rewarded when the fish stopped dead still in the water column, spread all its fins in a fantastic display that turned my mundane dive into a moment of magic. Anticipating this to be just a split second moment I framed and shot just before a cleaner wrasse slipped perfectly into frame. At that point I realised the display had been a signal that the fish was receptive for the cleaner wrasse’s attention. I shot another quick burst of images trusting that my strobes would keep up with the motor drive. It just proves that you never know when the next great image is going to present itself, but one thing is certain, it’s often over in a split second!

Photo Data: Location: Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali. Genre: Macro. Photo Data: Nikon D7000, Nikkor 60mm lens, Seacam Housing, Dual Seacam Strobes, Manual Exposure Mode. ISO 100. Exposure f22 @ 1/125th sec.

Photo Hints: Being successful at capturing images of fish active fish in the water column is a hit and miss affair that requires good buoyancy and diver skills. You will need to shoot a lot as the action is so fast you might not be achieving perfect focus or framing and upon reviewing your images it is not unusual to find you have cut off fins or tails. However perseverance and patience has its reward and today’s modern auto focus lenses give us an advantage we never had in the old days of manual focus. Back then we wouldn’t attempt such challenging subjects due to the degree of difficulty, cost of film, limited shots available and low success rate. These days I often find that investing more time with difficult subjects like this has its own reward. Unique images of a moment in marine life behaviour. The rarest images of all.Equipment Comments: I would not have succeeded in capturing the magic moment when the cleaner wrasse was perfectly positioned if it wasn’t for the exceptionally fast recycle times of Seacam Sea Flash 150 strobes. These strobes are the most powerful and versatile flash units in the World. Since they can still provide effective macro lighting at very low power settings the strobes can often keep up with a photographer shooting fast action sequences.

Interesting Facts: The Mirror Basslet, Pseudanthias pleurotaenia, is the largest of the Basslets. They prefer the deeper coastal drop offs compared to many other members of the family that are found schooling in large numbers on shallow coral reefs. The Cleaner Wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus, is a specialist cleaner that occupies cleaning stations visited by fish large and small. However, many other fish have a part time role as cleaners. These include butterfly fish and angel fish that are frequently seen attending to manta rays, sharks and giant sunfish.

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