by Jack & Sue Drafahl
It seems most underwater photographers have a bucket list of underwater animals they hope to capture with photography systems. For us, it has been the elusive Clown Trigger fish, but this magnificent animal presents many photographic problems. First, the top of the fish is very black, and when you photograph it with flash against a dark background, the body, and the background merge. The second problem is that the fish is very skittish, so it is difficult to get close enough for a full-frame image because any movement scares them off. Finally, the flash will scare them off the first time it fires, and all you will get is a tail shot.
Over the years, we have tried to get satisfactory images, but ended up with many butt shots. When we switched from flash to using Light and Motion constant LED lighting, it changed our fish photography!
On a recent dive at Mary Island in the Solomons, we were finally able to check this fish off our bucket list. We used an Olympus Pen 3 with the new 60mm macro lens and two Light & Motion 1200 Sola lights. The 60mm macro has the equivalent of a 120mm macro lens with 35mm cameras. Using the shutter speed mode of 1/250 second guaranteed that the background would be balanced with the foreground. We set the camera to motor drive at five frames per second and held down the shutter. We took several bursts of 7-10 shots and once we were sure we had the shot, we switched and took several clips of HD video.
Without the disturbing flash firing and being able to maintain a distance of 3-4 feet, the fish was cooperative. We were still able to light the Clown Trigger with the two 1200 Light and Motion Sola lights mounted on Ultralight arms positioned beyond the front edge of the lens. The blend of light from the Light & Motion lights and the existing sunlight gave us the best lighting possible!
Jack and Sue Drafahl are a husband and wife team of professional undersea journalists, lecturers and multimedia producers. www.jackandsue.com