Oriental Sweetlips & Butterfly Fish School

15-Feb-2016 Back to Image Gallery

Oriental Sweetlips & Butterfly Fish School


The Coral Gardens dive site at Tulamben is the most beautiful coral garden in this area with so many species of fish it’s hard to decide what to shoot!

This dive site is just in front of our favourite sunset drinking bar at one of the beautiful resorts in the area and I love a margarita here in the evening. The Balinese barman knows how I like it, plenty of salt on the rim of the glass. I am thinking about that as I drift among the schools of fish. I don’t know why, perhaps it’s the taste of salt in my regulator!

But the most significant difference right now is a school of oriental sweetlips have just grouped up with a school of butterfly fish and I can see a great image forming. A picture like this rarely happens, usually different schools of fish mix around in all sorts of directions which is designed to confuse predators and exasperate underwater photographers!

My trigger finger blasts through about 10 shots and I can only trust in my inordinate abilities as an underwater photographer to secure the shot. In reality I have lost count of the number of times the opposite is true!

However, it’s getting late, almost time for that margarita!

Photo Data: Location: Coral Gardens, Tulamben, Bali Genre: Wide Angle with Strobes. Photo Data: Nikon D800, Nikkor 16-35mm Zoom Lens, Seacam Housing, Dual Seacam Strobes, and Manual Exposure Mode. ISO 200 Exposure f13 @ 1/250th sec. Image by Kevin Deacon.

Photo Hints: The secret to one successful picture of fish schooling is, shoot lots!
Too often I see photographers shoot a few pictures; check their camera monitor to confirm exposure or whatever, then swim off to find another half dozen subjects.

A real pro will swim past many subjects, select one that is really compelling, and spend time with it.
The more time you spend with a subject, and the more you shoot that subject, while working with the composition, the lighting and the technical aspects, the higher the chance of a winning image.

Interesting Facts: This dive site at Tulamben also features some striking Balinese deities in an underwater temple garden that includes a Budda and traditional large Balinese Lanterns complete with Temple Guards. All in all a beautiful dive site.

Common name. Oriental Sweetlips. Latin name. Plectorhinchus orientalis
Common name. Philippine Butterflyfish. Latin name Chaetodon adiergastos

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