Story Behind the Shot: Pughead Pipefish

October 31st, 2017 • uwt

Pughead Pipefish (Bulbonaricus brauni)

pughead Bulbonaricus brauniWe have just returned from our last trip of the year to Komodo National Park. This time we were in board of the Mermaid II Liveaboard on the itinerary Bali – Komodo – Bali.

This itinerary offers the chance to visit lots of very good macro sites, including the west Sumbawa region and the volcano of Sangeang. It was in the West of Sumbawa by the island of Satonda that we stopped to make our second dive of the trip and the guides were all excited to go and show us one of the newest most wanted pipefish. The “pughead” pipefish.

This tiny pipefish is the size of 4-5cm long string of wool and hides inside the crevices of the hard coral ( Galaxea )where it lives. It constantly move within its environment in search of food. From a photography point of you it can be very frustrating to try to take a picture of the tiny little critter, especially at the beginning of the trip.

Even though I shoot macro sometimes,  I have found it very challenging to even spot the the pughead in my viewfinder and at the end of the day, all my attempts on that dive resulted in failure and when I returned to the boat I had a little bit of bitterness in my mouth 😀 . However, I did not feel discouraged and I knew that at the end of the trip we would have returned to this location and I would have had a second chance. Meanwhile there going to be several divers, especially nights dives, where I could further practice and get my eye adjust using the 105mm lens with a diopter.

After four beautiful night dives and a day by Sangeang voilcano shooting macro, here I was back in full force to West Sumbawa for round 2 with my little friend.

This time I have even dared to bring a snoot along. The snoot is a conical tool that you can place in front of your strobe to have more directional light, resulting in a more dramatic shot. So I challenged my self and placed the SMC diopter in front of my 105mm lens , positioned the snoot finding the right spot where the light was pointing practicing on a little tiny motionless piece of coral about the same size of my subject. Switched off to the AUTO-focus of my camera to avoid loosing the point where my light was pointing and headed to my pughead pipefish.

Given the practice I had during this trip, I found myself immediately more comfortable in spotting the pughead in my viewfinder and after 15-20min I could nail few photos of the cryptic tiny pipefish. The picture below is my favourite shot of all.

pughead pipefish