Image: “Flying High” by Rico Besserdich

Flying High

*The sea goldie (Pseudanthias squamipinnis), also known as the lyretail coralfish or scalefin anthia, is for sure one of the Red Sea’s most photographed fish. As they are often found in very large schools above the reef and mostly photographed as such, my aim was to have one shot of a single male sea goldie, preferably with a pleasing pose.

Diving at the divespot “Ras Bareika” in the Red Sea during one of my underwater photography workshops, luckily then came with the right opportunity. This male sea goldie stayed more or less at the same spot, swimming sometimes towards me but more often away from me, obviously checking out what I am doing there.

When taking pictures of fish, I often like to work with a wide open aperture as this comes with a nice isolation of the main subject and a smooth bokeh background. My 60mm macro lens provides (considering the crop factor 1.6 of my Canon 7D) effective 96mm focal lenght which makes it the lens of my choice for such shots. For this image, f/3.5 worked pretty well and allowed me to use the max strobe-sync speed which is 1/250 s on my camera. With this fast shutter speed I was able to “freeze” the moment which, however, was not that easy as those fishes never stand still. I wanted to achieve a bright image and therefore had set my ISO to 200.

The depth in where I’ve made this shot was quite shallow, somewhat around 6 meters (19 feet), so I’ve set my two strobes to lowest power, just to give the subject a kiss of light and make the colors pop. As a nice side-effect, the low strobe power setting decreased the strobe’s recycle time drastically. That allowed me to shoot quick without wondering about whether my strobes are ready again or not. As that sea goldie was a quick one I had to be quick as well; the fish usually “stood” still only for 1-2 seconds before swimming away for another round, checking its claim before returning after a little while, looking if I am still there.

The rest was mostly waiting, staring through my camera’s viewfinder and practicing on patience, waiting for the right moment where the sea goldie poses as I wanted it to. After first shots with a “face to face” angle of view I then lowered my own position, aiming for a “from below” shot with a quite straight upward angle. I’d spent around twenty minutes with this fish, made around 35 images from which I personally consider 5 as “promising”. This one is one of them. Thanks for having a look at it!*

Location: “Ras Mohammed” National Marine Park, Red Sea, Egypt Dive spot: “Ras Bareika” Date: November 13th 2013

Equipment : CANON 7D in Easydive “LEO II PRO” housing, Canon 60mm EF-S Macro lens, 2 x Sea&Sea YS110alpha strobes

Settings : f/3.5 , 1/250, ISO 200, both strobes on lowest manual power setting