Friday’s Funny Fish Face is a Red Irish Lord (Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus), a cold water fish that I photographed in Discovery Passage in British Columbia.
This brightly coloured fish, which can camouflage itself to blend into its environment, is a member of the Sculpin family. They can grow up to about a foot long – this one was smaller than that. I have seen very few of these fish, despite a significant number of cold water dives in my logbook. It is my understanding that they are not overly uncommon, but this is the only one that I have had the chance to photograph – way back in May 2003 when Mr G and I were diving on a Diverlink group trip to Dynamike’s, on Quadra Island.
The Red Irish Lord has fascinating eye details. And this type of fish is so confident in its camouflage that it will allow divers to make a close approach, if executed cautiously, so getting a good gander at the eye should be totally possible.
These were early days with an underwater camera (I started shooting in Summer of 2002). My first camera was an Olympus 4040Z digicam, in a clear plastic housing. By the time I took this shot, I had further challenged (and frustrated!) myself by adding an external single strobe (a workhorse Sea & Sea YS 90DX – that Mr G is still using!)
Using strobes (external flash sources) while diving is a confounding thing, due to the way light behaves underwater, which is quite different than when in air. There is also the issue of backscatter, which is all the particulate that is present in the water, and which can get lit up by the strobe, making for shots that look like they were taken in a blizzard. Up here in British Columbia, unless winter diving (when I’ve seen crystal clear viz as good as 90 feet), the water tends to be rich with plankton, and therefore murky. Working the strobe(s) so that they light up the subject but not all the spunk in the water is an art unto itself…
Looking back, I can see how I could have improved these images with better camera settings and lighting, but I still think they are not such terrible shots, considering I was pretty much a totally unschooled newbie to u/w photography (and Photoshop!) at the time they were taken. Not to mention I was wearing very thick cold water neoprene gloves, and diving in the dreaded 7 mm (non-compressed) neoprene drysuit (which took over 35 pounds of lead to sink!) – the cursed drysuit that my buds still tease me about because of the lurid pink and purple detailing. Fortunately, both the camera and the drysuit have gone through significant upgrades since then.
So I guess, all in all, one could say: you’ve come a long way, baby ;^)