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How to find a bearded goby?

For many underwater photographers Social Media are a great source of inspiration. Before the times of Facebook and Instagram there were only very few divers who, during winter time, went looking for lumpfishes or sculpins with eggs. Now, after seeing the images online, many divers go hunting for the same thing, and they are all posting almost identical pictures.

People often ask what my source of inspiration is. Like many, I'm also inspired by what I see on Social Media. I always have a look at the work of others. Alex Mustard, for example, has surprised me quite a few times. Every now and then, I come across a picture that, to me, really has the wow factor. Either because of the exceptional composition or impressive lighting, or because it shows something I have never seen before. Recently, I saw a beautiful picture of a fish I'd never seen before. I immediately sent a message to the photographer asking what kind of fish it was. It turned out to be a hairy goby. When I was in Indonesia I asked the owner of the resort if he knew this kind of fish and where we should go to look for it. He gave me the most unexpected answer: "They're everywhere, even on our house reef." In the evening, he sent me a link to a blog post he had written. It was about the same bearded goby, and that they are Mister and Misses the "Master of hiding”.

bearded goby

   

Karin Brussard • PEN E-PL7 • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm 1:2.8 MACRO 
• PT-EP12 • PPO-EP01 • 2 x Sea &Sea YS-D2

During my last diving day in Indonesia I decided to take a chance and go look for the bearded blenny. When we went into the water for a dive on the house reef, our guide came running towards us with his diving gear. He said we would never find the fish by ourselves and offered to bring us to the exact right spot. On our way we saw two frogfish, and I just couldn’t resist capturing those. At a depth of 10 meters, the guide pointed to a piece of hard coral of 15 centimetres in diameter. It's a pretty common type of coral that can be found all over Asia. He pointed to something that was moving deep down the coral and then left us there. The only thing I saw was the backside of two nervously moving little fish of some 1.5 cm.

warty frogfish                                             hairy frogfish

           

Karin Brussard • PEN E-PL7 • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm 1:2.8 MACRO 
• PT-EP12 • PPO-EP01 • 2 x Sear&Sea YS-D2

The coral was very compact and there was hardly any room around it. I wondered how I could ever take a good shot of these bearded gobies. I selected all the right settings and took some test pictures of the coral. As there was so little room in the coral, I put my flashes as close to my camera port as possible. I hadn’t seen much of the fish yet and I decided to take a fixed point to focus on, hoping that one of the gobies would pass by this exact point. I selected a high aperture to ensure a maximum depth of field. After some 15 minutes, my neck started to hurt and no fish passed. I started losing faith and was about to give up. When I moved my camera I suddenly looked one of the fish in the eye. When I pointed my camera it was obviously gone. I now understand why the owner of the resort called them the “Master of hiding”. I took another look at the coral and I saw that they were constantly at the same place and that they were occasionally turning 180 degrees to stay at another fixed spot. This should make things a lot easier. All I needed to do was focus on that spot and just wait until I see one. Not much later I was looking, through my camera lens, into two relatively big eyes. I was focusing and when I was ready to press the shutter, it was already gone – again! But I was one step closer: I have actually seen the fish! Meanwhile my neck slowly started to stiffen, and while I was waiting there I mumbled to myself "Come on, I am ready for you." I then saw them more often and I got the chance to press the shutter on time. After almost an hour I could hardly move my neck anymore and I decided to call it a day.

When I checked my shots in the evening,
I softly chuckled at myself: now I got you "Mister and Misses!"