As the saying goes...the secret to being a good photographer is never to show the stuff that you don't want other people to see.

But actually, sometimes it's worth doing so to illustrate a point.

Take this image of a weedy scorpionfish (Rhinopias frondosa) for instance.


It's not necessarily a bad picture. It's properly exposed and such...but it's cluttered, which is perfectly natural, because that's the way these fish make a living...by being so gaudy that they blend into their surroundings. Makes it easier to snag snacks fish that aren't paying attention.

If I were out to get ID photos, this image would be A-OK. But since taking ID photos isn't really my thing, I wasn't happy with this picture.

Continuing with the theme of selective lighting, here's what I was able to do when I got a second chance with another Rhinopias about a week later.


This is a different individual (I think), but the circumstances and terrain were similar...gaudy fish in visually chaotic terrain.

With a week between the two encounters to cogitate upon what I could have done differently the first time, I knew exactly what I wanted when we found this fish...hard directional lighting from an extreme angle to bring out just the fish, and a soft fill from the opposite angle to give a hint of the background terrain without lighting it up enough to distract from the main subject.

Incidentally, if you haven't seen one of these fish before, they seem to like Ambon. I saw four or five on my first trip, and four on my recent visit...without even looking for any. Colour variations I've seen in Ambon include white, cream, lavender, purple, and yellow.