Tozeuma Thoughts

There are times when things seem hopeless, photographically speaking.

You submerge. Visibility is cruddy. Nothing seems to be happening.

Finally, you come across something. A tiny Tozeuma sp. shrimp, for instance. Two, maybe three cm in size, perfectly camouflaged, sitting flush against a twig of nondescript coral protruding from a mishmash of other stuff—some organic, some not—buried in soft, silty muck—the kind that turns the ocean into miso soup with every move you make.

On any other day, you'd take a look, weigh the pros and cons, pass the situation by.

On this occasion though, I didn't have many options.

So I made the best of it.

Tozeuma shrimp Japan
Small Tozeuma sp. shrimp (License image)

My computer told me that I had 20-25 minutes to think.

Front lighting would pose two main issues: (1) Particulate blowout potential with all the silt in the water; and (2) drab subject sitting on dark blah clutter against backdrop of mud = yicky (said in the voice of a 5-year old whose been told to eat spinach, right now!).

I decided to use four lights. (1) Right, to the rear—a Backscatter MF-2 with snoot. This served as both a focus light and primary strobe, the primary in this situation being a backlight. Using the snoot hole-size adjuster thing (hmmm, is there a proper term for this?), I restricted the light to the shrimp. (2) Inon S2000 to the right side, aimed slightly to the rear to provide additional highlights. (3) Inon S2000 to the left, modified with fresnel lens and warming filter, to act as fill. (4) Inon Z240 on-camera to set off all the lighting.

It took a few tries to get the aiming and power levels dialed-in. But I was happy that it turned out almost exactly as I had envisioned.

And no, I don't always carry around a modified fresnel lens and warming filter. It just so happened that I had cobbled that together some days earlier and was looking for a situation to test it. The shrimp appeared to be a drab brown, but I knew that it actually was more of a orange-red, because I had shined a light on it to check.

As usual, I was surprised when one of my ideas actually worked. And now I have another tool in my pile of junk tool kit.