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March 19, 2006

Yellowfin fringehead, Neoclinus stephensae
Yellowfin fringeheads (Neoclinus stephensae) have the best coiffure on
the reef. This animal has chosen a conspicuous patch of reef in which to make
his home. As such, it's easy to find. I usually drop by if I'm in the
neighborhood. As with most fringeheads, it's an almost sure bet that it'll be
home. This consistency peaked my curiosity. I wondered if these fringeheads are
exclusively ambush predators or if they sneak out under cover of darkness to
find themselves a meal. Naturally, I paid a visit one day at about one AM. The
hole appeared empty, but to be sure, I illuminated its interior. What I saw was
one perturbed looking eye and a big head of hair withdrawn well into the bore.
Oops! Sorry man.

    "Shale Island", Monterey Bay, California
    March 19, 2006

Spotfin sculpin, Icelinus tenuis
A spotfin sculpin (Icelinus tenuis) shows off some outrageously long
dorsal spines. Elongate fish can be difficult to photograph well. I find shots
in which an eye tracing the subject from nose to tail ends at the edge of the
picture to be somewhat abrasive. The obvious tricks to prevent this are shooting
head on so that the fish's tail is in the shot and/or using a shallow enough
depth of field that the subject is well out of focus where it meets the
picture's edge. In this shot, a different trick is used. The face and long
dorsal spines of the sculpin are highlighted against the bat star in the
background. Where the fish's body meets the edge of the shot however, the body
blends in with the background. I could claim that this was entirely intentional,
but that would be less than true. When shooting this, I was completely focused
on getting the bat star behind the sculpin's head and spines and wasn't really
thinking about anything else. As such, I had low expectations for this shot and
didn't even realize it was anything of value until I got home.

    "Breakwater", Monterey Bay, California
    March 19, 2006

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