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Maryke's Little Clown

Maryke's Little Clown
Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-04-11
Categories: Fish
Camera: Canon EOS 350D, Sigma 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 HZ DG Macro, Digital ISO 400, UV 62mm Kenko
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/125 seconds
Details: (Fill) Flash: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Fishes from around the world, Underwater World #2, 70-79 Puntos (chapter 2), Different Fish, RARE or SIGNIFICANT contributions to TN 1, A study in Ichthyology (fish) 1, Dedications at Trek Nature, Underwater Wonder World 1, My Dedications ;o) [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-06-26 14:17
Viewed: 10233
Favorites: 4 [view]
Points: 76
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Clown triggerfish - Balistoides conspicillum

This colourful clown is making a special appearance for a very cute little girl called Maryke. She is Aaltjie's granddaughter and although I do not know her she sounds like a very adorable and clever girl. I hope she is feeling much better and that this funny little clownfish will put a lovely smile on her face. I am sure she knows that she has a very special granddad and I want her to give him a great BIG HUG.

The other day I was pleasantly surprised when I read that one of my earlier postings "I want my Mommy" actually helped to calm her down when she wasn't feeling too well and I would like to share that endearing story with you.

I quote from Aaltjie's message (critique) "This little note is on behalf of my granddaughter Maryke, whom I am baby sitting this afternoon. She asked me to tell you that it is a very special picture. I must tell you that this specific photo helped me to calm her down. She is not feeling too well and with her mom not around is feeling very sorry for herself. Crying was the next in line, and I had to hear "I want my mommy" a few times. I remembered seeing this photo of yours while going through your portfolio and called her to come and have a look at a picture of herself on the computer. She was not very keen, but I think curiousness took over and I showed her this picture. She quickly forgot the crying and very sarcastically told me that we must go to Checkers tomorrow to buy me some new glasses, because the ones I have is not working anymore. I had to defend myself and tell her the story of this chic crying out "I want my mommy". Needless to say, she found it very fascinating and forgot about her tears." unquote.

I recon that most of us have encountered this kind of situation and just could not find something to distract or divert such a distressed youngster's attention and thereby help them to cheer up. I never thought that one of my TrekNature photos would ever be used for such a "worthy" cause. Life is full of unexpected surprises and heart warming moments. I just want to thank Aaltjie for taking the liberty to share this affectionate experience with me/us.

This Clown triggerfish was photographed at the uShaka Marine World aquarium in Durban, during a short vacation to the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands, earlier this year. It is only the 3rd photo of this species on TrekNature. Normally I would shoot this type of aquarium shot in "Manual" mode with f/11 aperture, 1/200 seconds shutter speed, and ISO100 settings with fine tuning on the "Flash exposure compensation". However, for this specific shot I was experimenting a bit and I switched over to "Normal Auto" mode. The camera selected f/5.6 aperture, 1/125 second shutter speed, and ISO400 settings. The result was quite surprising as the difference between the two was mostly in the background. With the manual settings I would normally get a rather dark BG, but obviously with an extended DOF which means that the focus on the subject would be very sharp. With the "Auto" mode I got less DOF and slower shutter speed however, the subject still retained good focus and the BG came out very bright. Both techniques actually produced pretty acceptable results and I suppose it is a matter of taste or purpose that would determine which settings to use under any given circumstances.


Head and body compressed, covered with strong, rough, interlocking plate-like scales in regular series. The mouth is small with powerful jaws and strong teeth. Gill opening is a small slit above and in front of pectoral fin base. Deep groove on snout in front of eye; cheek covered with scales; enlarged bony plates behind gill opening. Dorsal part of head and body blackish; lower half of head and body with large round white blotches; yellow or white band across snout in front of eyes; lips orange, bordered posteriorly by yellow line; rounded tail fin is yellow or white, with black base and wide black margin posteriorly, edged with a white rim. Attains 50cm. (This specimen was ±40cm in length.)

Indo-West Pacific, Kenya to Aliwal Shoal (Southern Africa); not known from Red Sea or northern Indian Ocean.

Generally near shore in relatively shallow water (less than 100m) on coral reefs. Adults usually on outer reefs at 5-75m depth; juveniles rarely seen, because they are usually deeper than 25m, hiding in caves and crevices.

They often dart for shelter into crevices or holes, lock their stout dorsal fin spine erect, and depress their strong pelvic bone, thus making it impossible for a predator to dislodge them.

They feed on sea urchins and other echinoderms, crustaceans, molluscs, tunicates, brittlestars, polychaete worms, hydrozoans, tips of branching coral, sponges, and fish.

Eggs demersal and placed in a depression excavated in the sand, where they are guarded by one or sometimes both parents. Divers should be wary of triggerfish guarding their nest, as they are aggressive and bite viciously.

Source: "Coastal Fishes of Southern Africa" by Phil & Elaine Heemstra. Published jointly by the National Inquiry Service Centre (NISC), South Africa, and the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB).

My first attempt at Post Processing using Adobe Photshop CS2.

kessi, Necipp, Proframe, Isu, bobcat08, Aaltjie, fartash, uleko, pilonm, Matt-Bird, saguzar, manyee, lawhill, jmp, scottevers7, jcoowanitwong, snowfalken, dew77, Silke, Alex99, XOTAELE, Ena, Miss_Piggy, betsie, Rehanna has marked this note useful
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Add Critique [Critiquing Guidelines] 
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To marhowie: What matters most...loot 1 07-02 07:17
To Aaltjie: The pleasure is all mineloot 1 07-01 18:52
To manyee: Lesson on aquarium shotsloot 1 07-01 18:08
To AnimalExplorer: The Dude who is Looking for his Brainloot 1 07-01 16:06
To migrations: Eh...loot 2 06-26 14:47
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Critiques [Translate]

Eh. . Where you made this photo?

Très beau specimen de balliste clown, j'aime beaucoup la photo

  • Great 
  • kessi Gold Star Critiquer [C: 80 W: 5 N: 74] (221)
  • [2007-06-26 14:47]
  • [2]

Hi Loot. Great clear picture of this fish. I love your note and it made me go to your "I want my mommy" picture. Super. I can see why Maryke stopped crying. The clown fish should make her laugh as he looks such a cheerful fellow. Regards, Irmgard

Excellent detail and good light lovely colours and dof, good clarity for an aquarium shot nice one tfs rgds Necip

What a wonderful gift to Maryke you've posted here Loot.
I'm sure she does like it, she has to, because overhere we all do like this image very much :)
Great note, great shot with very beautiful clarity, colors and details.
Perfect and very lovely work.
Thanks for sharing.
Kind regards, Harry

  • Great 
  • Isu Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 313 W: 0 N: 21] (1663)
  • [2007-06-26 17:44]

Hola Loot! Estupendo primer plano, muy nítidos los colores, excelente composición y encuadre. También tengo la curiosidad de saber dónde hiciste la foto... Saludos Sira

  • Great 
  • zeca Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 373 W: 14 N: 539] (2887)
  • [2007-06-26 17:45]

Wonderful fish, Loot! One of my favorites from the sea. A saw one diving the red sea, but I didn´t had the chance to shoot it. Its really nice, and you did a nice capture.

Hello Loot.

Excellent picture, very good details and colors.

Jose Luis.

Hi Loot,

What a beauty. That colours. Amazing what the nature us can shows on colours. I find the info about your camerasettings very interesting. POV, BG and DOF are wonderful. regards and TFS Bob

Hello Loot,
Amazing clarity and details!
This is a very attractive capture, almost with the sharpness of a drawing...
Subject is well framed, with strong appealing colours!
Pablo -

Loot, Auto or manual, this is a fine pic. Liked the incident about the little girl. Sometimes it elevates our efforts to levels which we never expected. The little girl's happiness is worth more than ALL the praise WE at TN can hope heap on you.

Great work,

Warm reards, Kiran


Maryke was up very early this morning and I just could not wait to show her the photo of the clown triggerfish. This afternoon after her nap just seemed to far away. (I think, I’ll be in trouble by my daughter tonight for dragging Maryke her in front of the computer before playschool), but I am sure, I will be able to wangle a good enough excuse for showing off with the photo, when it comes to it.) My message regarding your posting will be divided into 4.

I might be banished from Trek Nature for my looonnnnnnnnnnng response.

I read your whole note aloud and Maryke’s reaction was the following chirpy answer:
Grandpa ask the uncle why is it a clown fish, but it does not have a red nose or red mouth?
Tell the uncle, I like the “bubblegum fish” but next time the dots must be pink, because I like pink. She also said that we must phone to tell the “people who feed the fish” that they must not give it such a lot of food, because it’s stomach looks very fat, and just now it will drown, and ended of with “ Or is it going to have babies?” Well my friend, you know I like your photos but I surely do not hope you plan to post a “pink” one soon.

From my side: Thank you for the wonderful gesture, by dedicating this beautiful photo of the clown triggerfish to Maryke. You do not know one of us, and owe us absolutely nothing, and there are so many other people who deserve this dedication more than us, but in your heart you felt it is the right thing to do, and for that humble thought I salute you.

About the photo: I have never seen anything like this before. It is impressive. Brilliant work, outstanding photography. It looks to me as if this fish is wearing a corset. Just look at the patterns forming where the body and the back fin meet. It looks to me like the laces the ladies used to tie the corset in the olden days. Am I talking too much, and am talking a lot of rubbish? Ok then I’ll ask you in all honesty, how did the Lord know, to create such a masterpiece? This being one of so many I have seen on Trek Nature. Have you ever seen a child coloring in a picture? All colours, mixed, and then you think by yourself, you will never find something like it in the real world, but if the child is happy with such a mix, everything is fine. I recall my thoughts on that, especially with fish and birds.

About the first critique on this photo:
Eh.-Where you made this photo? What a question! What is this chap’s problem? Does he not understand English; does he want me to translate it for him? I was dumbstruck when I saw it. I do not want to make any predictions on his time of his stay here on TN, but with a start like that……………No I think I must rather just stop there. But I must tell you I REALLY liked your answer.

Hello Loot
Wonderful shot of this colorful Clown,
Great focusing,use on flash and compo,
Excellent lighting and DOF,Superb shot.


Far out Loot this is a stunning fish shot.
Clearly your skill has improved a lot since you joined this site.
Brilliant sharpness for an aquarium shot.
Great colours that stand out well against the blue background.
Well done


  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2007-06-27 10:15]

Hello Loot,
Having snorkled in tropical waters I just love the underwater world and the Trigger Fish are so beautiful. Excellent capture, through glass I assume, showing very sharp details and lovely colours. I'm sure Maryke, like most children, would love this one!
TFS and best wishes, Ulla

  • Great 
  • pilonm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 588 W: 90 N: 975] (3321)
  • [2007-06-27 10:26]

Hello Loot,

After commenting my last bananaquit on PPN, Aaltjie invited me to bring my smiley to your wonderful picture of this clown fish dedicated to his granddaughter Maryke! I should thank him because I can now see a wonderful picture you took with all the talent we know you have! You are becoming a real master to photography fish!!! This one is so colorful, and you managed so excellently the exposition (we can see all the white tones)and got a great POV in order to not show in any ways the reflection of the flash! The nice blue bg enhances so well the fish and emphasizes the great colors of the animal....

TFS, Loot that wonderful pic! And thank to Aaltjie for letting me know about this one!


Hello Loot,
What a colorful capture and most of all, a great dedication :) I had the pleasure today to read Aaltjie's comment on one of my pictures and now, here I am :) I like this cute clown who surely cheered up this little angel. This is a detailed and nicely composed picture. Thanks!

Hi Loot
Ek kan sien hoekom Gerard Troost gevra het waar het jy daai vis gemaak - dis net ongelooflik! dis te perfek om waar te wees! Ek het nog nooit so iets gesien nie. Jy het, soos ek al vele kere gesê het, absoluut die "shot" om die regte ding op die regte tyd te doen. Uitstekend Loot! kan nie wag vir jou nuwe wildtuin fotos nie. Ek dink daar kan 'n hele paar verrassings uitkom. Lekker naweek.

  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2007-06-28 6:09]

Very bright, sharp and colourful Loot. And so is your note - you do keep us tied up on the internet reading all your wondeful notes.


  • Great 
  • smitha Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 348 W: 73 N: 1165] (4409)
  • [2007-06-28 10:44]

hello Loot,
WOW! what a pretty gift for a pretty girl. It's really beautiful. She must be feling very proud and happy to have such a wonderful dedication for her. Good picture with good clarity and details.Thanks a lot for sharing it,
Regards, Smitha.

Hi Loot,
A wonderful picture!
It's like a painting, the colours are so vivid and well rendered.
I like so much the particular and beautiful patterns on the fish, it stands out from the soft background.
You did a great job taking the pic through a window.
My compliments and thanks for share it.
Best regards,

Hi Loot,
It´s a marvelous fish species, the colours patterns, sharpness, details, all is perfect. The same with the complete note. I don´t know what more thing to add at my comment....ahhh, congratulations, my friend, thanks...

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2007-06-28 21:49]
  • [+]

What a sweet thing for you to do, Loot.
You just never know what effects your beautiful pictures may have on others.
I like the light BG as it certainly accentuates the beautiful details of the fish.
What a beauty indeed. The light on it is fantastic, and the colors and markings are stunning.
How do you manage to use the flash against the glass and not get any reflection?
I would really appreciate a lesson on aquarium shots as I may go back to visit the famous Monterey Aquarium soon.
TFS. : )

Hi Loot,
it is a great profile for this trigger fish. After seeing many scuba diving over the years its good to see a well photographed one. They are a pretty fish, although pretty they really can get aggressive when mating. Their bigger cousins, who are not so painted as nice, can be very aggressive and dangerous to people as your notes state, a friend is living proof and has the scars to show for it. I personally think that most divers should not be thinking about sharks but trigger fish (esp the bigger spiece than the 1 in your photo) they are a greater threat to the unaware dive. However, back to the topic, you have capture a very good shot displaying this fish patterns and detail very nicely,
best regards

Hello Loot,
Lovely portrait, showing this clown fish,
with vivid colors and sharp focus,
great notes I believed that every body say a list once " I wont my mommy" TFS.
Best regards/Lawhill

  • Great 
  • jmp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1659 W: 95 N: 2273] (8415)
  • [2007-07-01 9:00]

Hi Loot,
Curious fish and really wonderful history in your note!
TFS, José M.

This is my favorite of the triggerfish species, they are the most decorated of them all in my opinion, and you captured it at its best Loot. I can tell you love tropical fish in a big way, and I dont blame you, the colors and variation are incredible. Very nicely done. Who is that person way at the top of the screen? I love your reply. As long as the image looks fantastic who cares.

Paul :)

  • Great 
  • Dyker Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 136 W: 0 N: 57] (170)
  • [2007-07-02 3:58]

Hello Loot
Each time I open one of your postings I am more impressed. It looks like your work improves with every photo you take, every post processing you do, every note you write, and so it goes on and on. This is a lovely dedication you made to this little girl and your story telling abilities paints the whole register in such an enjoyable manner that it is always a pleasure to read through it all. One almost lives through the story with you and the other role players. There is also always such a good balance between your personal story line and the subject information and it always looks so professionally done. Then of course there is this first class photo. Well taken and presented. Beautiful colours and sharp focus with a quality of exposure that makes the fish radiate its beauty. All I can say other than this is give us some more.

Hi Loot,
Excellent capture with some great detail, even in those hard to get dark areas. The subject does look better against this brighter BG, I agree. I must admit that the quote from Aaltjie moved me more than the shot though :)
And in the final analysis that's what matters most...

Hi Loot,
Again, your shots thru the aquarium glass are amazing. You have perfected this skill very well. The auto setting from your camera produced an excellent result. The colors and detail in this Clown Triggerfish are superb. The added bonus of knowing that your work really helped someone is priceless. This photo would bring a smile to anyones face it is so colorful.


Hi Loot,
Perfect sharpness and clarity on this little crown triggerfish. Nicely composed picture. Thanks for the photo taking techniques that you mention in the note. Very well done. With all best wishes,

Hello Loot,

This is absolutely beautiful! You show us wonderful contrast and colors that I can't see in the fishes from my area!
I also liked the notes. You never know what secret powers your pictures posses! I can only imagine how happy Aaltje was when he saw this picture.


I guess there were not too many options when composing this shot. You wisely avoided the boring middle of the frame and left enough empty space in front of the fish. The background looks excellent even if the automatic selected aperture was larger than you would have done it manually.


The colors are superb. Only in those warm waters can one see such colorful fishes. And the blue background makes all the other colors stand out. I guess it looks much better than on a dark background because the fish is partially black and would have been more difficult to isolate.


I like the distribution of the contrast in your picture: strong contrast in the foreground and low contrast in the background. This makes the subject stand out better.


I find it difficult to expose scenes with both blacks and whites especially under strong light. You captured a perfectly exposed image since I can see all the scales in both black and white areas. I guess that using the flash would have created unwanted reflections in the glass if shot perpendicularly on the glass surface. Did you use any polarizing filters? I like the fact that most of the ambient light was preserved. I can still tell that the main light source was above, just as it is in nature.


Focus is sharp and on the subject! The DOF is deep enough to avoid sharpness fall-off on the fish. Very well done!

I think this is one of the few critiques I write for a picture of a fish! It deserves it! The notes are great too! Thanks for sharing!

With Friendly Regards,

  • Great 
  • dew77 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4432 W: 248 N: 4028] (13270)
  • [2007-07-04 8:08]

Hello Loot,
Beautiful capture.I liked vivid colors,clear details,sharpness,BG and composition a lot.

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2007-07-14 10:11]

Hi Loot.
Thanks again for your heart words which are too dear for me. You are great photographer, writer, person and friend. I am happy to meet you here.

Your present shot is surprising, unusual and beautiful. Its clear rich colours, exact shapes, extreme details impress the imagination. Combination of the lights and impressive dark aeries are so excellent as the composition and cropping. Note is the best as all your notes. My best wishes and kind regards.

Hello Loot,
A wonderful shot.



Hi Loot,
what a stunning presentation of just incredible markings! Being a butterfly guy I am twice enchanted by those incredibly powerful signs, patterns and colours of proudly presenting themselves in front a that perfectly contrasting, cheerfully blue depth of waters. Iconially well captured portrait of that fascinating, most beautiful inhabitant of tropical oceans.
Thank you!
My best regards,

Preciosos colores los de este pez.
Buena iluminación, sin reflejos.
Perfecto encuadre.
Un cálido saludo, JL.

  • Great 
  • Ena Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 324 W: 61 N: 594] (2454)
  • [2007-12-31 4:29]

Hi Loot,
Wonderful shot!
Good composition and BG.
Nice colors!
I wish you a happy New Year!

Hallo Loot
What a lovely dedication. I cannot really describe what I actually think of the excellence of this shot. Words fail me. The lightning, focus and camerawork are just tops. Well I’ll repeat myself! It is tops!
With you behind the camera, we cannot expect less, because I know the best is only good enough for you. Expertly done. The clarity of the black and white colours are just super and one cannot really believe that this shot was taken through a glass window. Thanks once again for the great educational lesson in your note, and for sharing this beauty.

Calibration Check