A Yellowmargin Moray Eel (Gymnothorax flavimarginatus) shares its den with a couple of Banded Coral Shrimps (Stenopus hispidus) on a Mauritian reef. Banded Coral Shrimp are the largest known species of cleaner shrimp in our oceans. They can sometimes grow to a staggering length of 9cm/3.5 inch, although 8cm/3.2 inch is more common. These shrimp, which are associated with coral reefs, inhabit the tropical and warm waters of all our planet’s oceans. They prefer calm waters and avoid current-swept areas, hiding in reef cracks, under ledges, and overhangs. They can sometimes even be found in seagrass beds close to the substrate. Although this shrimp is very common worldwide, it is not encountered as often here in Mauritian waters compared to the White-banded Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis). Most moray eels on Mauritian reefs get cleaned by White-banded Cleaner Shrimp and Clear Cleaner Shrimps (Urocaridella antonbruunii).
In this underwater scene, I encountered a few technical issues.
First, and probably the most noticeable issue, was that there was quite a bit of dust drifting by between the moray eel and my underwater camera's dome. There is always the possibility to wait and hope that the dust will settle, but with a limited gas supply and bottom time and the no-decompression limits shrinking by the minute, waiting for better conditions was not really an option. Small drifting particles can be dealt with in post-production. While editing, it is possible to add a noise filter. Although it is not really designed to remove suspended particles, noise is actually very similar to these particles, but the origin is completely different. Noise-reducing software tends to smoothen out a lot of detail in the picture; therefore, it's recommended to add a sharpener at a later stage. Always use these generators and effects subtly and don't overdo it; keep your footage as realistic as possible.
Secondly, there is a significant difference in brightness between the nearly white sand on the bottom of the footage and the darker moray eel and even darker rock. Using lights is often a trade-off in these circumstances. We want our subject to be illuminated but do not want to brighten the cream-coloured lower part of the picture too much. Too much light on bright parts could result in overexposed footage, which is almost impossible to correct later. You could experiment with your video lights or even your settings, but I think the best way to deal with it is to ensure that you use as much light as possible without overexposing the lighter areas. Some cameras have a feature called “zebra” built-in. This feature is a good tool to evaluate the brightness of your image while filming. In post-production, you can counter the overly bright area by cutting it out, darkening it, and finally layering it on top of the original footage.
Thirdly, the filmed area is quite extensive, and you want your viewers to focus on the subjects (the moray eel and the shrimps). To achieve this, I used a vignette that I added to the lowest layer of the footage in my timeline. The layer above (the white sand) was darkened slightly on both the left and right sides. The vignette also helped bring out the Beyond Scuba logo in the upper right corner.
This short underwater videoclip has been filmed in Mauritius 🇲🇺
For other Banded Coral Shrimp insight please go to vlog post 177 or click the following link: https://www.beyondscuba.com/post/177-the-banded-coral-shrimp-stenopus-hispidus
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