Aquarium photography

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by B192734, Mar 24, 2008.

  1. B192734

    B192734 TPF Noob!

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    Anyone have any experience taking photos of fish tanks? I've been trying to come up with some good shots, but having to shoot through the glass, and everything is causing me some headaches. I've got the camera set up on a tripod, and have a Circ Polarizer on, so I can get the reflection off of the glass out of the shot, but I have a really hard time getting an accurate representation of the colors involved. I end up with very slow shutter speeds, that end up causing blur. When I use the flash, I can get a faster shutter speed, but the picture always comes out looking washed out. I've tried normal settings, slow shutters, large apertures, macro shots, supermacro shots, everything that I can think of. I've even tried having someone stand behind me with a large flashlight trying to highlight the certain peice of coral that I want. All sorts of crazy things. Any of ya'll out there have ideas of how to get them to come out? I know it can be done, because I've seen other people's pictures, but not ever any thoughts on techniques of how to actually photograph into aquariums. Thanks for any thoughts.
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I think one good method is to get the lens right up on the glass...or to use a lens hood (maybe a cheap rubber one) and have that right up against the glass. That should take care of the reflections. The polarizer might help, but it also robs some light, which makes your shutter speeds longer.

    Flash is probably the way to go...but you will want the flash coming from a direction that is not the same as the camera...so off-camera-flash. There are several ways of doing this, most of which have been talked about before (try a search). You might also want to visit http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/
     
  3. kidchill

    kidchill TPF Noob!

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    It's a lot harder than you think....Here's some tips though. Crank up your ISO as high as you can without too much noise. Also, crank up your exposure compensation a couple of notches. When you shoot, be perfectly perpendicular to the tank otherwise you get errors. Turn off your sump pump/filters and flow for a good hour before you shoot, this will cut out some motion and particles. Turn off all the lights in the house, just use the tank lights. Shoot with wide open apertures. If you're shooting corals you don't have to worry too much about motion, but fish, you have to get enough light to get your shutter speed around 100-125 or so.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  4. B192734

    B192734 TPF Noob!

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    Excellent! Those type of photos are almost exactly the kind that I'm looking at. It gets very frustrating when everything comes out washed and gray. I'll try blocking out the lights except the tank, and see what I can come up with. Do you use your standard white balance, or is that something that would have to be manually set? I've heard that the flourescent lights are hard to deal with because they seem to be very bright, but through a camera they lose a lot of the brightness.
     
  5. petey

    petey TPF Noob!

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    I did it here -> http://thephotoforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=115999.

    It worked sort of well but I still had noise. I was at the Monterey Bay Aquarium with my D40. No polarizer filter, but I did set ISO high (3200) and manually set exposure. I had noise reduction ON, but still came through with noise. I've been trying to figure out if there would have been something better I could have done. hmmm...Seriously thick plexiglass on all of these.
     
  6. EricBrian

    EricBrian TPF Noob!

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    I agree with kidchill: I think I got quite a few nice shots by keep the lens perpendicular to the glass of the tank.

    Also, as he recommended, see if the tank owner will turn off the pumps... but don't count on it. :)
     
  7. petey

    petey TPF Noob!

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    When I look back on the series the shots at f5 look better (with less noise) than those I shot at f8. I used the More Vivid settings and Exposure compensation was set at +0.3.

    I'm not sure but I wonder if it was simply aperture that would have made them better.

    I can't wait to go back and hit it again. !
     
  8. B192734

    B192734 TPF Noob!

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    Well, getting the filters to be turned off won't be a problem, because it's my own tank. I'll try that. I'll see if I can come up with a few photos tonight and post them on and see if I can get something useful.
     
  9. MarcusM

    MarcusM TPF Noob!

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    I shot these at the Monterey aquarium several years ago. After looking back at the settings, I'm surprised they came out as decent as they did...I don't know how I avoided a blurry mess at 1/15 and 1/20 sec. handholding! Also, normally ISO 1600 on my 300D is virtually useless. But for some reason it worked out with these shots.

    f/5
    1/15 sec
    ISO 1600
    [​IMG]


    f/4.5
    1/20 sec
    ISO 1600
    [​IMG]
     
  10. kidchill

    kidchill TPF Noob!

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    Damn, for handholding they came out well. I just used auto-WB. I guess you could set a custom WB by putting a piece of paper under the lights and presetting, but I wouldn't bother 'cause of the way the water will filter light. You always lose red/orange first, and even if you have a shallow tank (like me 75gallon long with T5's) there's still loss. I don't know if I said it before, but ditch the polarizer. It takes some practice, believe me, those were nowhere near my first attempt!! I haven't really tried anymore 'cause my $ has been going into photography instead of the tank and there's nothing new to shoot....Not to mention paying for anesthesia school has left me broke :)

    Oh, also, take off your top-glass if you can. You want as much light as possible getting in there. Don't bother cleaning the salt-creep off of the glass, just plain take it off!! Hope that helps!
     

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