C&C of an aquarium shot?

John27

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Hey all!

I took this shot a little while ago. What I did was turn on all 4 of my T5 HO bulbs on my aquarium flooding it with tons of warm light. Then, I used the on-camera pop up flash but framed this little guy in the very bottom of the shot, then cropped him out (because obviously the pop up flash caused a glare). I also pressed the lens (using a filter for protection) up against the aquarium glass to try and reduce the amount of distortion and imperfection shooting through thick large aquarium glass was going to cause.

$5478181232_d7afcf0ea6_b.jpg
Cynotilapia afra, juvenile

Now, there are some issues I can definitely see, including the VERY shallow Depth of Field causing his tail fin and anal fin to be soft. This was shot with a Canon T1i and an 18-55 IS lens. I'll have to look up the parameters, as this is an older shot. But I would like to recreate this shot, only sharper. Any thoughts or suggestions? He's bigger now, and colored up, so I think he would make an excellent shot. He's also fairly photogenic. Most get very curious about the camera and begin moving and wriggling like crazy and are difficult to shoot. He could care less so he's easy to nab mosying along.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Shooting this aquarium is really challenging. I'm shooting through another piece of glass, and I always use a UV filter to prevent scratching the lens (rather scratch a UV filter), and the subjects move quickly, hide, are small, and you can only shoot a few times before they all get scared and hide!
 

SCraig

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Beautiful shot. I love the way the edges of his fins lit up blue.

If it's your tank I'd recommend thoroughly cleaning both the inside and outside of the glass. The inside will get a film of bacteria and algae, and the outside just airborne crud. Both of them will disperse the light slightly causing the image to be soft.

I prefer off-camera flash when I shoot fish. In large aquariums I use a cord and just hold the flash as far to the side as I can. For my tanks here at home I put a flash on a light stand or tripod and aim it in the top or end of the tank, but not the front. That eliminates virtually all of the glare on the front glass.

No matter what you do it is a challenge to get a good shot though, and I toss a lot more than I keep.
 

Mully

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You can make a paper cone to fit around your lens to keep flair out. Al foil works great as it stays on the lens ...spray one side flat black and use it to make a cone .... get the heavy duty kind. I like you shot and know what a challenge it is.
 
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John27

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Thanks all!

I like the 'blue' in his tail too. These fish have an ability to adjust their pigmentation to appear more dull (when threatened, to blend in) or very bright (to attract mates or intimidate rivals), when you hit them with flash they get very 'glittery'. He was a juvenile at the time so he had very little color, but those little blue sparkles were from his pigmentation starting to come in!

I appreciate the suggestions. I bought my wife a 430 ex II for Christmas so... I may revisit this shot with an off camera flash :p

My only other issue then is his tail and anal fins. They kind of blend in with the bokeh of the background. Is there a good cure for that? Any suggestions for bringing him entirely into focus and making him a little sharper? Yes, I did use autofocus, they move too fast to manually focus (for my skill level anyway)
 

WesternGuy

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This is a neat shot and I think you did quite well to get one this good considering all the potential for reflections, etc. As far as how to get around the "bokeh" problem, you could try putting piece of coloured plastic in the aquarium, let it get used to it, and hope that he might swim by it giving you a contrasting background. I do this all the time with flower shots and certain types of macros, although I use coloured paperboard as I don't have to worry about it getting wet (lol). Alternatively, you could change the material in the aquarium to something that contrasts with the fish. My 0.02¢ FWIW.

WesternGuy
 

Luke345678

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Awesome shot! When I first saw it I wondered to myself, "How did he do that with absolutely no glare." Thank you so much for the detailed description.
 
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John27

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This is a neat shot and I think you did quite well to get one this good considering all the potential for reflections, etc. As far as how to get around the "bokeh" problem, you could try putting piece of coloured plastic in the aquarium, let it get used to it, and hope that he might swim by it giving you a contrasting background. I do this all the time with flower shots and certain types of macros, although I use coloured paperboard as I don't have to worry about it getting wet (lol). Alternatively, you could change the material in the aquarium to something that contrasts with the fish. My 0.02¢ FWIW.

WesternGuy

The colored plastic is an idea. They don't mind my hand in there they are used to it. Can't change what's in the aquarium, it's gravel and big huge landscape blocks in that aquarium to give them to 'waterscape' that they had naturally. Some of them are F1's, meaning their parents were caught in Lake Malawi, Africa. So that's (more/less) what this aquarium is supposed to look like! The major difference is that the bottom of lake malawi is sand and clay, not arkansas river rock.. but whatever! :p
 

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