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thatfancygoldfish

Photo tips from Laura

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Mods feel free to move this if it's not in the right spot!

Hello everyone!

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions on how I take my aquarium photographs, so by popular demand I’m going to share my knowledge and experiences with you all! :)

So the first thing I want to talk about is equipment.

You are going to need:

  • A semi professional or professional grade SLR camera. If you can’t get a hold of this, a camera with a complete manual function will work fine. For those of you asking what cameras I use; I have a Canon EOS Rebel XTi semi professional (digital) and a Nikon F60 Semi professional (film).

  • Spare lenses. I use a 18-55mm lens since it’s for multipurpose, other great lenses include fish eye, wide angle and macro. All of these flatter aquarium photography subject matter.

  • A spare battery in case you run out of power!

  • A big capacity memory card to hold lots of images! The reason for this is because I always recommend shooting in RAW format in case you will in the future need to make big prints of any of your photos!

The next thing I would like to address is lighting. Lighting is very important in photography.

Things to remember before you take your photos

• Always photograph a clean tank. Get rid of all debris, and try not to photograph right after a fish eats as it clouds the water.

  • Always photograph before a meal. Your fish will likely be more interested in seeing you and approaching your camera when they are expecting food (make sure you treat them after! :P)

In the event that your fish are ridiculously fast, feed them first as it will slow them down but just keep in mind they make funny faces after or during a feeding!

Mini lesson on photography:

To give everyone a quick photography lesson, exposures are basically composed of three elements: ISO (which is light sensitivity), Aperture (which controls your perception of depth of field) and shutter speed (which is the length of time you allow your shutter to stay open).

Lighting tips:

When you are inside a building with limited light available it’s recommended to bump up your ISO. When you’re taking photography of your aquariums shut off all the lights in the room. You’ll want to bump your ISO to about 1600, which I know, is very high. The trade off of having great light sensitivity is that you’ll get a grainy shot versus a small ISO with a smooth picture. This is a minor trade off I promise!

Turn on all your tank lights. LED’s work best, and create a neutral light. If you are using a warm coloured bulb look at your lighting settings. There will most likely be a shooting setting called tungsten. This controls your white balance and will over compensate your camera with blue in order to not make your shots seem yellow! It’s very useful.

Composition is also a big deal in photography!

• I like to use the rule of thirds always. When taking photos I generally like my focal point to take up either 1/3 or 2/3 of the entire photo.

• Always ask yourself what your focal point is and make sure your audience knows as well.

  • Use a tripod if you need it! If you are getting shaky pictures make sure you are stabilizing your camera! That or change your shutter speed to 1/60 or faster. This should resolve this problem for you! If your pictures are still shaky you might want to consider getting a shutter trigger, which is a button you can press wirelessly to set off your camera!

  • Use autofocus! Those buggers are fast and the time it’ll take you to focus you might lose the opportune moment to snap a shot!

  • Try not to catch your aquarium equipment in your shot. Equipment can ruin a mood or take something away from your photo. This means wires, filter intakes and even seals should be avoided if you can!

Now I’ll share my camera settings with everyone here, but keep in mind that settings are situational. What works for one person, may not work for another based on their lighting!

ISO: 1600

SHUTTER SPEED: 1/40-1/50

APERTURE: F5.6

FORMAT: RAW

LENSE: 18-55MM

BRAND: CANON EOS REBEL XTi

And the secret I find to aquarium photography is......... patience! :rofl2

Oh... and never ever ever ever EVVVVERR use flash :) You'll get glass reflection!

Edited by Artsy Goldfish

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Thank you very much for this, Laura. It's really informative and will help a lot with future photos for a lot of members, I think. :)

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So, I'm very disappointed to learn that my equipment is NOT the problem, lol. I've got a Rebel DSLR and an 18-55mm lens. It's as I feared, I just don't know what I am doing.

Great tips, can't wait to try them out :).

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Any time Chelsea! :):heart I'm glad I was able to help out!

So, I'm very disappointed to learn that my equipment is NOT the problem, lol. I've got a Rebel DSLR and an 18-55mm lens. It's as I feared, I just don't know what I am doing.

Great tips, can't wait to try them out :).

Darn! It just takes some practice! You'll get the hang of it! :P We'll be waiting for some awesome pictures from you!

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Thanks for the tips!

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Great tips, Laura! Thank you.

I am going to move this over to the Tips section, but also leave a shortcut for it on this sub-forum as well.

I do have a question. Why such high ISO?

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Thanks for the tips!

You're welcome! :)

Great tips, Laura! Thank you.

I am going to move this over to the Tips section, but also leave a shortcut for it on this sub-forum as well.

I do have a question. Why such high ISO?

:) Not a problem! I was glad I could share some tips with everyone!

And that sounds great! I wasn't quite sure where to put it since it goes in both photography and tips!

As for the ISO, I find in my home that has very dim lighting at night, I get better quality photos when my camera is more sensitive. Most people probably could get away with 400 or 600 without a problem. I just find this produces the best shots in my tank despite the grain

Thanks for the tips

You're welcome! :)

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:goodpost Good tips, Laura!

I use a lower ISO (like 200-400) because my tank lights are quite bright, so I can. There were a couple weeks where every photo I was taking was super grainy, and I HATE graininess! Almost as much as I hate blurriness! lol After talking to my cousin-in-law, who's a hobbyist photographer, I was able to improve on the graininess. He said basically you should just use the lowest ISO you can get away with depending on the specific setting of the photo. Previously I had it set on auto ISO, and that wasn't working.

If your tank lights are not quite bright enough, you can pull over a floor lamp or desk lamp and position the light directly over the tank, shining down. This helps greatly with taking clear photos.

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I also wanted to point out that it is entirely possible to use flash and take pretty decent photos (If I may say so myself) I use flash when I'm being lazy which is 98% of the time because my shorter lens is a kit and sucks for low lighting and I despise grain! Getting no flash glare and not washing out your subjects depends greatly on the angle and closeness you are to the aquarium glass. Get as close as possible, use your manual zoom to the fullest extent (never digital if you're not using a dslr/slr as it reduces quality) and find the angle that works best with your light. These were all taken with the flash that comes on a standard dslr, no external flash.

DSC08408-2.jpg

7-1.jpg

12.jpg

DSC08218.jpg

Just saying it can be done and still look okay once you get the hang of it.

Edited by Pearlscaleperfect

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Thank you tons for the superb tips, Laura! I bet it'll help many people across the globe, to get the desired photographs for their cute fishies! :)

Thanks very much, for sharing your awesome knowledge! :)

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I also think my pics with out flash look blurry or drab :( So what am I doing wrong?

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:goodpost Good tips, Laura!

I use a lower ISO (like 200-400) because my tank lights are quite bright, so I can. There were a couple weeks where every photo I was taking was super grainy, and I HATE graininess! Almost as much as I hate blurriness! lol After talking to my cousin-in-law, who's a hobbyist photographer, I was able to improve on the graininess. He said basically you should just use the lowest ISO you can get away with depending on the specific setting of the photo. Previously I had it set on auto ISO, and that wasn't working.

If your tank lights are not quite bright enough, you can pull over a floor lamp or desk lamp and position the light directly over the tank, shining down. This helps greatly with taking clear photos.

I hear you! Grain is a turn off to a lot of people, and if you're printing big it really sucks. I might try lowering my ISO and see how they turn out! Thanks for the tip Jennie!

I also wanted to point out that it is entirely possible to use flash and take pretty decent photos (If I may say so myself) I use flash when I'm being lazy which is 98% of the time because my shorter lens is a kit and sucks for low lighting and I despise grain! Getting no flash glare and not washing out your subjects depends greatly on the angle and closeness you are to the aquarium glass. Get as close as possible, use your manual zoom to the fullest extent (never digital if you're not using a dslr/slr as it reduces quality) and find the angle that works best with your light. These were all taken with the flash that comes on a standard dslr, no external flash.

DSC08408-2.jpg

7-1.jpg

12.jpg

DSC08218.jpg

Just saying it can be done and still look okay once you get the hang of it.

Those look nice PSP :D. As I've said before in this post though, settings work different in different lighting situations! :) What works for someone may not work for another. For my recommendation to turn off all lights the flash would do you no good :)

I'd really love to see what you're settings and equipment are too! It's very nice! Flash can without a diffuser create very harsh shadowing which I tend to avoid :(

Thank you tons for the superb tips, Laura! I bet it'll help many people across the globe, to get the desired photographs for their cute fishies! :)

Thanks very much, for sharing your awesome knowledge! :)

Thank you :) Hope it helped!

.... I really love the tip section! People are so willing to share their secrets to success too! :D:wub:

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Something I have used before with my fish is to tape a piece of white paper over the flash on my camera. It still allows light to light the fish but without the harsh glare on the glass :)

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Something I have used before with my fish is to tape a piece of white paper over the flash on my camera. It still allows light to light the fish but without the harsh glare on the glass :)

That's a great idea for a diffuser!! :) Thanks for the tip Haley!

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I also think my pics with out flash look blurry or drab :( So what am I doing wrong?

You're not doing anything wrong, if flash works for you, you should continue to use it, it's possible you don't have enough light in your tank/ room. Try making a diffuser using something white to reduce the strength of your flash :)

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And really the thing is... really cheap cameras are just not going to take as nice pictures as an SLR will... they can be pretty good, but will not be the same so you canot completely compare them Shelly :)

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The important thing is to know your camera, you can take decent pictures with nearly any camera if you know how to use it and how to manipulate the settings.

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Well now that I read this I fully expect to win every POTW contest from here on out . . . .

:rofl

Great tips, Laura. I don't know what half of that means but I will certainly have my husband read it the next time I have him take fish pics with our "good" camera!

Thanks. :)

PS I don't think I've mentioned today how much I :heart Bentley. :teehee

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This is great information, thank you so much for posting.

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Laura, do you have any other lenses? Becuase I noticed with my stock Nikon 18-55mm (the one that comes with the camera) compared to my macro lense and my 50mm there is a big difference in the amount of light that is let in because of the aperature size. That means I can use a WAY lower ISO and faster shutter speed and get way better pictures of the fish! Because you need a really fast shutter speed since they move so fast!

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This is great information, thank you so much for posting.

No problem! :) Glad I could help!

Well now that I read this I fully expect to win every POTW contest from here on out . . . .

:rofl

Great tips, Laura. I don't know what half of that means but I will certainly have my husband read it the next time I have him take fish pics with our "good" camera!

Thanks. :)

PS I don't think I've mentioned today how much I :heart Bentley. :teehee

Awww thanks Lisa! :) I used to call my SLR the 'good camera' too! That's so funny! Now I have a bunch of them... which is kind of confusing! :rofl and aww you're so sweet :P Bentley :heart 's you too!

Laura, do you have any other lenses? Becuase I noticed with my stock Nikon 18-55mm (the one that comes with the camera) compared to my macro lense and my 50mm there is a big difference in the amount of light that is let in because of the aperature size. That means I can use a WAY lower ISO and faster shutter speed and get way better pictures of the fish! Because you need a really fast shutter speed since they move so fast!

Different lenses definitely have an impact on your settings! :) I do have a good series of Nikkor lenses; telephoto,macro, portrait, and a regular 55 and even wide angle and macro filters I place ontop of lenses. It's true that you'll need a faster shutter speed if your fish. A lower iso gives you a chance to use higher shutter speeds, thats the brilliant trade off :) Good tip!

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I use flash and a low iso. I turn off the lights and use my tank light, use natural light if possible. I think these tips are interesting but wouldnt say to never use the flash. Winter natural lighting is cooler in tone than summer light and will effect the photo as well as time of day. I think tank lights and natural light take beautiful photos. This is a good guide to get beginners familiar with basic camera terms but I disagree that you need a semi professional camera or extra lenses, especially for hobby photos. Have you ever tried natural lighting?

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I use flash and a low iso. I turn off the lights and use my tank light, use natural light if possible. I think these tips are interesting but wouldnt say to never use the flash. Winter natural lighting is cooler in tone than summer light and will effect the photo as well as time of day. I think tank lights and natural light take beautiful photos. This is a good guide to get beginners familiar with basic camera terms but I disagree that you need a semi professional camera or extra lenses, especially for hobby photos. Have you ever tried natural lighting?

I dont quite have natural lighting as I take my photos at night :) Usually, I can take decent photos in the day, but by the time I'm home at 6:30pm from work all the light here has gone into hiding for winter. I'll give it a shot in the summer (no pun intended) When I'm home during daylighting :)

Also I tend to differ in opinion about professional or semi professional cameras versus point and shoots. Manuals have more settings, you can control more, most have higher megapixel ratings and so on. I tend to like industry standard tech (I'm a gadget kind of girl :P), point and shoots for my personal needs doesn't ever seem to cut it.

This is just a personal opinion though... sorry if I seemed to offend so many people out there over this, I just feel I'm entitled for my own. These are just tips that work well for me, and by no means do I say things HAVE to be done this way or cant be done others (I did say it was situational and depends on a person's environment) People had been asking me lately how I took my photographs, and I shared!

That being said though, I do love hearing other people's opinions and tips, so if you have any please do share! The thread is about sharing photo knowledge so feel free to contribute if you'd like! I'd try them out myself! :)

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Great advice...thanks!!

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