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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    20

    Question How to take Pictures of Fish in an Aquarium??

    We have a 125 gal. saltwater aquarium, and I love to take pictures of the fish. (but basically, I suck at it.)

    I thought that we needed a new camera, but now I'm thinking that I just don't know how to use the one that I have.
    It's a Nikon Coolpix 5200.

    Can anyone tell me what settings I should go with? Our aquarium has bright lighting. It's 6' long, so the fish do a lot of swimming back, and forth. Some of them move very quickly, while other's will hesitate, for me to get a shot.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!!!
    Lisa

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Perth WA
    Posts
    42

    Smile

    Hi Lisa

    Fish pics are reasionably easy to take if you squish the fish into a photographic tank. However, that is not really very helpful to anyone with a nicely set up aquarium and who just wants to take some pics of their fish behaving naturally.

    I have found a happy snap digital camera (your Coolpix 5200 should be fine) where you can view things through the LCD screen is one of the best ways to start out. Get a couple of sets of rechargable batteries or an AC power supply for the camera. Then you can go nuts.

    Set the camera to Macro (Close-up) or Auto (try both settings and see which works best for your tank) and make sure the flash is permanently ON. Get the camera as close to the glass as possible and have it on a slight angle, preferably facing downwards a little bit. Also try to photograph fish from their face to their tail. The colour of fish's scales show up best when the light hits them from front and above. By photographing the fish from an angle slightly above and from their front you will get brighter colours and better looking pics.

    By using the LCD screen you can hold the camera close to the glass while standing further back. This can be less stressful to the fish.

    Make sure the glass is spotlessly clean inside and then outside. I use a single sided razorblade to clean the glass and then wipe over it with a sponge. This removes any algae/ organisms from the inside glass. I do the same to the outside glass and I follow it up by going over it with a squeegy. You can get them from Kmart or BigW for a few dollars and you wash the outside glass down and squeegy it dry. Then if you need to, wipe the glass down with a lint free towel. Clean the glass down a few hours before you take the pics, this will allow the filters time to pic up any particles out of the water and fewer particles mean cleaner fish pics. Take care not to scratch the glass because scratches show up beautifully in pictures.

    To start with don't fill the frame up completely with the fish. Most fish will move constantly and if you fill the frame up and then press the button, the fish will probably move a bit and you will get a nice picture of a headless or tail-less fish. By framing the fish with a bit of space around it you should have fewer pics of fish without fins. Also most happy snap digital cameras have a slight time delay between pressing the button and when the camera actually takes the pic. This can mean you get headless fish pics as well.

    One of the problems you will encounter when taking fish pics is flash bounce or glare. This is when the camera is pointed directly at the aquarium (or any other reflective surface) and the light from the flash bounces straight back at the camera and you get a white patch in the picture. This is overcome by using the camera on a slight angle to the glass. Also having the camera close to the glass will help prevent this.

    Digital cameras and camcorders will pick up any reflective light. This can be light from incandescent globes or skylights in the roof, or even light coming in from a window. This extra light reflects off the front glass of the aquarium and is picked up as brighter patches on the pic. Having the camera close to the glass helps but I prefer to close the curtains and turn off all the room lights so the only light in the room is the one on the fish tank and the light from the camera flash. Avoid wearing white or light coloured clothing and jewellery as these will also reflect off the glass. Finally, If you are like me and have white skin you will find it too reflects off the glass and I have taken many pics where I can see my hands and arms in the picture. I generally wear a dark coloured long sleeve shirt when taking fish pics.

    Another problem you might have is the thickness of the aquarium glass. Most professional fish photographers use small glass tanks that have walls only about 4-6mm thick. In a large marine tank the glass can be 12mm or more thick and this can significantly reduce the light from the flash getting onto the fish. Some cameras have the ability to change the flash settings so more light is produced. This can help but not always.

    You should find that over a period of time your fish will start to recognise you as their carer especially at feeding times. Once they are used to you standing near the tank they will be easier to photograph because they won't take off as soon as you go near the glass. Most fish become so tame they can actually become a nusciance when trying to photograph, they simply swim back and forth in the same spot saying feed me, feed me, feed me. It makes it tricky to photograph one particular fish but it can provide some very interesting group shots.

    If your aquarium is a room where no-one goes except to feed them, I would recommend moving it to an area with more people moving around it. Alternatively move the people into the room with the fish or have a television on in the room during the day. The light and movement from the tv can help settle the fish. Fish that are kept in quiet dimly lit rooms where no-one goes tend to become very nervous and skittish. They panic anytime you go near them. Whereas fish that are kept in areas with lots of people moving around them settle down very quickly and become great characters to photograph. In fact some of the best fish to take pics of are at your local pet shop where people walk past the tanks day in day out and the fish are happy to do their thing and not care about the people moving around.

    Try to photograph your fish behaving naturally and don't always take pics of a single fish. Many pics work out better if you have two or three fish swimming around together. They may be feeding or fighting or just hanging out. If you have pairs of fish (male & female) watch them closely and you may be able to get a pic of them displaying to each other.

    Finally take lots and lots of pics and enjoy yourself. Don't stress out if the first one doesn't work. Just take more and eventually you will be getting images like the pros.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    20
    Thank you!!! (so very much.)

    Lisa

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