Hot Tips: Aquarium Photography Tips

by | Feb 15, 2005 | 0 comments

A selection of useful tidbits of information and tricks for the marine aquarist submitted by Advanced Aquarist’s readership.  Readers are encouraged to post their tips to our Hot Tips sticky in the General Reefkeeping Discussion forum or send them to [email protected] for possible publication. Next month’s Hot Tip theme will be “Getting Rid of your Excess Coral Frags“. Some people are new at getting rid of their excess coral growth and it would benefit them to find out how to work out deals with their LFS, etc.

Aquarium Photography Tips

  • Make sure you have a good macro lense if you are shooting for little critters. Sometime I need to get closer than one inch to get a good pic.
  • Watch for the flash’s reflection on the front glass if you use one. I can ruin your pic.
  • Try to shoot straight instead of at an angle. The acrylic and glass will give noticeable chromatic abrasion (blue and red outline around a white object, for example) if you don’t look straight.
  • Use a tripod if you have long exposure time, a remote shutter release will help even more.
  • White balance can make a big difference if you can’t get good color representation. Flash can give everything a yellowish look since more flash are around 4000K.
  • It make a good portion of an evening if you are photographing a fish. They are more difficult to pose than 4 toddlers who love to cry.
  • Keep a camera handy for that once-in-a-life-time shot! Ooops, dead batteries.
  • The best time to take pic can be when everyone is sleeping…. when the light is off, and your reef make take on a very different look.

— Reef Box Etc

If you aren’t using a tripod, try to take a shot with timer mode. My Canon SD 300 has a 2 second timer option, so it doesn’t take a picture for 2 seconds until after I depress the shutter button. It’s a lot easier to hold a camera still when you aren’t pushing down on a button.

— reefkeeper1

  • Clean your glass/acrylic both inside and out before taking your shots.
  • Turn off your pumps before taking your shots – it well prevent your subject from getting blown around and it will help stop any particulate matter from floating in front of your lens.

— Righty

Using an external flash for pictures of fish is a very useful thing. Capturing an image of a fast moving fish requires a flash period, however, most camera mounted flashes will blow your brightness out of the water (so to speak).

— D. Wade Lehmann (aka ‘wade’)

My best advice is to take LOTS of pics. Have a lot of space on your card and be patient and just keep clicking away. This is especially important when trying to take pics of fish. Often I will take 20 pictures of a single fish before I get the one that I really want. And often the one that you think was good turns out to have some distracting plumbing output or something when you go to process it so you need to have several that you are happy with before you even start processing them.

Speaking of processing it, that is an important aspect. Use a good photo software to resize and do other minor touch ups. No one wants to see you post a 2,560×1,980 pixel image on a bulletin board. I use adobe photoshop and use the auto-adjust feature on 90% of my pics. Also once you resize you need to do an unsharp mask on it.

— Nathan Paden (aka ‘npaden’)

  • Use Crop. Zoom out a little for better focus/faster shutter … and crop the final image down before resizing it down to screen size.
  • Use a tripod. Turn off the room lights, close curtains if back-lit.
  • Consider shutting off pumps temporarily, to shoot macro of corals without flow-related blurring.
  • Shoot straight on, especially when close, to avoid distortion off the glass.

— middletonmark

If you are running windows xp you can get a really cool powertoy called “image resizer”: . It is a small program, easy to use and you can resize multiple pics all at once. just pick on all your pics you want resized then right click and pick the size you would like them all to be.

— radar!


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