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Photography Help

Nov 18, 01:32 AM · from the mouth of Bryan

This is directed mainly at Jim and Jake and Ty Ty too even though I alread asked you. My question to you guys is, I want to take some pictures of my aquarium and others, is there a special lense I would need for my camera? Can I get away with just a filter? Your thoughts…...


Comment [9]

  1. Jim responds with:

    The biggest thing with an aquarium is going to be limiting the reflections from the outside. I’m going to guess that you should do it in a very dark room and use a tripod since the aquirium lights probably aren’t going to provide enough light to handhold.

    Next, of course, don’t use a flash.

    Next after that, you might want to get a circular polarizer lens. This will a) remove any reflections that are on the glass (you’ll have to fiddle with turning it to find the point where it cancels them out) b) make the colors “pop out” more.

    You still shootin’ with film? If so, you’ll definitely want to use a pro-quality slide film. Slide film can capture tremendously richer and more saturated colors than negative film can. Also, don’t go buy film from your local grocery store. If you want a crisp looking photo with excellent color and low grain, you’re going to have to anty up a few extra bucks to buy professional film. It’s not a hoax – it makes a 200% difference. Along with that, having your local 1hr photo processing place develop it is a good way to ensure dull, crappy results. Find a good quality lab to do the processing/printing.

    If you’re gonna shoot digital – then the only other recommendation I have is to set your camera manually to the lowest ISO setting that you can while still maintaing some decent shutter speeds. I wouldn’t go much below 1/30 of a sec since the fishies will be moving. So, try to shoot at ISO 100, but if that’s too low, increase the ISO until you can get a clean 1/30 of a sec. Unfortunately, the noise or “digital grain” at higher ISOs will increase, just like with film. You could also try screwing around with different white balance modes. My guess is that the flourescent mode will make the colors look the most natural – or in the worst case scenerio, it will probably make them look a touch more neon and brilliant (although they may look a bit more magenta than in reality.)

    Anyblah, lemme know if you want more info.

    · Nov 18, 11:35 AM
  2. Bryan responds with:

    Wow, thanks Jim. Any brand of professional film you recomend? Cost? I think I’m going to try both the digital and the “professional” camera.
    · Nov 18, 01:25 PM
  3. Sarah responds with:

    Are you trying to capture the fish in the aquarium as well? If so, those guys are fast swimmers and the aforementioned slow shutter speed required would entail that the little guys might have a lot of motion blur. Unless those aquarium lights are a lot brighter than the ones I’m used to.

    I can’t really think of how to fix it without possibly adding glare though. Just something to chew on, I’m sure Jim will have a solution. Or he’ll just research it on the web. Cuz that’s not something he does every day.

    Haha I know I’m nosy :o)
    · Nov 18, 01:55 PM
  4. Sarah responds with:

    Oh and I’m pretty sure he’s going to say velvia 100. Just a guess. ;o)
    · Nov 18, 01:59 PM
  5. Bryan responds with:

    No problem with being nosy Sarah, thanks for the input. Yeah I’m going to try to capture the fish as well. If you want some examples of the type of shots I’m looking for, go to and click on the tanks of the month. Some great shots in there. Thanks again for the help.
    · Nov 18, 04:48 PM
  6. Jake responds with:

    I pretty much second Jim’s sentiment, it’s really a balancing act between the shot being fast enough that the fish aren’t a big blur and you getting plenty of light.

    In one of my photo mags a couple months ago there was an article or something about taking photos in a situation like this, only it was geared more toward a full size public aquarium. I’ll see if I can find the article for you since it still might help. I tried to search for it but only came up with this on Popular Photography and Imaging and these two at photo-graphic. I’m not sure if any of those are the thing I remembered seeing…

    I’d say step #1 is get a tripod.
    · Nov 18, 05:59 PM
  7. Jim responds with:

    Man: I wonder where that fish has gone.
    Woman: You did love it so.
    You looked after it like a son.
    Man: [strangely] And it went wherever I did go.
    Woman: Is it in the cupboard?
    Audience: Yes! No!
    Woman: Wouldn’t you like to know.
    It was a lovely little fish.
    Man: [strangely] And it went wherever I did go.
    Man in audience: It’s behind the sofa!
    [An elephant joins the man and woman.]
    Woman: Where can the fish be?
    Man in audience: Have you thought of the drawers in the bureau?
    Woman: It is a most elusive fish.
    Man: [strangely] And it went wherever I did go!
    Woman: Oh fishy, fishy, fishy, fish.
    Man: Fish, fish, fish, fishy oh!
    Woman: Oh fishy, fishy, fishy fish.
    Man: [strangely] That went wherever I did go.
    · Nov 19, 11:33 AM
  8. Jim responds with:

    Ok, so on a more serious note. Sarah is right in that there is a good chance to obtain motion blur at that shutter speed. If you’re looking to get a picture of a specific fishy, you’re going to have to capture it when it’s not moving (or moving very slowly.) No matter what you do, you’re going to be working with very low light and since you don’t have any crazy fast glass, you’re gonna stand a chance of getting blur. 1/30, however, would definitely increase the chances for blur a ton.

    As for any full tank shots, the lower shutter speed will not be as much of a problem. If you’re shooting around 35mm or 50mm and you’re standing back a good 6 feet or so, you should be able to get away with about 1/30-1/60 of a sec since the degree of motion will be so much smaller.

    Film: haaa! my girly guessed my recommendation wrong! :-P Actually, Fuji Velvia would be incredibly sweet, but it’s just going to be way too slow for this task. My recommendation would be to get some Fuji Provia 400F, or some Kodak E200. If you have a lot of greens and blues in your tank, the Fuji will help them “pop” out a bit more. If you have a lot of yellow/orange and purple in your tank, I would stick with the Kodak.

    The E200 is ISO 200 rated whereas the Provia is ISO 400, but don’t worry, the E200 can be pushed like a freak. It’s considered the most pushable chrome out there. You can easily push the stuff up to ISO 640 and have it look incredibly clean. Now I’ll answer the inevitable question “K, Jim, what the hell is pushing?” Pushing is the act of shooting a film at a higher ISO than it technically is. Let’s say you shoot E200 at ISO 640 (I’ll explain why 640 rather than 800 in a minute), you take the film into a pro-lab for development and tell them to “push process 2”. They’ll then develop the film as if it was two stops more sensitive (ISO 800 – it’ll sit in the chemicals longer, etc…) The downside to pushing is grain – the more you push, the bigger it gets and the greater the detail you lose—but some films, like E200, are notorious for pushing incredibly well. Kodak even sells E200 as a “Push Film” because it pushes so bloody well.

    Now, for the geeks, “Why push process E200 two stops and only rate it at 640? That’s 1 2/3 stop not two you DUMBASS…” Well, two reasons… Kodak tells you too… and that’s because the response curve of this film decreases as you push it more… so you need to slightly overexpose it in order for it to push properly. You still want the lab to process it as if it’s ISO 800 so that you get the extra 1/3 stop overexposure.

    And, for the really curious—you can not push negative film—the exposure latitude of the die clouds just isn’t big enough to capture the light properly—even if it’s push processed. People do it in a pinch when they’ve accidentally shot a roll of film at the wrong ISO and the results are better than if they hadn’t push procssed it at all—but they’re still not good. Don’t intentially push negative film – you’ll be very unhappy. (With one exception, Kodak’s color black and white emulsion… it seems to have a clean push/pull latitude of 1 stop.)

    I can hear the crickets…
    · Nov 19, 02:18 PM
  9. Jake responds with:

    Ha! Crickets! That is actually one of the most enjoyable comments I’ve read on here. I’m glad I sat at my desk for lunch cause now I have to take a quick ride home to change my undies.
    · Nov 19, 04:05 PM
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