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02-17-2008, 02:14 PM   #1
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going to the aquarium--help!

We're going to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta really soon and, still being really new at this DLSR stuff, am curious what I should be doing with the camera taking photos of the sharks, whale sharks, etc. Flash is allowed in some areas and not in others. I won't have a lot of time to get the same shot over and over again until I get it right because, for one thing, fish move, and two, people around me will get annoyed that I am not moving on. I don't want the flash to reflect off the glass of the aquariums. I have a 70-300mm lens, a 50mm 1.4 lens and an 18-55mm lens (the kit lens) Any suggestions? Thanks!

02-17-2008, 02:30 PM   #2
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Hi momof4

I can't help thinking that in order to reduce the inevitable reflections from the glass, it would probably be advisable to use a polarising filter of some description ?

Bes regards
Richard
02-17-2008, 02:50 PM   #3
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I looked up after I went to the aquarium so haven't tried it myself but

got told take a microfibre cleaning cloth so you can wipe glass clean of fingerprints.
Get a cheap rubber hood off ebay etc so that you can push the lens / hood right up the glass so to stop reflections of the glass and stop the glare / reflections from your flash. or get someone else to hold flash(s) and use them wireless.
02-17-2008, 03:24 PM   #4
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I've used that rubber lens hood up against the glass technique for shooting hockey games from behind the nets, and it is effective. Putting the flash up against the glass will let you shoot through it without glare/reflection, but I don't know what the fish will think of it.

If you're lucky the tanks may be lit well enough that you can shoot without the flash, especially with your 50mm 1.4.

02-17-2008, 03:32 PM   #5
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Might want to check with the aquarium regarding the flash. Strobes may scare the fish and the aquarium might not be too happy if 1,000 fish start having seizures. <g>
02-17-2008, 04:04 PM   #6
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From what I read on the aquarium's website, there is flash permitted in some parts, but not in others. I know my daughter's goldfish don't like the flash and she gets real annoyed with me when I try to take their photo and use the flash. Is there are a certain setting I should use? I have all those "museum, kids, dogs. candelight, fireworks. etc. but should I use those? Should I use manual focus and use the metering thing? ( I am trying to figure out how to work that). Thanks!
02-17-2008, 04:43 PM   #7
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For unusual shooting conditions I usually try to use manual mode and manual focus so that I know for sure what the camera is focused on and so that I don't have to worry about the camera changing settings on me once I find out what works.

The nice thing about shooting digital is that you have the ability to check your shots once you take them to make sure the lighting is alright, and you can zoom in on the photo to check that the right parts are in focus.

Without seeing the lighting in person it's difficult to give specific suggestions for camera settings. Assuming that it is dark and you can't use a flash then a shutter speed of 1/60 (faster if the fish are moving quickly), an ISO of 400 or 800, and an F-stop of 4 or higher (for more depth of field, if there is enough light) is around where I would start. If those setting don't allow for enough light then I would change the F-stop to 2, increase the ISO, and then slow the shutter to 1/45 or 1/30 (if the fish aren't moving around too much).

If the fish are moving around quickly you would want a higher shutter speed, and if you are having trouble getting the entire fish or group of fish in focus you would want a higher F number (say 5.6, 8, or higher if you can get away with it). Playing with the white balance (especially in post-processing if you shoot in Raw) may help to colour correct the photos if the water is changing the light's colour.

Post up some pictures when you get back, and I'm sure somebody here can give you some pointers if you have questions about how they turned out.
02-17-2008, 06:40 PM   #8
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Well, I practiced on my daughters fish tank and I am not having any luck. I put on my 18-55mm lens and tried it different ways. I put the light on in the tank and the light off in the room. I put the tank light on and the light in the room on. No matter what I did or what settings I used, the camera wanted me to use a flash. I used the Tv priority setting and tried to adjust it with the dial thing and the numbers kept flashing, which from what I understand means the photo will be blown out. Sometimes I could see the big rock clearly, but the fish were an orange blur. I tried using the metering and nothing helped. I can take a great photo of her tank with the flash on, but like we said before, the fish don't like that, and I'm sure I'll get kicked out of the aquarium if I used a flash. I realize the lighting in the aquarium will be different than in my daughters bedroom, but I still think my camera is going to not let me take a photo without a flash. I changed scenes----museum scene, candlelight scene----Auto pict, manual focus, you name it, I tried it. No matter what F stop the camera shows, it keeps flashing and the flash sign stays on. Anyone have any ideas? I bought this camera so I could use it in a variety of settings, including my daughters dance competitions and recitals where I can't use a flash. If I can't even use it in my daughters bedroom with her overhead light on without a flash, how am I going to use it at the aquarium or an auditorium?-----HELP! Thanks!

02-17-2008, 07:24 PM   #9
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Alright, couple of questions:

Which camera body do you have (K10, K100 super, etc.)?

In Tv mode, what do you have the maximum allowable ISO set to in auto?

And for low light shooting, I would suggest you try your 50mm lens at F2, which lets in 1.5 to 2 stops more light than the kit lens.
02-18-2008, 06:21 AM   #10
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Time to read up on some basics of exposure and how ISO/shutter speed/f-stop all relate to each other. Forget flash, unless you have an external flash which you can bounce, the built-in flash will be useless.

I'm guess the lights will be very dim, so your best bet is your fast 50mm, Av mode, set the f-stop to f/2.8 (to start), ISO800, see what kind of shutter speeds you get. If they are slower than 1/100s, open up the aperture, or bump up the ISO. WB could be tricky, so RAW is your friend here. If it's really dim, you may find yourself at ISO1600, f/1.4 to get decent shutter speeds. I would think the kit lens would be useless for this type of photography. Here are some of my shots with the FA 50mm f/1.4 (from San Francisco)








Don't use the "Scene" modes anymore, pretend they don't exist. Good luck!
02-18-2008, 06:51 AM   #11
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what egordon said

QuoteOriginally posted by momof4 Quote
We're going to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta really soon and, still being really new at this DLSR stuff, am curious what I should be doing with the camera taking photos of the sharks, whale sharks, etc. Flash is allowed in some areas and not in others. I won't have a lot of time to get the same shot over and over again until I get it right because, for one thing, fish move, and two, people around me will get annoyed that I am not moving on. I don't want the flash to reflect off the glass of the aquariums. I have a 70-300mm lens, a 50mm 1.4 lens and an 18-55mm lens (the kit lens) Any suggestions? Thanks!
If you don't have one already, get a screw on rubber hood for the 50mm. Some premoistened towletts help clean off the glass. Put your rubber hood right up on the glass. I've never been to the Georgia Aquarium, but most are moderately lit. Like egordon said forget the modes, use AV mode and try to get your shutter speed up to about 1/250 or more for moving fish 1/60 to 1/125 for stationary/slow moving fish. You might have to bump up the ISO to 800 or higher. If you are outside and shooting down into a habitat, a circular polarizer is almost necessary, I'd get one to fit the 18-55, I don't think you'll be able to use your telephoto for that, moving fish are hard to track from above. If they have some sort of outdoor "show" (leaping dolphins and the like) your telephoto might come in handy there. Just remember that the front rows can get splashed! Have fun and let us know how you make out.

NaCl(hope this helps)H2O
02-18-2008, 08:10 AM   #12
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[GRR -- just lost a post I spent forever writing... oh well...]

FIRST -- you'll get there! Keep trying! It's GREAT that you have your daughter's tank to practice with, and for some displays it will probably be very similar to what they have, at least in lighting. What you want to be sure to do is turn off all of the other lights, close curtains and doors etc, and turn the tank light on. Any light outside the tank will cause reflections, and aquariums usually keep their ambient lighting low for this reason (at least, they used to).

As has been said, for tank shots you'll definitely want the 50/1.4 and ISO 800 or higher. You didn't mention which Pentax dSLR you have, but I can give you a simplified alternative to egordon99's if we're talking about the k10d. I shoot a lit of band photos which are also often fast-moving objects in a darkened environment (see Flickr: Photos from amateur6)

If you DON'T have a k10d, STOP reading here! Sorry.

First, the obvious: mount the 50mm, set AF to AF.S, make sure SR is on, set the ISO to 800. Shoot in RAW or RAW + Jpeg if you have big SD cards. I suggest setting the AF point to the center point because I like to remove distractions. I also suggest setting the exposure metering mode to center point, but I may be misguided on that one.

Next, go into the menu settings, all the way over to "C" (Custom Settings). Change the Program Line to "2 Hi Speed".

Now you can shoot in green or P mode!

Try some more shots of your daughter's tank in the darkened room. You should be able to get some decent shots. My tank and most aquarium tanks will have a dark background; if your daughter's is white or bright you may need to change the metering mode to multi-segment. If the shots are still too blurry you can do two things: use a higher ISO (if you have one) or use the +/- EV compensation button to set an EV value of -1 or so (you can get the light back when you process the RAW), and get a faster shutter speed.

Here's a shot of one of my (very dirty) tank residents, an albino cory cat, taken as described above. It's had a little bit of post-processing: Unsharp masking and size reduction, but no noise reduction. Notice that even though he's only 1.5" long, his whiskers are out of focus at f2.4 -- be prepared for a lot of "discard" shots!
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02-18-2008, 08:28 AM   #13
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tagged! I'd love to see how the OP did as these are great advices!
02-18-2008, 10:20 AM   #14
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These were all taken with the DS & kit lens at ISO 1600 and 3200. I used the hood that came with the kit lens pressed against the glass to help shoot at slower speeds. I didn't have any noise reduction software when I processed these images. On our second visit to the aquarium, I took my monopod but the place was so busy that I didn't shoot much.









Tim
02-18-2008, 01:47 PM   #15
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The above posters have pretty much covered more than I can, the only things I'd add or reiterate are (a) High ISO (b) Widest Aperture - shoot Av, basically. If the fish are moving too quickly, turn off your camera's shake reduction (if applicable) and attempt to pan.

Last time I went to the Aquarium, one of my main issues was the minimum focussing distance of the 50mm 1.4 lens - it meant I had to stand well back from tanks where the fish/crustaceans were close to the glass, which meant people were constantly pushing in front of me
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