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02-29-2008, 05:21 PM   #1
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Taking Pics of Fish

I have been trying to take some pics of my aquarium but I am not having much luck. I am using my Pentax k100 d with a tamron lens (70-300) and I am using this lens on the macro mode. I have 2 end table lamps on in the living room where my tank is and the lights on the tank are on. I don't want to use the flash as it will just reflect on the front of the tank. What settings should I use? I am using a tripod and I am about 4 feet from the tank. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.

02-29-2008, 07:25 PM   #2
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I have a couple quick pointers for yeah.

Turn off all the other light in the room except the aquarium lights.

Fill the tank to the rim, so there's no light seeping between the water, and the hood. If you can't, a towel or a piece of black plastic will be your best friend.

Turn off your flash.

Close your blinds.

Shoot at night, but after the lights have been on for atleast an hour.

Don't try and follow the fish. Just pick a spot and wait for the fish to swim into it.

I'd move yor light source right up to the front of the tank, to illuminate that part the most, and cut down on shadows on the fish.

If you have an external flash, get a wireless controller for it, and set it up above the fish tank. It would be best to set it off a few times, so your fish don't panic, and let them get used to it before you try and take any pictures.

Have lots, and lots of patience. They can be stubborn creatures.

If at all possible, I'd drop your ISO as low as possible, and open your lens up to atleast 5.6. If you can get it to 4, it's certainly not going to hurt it any. You might have to bump your ISO up if you have fast moving fish, but I'd keep your aperature as open as you realistically can.

And, most importantly. Show us some pictures, to see how you're doing!
03-01-2008, 05:35 AM   #3
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Thanks so much! I will try that.
03-01-2008, 09:17 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pooky125 Quote
If at all possible, I'd drop your ISO as low as possible, and open your lens up to atleast 5.6. If you can get it to 4, it's certainly not going to hurt it any. You might have to bump your ISO up if you have fast moving fish, but I'd keep your aperature as open as you realistically can.
Pooky, can you elaborate on the reasoning for your suggestions? I'm still having trouble understanding the simple basics

03-01-2008, 09:31 PM   #5
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Because fish scales are often so small and delicate, the high ISO stands more of a chance of mushing out all the details. (keep in mind, I shoot a DS, so I'm not to sure how the newer models handle low light, and high iso situations...)

I keep the lens wide open a) because you'll have a faster shutter speeds, and as a general rule, with as little lighting as most aquariums have, you'll need every bit of it, and b) because the background plants and fish can make the picture more distracting then just having one, in focus fish.
03-01-2008, 11:37 PM   #6
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Pooky's given you great advise. I've also seen great Fish photos from dugrant153 and camilsky in the "Your Pet A Day" thread. You can PM'm to ask their thoughts too.

A post in that thread mentions this article:
Strobist: On Assignment: Zebra Fish and Zygotes
03-02-2008, 02:09 AM   #7
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For inspiration only, you might want to head over to the aquatic photography forum. There are some incredibly talented photographers over there, with lots of great advice to help you out.
03-02-2008, 03:45 AM   #8
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Pooky, thanks for the link! Your helpfulness is an example of the better nature these forums (fora, for you Latin-literate types) can exhibit. A refreshing alternative to the Dark Side of the Forum one encounters here and elsewhere!

03-02-2008, 04:42 AM   #9
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If you can find a large rubber lens hood, you can put it against the glass of the aquarium. That way, you can use a flash with no flares from the glass (as long as the glass is clean).
03-02-2008, 09:29 AM   #10
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Those are great suggestions and great links too. Thank you so much!
03-02-2008, 06:19 PM   #11
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This is my first and best attempt after MANY deletions! Fish just move too quickly!
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03-03-2008, 06:07 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Leana Quote
This is my first and best attempt after MANY deletions! Fish just move too quickly!
At least, you have something to show up. Give it some time and you'll get the knack of it and the result will improve with it. Don't feel bad though, I also got (still get sometimes) my share of dud.
03-03-2008, 10:44 PM   #13
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Youre quite welcome! The pics look great, especially the one of the cories! It could stand to be lightened up a bit, but otherwise its great! Show us more!
03-03-2008, 11:06 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Leana Quote
This is my first and best attempt after MANY deletions! Fish just move too quickly!

Leana,

You posted two shots. The second one is okay. Needs to be lightened up a little in post-processing.

The first one is not so okay, but the reason seems obvious. It's not that the fish move so quickly, it's that you used way too slow a shutter speed. Looks like your settings were:

shutter = 1/6th sec
ISO = 800
aperture = f/5.6
focal length = 300mm

Shutter speed of 1/6th sec might be a bit on the slow side for photographing a building on a calm day, especially if the focal length is 300mm. Photographing anything that moves, you need to get much faster. And the longer the focal length, the faster the shutter speed needs to be to eliminate camera shake. It probably wasn't the fish that were moving at all--it may have been you. (Or were you using a tripod?)

I'd suggest that you try a much shorter focal length, so you can get the largest aperture the lens is capable of. And by going to a shorter focal length, you'll also reduce the effects of lens shake. Try to get the shutter speed to be faster than the reciprocal of the focal length, in other words, if the focal length = 180mm, use a shutter speed of 1/180th sec or faster (1/200th sec, etc.).

Push the ISO up to 1600.

I'd be trying for a shutter speed of at least 1/30th sec, better 1/60th sec. Aperture can be as wide as you can go. Fish are thin and you don't need much depth of field. If you had a Pentax 50 f/1.4, you could go to f/1.4. If you don't, and 1/30th sec + ISO 1600 + f/4 or whatever you got, still produces a dark photo, then you will just have to throw more light on the fish tank.

Good luck. And remember to get a signed release from the fish.

Will
03-04-2008, 05:53 AM   #15
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good luck shooting fish at f1.4, you'll probably get a 10:1 ratio of oof pics. f2.8 is as wide as i'd go with the pentax af; but from experience f5.6 - f7.1 works best depending on the lens mtf performance.

put more light above the water before you try to shoot. it looks like you have t8 or low wattage pc bulbs.
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