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01-13-2009, 07:17 AM   #1
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going to the GA aquariam, need some guidance

Hey folks, I'll be heading to the Georgia Aquarium on the 25th and had some questions...I won't be there to take pictures of the fish, I'll be there with the organization I volunteer at to take pictures of the kids having fun at the aquarium..knowing this:

1) will I be ok with the on-board flash??

2) which lens should I use??

3) what settings should i stick with??

4) any tips on getting that "oh, wow!" shot, that'd include the kid(s)???

Thanks in advance...

01-13-2009, 08:03 AM   #2
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Hey Kirk, the GA Aquarium is awesome, I went there was made it a somewhat successful trip. I got a lot of guidance from members on here for that trip so here is what I learned.

1) DO NOT USE THE ONBOARD FLASH!! I used a wirelessly triggered AF540 when I went, you want to light up the room, not flare out your shots. Hafe it setup about 10 feet away to your side pointing at the tank, not at you.

2) The good news is you have a camera good for taking low light shots, the bad news is your lenses arent. I would stick with AF lenses unless you are a wiz on the focus ring with that 50 f/2. Ideally you want to use a macro lens with internal focussing when at the aquarium because you want to be right up on the glass. (more on that later)

3) If you are going to use the off camera flash, shoot in manual, if not AV will do, smallest aperature, hightest ISO that gives you good results because you are not going to want any motion blurr on these shots unless you are shooting one of he baby aligators that just dont move.

4) If you want to shoot the kids, get on their level, 'On your knees soldier!'

TIPS!

Here is what I would recommend doing if I were you. If you are not going to get a macro lens or a close focussing AF/IF constant aperature lens between now and then, your kit lenses will have to do. The18-55mm gets kinda close, I can't remember about the 50-200mm. The reason you want to use a macro lens is because you ideally are going to be right up on the glass, actually having the lens hood touching it. The best way that I found to do that, esp since neither of the hoods for those lenses are rubberized or have a rubber edge is to go to your local Lowes or Home Depot and go to the plumbing department and get a FLEXIBLE COUPLING. Take the hoods with you, you are going to want to have one end fit onto the end of your lens hood and the other end be bigger so that you dont get any vignetting. If your lens was an IF lens, you can just lean up on the glass and not have to worry about the lens moving while it works. You also want a strong lens as well, the Pentax FA*200mm Macro would be the perfect lens IMO, but when I went, the lens that I took with me was the Tamron 70-300mm macro with the Tamron 1.4x TC on the end of it. It does macro at 180-300mm which is awesome, but it is not an IF or IZ lens, its a big mofo esp with the additional lens hood, but the good thing is people got out of my way when I came because I looked like a pro I guess. It also has a tendancy to PF which ruined my shots of the Beluga whales.

So, to recap... 1) get the big rubber lens hood 2) get an off camera flash setup 3) get an AF/IF macro lens 4) do not go alone 5) last note, you're gonan be there a while, the place is huge, get a monopod for your camera, and if you're nice, for your friend holding the flash.
01-13-2009, 09:15 AM   #3
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It's a great place. Don't be afraid of the low light, your camera and kit lens can handle it. You won't get shots of the kids running around in the low light, but then they're not supposed to be running around in there anyway.

Buddha gave you some great tips. Hopefully he'll post some of his shots as I remember he got some nice ones. Here's one I took with the K100D and the 18-250 (which is just about the same as the kit lens over the same range). It was shot at 18mm, f/8, ISO 800, 1/13s.



The shutter speed was slow, but I could've opened the aperture a little more and gotten a little more shutter speed. However, just look for the shots where some of the kids are standing relatively still. You'll miss some shots due to motion blur, but you'll also get some good shots. I also didn't mess with the flash. Sometimes flash may not be allowed, and with all the glass you risk some bad glare in your shots. Also, if you're not careful, you'll wind up with bright subjects in a seemingly black surrounding, which isn't what you want. On-camera flash may cause more problems than it's worth, but you could try it.

Try the flash (put it on trailing curtain so you'll get some ambient light in), and try some shots without the flash. Don't be afraid to bump up the ISO. Take lots of shots, and look for the best 10-15 shots.

You can also take a few nice group shots outside the aquarium with good lighting, just so everyone is photographed at least once.

A couple of other tips. Use the SR in the camera. You can take nice shots handheld provided you can brace somewhere. Move to the side, or out of the general flow of traffic and brace yourself against the wall or railing. There's usually something to brace yourself on, so look around. SR works better on wide angle shots, as well. Also, as Buddha said, get down on the kids' level. Shots of the kids faces illuminated by the lights from the display are always nice.

Last edited by rfortson; 01-13-2009 at 09:31 AM.
01-13-2009, 02:59 PM   #4
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That place is awesome.
I took my wife there, I think in 2006, as extra credit for one of her classes.
It was a VERY memorable experience - I think it was around November 2006 - I remember the BET awards were going on that same weekend, and it was a nightmare to even find a room!

Because of that dang trip, I ended up setting up a 75g marine tank at home.
What a nightmare that was.

Tony

01-13-2009, 06:44 PM   #5
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Go wide! Something like the 21 Limited is great in this place. If you want a neat shot there are a couple of places where the kids can sit on the ledges in the "windows" and around 20-24mm focal length means you can get them and the entire background in it.

The (plexi?)glass in some areas looks a little dirty or scuffed, so make sure to pay attention if you're not right up against it.

But it's a fun place.

01-13-2009, 07:36 PM   #6
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Definitely avoid flash -- you will just get glare off the glass and possibly chided by the staff.

There are certainly some cool places to take photos here...but keep in mind it may be packed..

One of the last rooms we went through was this one:

Crowded, eh?


So, you may have to get creative, get where there is good lighting, shoot upward for a backdrop, use a bit of fill flash and don't be shy with the cropping.

Same Room


Adam
01-13-2009, 07:38 PM   #7
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Hey, is that Ken Rockwell on the left?
01-14-2009, 01:38 PM   #8
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Ha ha -- no that's my buddy Wayne who lives in South Carolina. He looks like Ken, though.

01-14-2009, 02:44 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by geauxpez Quote



Adam
Great example! Nice shot, and creative.
01-16-2009, 05:39 PM   #10
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The last issue of popular photography had an article about shooting in aquariums, you may want to check that out...
01-18-2009, 09:34 AM   #11
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Original Poster
just wanted to say thanks for the tips and examples everyone..i'm going to take pictures of the kids @ the aquarium, not the fish / aquarium; like pictures of the kids @ the glass smiling/pointing; i can go to the aquarium myself anytime, this is a once every couple years thing for these kids, and a first for me with them...i'm not looking to buy any new gear; about the only thing i'd buy would be a monopod...i like to use my flash as little as possible, but especially when there is glass around; can't stand to see a flash reflection in a picture...since i haven't been there yet, i don't know how dark it will be, nor will i know how crowded it will be, and whether or not we're splitting up (we've done this @ other museums/venues)...the group shot out front will be a definite, especially one that includes the sign (somehow), thanks for that i'm guessing i'll roll with the kit lens and put the asahi in my pocket just in case (don't think i'll have much use for the 50-200); kick the iso up from my usual 200 to 800 and keep a low Av and medium shutter...i will def post pics after we go, thanks again peeps
01-18-2009, 08:43 PM   #12
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I would like to suggest using polarizer to reduce the glare from the aquarium glass...but then again this will greatly reduce the amount of light into the sensor. Maybe u might want to experiement this on the actual day of shooting.
01-25-2009, 06:51 PM   #13
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well, today went well...i was quite impressed with the outcome...from 400, ~250 usable (emailable for newsletter)....how many would i actually print/hang?? prob only one or two...everything was shot in manual, iso 200, diff speeds and ap, with the 18-55; no tripod at all, and pretty much straight from the camera....here you go...
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01-26-2009, 07:12 PM   #14
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Hey -- nice job Kirk! The big question: did you have fun? (c:
01-26-2009, 08:04 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by geauxpez Quote
Hey -- nice job Kirk! The big question: did you have fun? (c:
thanks!! heck ya, can't wait to go back on my own time, and actually take my time, rather than running between all the exhibits looking for the groups of kids (they decided to split them up into like 4 diff groups )
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