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Thread: Lenses and Filters for Home aquarium photography

  1. #1

    Default Lenses and Filters for Home aquarium photography

    I recently took some macro shots of my fire shrimps at home. Realised that it was a back-breaking experience for me to hold and move tripod and manual focus...
    Have since sold the macro lens (100mm nonL 2.8 Canon) away. It was fun but I doubt I would like to continue

    Of all the shots only one looked decent... terrible beginner .... Will try to post it when I reach home later.

    Other than that, I would like to ask, for a 'whole' aquarium shot like those in Aquarama/Amano websites, what equipment do I need to show a clean and nice surface. I tried searching on the topic but found none. It always seems to overexpose and details not captured.

    I currently have 17-55mm 15-85mm on a 7D. I also have CPL and a 580exii. What other equipment/setting do i need for this 'shoot'.

    Thanks in advance for all the advices.

  2. #2
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    Cool.. Am in marine aquarium as well . Look forward to your posts

  3. #3

    Default Re: Lenses and Filters for Home aquarium photography

    Tripod is useless when the subjects are moving all the time. You need a fast shutter speed of at least 1/100-1/250. My usual settings are ISO 100, F8-13, 1/100 or faster.

    Full tank shots are quite easy.
    1. Use as much light as you have for the tank.
    2. Add on with flash(es) (depending on tank size and preference) triggered with wireless transmitter.
    3. Make sure tank surface (both interior and exterior) are clean.


    The same applies to shooting your subjects. Another way is to attach a round lens hood and stick it onto the tank surface when you are taking shots of your subjects to remove reflections.


    If the interior of the tank is bright enough, you don't need any CPL. CPL is useful for ponds to cut out reflections under a sunny day.

    Fully covered tanks like those in Aquarama is another problem. Especially those smaller tanks that are behind the wooden boards.
    Last edited by Schmike; 31st May 2013 at 09:52 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Lenses and Filters for Home aquarium photography

    Going through my shots from Aquarama. A problem I see is water stains on the tank surface appearing on my shots.

    You won't have the rights to clean the tank unless you are the owner of the fish or an authorized personnel.
    Last edited by Schmike; 31st May 2013 at 09:39 PM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Lenses and Filters for Home aquarium photography

    I m looking at taking frontal tank shots. Seems the glass really makes things a little distorted. Flash? Wont there be reflections?
    Also i'm into freshwater tanks.

  6. #6

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    Flash(es) in front of the tank will depends on how you place it/them. I usually place the flashe(es) above the tank. I took the fishes at Aquarama with flashes in front of the tanks. Only manage to take few shrimps with flash above as the tank was not covered.

    The ones behind the wooden frames are much harder to take as there will still be reflections of the ledge if the fish is near the front.

    Full tank shots is usually 2-3 flashes above the tank for me. If taking planted or aquascape, you can use a tripod and use a slightly longer shutter speed.

    Avoid taking at an angle to reduce distortion.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Lenses and Filters for Home aquarium photography

    Quote Originally Posted by philipfeng View Post
    I recently took some macro shots of my fire shrimps at home. Realised that it was a back-breaking experience for me to hold and move tripod and manual focus...
    Have since sold the macro lens (100mm nonL 2.8 Canon) away. It was fun but I doubt I would like to continue

    Of all the shots only one looked decent... terrible beginner .... Will try to post it when I reach home later.

    Other than that, I would like to ask, for a 'whole' aquarium shot like those in Aquarama/Amano websites, what equipment do I need to show a clean and nice surface. I tried searching on the topic but found none. It always seems to overexpose and details not captured.

    I currently have 17-55mm 15-85mm on a 7D. I also have CPL and a 580exii. What other equipment/setting do i need for this 'shoot'.

    Thanks in advance for all the advices.
    Took these a few years back for fun.



    Shot using SB600 infra sync with cam using pop up flash. Switch off all lights, modify a card board to block the pop up flash to cut off reflections on the tank. SB600 on top of tank.

    If you've got a wireless flash trigger, it'll be much easier.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by nulbonklr; 2nd June 2013 at 03:56 PM.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Lenses and Filters for Home aquarium photography

    How about shooting at night or in completely dark room with only the tank lighted?
    Any additional external light will be reflected onto the photo

  9. #9

    Default Re: Lenses and Filters for Home aquarium photography

    Ah, I understand what you guys mean now by placing flash above the water surface. 7D can trigger 580exii wirelessly. Just wondering, wont the lights above the tank be sufficient? My lights are pretty solid.
    Canon 7D + Canon 24-105mmL , 17-55mm F2.8, 10-22mm.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Lenses and Filters for Home aquarium photography

    Quote Originally Posted by philipfeng View Post
    Ah, I understand what you guys mean now by placing flash above the water surface. 7D can trigger 580exii wirelessly. Just wondering, wont the lights above the tank be sufficient? My lights are pretty solid.
    Base on the current camera technology, existing lights in the tank should be sufficient.
    Last edited by nulbonklr; 3rd June 2013 at 01:03 AM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Lenses and Filters for Home aquarium photography

    Quote Originally Posted by seii7 View Post
    How about shooting at night or in completely dark room with only the tank lighted?
    Any additional external light will be reflected onto the photo
    This is what I used to do. But I still have to push up my ISO quite high.

    Quote Originally Posted by nulbonklr View Post
    Base on the current camera technology, existing lights in the tank should be sufficient.
    Lighiting have nothing to do with camera technology. The higher the ISO you use, the more light you can get into the picture. But this also means more reflections from outside the tank.

    Shots taken at Aquarama of the same fish:

    With flash:

    IMG_3670 by Edwin Tan (Schmike), on Flickr

    Aperture: f/10.0
    Exposure Time: 0.0080 s (1/125)
    ISO equiv: 100
    Flash Fired: Yes (Auto, return light detected)

    Without flash:

    IMG_3802 by Edwin Tan (Schmike), on Flickr

    Aperture: f/5.6
    Exposure Time: 0.010 s (1/100)
    ISO equiv: 800
    Flash Fired: No (enforced)

    Even with flash, at times I still get a little reflection on the tank surface as the flash is not above the tank.


    IMG_3629 by Edwin Tan (Schmike), on Flickr

  12. #12

    Default Re: Lenses and Filters for Home aquarium photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmike View Post
    Lighiting have nothing to do with camera technology. The higher the ISO you use, the more light you can get into the picture. But this also means more reflections from outside the tank.
    True, but previously I shot using D80, so shooting without flash was not an option. But if TS tank's lighting is adequate, with his current system, should be suffice without flash.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Lenses and Filters for Home aquarium photography

    If lighting is sufficient, a simple PNS can produce good shots.

    One thing to note, the interior of the tank must always be much brighter than the surrounding.
    Last edited by Schmike; 2nd June 2013 at 11:50 AM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Lenses and Filters for Home aquarium photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmike View Post
    If lighting is sufficient, a simple PNS can produce good shots.

    One thing to note, the interior of the tank must always be much brighter than the surrounding.
    For shots without flash, you may want to check out their work and settings here. Awesome shots
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=1&theater

  15. #15
    Member Foxshade's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lenses and Filters for Home aquarium photography

    I tried shooting into aquarium once while loitering around in the bride's hse.
    Maybe the fish tank lighting is very good that I can afford shooting it with a 50 mm f/1.8.



    The only change to the environment I made was turning off the room light and draw the curtain to minimize reflection since I got no polarizer.
    Last edited by Foxshade; 3rd June 2013 at 11:06 AM.
    A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.
    ~Ansel Adams

  16. #16
    Moderator ed9119's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lenses and Filters for Home aquarium photography

    I did it before

    Turn off all lights except aquarium lights
    Even wear black or dark clothes
    strobes with diffusers left and right and from top with triggers or existing tank lights depending on situation
    build a dark cardboard light-blocker around all 4 sides of tank

    adjust strobes accordingly (i got by with 1/8 and 1/16 output)

    otherwise quick and dirty way is to just place constant output LED lights top of tank and turn off all lights
    shaddap and just shoot .... up close
    Walkeast

  17. #17

    Default Re: Lenses and Filters for Home aquarium photography

    My lights are already LED lights.
    I will try the cardboard around the tank thingy. Sounds good.
    I will try one shot this weekend and if possible, post it here.
    Canon 7D + Canon 24-105mmL , 17-55mm F2.8, 10-22mm.

  18. #18

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    How deep is the tank?

    Another way is to use a black cloth to cover up the front of the tank towards your lens.
    Last edited by Schmike; 6th June 2013 at 10:19 AM.

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    Default Re: Lenses and Filters for Home aquarium photography

    this was done with a simple p&s nikon E3100.
    Room's light turn off


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