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focus and aquascaping


I can think of two things that might leave an aquascape with a lack of

One is that the aquascape simply lacks an evident intent on the part of
the aquarist.  That is the sort of result you would get if (for instance)
you just collected plants and tried to fit them into the tank so that they
were visible and didn't kill each other.

Another is that the aquascape isn't unified -- it lacks something that
would hold the composition together and create the sense that its parts
formed a whole.  Whether or not this type of focus is really necessary is
-- I suppose -- a matter of taste.

My problem as far as the length of the tank is concerned (I'm not worried
so much about the volume of the tank, just it's length) is that it may be
more difficult to get the 2nd kind of focus -- the sense that the parts
form a whole.  The Dutch competition site (http://www.nbat.nl) provides a
number of examples of unfocused compositions.  In fact, a fairly large
proportion of those tanks are composed like a vegetable garden.  They
consist mostly of rows (or elongated groups) of plants running from the
middle of the tank to the back of the tank, leaving the obligatory clear
space in the foreground.  Nothing but the sides of the tank itself hold
the compositions together.

While I'm on the topic of the Dutch tanks...  I found the display on their
web site to be a little disappointing.  The tanks are certainly
well-maintained, healthy tanks, but golly, I felt like about half of those
tanks could have been the same tank photographed over-and-over a few weeks
apart.  There was a remarkable lack of variety, probably forced by the
rigors of years and years of competition under strict rules and standards.
The site gave me a much better understanding of why Amano seemed to think
so little of the Dutch style.

For original compositions and inspiring results, I think that the AGA
showcase offers far more than the Dutch competition site.

The quality of the light in those tanks is also an issue.  I originally
assumed that the odd (to my eyes, anyway) yellowish cast to the light in
most tanks was just an artifact of the photography.  Ivo's summary of the
lighting used in the tanks makes me think that my problem is caused by the
lights themselves.

Perhaps my complaint about the color of the light can be written off as a
simple matter of personal taste.  But the color *rendition* from those
lights is also terrible (or is it from the film?).  I know what color most
of those plants should be, but they appear in the photographs in shades
that bear only a passing resemblace to their natural colors.

Incidentally, Steve Dixon treated me to some pictures of his beautiful new
6' bowfront tank, and I understand that the SFBAAPS site may soon have
some of those photos on display.  If you really want to see a spectacular
aquascape in a really neat setting then you have to see what Steve has

Roger Miller