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Re: Aquarium Photography

>From: john wheeler <jcwheel76 at yahoo_com>

>....1. What is the best way to get high quality shots
>without breaking the bank? Digital, I have gleaned,
>yes? What should I look for in a digital camera?
>2. How does one go about taking slide shots at a high
>level since we're sort of on the topic. Sounds
>expensive to me<g>. I'd like to try this ADA thing
>since I regrettably missed the AGA contest.......

>TIA for your help,
>John Wheeler

With a digital camera, I would recommend at least 2 megapixils, and 3 would
be better.  You need a camera that has manual settings so that you can set
a small aperture (such as f16) so that you get good depth of field and,
when using the tank lighting, there will naturally be a long exposure time.
Thus, you will need a tripod.  You should turn off the camera flash, or
you will get a nasty reflection from the front of the tank.  With long
exposures, moving fish disappear, but that's OK, if you are primarily
interested in the plants.  If you want the fish in the picture, too, you
have to set up one or more flash units above the tank and find the right
exposure by trial and error (unless you have a flash meter).  Whether using
flash or not, you need to minimise reflections off the front of the tank.
I have found that the aluminum tripod legs show up particularly well.  I
use a black cloth to drape over the tripod.  Fussier people have some kind
of frame holding a tablecloth-sized black cloth with a hole in the middle
through which the camera lens projects.

Film is still better than the best digital cameras with regard to
definition and color balance.  For the best resolution, the old, Kodachrome
25 was the best, but is no longer in production.  Fujichorme Velvia (ASA
50) is now considered to be the best.

If you are doing long exposures and you do not have a light meter that
works at very low levels of light, you can calculate your exposure tine
from a reading at a higher light level.  For example, if, your camera meter
refuses to work at F 16, you might be able to get a reading at a larger
aperture.  Suppose it gives you, 1/8 sec. at F 2. Then you can double the
exposure time and go up one F stop (halving the light)  unitl you get to
the F stop you want.  For example: 1/4 at F 2.8, 1/2 at F 4, 1 sec. at F
5.6, 2 sec. at F 8, and 4 sec. at F 11, and, finally, 8 seconds at F 16.

You can get your slides digitized and put on a CD ROM at a camera store and
then work with the images with a high end application, such as Adobe
Photoshop.  (more $$$!)  If you use film and aren't into Photoshop, you
must compose very carefully with the camera, and, of course, you will be
limited by the dimensions of the 35 mm format.  If you have a digital
camera, you must have some kind of image-editing software.  Usually, what
is supplied with the camera is pretty low-end.

Paul Krombholz, in cool central Mississippi, with partly cloudy skies.