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Leaking CO2 and Planted tank photography

Roger Miller wrote:

>Can anyone else think of good ways to check for leaks?

Use a solution of water and dish washing soap.  Paint it on any connections
that you suspect might leak.  If there's a leak, you'll see bubbles forming.

>I avoid several of those problems.  I make the outlet in the thickened
>shoulder of the bottle, below the cap. <snip other useful ideas>

Another way of getting a good seal is to make the hole a little SMALLER
than the diameter of the tubing.  Then cut the tubing diagonally so that
you have a little point on one side.  You can use this point to pull the
tubing through the tight hole with a pair of pliers.  Some people find that
the tight tubing itself seals adequately into the hole.  I go one step
further to be extra sure of the seal.  I use a hot glue gun designed for
crafts.  This glue sticks to the plastic much more securely than aquarium


Subject: Photography and tanks

>>Greetings and salutations to all in the list, the best in the world. I had
>>a question for you all. About three weeks ago I took a picture of my tank
>>so I could admire its beauty even when I'm not home. When I took the
>>picture, the tank looked fairly bright (125g/360W), the water was crystal
>>clear and the plants looked real nice. When I got my film developed
>>however, the tank in the picture looked dark, it made it look like my water
>>was the color of a dirty pond (puky green) and I could hardly see the
>>plants. What happened? This is not my tank. Actually I think the camera
>>took a picture of the front glass of the tank and for some reason didn't go
>>much further. Should I hit my camera with a baseball bat for being
>>worthless. Should I hit myself with a baseball bat for the same reasons.

Violence is almost never the answer, particularly when you are dealing with
inanimate objects.<g>

While I certainly don't consider myself an expert in photography, necessity
has taught me a thing or two.  First, what kind of equipment are you
working with?  To take photos like Amano's, you need large format cameras
and banks of enormously bright flashes all slaved together.  For the rest
of us mere mortals, we have to get by with a little less technology (and
probably a lot less talent<g>)

If you are working with a small camera with a built in flash, your results
are going to be less than spectacular, although you can still get a shot
that is representative enough to impress viewers.  I even played around
with one of those little disposable cameras one day to see just what
someone could do with minimal equipment.  If you have your own camera of
this type, get the fastest film you can, ASA 1000 preferably, 400 if that's
all you can get.  If your camera has the capability, and you can shoot a
roll of 400 film at 800, then tell your developer to "push" the film to
800.  The disposable cameras are pre loaded with 400 film anyway.  

Next, get as much light over your tank as possible.  If you have strip
lights over other tanks that can be added to the one you're photographing
temporarily, do it.  You are right to shoot the tank in a dark room if at
all possible.  You want to avoid any reflections on the glass from other
light sources.  Also, make _sure_ that your glass is absolutely clean,
inside and out.  Clean it twice, check it once and clean it again!  There's
nothing more disappointing than having an otherwise good photo spoiled by
streaky glass.

Now take your photos at an angle to the front of the tank so that the flash
bounces away from you.  You can practice the angle by standing in front of
a mirror.  If you can see yourself, you would get a flash back if you took
a picture.  Get close enough to fill the frame with your tank if your
camera will focus at that distance.  If you have a fixed focal length
camera, read the instructions, and get as close as the camera will allow.

Using the above techniques you can get pretty reasonable representations of
your tank, even if they're not publication quality.

If you have a manual SLR (single lens reflex) camera with TTL (through the
lens) metering, you can do much better.  Set you camera on complete manual
if it has automated features.  _You_ want to have complete control of the

I have found that strong flashes are not particularly useful for full tank
shots unless you have enough flash power to actually light the whole tank
evenly from above.  Small flashes placed on top of a big tank will just
give you "hot spots".  A small flash from the front can give you a little
"fill in" light, but too much light from the front will completely change
the color of the tank and the shadows will come from unnatural angles.  If
you are using a flash, you will probably be limited in terms of shutter
speed to whatever setting corresponds to your flash. (usually 1/60th of a
second)  If the tank has 2w/g or less of light, I find that I usually need
to use a fill in flash to get an adequate image.  

In dimly lit tanks, I sometimes resort to ASA 200 film since it gives me a
little more flexibility.  In brighter tanks, however, you will get a much
clearer image if you shoot ASA 100 or slower film.

You have to decide whether you are taking a "fish picture" or a picture of
a tank.  In the former case, put on your macro lens, get in close, and use
plenty of light.  In the latter case, unless you have all that Amano
equipment, you may have to accept some loss of definition, particularly  on
fast moving fish.

Set your camera up on a tripod, and take all the time you need to focus it.
 Unlike photographing individual fish, you are working a little further
from the tank and don't have to worry quite so much about a limited depth
of field.  So you can work with a lower F-stop if you need to.  Still, I
try to work with as high an F-stop as possible, while not slowing the
shutter down _too_ much.  On a tripod, and if the fish are relatively slow
moving, I find that even a 30th of a second can give good results.  If you
have to slow the shutter down more than that, or if you have a lot of fast
moving fish in the tank, you will get a fair amount of blurring of the
fish.  Still, you will give a better representation of the true look of the
tank than you will if you go with a large front flash to be able to use a
faster shutter speed.  For best results, bracket your shots using at least
one F-stop above and below what you think you actually need.  I prefer to
use a shutter release cable so that I can stand without looking through the
camera to wait for the fish to position themselves nicely or to slow down.

Remember that sometimes taking a picture of just a segment of a large tank
can be more effective than trying to see the whole tank at once.  Don't be
afraid to get up close, particularly if you have macro lens to work with.
In these cases, a flash from in front of the tank can be useful, as can a
second flash on a tripod slaved to the first to reduce shadows.

Be aware that not all films work equally well for aquarium photography.  I
don't like the look of Kodachrome for planted tanks. It brings out the reds
and blues in many fish beautifully, but it's not as good for foliage.  I
prefer Kodak's Ektachrome Professional or Fuji's Provia film.  In a pinch,
I'll use Kodak Elite.

Finally, be aware that professional photographers take many, many more
photos than you actually see.  For every one of publication quality, you
can bet they have a drawer full of rejects.  Photographing in aquaria is as
fascinating as growing plants in them.  And just like the art of aquatic
gardening, good photography takes a little learning and a whole lot of
Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association