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Re: Photography and tanks

On Fri, 5 Sep 1997 03:48:20 -0400 (EDT), you wrote:

>>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.
>>Anyway, what I really want to know is not what happened but how to take a
>>picture correctly. I figured that it would probably be best to do it at
>>night with all the lights out exept the tanks (cover the flash maybe) but
>>I'm not sure if that will do it.

There are probably several things working against you:

1. You don't say what type of camera you were using, but it sounds as
if it might be a point-and-shoot, with the flash part of the camera.
If you hold a camera away from your tank, when the flash goes off it
will bounce off the front glass, back into your lens and pretty much
obscure anything in the tank. Ideally, with that type of camera setup
you would need to get right up to the tank with the lens as close to
the tank front as possible so that the flash can't bounce back through
the lens. But, unless you have a macro lens for closeup photography or
a point-and-shoot that will focus at less than a foot or so, pretty
much everything is going to be out of focus. And, the flash also may
bounce off the back of the tank.

2. Even if you have a point-and-shoot, you could put your camera on a
tripod, set your camera so that the flash will NOT go off and shoot a
time exposure, using only the tank lights for illumination. How long
the exposure would have to be would depend on the speed of your film,
so the best thing would be to experiment with perhaps 1-second,
2-second, 4-second exposures. Film is cheap, so take several shots.
But, there are some potential problems with that, too. Assuming your
tank is lighted by fluorescent tubes and that you're using the type of
film that most people use, which is balanced for daylight and
electronic flash, you likely will get a greenish cast to the photos.
That's because fluorescent light gives such a cast with standard
films. There is film specially made to compensate for this cast, but
you would have to try to find it at a well-stocked camera store.

3. You didn't say what type of film you shot (print or slide), but I'm
guessing print. Many quick-print places do a pretty poor job of
printing, and sometimes you can have negatives that are fine but are
messed up by the lab so you assume you screwed up. With slides you can
always tell what you got when you clicked the shutter.

4. You best bet for success is if you have something other than a
point-and-shoot camera that will allow you to take the flash off the
camera. Then, you  can set your camera up on a tripod, hold your flash
off to the side or, preferably, so that the flash is slightly above
the tank and aiming downward into it. That way you will light the
interior of the tank with the type of light that your film will like
and there won't be any light bouncing back off the glass.

Whatever you do, don't hesitate to experiment.

Phil                                           Of all the things I've ever lost
Chicago                                          I miss my mind the most