Animal, Plants, & Nature Week
Some of the most magical photos are of our aquatic friends. Here are some tips to help you capture these amazing creatures.
General Aquarium GuidelinesThe aquarium is a public place and is often crowded. Getting there when it opens or towards the later evening will better your chances of having an unobstructed and unrestricted view of the tanks. If you go during busy hours, make sure to be courteous and careful. Do not 'hog' the tank. Take a few snaps, step back and let others see the tanks. If it is crowded, you will have to wait your turn. Crowded areas will not only provide obstacles for taking photos, but also pose a risk to your camera. Keep a tight grip on it with the strap around your neck. You can be easily jostled or have the camera stolen from you in a crowd.
Photographing Through Vertical TanksThese tanks are the most numerous and the most difficult to shoot through because they catch people's reflections very easily. The severity of these reflections can be mitigated by utilizing the light surrounding the tank. If it is dark, there will be fewer reflections, but they may be more pronounced. A brighter environment will cause many faint reflections. Most of these can be taken out in post-processing.The angle at which you take your photo can minimize the reflections in your photo. I have found the best angle to be a straight-on shot. Keeping your lens parallel to the glass will help keep most reflection at the top of or above your lens. The closer your get to the glass helps reduce your own reflection. Contrary to popular belief, a flash will not always be detrimental. If it is dark, a bright spot will show in the photo, but with proper framing, it can be cropped out.
Photographing Through Horizontal GlassThese types of tanks are more observational in nature. You would find flounders, crabs, and more sedimentary creatures in these tanks. Thus, you don't need to worry about them moving so much. Instead you need to worry about stationary lights above the tank. They will give permanent refeflection. There are three ways to get around this. First, simply edit them out in post processing. If they are in the background, this is easiest to remove. Second, Hold the camera at a 40 to 60 degree angle to the glass. This will make the circular relfections from the appear sliimer and if you can find the right angle, disappear all together. Lastly, you can lean over the glass to create a shadow. Be sure to be safe while doing this. Also, be aware of how much you are reflecting in your shadow.
Photographing JellyfishThese ethereal beings are one of my favorite things to photograph at an aquarium. They are also one of the most difficult. Unlike fish and crustaceans, jellies rarely stop moving. Depending on the type of tank they are in, this can make capturing a clean photo even more difficult. Like with the verticle glass tanks, you want to stay parallel to the glass as well as getting close. There are two types of tanks they are housed in, referring to the lighting within the tank. Almost all jellies are exhibited in darkened area, so their tanks can either be brightly or dimly illuminated.In dimly illuminated tanks, like the one above, the jellyfish are usually translucent and pale colored. A lower ISO is recommended because a lot of noise will result in the black space of your photo. However, it can't be too low due to the conditions being extremely dark. A flash will not help you here. I recommend using a shallow DoF (large f-stop number) to help bring in more light.A brightly illuminated tank is easier to shoot. You can use a faster shutterspeed so the jelly won't appear blurred. The colors will also be more vibrant. A flash can be used here to cast a shadow as seen in the above righthand photo. The most important thing is to be patient with these as jellyfish in these tanks are usually more active. Also some aquarium use alternating light colors as a gimic.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, please note Daemare!