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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A lot of my photographs are taken with a single source flash (diffused) and over the top of the tank. I feel it gives a more natural appearance. In order to squeeze every bit of detail from the photo, I try and shoot with a relatively small aperture (F18 - F29) The problem with this scenario is that at this aperture you tend to loose a lot of detail in the shadow section of the photo. Sometimes it works to your advantage if you are trying to get a particular "look".

Here's an example:



The picture is properly exposed...colors are good...the actual "pose" of the fish is fair (I like fins up...more on that later). Note that the bottom of the fish is in shadow. One way you can bring in the detail is with a reflector. You can buy them in different sizes...the smaller ones (24") are relatively inexpensive. They fold up into a case that is a quarter of the actual dimension of the reflector. Most have a silver side and a gold side, so that the light that you reflect back on the subject can be either cool or warm.

Most of my tanks have limited gravel. In the larger fish tanks the stone is much larger, providing gaps of bare bottom in the tank. Take the reflector and place it immediately under the "staging area" you have created for the flash. When finished the reflector will be underneath the tank reflector side up. Now when the flash above the tank goes off the light will bounce off the reflector and provide slight illumination on the shadow side of the fish.

Here's an example:



By slightly tilting the reflector you can adjust where the flash fills...even giving the background a kicker light. I like everything about this photo with the exception of the pose. I like a "fins up" look. I spend a lot of time observing my fish...most often with a camera in my hand. One of the things I look for are how and when they will do certain things...like popping up their fins, opening their mouth, or even banging the glass. It's been my experience that different strokes for different fish.

Here's an example:



Nice photo. I had a reflector under the tank. You can see the slight illumination reflection at the back of the tank giving it a little extra something...exposure is good. I have the black to the left of the fish...the fins look great...and they're up.

In order to get her to pop up the fins I used a very simple tool...the magnetic glass cleaner.



A long time ago i realized that the fish goes absolutely bonkers when I clean the glass. So what I do is get my lights and reflectors set in place...camera set and ready. I place the magnet on the inside bottom left of the tank. then I step forward and move the magnet from left to right of the tank...step back and watch inevitably when the fish pops her fins.

The Zonatum is very easy to push into position. I often think that the amount of time I spend point at a camera at them has made them less skittish for when I take the shots.



For this shot the "sweet spot" for the light is to the immediate left of the fish. The reflector is underneath.

I use the same tool as above.



Then I just wait till the fish is coming back from right to left...throwing the outside into shadow. I have quite a few of this "shot". Using the tool I can bring him back anytime I want. Some fish respond to the magnet, some respond to a hand, others to the small laser pen lights. When I photograph Jumbo I usually sit back in the chair and wiggle my toes on the glass. It drives him absolutely crazy.

The key here is to spend time observing. If you do you will find ways to change your photographing time from luck to willing models. It's not a perfect science...but it's at least one way that you can have a bit of control.

Last shot of the Zonatum:

 

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Yes verry nice I like the write up as well as the pictures, I have a few questions 1. What camera and lese are you useing? 2. as far as lighting do you turn off the tank light when you do you're photographing and what method do you use to have the flash over the tank and what type of defuser do you use. I heard bubble wrap gives a nice 360 dispersle of light. 3. at that apiture what shutter speed are you useing? thanx
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
MightyWarMonger said:
Yes verry nice I like the write up as well as the pictures, I have a few questions 1. What camera and lese are you useing? 2. as far as lighting do you turn off the tank light when you do you're photographing and what method do you use to have the flash over the tank and what type of defuser do you use. I heard bubble wrap gives a nice 360 dispersle of light. 3. at that apiture what shutter speed are you useing? thanx
I used my Nikon D-300 with AF Zoom- NIKKOR 24-85mm f/2.8-4D IF lens. The flash was a Nikon SB-800 flash. On the flash was a "Gary Fong" light sphere diffuser. I leave the tank lights on when I take the photo. The flash is attached to a monopod and attached to the top of the tank with clamps. The aperture for these photos are shot at F20 (aperture priority) with the shutter at 1/60th.

The bubble wrap is an interesting idea. I might try that just to see the effect. One of the things I always strive for is to experiment with my setup. Thanks for the idea. IN a pinch you can use any reflective surface to throw light back on the subject. Aluminum foil, white card, etc. Just keep in mind that light reflected can also include color. If you use something with a green tint...you will get green fill. Sometimes even that works.

Thanks for the props. Ask anything. If I can help, I will. :thumb:
 

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HA HA I had to actualy go look up the specs for that camera. I use a Canon rebel XTI so I'm not familiar with Nikon equipment. I've been playing around with different lenses to see wich I like best and I've ben meaning to try my flash from the top and use the bubble wrap to defuse it but havnt had a chance to do it (still need a slave to fire my flash). I got the idea from some one on a photography forum who uses it to defuse his flash while doing macro shooting.

I have been trying to use my Tokina 100mm Macro lens lately to get some better shots of my fish but I realy like you're lighting it makes the background dark and you're fish stand out. I have the opisite efect whitch I think is because I have the flash mounted on the camera and not over the tank. Also I wanted to ask you what post prossing software do you use if any and are there any significant changes you do to you photos?
 

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Both these guys are amazing. Where do you get them? Since we are all showing off our cameras. Canon 5d ftw ;). My dad has a D300... meh.(imo d2hs is my favorite nikon) I need to get a macro lens and then I will get you guys some decent shots.
 
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