Hiya peeps!

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OK! Good, now more questions

lol, ya, "plain vanilla", that's exactly what I'm going for here. Good description! :) Since the store has huge windows all across the front of it, and the tank in well lit by these windows, as well as having some sort of lighting on top, you're saying I don't even need to use any flash, just use my circ polar filter and that's it? I would wait for a bright, sunny day, and since the sun would be around to the side of these windows, and it would provide to most inderect ambient light possible. What about the shooting distance from the camera to the side of the tank, is that an important consideration? How fast a shutter you think I'd need with either my 50 f1.8 or my 85 f1.8? You make it sound so easy, but I know it isn't, cuz I've tried it once. Do you think I should place a black cloth on the opposite side of the tank, or not?
 
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gho said:
The best technique is to shoot so that you avoid the reflection entirely.

When shooting the close up shots, I don't use a polarizer or the black drop, but I make
sure the room is dark, or dimly lit without any strong light sources.

The biggest benefit of digital (for me) is the instant polaroid feature. Simply shoot a
test shot, check for flash reflections and move the flash around till it disapears.
I had my first tank-shoot recently, at the Monterey Bay Acquarium. Flash and tripods are prohibited, so I used a monopod for
stabilization, pumped up the ISO, and relied on the low light illuminating the interior of the tank. As you've suggested, I took care
to watch for reflections from the bright doorways. Here's a few samples.

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View attachment 5037
View attachment 5038

This one was through the tank and out the other side.

View attachment 5039
 
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Gregory, the jist [of Fraser's techniques] is getting as much done as you can through the File Browser, ie doing all of the ACR stuff at once on all the files of a single session. Do one file 'the hard way', then use the browser window's menu to apply those settings to the rest of the images. If the lighting, exposure and WB are nearly all the same, this'll work for 80% (or more) of the images.

Then use actions, which can be applied enmass as well, to do things like add gamma sharpen and resize. It's a bunch of little things that add up to saving a lot of time. Throughout the book he refers to how to do things if you are paid by the hour vs paid by the job.
 

gho

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Re: OK! Good, now more questions

Steve S said:
lol, ya, "plain vanilla", that's exactly what I'm going for here. Good description! :)
hehe... the first time I took photos of a tank, I was happy when the fish was in the frame and focused. I personally didn't care much about anything else. Had to try oh so many techniques to get any decent photos of them.

I don't even need to use any flash, just use my circ polar filter and that's it?
Actually, no, no matter how bright it "looks" its still not enough light for the camera at base ISO. The only way you would get "enough" light is if it were outside directly under then sun, and even then, the water absorbs quite a bit of light. If this were the case, the owner would be in algae hell cuz the stuff would grow like mad.

Sure you can get by without the flash, as Uncle Frank has so nicely demonstrated below with his shots above, but the flash will definately get you a clearer photo, especially when it comes to fish, since your effective shutter speed becomes the strobe duration.

Its more tricky with a flash, but you'll get better results.


What about the shooting distance from the camera to the side of the tank, is that an important consideration?
Woops, forgot about that question, sorry. I shoot as close to the glass as possible, since my subjects are so small they never fill the frame. I use a 60mm f/2,8 macro, I'd use the 105, but can't quite afford it yet - I'm dying for that lense (and the 85 1.4)


How fast a shutter you think I'd need
Depends on the distance from the subject, how fast the subject moves, and if you use a flash or not.

Since I use a flash, I usually shoot around 1/125" - I do this mainly so that the stobe becomes the main source of light. Otherwise reef tanks with their 20,000 K bulbs have a very strong blue cast and tints the photo.

But without flash, you can probably go down to 1/60" with the 50mm, and maybe 1/90" with the 85. If doing this though, I highly recommend the use of a tripod to get sharper pics. Wouldn't it be nice if those Wimberly heads could be used? Unfortunately, shooting at angles causes distortion, the amount dependant on how close you are to the subject and glass.


with either my 50 f1.8 or my 85 f1.8?
Depending on how small the fish are you many not have the working distance with these lenses. The fishes in the shots I posted are only are less than 5cm long.

However with a macro lense, you really need a lot of light because you need to stop down quite a bit to get enough DOF to cover your subject.


You make it sound so easy, but I know it isn't, cuz I've tried it once.
Sorry, I didn't mean to make it sound that way. For me photography is never easy (for any subject). Every single time I shoot a photograph, I'm always banging my head trying to get the shot I'm after and I have to constantly tell myself to give up already and move on.


Do you think I should place a black cloth on the opposite side of the tank, or not?
Can you see through the tank? I'd take one full tank shot (don't forget those, and make sure you get one that gets it in context too) without the cloth, and one with. Black backgrounds are nice, because they give the tank that "deep ocean look" - come to think of it, that's probably why so many people constantly ask me what kind of underwater housing I use!

As using it to avoid reflections, its always easiest to avoid as many reflections as possible when shooting, so yeah I would - hey you look more "pro" with lots of equipment too ;)

Hope this helps some. Keep asking!
 

gho

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UncleFrank said:
I had my first tank-shoot recently, at the Monterey Bay Acquarium.
Wow! Those are excellenet results. What ISO - so clean, did you run them through NI or anything? Were those with the kit lense?

I know that jelly is a killer to shoot with those dimly lit tanks. I really like the last one with the play on reflections - that makes the shot for me!
 

gho

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Chris101 said:
[of Fraser's techniques]
I've tried that ACR thing using the file browser but I can't get results that I'm happy with with the ACR. I guess I also spend too much time fine with minor corrections on WB/exposure, etc.

I've been giving it a lot of thought recently, especially after that last job, and have thought of this:
1) I'll go through the photos, select keepers
2) Batch process rough exposure corrections (hopfully within 1/3 stop) via NC
3) Batch process them in NC into JPEGs (faster to work with)
4) Crop them - I'm thinking batch open, crop, save via PS file browser.
5) Print and *mail* a contact sheet! With the low resolution of my color laser, you get enough to see the image, but not enough to see the flaws.

Methinks this will save a ton of work and I could have pumped out this entire job in a single night.

The thing with posting on the web, is that with larger images and even small ones, stuff like image sharpness, exposure variation and color balance become blindingly apparent. When printed on a laser, it looks more like a magazine pic or something.

I'll definately look into the book you recommended though. Thanks for the tip.
 
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gho said:
What ISO - so clean, did you run them through NI or anything? Were those with the kit lense?
I used the Nikon 60mm micro for the jellyfish, and kept ISO at 500 so I would get too much noise. I don't think
I used NeatImage on any of those... adjusting levels left them pretty clean. I left this one in a pretty natural
state, because I thought the noise and particles made the jellyfish look like a spaceship in an alien galaxy :).

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I'm looking forward to another trip to the MBA with my new 85mm f/1.8.
 

gho

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Thanks for the info. I'll keep that in mind next time I visit the aquarium.

I like the jelli space ship effect you have going in that pic. I agree, sometimes snow actually enhances the pic:

I cleaned up this image, but later decided I liked it better with the snow - Here, the “marine snow” was left in to emphasize the “deep sea” look. The dramatic harsh lighting was used to show the nocturnal nature of this coral. A view much like from the sidelines of a submersible lighting up the night ocean floor:
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"Blizzard" - The Tang going one direction and the overlapping tail of the purple firefish depicts a bit of hustle and bustle that makes it seem that these fish are in a hurry to get out of the cold on this winter day.
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Here's the same image cleaned up for a contrast - After going through the clean-up process, I decided I liked the "snowy effect better):
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ok. Greg I've got more questions!

btw, yes, the tank is open on all sides, and the 5?fish are small(ish). Not sure of the tank's size, but I'll guess 100 gal. It's about 4ft long. Also, since I do have a 60 Micro, and it would focus much closer(8in?) than the 50 or the 80, which both are more like 15 and 18in, would you recommend using it instead? And, when you say get a tank shot that's "in context", do you mean with some of it's surroundings included in the shot?
So, ok, so it's been established that using an SB is the preferred method. I have an SB800 and a 3ft Sync cord. Do you recommend I get an assistant to hold it over the tank while I take the shots, or should I use it with my Stroboframe from the side? If from the top, should it be more or less directly over the area the fish is? IE, should we just wait til the fish swims underneath it?
 
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Very nice shots, Frank!

May I ask, how did you get the ISO to 500, or was that just a typo? Auto ISO?
UncleFrank said:
gho said:
What ISO - so clean, did you run them through NI or anything? Were those with the kit lense?
I used the Nikon 60mm micro for the jellyfish, and kept ISO at 500 so I would get too much noise. I don't think
I used NeatImage on any of those... adjusting levels left them pretty clean. I left this one in a pretty natural
state, because I thought the noise and particles made the jellyfish look like a spaceship in an alien galaxy :).

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


I'm looking forward to another trip to the MBA with my new 85mm f/1.8.
 
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oops, you're right, Frank! :oops: Since I usually shoot with my 2h, I never noticed those ISO settings on my D70 before. I think the 2h goes from ISO 400 straight to 640, if I'm correct. No way to check it, since it's in for repair.
 
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I find I'm more of an ISO "Jumper"

It's wierd, but much of the time with either camera, in the heat of the moment, and needing a faster shutter, I'll go straight from 400 to 800 not ever stopping anywhere in between.

UncleFrank said:
I use ISO500 a lot. I find that if I go much higher, it causes me to lose color depth.
 

gho

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Re: ok. Greg I've got more questions!

Steve S said:
btw, yes, the tank is open on all sides..., and the 5?fish are small(ish). Not sure of the tank's size, but I'll guess 100 gal....
Sounds about right, my 100 is about 4 feet long. That's a pretty fair big tank - good thing is that bigger tanks are easier to photograph than smaller ones.

Since the tank is open on all sides, I would definately use the black for a background - gives it that nice deep ocean look. Also try a deep blue color - this is popular and gives it a surface of the ocean type of look. You can also get some of those aquarium backing sheets to stick behind the tank for your photo shoot - this will make the fish appear in a "natural" setting.

Lucky for me, this tank had a clean black background - older tanks have ugly pink and white backgrounds from coralline alage growth (which is desireable to some reefers, but not me).


Also, since I do have a 60 Micro, and it would focus much closer(8in?) than the 50 or the 80, which both are more like 15 and 18in, would you recommend using it instead?
Definately, I use it amost exclusively on my reef shots. It doesn't focus any closer than the stated minimum focus distance (never tested it), but I know I can only get so close - but it's usually not an issue for me. I would like a bit more reach sometimes, and hence the desire for the 105. Think I should get it? Hmmm....


And, when you say get a tank shot that's "in context", do you mean with some of it's surroundings included in the shot?
Yes, most clients and viewers also like to see the see the setting the tank is in:

To see how to do this while balancing light with the tank, check out this link.

Here's an example - the tank where the photos in the begining were shot:
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This is my personal reef tank:
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Do you recommend I get an assistant to hold it over the tank while I take the shots...
This is exactly what I do. I have my assistant hold the strobe where I want the light source to be, and instruct her to move it as I shoot - we've done this a few times, so she kinda knows my shooting methods and where to place the strobe. The assistant also works good for a light stand when illuminating the room while balancing the lighting in the tank - though she gets tired sooner than a light stand - but it makes placement fast, easy and efficient.


or should I use it with my Stroboframe from the side?
I have a stroboframe and a custom bracket flash brakcet, but don't use it on tank shots - the main reason is it's too direct and you can get reflections from it. Also the lighting tends to be rather flat and can cast some harsh shadows from the subject. When using bounce to illuminate the room (as in my lessons) I use the bracket, only because it rotates and can still have the flash above the camera. Otherwise, shoe mount would be the same.


If from the top, should it be more or less directly over the area the fish is?
Really depends on where you want the lighting to come from. Lighting directly above the fish works well if its bounced into the canopy - this will increase the flash dispersion and the fish will photograph somewhat like you see them without the flash (topside lighting)

To see what I mean check out this link.


IE, should we just wait til the fish swims underneath it?
I do this too when I want a fish in a particular spot - first watch the fish to learn its favorite spot, then set up the shot, exposure and prefocus. Then when the fish swims to where you want it, refocus and shoot. I usually watch the fish as I'm photographing corals - a benefit to keeping both eyes open while photographing ;)

Sometimes when waiting for the fish, I'll shoot things nearby the spot to keep me occupied, and accustom the fish to the strobes.
 

gho

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UncleFrank said:
I use ISO500 a lot. I find that if I go much higher, it causes me to lose color depth.
That's interesting. I've noticed that loss of color depth when shooting higer ISOs also. I'll have to give that a shot. I'm usually at either 200 or 1600 - talk about an extremist :D
 
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Thanks Greg, almost there

OK, so we've established I'm going to use my SB800, bounced into the canopy (if possible). Now, A: do you set the SB to normal iTTL or iTTL-BL-FP, and B: do you use the plastic cap diffuser?
 
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Welcome Gregory,

I've admired your posts on DPreview so am delighted to see you here.
Your pictures are beautiful and I look forward to more.

Best to you and welcome,
Gaye
 

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