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Old Oct 2, 2003, 6:28 PM   #1
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Default Saltwater reef aquarium photography

Greetings....

Looking for a forum/IRC channel that deals
with photographing home aquariums.

I belong to a few of the Nikon CoolPix Yahoo forums
(don't know if that's an evil word here or not)
and I've received some very helpful advice, but
looking for actual tank hobbyists who photograph
their tanks with quality as their goal.

If there are any saltwater tank digicammers here
I'd love to here from ya!

My paltry attempts to date:

http://www.tomduggan.com/fish

Thanks!
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Old Oct 2, 2003, 8:01 PM   #2
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I'll reply to my own post....sorta <G>

I did a forum search and came across a few posts
with some tips; of which all I'm aware of.

Still looking for a message board/chat room/Steve's
Forum members......

Thanks!
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Old Oct 4, 2003, 12:33 AM   #3
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Your link didn't work when I clicked on it... even leaving off the "fish" part didn't work.

How about posting the tips you already know? Maybe they'd help some of us, should we ever need to take pictures like that.

I'm guessing lighting would be a big problem, or do you just use the aquarium light on top of the tank?
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Old Oct 4, 2003, 9:38 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemyers
Your link didn't work when I clicked on it... even leaving off the "fish" part didn't work.

How about posting the tips you already know? Maybe they'd help some of us, should we ever need to take pictures like that.

I'm guessing lighting would be a big problem, or do you just use the aquarium light on top of the tank?
************************************************** *

Hi Mike,

Link works fine for me from IE 5 and IE 6. Could have been
a server or browser glitch. Give it another shot...

As far as tips go:
- Clean glass very good
- Point flash from top of tank
- Butt camera up against tank glass
(very difficult - bow front tank)
- Take images from an angle to eliminate reflection
- Isolate fish with plexiglass or move to photo tank
(ain't gonna happen)
- Use static lighting
(I'm building a setup that uses Home Depot
refecting lights and embroidery hoops as
diffusers; not done with it yet)
- Pick contrasty spot in tank and wait for fish
to swim through that area.
- And of course, tripod, tripod, tripod...

I seem to be having a modicum of success
using ISO100, 1/125-1/60, f3.6-f4, white
balance FINE, macro mode.

Flash is a SunPak 433AF and when fully
bracketed, it sits on a Bogen 3021 tripod
with Manfrotto 3030 head and StroboFrame
FlipFrame. Nikon AS10 hot shoe with SC-18?
sync cord.

I don't have a lot of room to take full tank shots
which is what I'm really after. The close-up stuff
I seem to be doing so-so with.

I have approximately 4'-4.5' to work with from the
front of the tank to the wall, so that doesn't leave
a lot of room for the camera and static lighting.

I realize this requires a lot of trial and error, but like
I said in my original post, just looking to shoot the
breeze with people; that's just my style <G>

Oh, one of the tips that I came across in the Steve's
Digicams forums is to possibly try a mosaic. That
would definitely fry my brain <G>

Thanks!

Tom D
Hopefully this full tank shot gets through:
[/img]
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Old Oct 4, 2003, 10:47 AM   #5
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Random Thoughts.....

a) the web site worked for me now, so that's fine.

b) way, way, way, way too many pictures to select from... maybe put up a few "albums" of the photos you want people to look at.

c) How did you get the newer folders to open like a web page, while the older ones open the old fashioned way? What software are you using to make the "albums"?

d) pictures of dark fish in front of a lighter background didn't look as good as if the fish were lit up more in front of a less-well-lit background, but that means you need light from in front of tank?

e) background stuff (wires, pumps, cables, etc.) looks bad.

f) shots that show an angular line meaning it's the "end" of the tank, don't look as good as other full-frame shots.

g) newer shots look *much* better than older shots.

h) I think you need the fish's eyes to be in the picture, nice and sharp, for the picture to look at its best.

i) photos with fish in the "best" location in the photo look better. The fish should be sorta near the center, with a bit more "space" in front of fish than behind. That way it's moving "into" the picture, not "out of" the picture.

j) On my screen, with the images as posted, they don't look as "sharp" as I think they should - but I'm looking at them compared to National Geographic pictures. I think Photoshop's "sharpen" filter would make them appear better (to me at least).

k) photos with lighting more "above" fish than "below" look better, especially when the light reflects back from teh fish.

l) when depth of field can't get the whole fish sharp, always get the eyes sharp.




........................just some random thoughts.



Your latest post looks nice.... I downloaded it, and did a few of the things I'd do if I had taken the photo.... here's the result:


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Old Oct 4, 2003, 10:58 AM   #6
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Oh yeah, what I did.....

used the crop tool to get rid of the surface of the tank, and the wood base.

used "adust auto levels" to bring out the color.

added more contrast.

used Photoshop's "rubber stamp" tool to get your reflection (your hands) out of the image, and then got rid of the bubbles too...

ditto to get rid of the brass thingy at the left.

used Photoshop's "sharpen" and "sharpen edges" tool to make it look better (to me).



I like the end result - you've got a great looking tank!!!!!
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Old Oct 4, 2003, 11:11 AM   #7
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Tom, the reason your link didn't show up is because it had an extra "/img]" at the end of it:


[/img]


Without that, it should show up just fine:


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Old Oct 4, 2003, 11:14 AM   #8
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Hmm, that's really strange. When you typed it, and I viewed it, I got to see the text, not the image, but when I tried to copy what I thought you did wrong, it worked both ways..... I guess I don't know enough about the software here to know why it didn't show up for me on the link you originally typed in.....
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Old Oct 4, 2003, 11:16 AM   #9
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*** Random insertions....

Random Thoughts.....

a) the web site worked for me now, so that's fine.

*** Cool

b) way, way, way, way too many pictures to select from... maybe put up a few "albums" of the photos you want people to look at.

*** I stink at web page design.
*** I've actually culled down the amount of images
*** posted. Most sessions have close to 100 shots.
*** I've posted the "keepers" <G>

c) How did you get the newer folders to open like a web page, while the older ones open the old fashioned way? What software are you using to make the "albums"?

*** Refer to b) re: I stink!
*** I've played around with a few web album
*** packages.
*** Apologies for the inconsistency.
*** /fish is not publicized, just for a few
*** friends and family, so that's the primary
*** reason for the directory listings and lack
*** of HTML
***
*** ACDSee has a built-in plug-in for web albums.
*** I've also used a Photoshop plug-in
*** I believe the latest albums were created with
*** a package called "JAlbum"

d) pictures of dark fish in front of a lighter background didn't look as good as if the fish were lit up more in front of a less-well-lit background, but that means you need light from in front of tank?

*** Yep.
*** The CP4500 internal flash does ok for extreme
*** macro, but fails miserably when about 6" from
*** the front of the tank
***
*** I will detach the SunPak from the bracket
*** and hand-hold it at an angle to get some
*** front lighting.
*** From your comments, I seem to be getting
*** close to being on the right track.

e) background stuff (wires, pumps, cables, etc.) looks bad.

*** No sh*t <G>
*** I'm working on technique and quality right now
*** and serious composition will come when I'm
*** somewhat satisfied.
***
*** I've also come across a few "digital darkroom"
*** techniques that explain how to clone or blackout
*** unwanted objects. So, that floating around in
*** the back of me brain....

f) shots that show an angular line meaning it's the "end" of the tank, don't look as good as other full-frame shots.

*** Yep.
*** Those are usually taken with the camera positioned
*** near the center of the bow shooting towards the end.
*** Shots taken with the camera positioned at the end
*** produce a different kind of distortion.
*** That seems to be the disadvantage of imaging
*** a bow front tank. Bah!

g) newer shots look *much* better than older shots.

*** Trial and error is a beautiful thing. Thank you.
*** The newer shots were taken with the external
*** flash. I've only had it about a month or two.

h) I think you need the fish's eyes to be in the picture, nice and sharp, for the picture to look at its best.

*** Ok...I'll let you coax the fish into posing. LOL!
*** But, I understand your point. Very difficult to
*** get a fish to stand still <G>

i) photos with fish in the "best" location in the photo look better. The fish should be sorta near the center, with a bit more "space" in front of fish than behind. That way it's moving "into" the picture, not "out of" the picture.

*** Yep.
*** More of the "sit and wait" technique which isn't
*** horrible.

j) On my screen, with the images as posted, they don't look as "sharp" as I think they should - but I'm looking at them compared to National Geographic pictures. I think Photoshop's "sharpen" filter would make them appear better (to me at least).

*** All images posted are either resized, cropped, and
*** "auto levels" in ACDSee.
***
*** I'm familiar with many digital imaging processing
*** techniques (I also do astrophotography with my
*** CoolPix), but I have a very hard time knowing when
*** to apply what when and where <G>

k) photos with lighting more "above" fish than "below" look better, especially when the light reflects back from teh fish.

*** Yep.
*** I've noticed that when I position the external flash
*** above the tank.
*** One of the techniques I want to try is side lighting
*** the tank with the reflector lights and position a
*** slave flash above the tank. I'm hoping this will
*** eliminate some of the shadowing and fill in some
*** of the dark areas create from the flash.

l) when depth of field can't get the whole fish sharp, always get the eyes sharp.

*** Refer to h) <G>

........................just some random thoughts.

*** And they are much appreciated.
*** I hope I'm not boring you too much <G>

Your latest post looks nice.... I downloaded it, and did a few of the things I'd do if I had taken the photo.... here's the result:

*** How did you get that to post in the body of the message?
*** I used the [img] [/img] tags and I didn't see the image
*** in the message body.
***
*** I'm assuming you used sharpening (Richardson-Lucy?)
*** and some Gaussian on it....looks good...

*** Thanks again!
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Old Oct 4, 2003, 11:25 AM   #10
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*** That seems to be the disadvantage of imaging
*** a bow front tank. Bah!



No big deal - the ONLY way people can tell it's distorted, is if what's supposed to be a straight line shows up in the final image. Crop it out, and everyone's eyes will miss/ignore the distortion, and the picture looks perfect again. :-)))
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