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Old Jan 16, 2011, 10:12 PM   #1
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Default K5 meets fish

Today we visited the Birch Aquarium, an aquarium that's run by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD. It's quite a bit smaller than the Monterey Aquarium, but it's beautifully laid out and a wonderful place to visit. It's always difficult to take pictures at an aquarium, but the K5 did quite well. I used the DA 35 macro exclusively, the perfect lens for this. I did have some AF problems with this camera/lens combination at home, but was surprised how well it worked here. The lighting was low enough that the focus lamp came on occasionally, though most of the time it didn't. It was wonderful having the ability to use high ISO settings. A couple of shots:

Eye to Eye with a Moray Eel (ISO 12,800):

A much smaller eel:

Hitching post for a different type of horse:

An ugly face, or at least one well camouflaged:

Another ugly face:

Jelly fish

This fish (pipefish?) is related to the sea horses:

I just like this one:

Sea Anemones, I think.

I took a ton of pictures and haven't finished going through them all. Perhaps there will be more later.

The K5's high ISO capability made it easier to keep the shutter speeds fast enough to avoid camera shake. The DA 35 allows for close focusing and large enough dof that f4 worked well. However, glare was still a big problem - you can see it occasionally in this set. I haven't quite figured out how to avoid it (tried different angles, getting as close as I dared etc.). I didn't want to actually touch the glass, which will work.

I used both DeNoise as needed for noise reduction (didn't use it on all of them).
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Old Jan 17, 2011, 12:12 AM   #2
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I've shot at aquariums. Good job.
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Old Jan 17, 2011, 5:13 AM   #3
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Excellent job - really enjoyed looking through those !

The small eel is a Spotted Garden Eel - so called because you find them on shallow sandy areas in groups of sometimes hundreds ! You can't get near them though - as soon as you try they just disappear in an instant - all together !

The first striped fish is a Lion Fish - not usually afraid of divers they would let you get very close - but you shouldn't as they have very poisonous spines on their fins and it's very painful indeed if you get stung.

The ugly fish is actually a very friendly Wolf Fish - you find them in very cold water off the West Coast of North America. I've seen shots of them coming and being fed and cuddling up to divers by wrapping themselves around them. Usually very placid.
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Old Jan 17, 2011, 10:32 AM   #4
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Very nice photos! i especially like the very first one.
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Old Jan 17, 2011, 10:33 AM   #5
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Great photos -- I really enjoyed them. Thanks for sharing. I guess you've not had the k5 for very long, but you sure are taking some great photos with the camera.
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Old Jan 17, 2011, 10:52 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the compliments!

I've had the camera since just after Christmas and am still getting used to it. This is really the first chance I've had to use it in earnest - I've just played around with it around work and home before now. It's hard not to think of it as a miracle-worker, but it's not. There are limitations to what it can do, as well as attributes I haven't figured out how to exploit yet.

I was very, very impressed with the pictures I got at the aquarium - I've taken pictures with earlier Pentax cameras at other facilities and not gotten as many keepers. The focus was better than I had expected, especially with the tiny jelly fish. I tried to take pictures of them at Monterey with the K20 and couldn't get the focus right (too dark for manual focus and not enough contrast for AF). But then, I didn't have the DA 35 macro at the time, and its the perfect lens for this type of thing, much better than any of my other lenses.
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Old Jan 17, 2011, 12:35 PM   #7
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I'm impressed also, Harriet.
Wonderful photos, Great job!

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Old Jan 17, 2011, 1:36 PM   #8
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If by glare, you mean the reflections on the surface of the glass, you seem to have managed quite well, as they are not really noticeable. All are exemplary shots.

The obvious solution to reflection is a polarizing filter - with the ISO capabilities of that camera, you easily could have absorbed the 1.5 stop penalty of a circular polarizer in a number of those shots with the lower ISOs, so it might be worth trying in situations where you couldn't otherwise manage to eliminate the reflection.

BTW I an surprised they could maintain a delicate deep sea creature like #1 at surface pressures and temperatures. Any idea what it is? The "low" ISO of 640 that you used means pretty bright light for a creature that lives in cold eternal darkness - was it in a special tank or is it just a photograph of a photograph?
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Old Jan 17, 2011, 1:44 PM   #9
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Great shots Harriett. Fine job controlling reflected light that is a problem in this kind of shooting environment.

I agree on the 35mm macro. I recently got a 35-105mm macro and I am finding the 35mm FL wonderful on the DSLR. The added zoom is a bonus.

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Old Jan 17, 2011, 6:19 PM   #10
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Yes, I was talking about the reflection. It was frustrating and I didn't always notice it.

Penolta - I didn't actually pay much attention to what the first one was (I never remember names when visiting such places - too much for me to remember), I was mostly interested in how it survives (deploys what's almost a parachute that scoops up plankton). There were a couple of them in a small separate tank, I assume it was specialized.

The aquarium is organized starting with cold, Alaska waters species, then goes to California species and on to tropical ones. There was a few small tanks with jelly fish, this was with them (I took a couple of pictures, this was my favorite since it looked more like a mouth, when it's actually more like a balloon that opens, waves around a bit then closes). They also breed sea horses for other aquariums to try to mitigate their dwindling numbers. They were particularly tough to photograph, while I got some that were so-so, none that really popped.

Today we went to see some larger fish - we visited Sea World. It wasn't one of my better photography days, but it was fun anyway.
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