Tag Archives: Aquarium
Okay, now that I have your attention with the title “Underwater Photography,” I’ll just say that in this case you don’t need a Scuba Gear, or waterproof housing for your camera gear, or special lenses, filters, or strobes. Hey! you don’t even need to know how to swim. Rest assured, you and your beloved camera gear will not get wet. So, what on Earth am I talking about? Well, we know Underwater photography is a specialized art, which requires expensive gear and trips that can cost a fortune. Moreover, one needs to have an excellent knowledge of the subjects and the locations. Did I mention that underwater photography can be extremely dangerous at times! To be honest, there are only a few underwater photographers in the world – Of course, David Doubilet, Norbert Wu and Tony Wu certainly stand out in this field. For them it was years of practice and dedication before they became masters of underwater photography.
The actual underwater photography no doubt is extremely challenging & thrilling and can give a photographer a lot of freedom especially with the composition relating to the the backdrop of the beautiful coral reefs & many fish species. However, you can still get great pictures of marine life without diving in the ocean waters. Yeah! you guessed right! Photograph the marine life present inside an aquarium. Now, if you have unsuccessfully tried photographing fish inside an aquarium, then the chances that the image didn’t turn out to be great was because of your own reflection in the glass appearing in your image, or seeing a big white blob (flash) on the final image, or dull colors, or an out of focus image or an unsharp image.
So what to do to get a great image of an aquarium fish? Well, to begin with, please check out the aquarium in your area making sure it has large tanks & contains a variety of colorful fish. Please ensure that photography is allowed at the aquarium. Strangely, some aquarium do prohibit or restrict photography.
The equipment: It is rather difficult to get a decent photo of an aquarium fish with your regular point & shoot camera. Why? -Because P&S cameras have attached flashes, can’t use filters, & usually they don’t have any creative control modes to adjust the shutter speed or the aperture. Hence, please make sure you have a D-SLR, along with a shoe-mount flash (Full TTL metering), and most importantly – an off camera shoe cord. The off-camera shoe cord will help you position the flash away from the camera thereby avoiding the white blob in the final image that you usually get with the built-in flash or flash mounted on camera hot-shoe. The lens I would recommend is a standard zoom lens (24-105mm, 28-135mm etc).
Flash & off-camera shoe cord
The Steps: The first thing you must do is – switch-off the Auto Focus feature in your camera/lens & switch-on the mode to Manual Focus. The reason, shooting through thick glass & water can & does throw-off or confuse the auto focus mechanism. Use your right hand to hold the camera & your left hand to hold the flash. Now, if you are shooting alone, then you will need a lot of practice & patience because you need to hold the flash with one hand while trying to manually focus & click the subject with the other hand. Take along a friend to assist you in holding the flash, so that you can focus on the subject & hold the camera steadily. Make sure you tell your friend to direct the flash from the side or the top towards the subject. The water helps diffuse or soften the light from the flash. Hold the flash really close to the glass. In the same way, hold the camera, with the lens kissing the aquarium glass (a lens hood can help). That will help in eliminating any reflection. Depending on the amount of light in the aquarium, you can use a circular polarizer filter or any warming filter. The good thing with Digital cameras is that once you start shooting, you can see the results instantly. That allows you to make any adjustments regarding exposure, aperture, shutter speed – right away.
Presented below are some images, which I shot at the Toledo Zoo Aquarium (Ohio, USA) some years ago. They weren’t shot the digital way, but rather using a transparency film (slide). I used Kodachrome 100 (among my favorite films) for the images. Since a slide film doesn’t have much exposure latitude, I bracketed the images whenever possible. With practice & luck, I was able to get some cool “underwater” images without getting wet. All the images below were shot using Canon EOS A2E, Canon 28-105mm Lens, off-camera shoe cord, circular polarizer filter, Kodachrome transparency film. Enjoy the images and please share your thoughts. Visit your local aquarium and create some beautiful underwater images. Which image do you like the most? Please comment. Thank you. Happy clicking.