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Thread: How to take better pictures of our tanks?

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    How to take better pictures of our tanks?

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    hi there experts,

    Saw many really nice pictures taken by the bros in the aquascaping section and really start to wonder if you are using professional level equipment to take such pictures.

    Not being a professional photographer, I presume many bros like me do not have a professional grade camera. Any tips experts here can offer to take nicer pics of our tanks using basic equipment?

    For example, I only have an IXUS V2 digital cam. Any particular settings I can do to have better pic qualities?

    I realised that if I switch on the flash, the image colour is not as "natural" compared to without. But without the flash, all the pics appear blur even if I used a tripod...

    Thanks in advance!

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    For a start, you don't need all kind of fancy gear to take nice pictures of your tank.

    If you have a tripod, make sure it's sturdy. Then, just the self timer mode instead of pressing the shutter release yourself as it'll cause camera shake. Also, make sure you cover any stray light source that may affect the exposure. Ambient light should be switched off and stray light from the tank should be covered in black paper. As such, it's probably best to shoot at night.

    Post some pictures and we can help you check on what can be further improved.

    Hope that helps.

    Cheers,
    I have dwarf cichlids in my tanks! Do you?

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    Just to add on, clean the glass, both inside and out. For the inside, clean the glass one day before you intend to take pictures to allow the stirred up detritus to settle and the water to clear up.

    If you are shooting head on at the tank, switch off the camera flash, else you will see the flash reflected on the glass. Alterntively, shoot at a slight angle so that the reflection does not bounce right back to the camera.

    If you shoot without flash, expect the fast fishes to appear as blurs in your tank.

    Those are my amature comments. I expect Benny and other experts will have much to add on to, or correct my comments.
    Vincent - AQ is for everyone, but not for 'u' and 'mi'.
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    Hand held shooting will most likely cause blurness due to shake. So, if you do not have a tripod, use a chair, box, whatever to rest your camera on. And use the timer function as suggested by Benny.
    Vincent - AQ is for everyone, but not for 'u' and 'mi'.
    Why use punctuation? See what a difference it makes:
    A woman, without her man, is nothing.
    A woman: without her, man is nothing.

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    I recently discovered something with my point-and-shoot camera. I could trick the camera into setting a high shutter speed by pointing it at a light source, like my PL light set. Does this mean if I can somehow trick the camera into the correct focus and this high shutter speed so the fish don't appear as blurs in my tank?

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    Quote Originally Posted by |squee|
    I recently discovered something with my point-and-shoot camera. I could trick the camera into setting a high shutter speed by pointing it at a light source, like my PL light set. Does this mean if I can somehow trick the camera into the correct focus and this high shutter speed so the fish don't appear as blurs in my tank?
    Would this bright light source be at the same focus area as your fish? If not, I think you may not be able to get the right focus when you point your lens at your subject (fish)? Also, the fast shutter "trick" would be lost? I am not sure if your camera allows you to lock your shutter speed. What mode of your camera (Tv) are you setting it at?

    My 2cents thoughts only, as I am also learning to pick up my phototaking as well, better wait for the experts to verify...
    Cheers,
    Joe

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    Quote Originally Posted by |squee|
    I recently discovered something with my point-and-shoot camera. I could trick the camera into setting a high shutter speed by pointing it at a light source, like my PL light set. Does this mean if I can somehow trick the camera into the correct focus and this high shutter speed so the fish don't appear as blurs in my tank?
    Some cameras have the exposure-lock function that can lock your exposure reading for a few seconds while you refocus your camera on the right subject. I know the Canon Powershot Gx series has this "*" button to do that.
    koah fong
    Juggler's tanks

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    Whilst you can trick the camera into using a higher shutter speed, it may not be at the correct exposure. However, if it's not severely underexposed, you can use photo editing programes to bring up the exposure again manually.

    Cheers,
    I have dwarf cichlids in my tanks! Do you?

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    Thanks for the comments.

    I will post some pics soon and hopefully get some tips to improve.

    Currently I am using tripod and timer liao. somehow not satisfied....

    And yah about the blur fishes, any way to solve that? Wonder how some bros are able to capture their tanks and fishes clearly???

    btw the pics i can post here seems really small, how to post bigger pics ah?

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    Host them on sites like http://www.photobucket.com and http://www.imageshack.us

    baranne, I think the fast flickering of the PLs up close causes the camera to auto-set the shutter speed (mine is utterly horrible, I cannot do anything manually except set the "mode" of shooting), so I'm planning to somehow get the correct shutter speed and exposure settings together by trickery and then take a photo. It'll be a lot of trouble though.

    My camera: Ancient 2 Megapix Panasonic DMC-F7.

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    Exposure in critical. You can try doing manual bracketing of 1/3 to 1/2 stop to see which one turns out better. My personal experience is the picture looks best when it is around 1/2 stop underexposure from the auto-exposure mode. Of course it depends on camera models and how good the camera does auto-exposure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by |squee|
    baranne, I think the fast flickering of the PLs up close causes the camera to auto-set the shutter speed (mine is utterly horrible, I cannot do anything manually except set the "mode" of shooting), so I'm planning to somehow get the correct shutter speed and exposure settings together by trickery and then take a photo. It'll be a lot of trouble though.

    My camera: Ancient 2 Megapix Panasonic DMC-F7.
    When I was still using my Ancient 2 Mpx Sony P50 camera, I also had nothing except the "mode" of shooting, so I can understand your restrictions.

    The best thing that I could do was to set the camera on a firm place or use tripod, turn on the night mode (which forces the camera to keep the shutter open till enough light is captured for correct exposure) and use the timer function to avoid any blur caused by pressing the shutter button. Of course, you would have to accept some "ghost" fishes... just treat them as special effects....

    Or maybe you can take the fishes out and just take your planted tank.
    Cheers,
    Joe

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    Quote Originally Posted by benny
    For a start, you don't need all kind of fancy gear to take nice pictures of your tank.

    If you have a tripod, make sure it's sturdy. Then, just the self timer mode instead of pressing the shutter release yourself as it'll cause camera shake. Also, make sure you cover any stray light source that may affect the exposure. Ambient light should be switched off and stray light from the tank should be covered in black paper. As such, it's probably best to shoot at night.

    Post some pictures and we can help you check on what can be further improved.

    Hope that helps.

    Cheers,
    Hi Benny,

    I dun really understand the second part of this sentence.
    "Ambient light should be switched off and stray light from the tank should be covered in black paper."
    What does the stray light from the tank refers to?
    Can explain.

    Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chua
    What does the stray light from the tank refers to?
    Light that is not being emitted by the tank lightings.
    Such as the room lights or lights coming from window
    Regards,
    Izzat

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    Benny was also referring to the stray light from the tank's light set. The bright light that shines out between the light set and the tank top (especially if you don't use a hood) will affect how the camera percieves the image.

    Just get a stiff card board to block that light from the camera. It makes a lot of difference.
    Vincent - AQ is for everyone, but not for 'u' and 'mi'.
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    vinz... I tried that and it really made stuff better!

    I found a small writeup on aquarium photography, not much but it gave me some insights. Too bad my camera has almost nothing for me to set manually.

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    Oic.

    Thanks for the important info.

    No wonder, the pic that i took for my tank looks so bright at the top but very dim at the bottom.

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    Another question: At what angle should you take your tank pictures? Straight full view at same height of tank, or slightly above tank with camera pointing down or vice versa, upwards?

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    Quote Originally Posted by |squee|
    Another question: At what angle should you take your tank pictures? Straight full view at same height of tank, or slightly above tank with camera pointing down or vice versa, upwards?
    From my experience, if you have managed to cover the tank light properly, you should be able to take it straight on at the correct distance away from the tank. If not, you may have to take it slightly at a angle pointing down.

    Pointing up is no no, as it would catch the tank light and overexpose your tank.
    Cheers,
    Joe

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    Quote Originally Posted by |squee|
    Another question: At what angle should you take your tank pictures? Straight full view at same height of tank, or slightly above tank with camera pointing down or vice versa, upwards?
    90 degrees...any deviation will cause distortion in the pix.
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