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What are your tank Photo Tips and Tricks?

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Curtswearing

Mantisfreak
Joined
Nov 20, 2003
Messages
2,203
Location
St. Louis, MO
I need all of the photography tips and tricks I can find. Here is some info that I know.

Adobe Photoshop Elements has about 98% of the functionality you will need but costs $99 instead of $700 for the full version.

If you are strictly taking pictures for an internet board and you want everyone to be able to see it, resize the picture down to 800 x 600 resolution.

Computer monitors don't display anything better than 72 ppi (pixels per inch) so save your pic's in that format if it is strictly for the web.

Automatic white balance is HORRIBLE for most reef tanks. Even most inexpensive point and shoot digital cameras have a method for resetting the Automatic White Balance to your tanks lighting. However, you will likely have to read your manual. This can be as simple as putting a white piece of paper under your hood and taking the setting there. Alternatively, you can set it by pointing at your sand if you have aragonite. Some people put a piece of laminated paper and submerge it in the water and set the white balance there.

Tripods are usually important for getting good digital pictures. When taking a macro picture of a coral, turn off all powerheads and the return pump and let the water calm down. It also allows the camera to leave the shutter open longer to gather light.

Use the timer on your camera for corals. Merely pressing the button moves the camera a little.

Practice, practice, practice.
Have patience, have patience, have patience.

What other photography tips or tricks can you think of?
 

plumber_bob

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 22, 2004
Messages
207
Location
Federal Way
I hope this thread helps me out. I have this nice (or what I think is nice) Canon S30 that never gets used because there are way to many things on it. All I do is set it to automatic, turn the flash off and snap a picture. Is this right? :) I really don't know.
Bobby
 

Curtswearing

Mantisfreak
Joined
Nov 20, 2003
Messages
2,203
Location
St. Louis, MO
If the colors don't come out right, use the white balance settings.

It's also a good idea to turn out all of the lights in the room to avoid glare.

However, I'm not sure I will be much help to you as I'm mainly LOOKING for tips. I'm not qualified to give out too many.
 

Llarian

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2004
Messages
556
Location
Seattle, WA
I'll try to figure out some more specific tips when I finally have a chance to take some tank pictures, but here's a little starting wisdom. =)

The exposure meters in modern cameras are designed for sunlit, outdoor pictures with lots of light, and a pretty normal balance of high and low contrast. They have no idea you're taking a picture under water, under metal halide and actinic lighting, that doesn't match the usual rules of contrast and exposure it is programmed to use, so if you camera has manual-exposure (and most do), you should learn at least some of the basics of how it works if you want your tank pictures to turn out.

One thing is to keep as much ambient light as you possible can from being in the room when you're taking the pictures. Any reflections on the glass will cause problems on the final image, and because its reflected light, it doesn't play by the normal focus rules where you can see "through" a small object on the glass by focusing beyond it.

Like curt said, use a tripod, probably always. If you don't own one, buy a cheap $20 one somewhere. I've taken 10-20 thousand pictures in the past couple years, and I still use a $15 tripod I got a Walmart. It does the job quite well for most of what I need.

As much as you might not want to, learn some of the science behind photography. You can't setup a good reef tank without having some understand of the nitrogen cycle (or at least how it effects things in the tank), and likewise you can't take good photographs without having some understanding of aperature and shutter and how they work together.

If your image is too dark with an auto-exposure, find a way to control the shutter directly and make it longer (lower number). The AF will run the aperature to its brightest setting, and stop lowering the shutter automatically at a certain point, but you can almost always squeeze another stop or two of light out of the camera just by slowing down the shutter a bit. This should work very well on inverts where they're not moving around so much. Fish are a whole different game, since they move, you can't afford to use a slow shutter.

And my last bit of mostly useless info is to learn photoshop, especially if you're doing digital photography. Its almost impossible to get good quality pictures from a digital camera without some working knowledge of sharpening, contrast correction, and color correction. The more work you can do in photoshop (and the less you make the camera try to do automatically), the better the end result usually is.

Hopefully I'll have something a little more useful to post about this before too long. =)

-Dylan
 

DonW

R.I.P.
Joined
Dec 15, 2003
Messages
8,753
Location
Tacoma, WA
Just an FYI you can get a cool tool that puts a resizer in xp.
Real easy just right click and resize.
Do a search on micriosoft power toys.



Don
 

DonW

R.I.P.
Joined
Dec 15, 2003
Messages
8,753
Location
Tacoma, WA
What can I de to improve on this. Ive been trying to play with all the camera setting. They all seem come out the same. Seems kind of dull.
 

DonW

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Joined
Dec 15, 2003
Messages
8,753
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Tacoma, WA
Might just be me, but I cant tell the differnce. Maybe a little in the vase on the right. But the reactor chamber is real subject. I'm trying to get good enough at pictures to goto print. What would you use for a back ground ? Ive tried sheets, blankets, felt and paper with no great sucess.

Don
 

Llarian

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2004
Messages
556
Location
Seattle, WA
DonW said:
Might just be me, but I cant tell the differnce. Maybe a little in the vase on the right. But the reactor chamber is real subject. I'm trying to get good enough at pictures to goto print. What would you use for a back ground ? Ive tried sheets, blankets, felt and paper with no great sucess.

Don
Taking pictures of something clear is pretty difficult when the clear object is the subject. I'd probably want something as close to neutral (grey) as possible, although I'd err on the side of being too dark. A solid dark gray of black background might work.

Here's a quick attempt at some minor (very minor) color correction and some sharpening, which sadly did more for the roses and table cloth than it did for the reactor chamber, but it did help the base and edges of the chamber as well.



All I did in Photoshop is Auto-Levels (Ctrl-Shift-L), and a light Unsharp Mask (Filters->Sharpen->Unsharp Mask, Amount 60%, Radius 2.0, Threshold 1)

If you have the subject against a relativly solic background, it becomes easier to select just the subject with some of the various photoshop tools and apply more agressive filters to the subject independant of the rest of the image, which would probably help in this case.

-Dylan
 

Llarian

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2004
Messages
556
Location
Seattle, WA
Oh, one other thing I'd add is that the reactor would probably look at good deal better if the highlights on the wing nuts on the top weren't completely blown out. If your camera offers exposure compensation of any sort (usually measured in +/- eV levels), you might try dropping that a bit, perhaps to -1eV, to force the image to be underexposed. It'll look pretty dark and uninteresting out of the camera, but there might still be some detail in the highlights at the top of the reactor. If there's detail, you can work with it and make it brighter. If there isn't, there's not retrieving it.

-Dylan
 

MikeS

Well-known member
Joined
May 23, 2004
Messages
1,654
Location
Wyoming
Heres a tip I picked up...it works especially good when taking macros...try taking the picture at a slight angle to the aquarium glass....this cuts down on glare, reflections and also really helps keep those autofocus cameras from focusing on the glass instead of your subject....

You can see some of my macros on my webpage, located in my sig...

MikeS
 

Witfull

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 27, 2004
Messages
647
Location
New Jersey
to adjust white balance use a clean piece of PVC pipe. place it in the tank about half way back or as far as you can, and set WB..now you are set.

another trick is to place a single coffee filter over the lense then adjust WB against the PVC...this will help reduce hotspots.
 

Scooterman

Administrator
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
10,943
Location
Louisiana
Resizing Tip!

I found this out recently with windows XP, maybe everyone already knows but here it goes............right click on photos & click on send to........
then mail recipients, it will then pop-up & ask if you want to shrink photos for easier e-mailing, click yes, it will drastically cut a jpg down to a nice size but still keep a decent viewing photo (not meant for printing though).
 
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