MFK members Basic photo sessions from Prep to finish

Mandalawi

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Jul 25, 2008
14
0
1
Michigan
Wow, great thread and even better ideas. Can't say that i've seen one like this. As another member said. "Straight to the point and easy to understand" and mimic. With some trial and error of course.
 

kamikaziechameleon

Fire Eel
MFK Member
Sep 23, 2010
2,339
4
68
western hemisphere
Ok, I have a question. In reading the articles I may have missed this piece of advice but do you recommend turning off the tank lights and using just the flash? Or do you suppliment with the ambient tank lights.
 

xander

Manjuari
MFK Member
Sep 6, 2007
8,535
56
555
Singapore
usually i leave as much tank lights on as possible and switch the rest of the lights in the room off. because of the camera settings tank lights are usually eliminated
 

Chaitika

Silver Tier VIP
MFK Member
Feb 1, 2007
7,920
35
925
Back in action!
kamikaziechameleon;4635304; said:
Ok, I have a question. In reading the articles I may have missed this piece of advice but do you recommend turning off the tank lights and using just the flash? Or do you suppliment with the ambient tank lights.
You need the tank lights on in order to focus. ;)
 

jcardona1

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Jun 5, 2007
11,506
35
0
38
South of Heaven
kamikaziechameleon;4635304;4635304 said:
Ok, I have a question. In reading the articles I may have missed this piece of advice but do you recommend turning off the tank lights and using just the flash? Or do you suppliment with the ambient tank lights.
Yup, the more light you have, the better. In fact, it's difficult to have too much light when it comes to aquarium photography. More ambient light in the tank = faster shutter speeds, lower ISO, and smaller apertures, all of which translate to a great quality image.

As for my list of equipment when shooting my fish:

Nikon D90
Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8
SB-600 speedlight
SB-900 speedlight
CowboyStudios radio triggers
 

xander

Manjuari
MFK Member
Sep 6, 2007
8,535
56
555
Singapore
I just learnt to use tripod...haha should update my methods soon

Posted on mobile.monsterfishkeepers.com
 

DaveB

Fire Eel
MFK Member
Feb 22, 2008
1,244
14
68
Miami
Are there any different spectrums available for flashes? Would something like that matter?

For instance, the difference between an actinic or 50/50 tank bulb and an AquaGlo is massive - one brings out blues, one brings out red/oranges... other bulbs for plants bring out more green, etc... I would assume that you could do the same thing with a flash, no? Or are all flashes just pretty standard?

My flash tends to wash out the colors and make the fish all look dull and boring. Then again, it's just a flash on a point and shoot outside the tank.
 

jcardona1

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Jun 5, 2007
11,506
35
0
38
South of Heaven
DaveB;4672354;4672354 said:
Are there any different spectrums available for flashes? Would something like that matter?

For instance, the difference between an actinic or 50/50 tank bulb and an AquaGlo is massive - one brings out blues, one brings out red/oranges... other bulbs for plants bring out more green, etc... I would assume that you could do the same thing with a flash, no? Or are all flashes just pretty standard?

My flash tends to wash out the colors and make the fish all look dull and boring. Then again, it's just a flash on a point and shoot outside the tank.
In general, using onboard flash aimed at the glass will give you ugly results. It may give you hot spots on the glass, and will distort the colors of the fish. It also makes the scales sparkly, which doesn't look good in pictures. This is why the trend is to use a wireless overhead flash for the most natural results.

There are gel filters you could place over the flash head to match the ambient lighting, although I've never tried them for aquarium photography. But you do bring up a good point; maintaining correct white balance in aquarium photography is challenging. Aquariums in general play tricks with a camera's built-in meters, and the weird spectrums of lighting we use makes it even worse.

Gel filters:


That is why it is easier to correct white balance in post processing. For this reason, I love shooting in RAW format (if using a DSLR). It gives you a ton of flexibility, especially when it comes to white balance which can make a picture look really bad if it's wrong. So in summary, just use a preset white balance on your camera (like daylight, flourescent, cloudy, etc) to keep the white balance consistent between shots and don't worry about how it looks. You can easily adjust in post processing afterwards.

Even with a compressed jpeg, it's easy to correct the white balance using software. Here's some I did for other members in no more than two minutes:

before


after



before


after




before


after
 

DaveB

Fire Eel
MFK Member
Feb 22, 2008
1,244
14
68
Miami
The photoshop part is something I'm actually quite good at. But is that work that you did PP retaining an accurate set of colors?

I fully intend to do things right with the wireless flash, though actually glass reflections are the least of my current problems... I fix that by just shooting at an angle. But yeah. I get sparkly scales and white/gold hues to every fish no matter what. Orangeheads become blah-faces.

But if the good flashes overhead still produce realistic color that's all I need to hear.
 

jcardona1

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Jun 5, 2007
11,506
35
0
38
South of Heaven
DaveB;4672568; said:
But is that work that you did PP retaining an accurate set of colors?
I'd say so. Accurate in terms of what the fish would look light under true sunlight I would say. If you look at the before, it's easy to see there are some bad white balance problems, unless you have a red light over the tank! White balance is just that, making whites look white, regardless of what spectrum of lighting they're under. I try to keep this in mind when making white balance adjustments. I try to adjust the colors to what they SHOULD be under natural daylight, instead of how they 'looked' under an blue fluorescent bulb - because that is NOT an accurate representation of its true color.


DaveB;4672568; said:
But if the good flashes overhead still produce realistic color that's all I need to hear.
Yes, they do. They do a good job of giving accurate color. But I wouldn't say it's perfect. There's been few times where I've seen my DSLR give me accurate white balance, regardless of the lighting. Setting the white balance to AUTO does a decent job, but it will vary from shot to shot, and isn't always right.

On the flipside, here's yet another example of how cameras and flashes don't always get the white balance right. A camera's flash is color-balanced at pure daylight, which is about 5500K. Depending on what light you're under, the results of using flash can be very blue or very orange. If you're shooting outdoors under pure daylight though, the flash will balance nicely with the ambient light. But incandescent, tungsten, and fluorescent lighting will give you wonky results, both with and without flash. And I'm using these as examples because it applies directly to aquarium photography as well.

This pic was taken at AUTO white balance, with the speedlight bounced up into an overhang behind me. Generally speaking, most would be happy with the results, but there are some serious white balance problems here:

BEFORE, compressed jpeg, straight from camera
PIC - JPEG from camera, unedited.JPG

AFTER, shot RAW, processed in photoshop
PIC - RAW, processed converted.jpg
 
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