DSLR Aquarium Photography

Post your quires related to aquatic photography.
hamza
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DSLR Aquarium Photography

Unread postby hamza » Sat May 03, 2014 9:46 am

Hi all,

I see a lot of people entering the DSLR world these days so I thought of giving a quick lesson on DSLR photography, though I am no expert/pro by any means, but this is very concise write-up covering the very basics that any photographer should know. The aim of this post is to provide a direction to a starter where he/she can gradually build up his knowledge from.

Why do we buy a DSLR?
Because it automatically gives you better shots than a PnS*...hell no! You should probably go back to a better P&S/phone camera instead of DSLR if you consider this..
Now, I am not accusing every beginner for it. But with most people(70%) around me I see a tendency of buying DSLRs(out of sheer FAD), then they use preset auto modes all the time without knowing head or toe of photography, never venturing into manual settings. What the heck is that!
If they loved auto so much why not have a good PnS?

*Point and Shoot Camera - Again by no means I am degrading PnS cameras by above statements. There are some very serious ones out in market these days for less techy folks, that can be properly termed as pocket rockets. They are even handy for quick and discreet photoshoots even easier to carry around.

The simple reason for using a DSLR is to have a manual control over most aspects of your photo.
Theres very little/none of 'auto' aspect involved when you consider using a DSLR.


Firstly, I believe there are three basic things one must understand thoroughly before you start experimenting with your randomly. And it took me quite a long time to figure these out after buying a DSLR, I wish I had known them when I started.
If you skip these you wont have a direction to learning photography, and all your experimental shots will be random and pointless.

They are Aperture, Shutter speed and ISO

Aperture is the opening through which light travels to the sensor.
The bigger opening(F3.6 in case of stock lens) it is the brighter pictures you get an area of focus is just a spot right in the center. In photography terms its called shallow depth of field.
Smallest aperture size(F22) will get everything in photo frame in focus.
larger F - number is smaller aperture. F3.6 > F22

Shutter speed or Exposure
Exposure is the window of time the shutter allows the light to fall on sensor creating an image.
Short exposure(fast shutter speed) is used for taking photos in bright conditions.
Long exposure(slow shutter) for low light photos.
You can put your cam on tripod in dankness of night, set exposure to 30seconds and click. You'll get a picture as if taken in the daytime, obviously considering you have no moving subjects in the frame.

Faster the shutter speed the crisper you can capture a moving object. Its shown in values of fraction of a second. SLRs these days can capture upto 1/8000th of a second. Usually high speed is virtually useless to our needs(for aquarium/fish journals).

Larger aperture(smaller F-number) will give you the opportunity of using faster shutter speed under any lighting.
While smaller apertures require either very bright conditions or longer exposure on a tripod for a decent photo.

Larger aperture gives you a shallow depth of field, that means only the subject/focal point in the picture stays crisp and rest of the picture blurs out smoothly. Usually objects closer to the focal point are less blurred than objects that are far apart from it. This is desirable in certain shots, like for example portraits.
While Landscape/FTS aquarium photography requires a smaller aperture(larger F-number; f10-f22). Almost everything in the picture stays sharp and crisp provided there is ample of lighting or longer exposure times to match smaller aperture.

ISO is the sensitivity of your sensor towards light.
100, 400, 1600 are some ISO numbers.
If conditions are very bright set your ISO lowest
Low light conditions require a high ISO
Usually kit lenses/beginner DSLRs cannot handle higher ISO and produce a lot of noise. You either need good optics or Pro SLR to take photos without noise at higher ISO.

Every DSLR comes four adjustable modes on the dial(and lots of other preset modes tat you can figure out yourself)
Programable auto(P) - allows you to adjust ISO, metering and other minor aspects.
Shutter Priority(S/Tv) - exposure, ISO, metering and all other minor aspects
Aperture Priority(A/Av) - aperture, ISO, metering and all other minor aspects
Manual(M) - Aperture, exposure, ISO and all aspects of photo can be controlled.

Go manual if you want to control everything.

This is just a simple dose, google out all the terms and read about them further.

So coming back to aquarium photography at an optimal level, the ideal photo aspects would be...
You need a smaller aperture, atleast F8 to get decent amount of detail throughout the scape. Lower it is the better detail throughout you'll achieve.
ISO should be somewhere in the mid range 200-800. Higher than that will give you noisy pictures. Lesser than that will give you dark pictures.
Shutter speed should be a minimum of 1/60th of a second for slow moving fish and over 1/100 for faster fishes. If you are lucky you may capture your fish still(without blur) in low shutter speed but chances are very very narrow.

For all above three to work out harmoniously to produce a decent tank shot you need bright temporary light over the tank. Flashes and strobes are excellent choice but might be too much for a beginner especially if you are tight on budget.
Theres another option, you can have 6-10wpg of temporary fluorescent/MH lights for the photoshoot.

I think I have bored you enough, I should probably crack a joke now to lighten things a bit.
Once I went to a camera dealer to get some accessory. There I saw a man who returned back the second day of purchase with his entry level DSLR, apparantly for a reason that all his photos were going blurred and flash wasnt lighting up.
The man at counter took his camera tinkered around a bit(pretending that he was doing some tedious job), then very swiftly toggled auto(autofocus) on the lens, turned the mode selector dial to full auto mode and returned it back instructing the owner not to touch the selector dial again. The man went home with a smug face without even bothering to question him the purpose of all those buttons.

Cheers
Hamza



Ashok
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Re: DSLR Aquarium Photography

Unread postby Ashok » Sat May 03, 2014 11:57 am

Nice write up Hamza :) , will start working on these points and will post the pics with details in this thread..
Ashok

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Re: DSLR Aquarium Photography

Unread postby SCORPIO » Sat May 03, 2014 12:20 pm

Nice write up for newbie like as me.
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Re: DSLR Aquarium Photography

Unread postby Kaushik » Sat May 03, 2014 12:28 pm

Go through and learned a lot . Thanks Hamza for the pocket informations
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Re: DSLR Aquarium Photography

Unread postby shergill00 » Sat May 03, 2014 3:03 pm

This is really a very good article explaining things in layman language

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Re: DSLR Aquarium Photography

Unread postby devchitra » Mon May 05, 2014 11:51 am

very nice writeup

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Re: DSLR Aquarium Photography

Unread postby parthapratim22 » Mon May 05, 2014 12:23 pm

Lovely write up.

And the last few lines... backparise
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Re: DSLR Aquarium Photography

Unread postby SCORPIO » Mon May 05, 2014 4:01 pm

hamza wrote:Once I went to a camera dealer to get some accessory. There I saw a man who returned back the second day of purchase with his entry level DSLR, apparantly for a reason that all his photos were going blurred and flash wasnt lighting up.
The man at counter took his camera tinkered around a bit(pretending that he was doing some tedious job), then very swiftly toggled auto(autofocus) on the lens, turned the mode selector dial to full auto mode and returned it back instructing the owner not to touch the selector dial again. The man went home with a smug face without even bothering to question him the purpose of all those buttons.



First 3-4 days, I was also thinking that my Point and Shoot is better in comparison of DSLR but after reading manual and articles, I come to know the power of DSLR.
“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life - think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. This is the way to success.”

...................Swami Vivekananda

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Re: DSLR Aquarium Photography

Unread postby saikumar » Tue May 06, 2014 8:49 am

Thanks for the write up, I think I ll go for a basic one like Rajiv ji. Hope I can implement all the points.

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Re: DSLR Aquarium Photography

Unread postby Naufil » Tue May 06, 2014 12:44 pm

read your article, now I need to get my hands on a DSLR to do some practice. :lol: