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Take better pictures (coral photo tutorial)

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  • Take better pictures (coral photo tutorial)

    Hello all!!!

    I'm sure many of us wish we could take better pictures of our aquariums, myself included. I'm going to hopefully help everyone achieve that by listing a few basic steps to follow and answering questions as they come up.

    Aside from basic tips and tricks i'll briefly get into some more in depth phtotgraphy lessons if they pertain to our needs.

    Always feel free to ask questions and please post pictures.

  • #2
    Since I know this will come up, I will start with "what camera do I buy?"

    There are many great digital cameras and what might be good for me, might not be good for you, and vice versa. Here is a small list of a few good cameras that I am familiar with and comfortable recommending

    Canon - I've always used Canon in my profession
    Nikon - never used Nikon until recently, very happy so far
    Sony - Sony is great with electronics and they have contracted one of the top lens makers in the world to make their glass (Zeiss)

    The above are listed in no particular order, i couldn't even do that if I wanted

    I will say that you should look for a camera of around 3 megapixels. Then I would do some research and see how close the minimum focus (macro mode) is. This is very important to us. Try and get the one that will let you get as close to the subject as possible. Other than that, find something that fits your budget.

    Just so you know, I am using a Nikon Coolpix 4200 (4.0 megapixels). I think it was around $300 or so. I also have a Canon 10D which is more of a professional camera but I probably won't be using it much in these examples.
    Last edited by OUinLA; 02-21-2005, 05:42 PM.


    • #3
      Madison, let me see if I've got this point the lens toward the subject Thnx. Madison, this should be news to little Bobby Bob
      "There might be something to this ZEOvit"


      • #4
        This is great. Keep it coming.
        You're Norma Desmond you used to be big.

        I am big it's the pictures that got small.

        From the classic movie "Sunset Boulevard"


        • #5
          I am using the same camera (Nikon 4200-4MP) that Madison is using right now too. Here are some pics that I took of my tank inhabitants and some of tommy's that he took with the same camera too:


          • #6
            For most of my pics, I use the Preset Close Up function or the night time preset. Ive used the manual mode, but the colors get washed out. I must not be doing it right

            My dream camera is a Nikon 8800. Maybe one day.


            • #7
              Hey E. your Leng Sy cap is off the hook! Stop messing w/ the zeospur 2. You can not morph the colors anymore!!!


              • #8
                Here's few pics using my 10D. Settings are:

                wb -1, ISO 400, no flash, m. focus, can't remember shutter speed

                I think for me the most important thing was to focus straight at an object not in any kind of angle. Everytime I shoot w/ angle, my pictures are all out of focus.

                Hey Madison, if you use tripod and set ISO to 200 or lower you can achieve a much more clear picture of a whole coral colony instead of just some parts of a coral?

                Last edited by naka; 02-21-2005, 07:54 PM.


                • #9
                  man you guys take GREAT pics!

                  my dad has this very nice high end digital camera is a Nikon D100 and he has 3 different lenses, he even has a macro lense that i try its a AF Micro Nikkor 60 mm 1:2.8 D lense if that helps (i took that name right off the lense)

                  anyhow i cant take pictures for the life of me!

                  I NEED HELP HAHA! i am like Bob, but i know what to point the camera at, haha

                  anyhow any tips here? there are so many modes to shoot in! i have a tripod i use and have one of thos ethings you hook up or i shoudl say screw into the button you push down to take the pic and then you just press this thing down and it takes the picture ( i think Madison was talking about this in another thread about photos) its like a black thing which screws into the button and then you press down and it takes the shot, it takes away the vibratiosn from your hand.

                  anyhow there are so many mods to shoot in, here are the following,


                  i do not have a clue what those means or what mode i should shoot in!

                  i will try and take some pics and show you guys but I NEED HELP!

                  i have this NICE camera but the pics suck!

                  feel free mods to start another thread for helping me if you want to, heck that may be best!


                  275 Gallon Envision Acrylics Tank, 70 gallon sump, BK 300 internal, Zeovit, 5 sequence darts (1 on a oceansmotions 4-way), medusa dual controller, 2 ebo jaer 250w heaters, 1/2 hp JBJ comercial chiller, 4 RO IIIs w/14k hamilitons, 4 VHOs super actinic, deltec pf500 Ca Rx, 3 reef ceramic pillar, and 1 reef ceramic mini-reef, 5 ceramic closed loop intake screen covers, with 50ish pounds of LR


                  • #10
                    Great pics guys.

                    I have both of those cameras and they are both great. I actually bought the Nikon on my way to buy another canon but I didn't like the battery system for the canon so I bought nikon in protest, but it's a great camera.

                    Ok, so here's our first lesson.

                    There are 3 things that control exposure (exposure = brightness of picture).

                    Shutter Speed

                    I don't want to get too in depth and lose you guys but I feel we need to understand what each is doing to better utilize them.

                    1. F-stop - is a diaphram on the lens that opens and closes to let more or less light in. Typical F-stops look like this: F-2, F-2.8, F-4, F5.6, F-8, F-11, F-16, F-22

                    Out of the above "stops" F-2 allows the most light through the lens, and F-22 allows the least amount of light in. When you adjust F-stops you not only adjust the "exposure" of the image, but you also change the "depth of field". Depth of field is what is in focus or not in focus in front of and behind the focal plane. Example, we are taking a picture of one of our corals. We focus on the front branch of it, but the branches behind are out of focus. This is "shallow" depth of field. We can increase the depth of field by "stopping down" (closing aperature/moving from a small number to a big number). But, when you make an adjustement to one thing, something else needs to be adjusted to compensate...

                    This brings us to "Shutter Speeds"

                    The shutter speed is the time the shutter (device that opens to expose film plane or light sensitive digital chip) is open allowing an exposure to take place. The shutter is closed when we are composing pictures and when we press the button it opens, let's light hit the sensor (or film) then closes again. This is why when we look through the view finder of a film camera, it goes black for a fraction of a second.

                    here are some basic shutter speeds.

                    1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/30, 1/60, 1/120, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000

                    if you were to photograph something moving fast at 1/2 of a second it would result in a blurry image. many people think it's out of focus, but it's actually, "motion blur". If you photograph this same subject at 1/500th of a second or 1/1000th then that subject will be "frozen" or still, crisp, in focus, etc. If you are paying attention you might notice that you would need more light to get a correct exposure at 1/1000th of a second than you would for 1/2 of a second.

                    FYI, all of the F stops, and shutter speeds I listed have a certain relationship between them. Going from one to the other is exactly twice as much, or less, light.

                    Example: if a correctly exposed image is set at F-4 @1/125th with ISO 400 and you "open up"/increase the F stop to F-2.8 you have just doubled the amount of light entering the lens. So in order to maintain this correct exposure we would need to speed up the shutter speed by 1 stop. This would bring it to 1/250th.

                    NOTE: "stop" is referred to as an increment of light. As I mentioned above, when you move from one stop to the next is a 100% change in the amount of light hitting the sensor/film.

                    I hope i'm not losing you guys and I promise this is the last boring "lesson" but when you understand how things work together it helps us better utilize what each setting gives us.

                    So now we move on to ISO

                    ISO is a rating for the "speed" of a particular film. The speed dictates how much light is needed to give this "correct exposure" So this is where it all starts for us. A properly exposed picture at ISO 400 would have a different F stop and/or shutter speed for a film (or digital setting) with a different ISO.

                    Common ISO's.....100, 125, 150, 200, 250, 300, 400, 500, 600, 800

                    Note: You should know that when you move from one ISO to the next we only change the "stop"/amount of light by 1/3. If you look at the relationship between these numbers you can see the this difference arranged in their groupings. So, to increase one full stop we would have to go from ISO 100 to ISO 200. Then if you look at the number following 200, you will see "250", this would be one stop more light/faster than than ISO "125" which is right next to "100". Hopefully you can see this relationship. Like I said, i'm sick right now, so I might not be doing a good job of explaining.

                    In the next posting we will actually get into the "fun" stuff. thanks for sticking around


                    • #11
                      Very, Very, Good
                      You're Norma Desmond you used to be big.

                      I am big it's the pictures that got small.

                      From the classic movie "Sunset Boulevard"


                      • #12
                        I feel like I'm in a classroom and madison is the teacher.


                        • #13
                          Thanks guys. As long as i'm being a "good" teacher then that is great. I want this stuff to sink in for a day or so for those that are following, then we will move into actuall trial and error stuff.

                          Granted, most of use use "auto" on our cameras, and that is perfectly fine. But, if we want some control over how our images look then we need at least a basic understanding of what we covered tonight.

                          Tomorrow, I think we will cover "white balance". Sorry film guys, you don't have to worry about this one

                          Also, I think we should all chip in $10 and get Bob a camera so we can see more pics of his tank


                          • #14
                            Just to get the minds thinking here's a pop quiz, lol.

                            If I have a normall exposed image at an ISO 400, F [email protected]/250th and I decide I want less depth of field and "open up" two stops (F-2.8) what would the correct shutter speed be.

                            Hint, since we opened up two stops (let more light in) we need to do the opposite to the shutter speed.


                            • #15
                              I think you would increase shutter speed to 1/500th. My wife has a Nikon 4800. Can I control f-stop/shutter speed w/ this camera? I know it has a bunch of presets but that just confuses me as well .