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Photography tank set ups


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#1 coreyhkh

coreyhkh
  • NANFA Guest
  • London Ontario

Posted 10 July 2017 - 01:53 PM

Hey, guys, I haven't posted much but have been a daily visitor to this site. I am a wildlife photographer and have started doing fish photography as well and currently have a photo tank setup with a flash shooting down. I am just wondering is this the way others are doing it and if there are maybe some other ways and tricks I could learn. Currently, I do all this at home but I know some of you guys travel and get professional shots in the field and this is ideally what I want to also do.

 

Another question is how do you guys get some of the fish up off the bottom of the tank? I have a small piece of plexiglass that I use to gently push the fish up against the front but it seems to not work for many species, for example, catfish.

 

Thanks again for any help

 

Attached Files



#2 mattknepley

mattknepley
  • NANFA Member
  • Smack-dab between the Savannah and the Saluda.

Posted 11 July 2017 - 05:31 AM

Hi Corey. You've probably seen that we have a nice stable of pretty impressive photographers here. (You may also have noticed that I am not one of them.) Those guys must be busy, they've been a little scarce on the forum for a few days, but I'm sure they'll be happy to field your questions when they get back to us. One observation I can make though, is that while it seems they usually have the flash from above like you do, it is also usually in front of the tank, not over it. There is also an effort to black out more light behind the tank; like what you have going with the bottom and sides. Past that, I can't help you. Unless you like the underappreciated tiny fish taken out of focus pictures I specialize in...
Matt Knepley
"No thanks, a third of a gopher would merely arouse my appetite..."

#3 Dustin

Dustin
  • Forum Staff

Posted 11 July 2017 - 07:41 AM

You ideally want at least two flashes, one that shoots front in front of and above and another that shoots from the front to the side.  Scott, who I am sure will chime in soon, has pretty well mastered the flashes.

 

For catfishes, there are two possible ways.  The easier way is to build a clear pedestal for the fish to sit on that is a couple inches off of the bottom of the tank.  You can make something out of plexiglass.  The other is to dangle the fish from an alligator clip and then photoshop out the clip.  This typically requires a sedative like clove oil so that the fish is still during the dangling and photos.  This option looks better once it is complete but does require some additional steps.


Dustin Smith
At the convergence of the Broad, Saluda and Congaree
Lexington, SC


#4 zooxanthellae

zooxanthellae
  • NANFA Member
  • North Carolina

Posted 11 July 2017 - 10:05 AM

Hi Corey, 

I second everything Dustin and Matt have said, and here are a few pointers/ramblings:

 

1. I think your flash's spread will be too wide at that height, try hand holding it and zooming in (with the flash, not your lens). You do not want to light up the background at all.

2. The black lip on that tank may interfere with proper lighting. I tried using that same tank when I first started, quickly got rid of it. 

3. As Matt noted, try blacking out the back of the tank, and holding your flash more in front. I use black towels. You do not want to just have something black directly behind the tank, you want to add some depth between the back of your tank and the black background. This will help create a more uniform black. You don't want ambient light inside the tank. 

4. Get rid of those bubbles! I had a bad experience at the Missouri convention because I used a new brand of black spray paint that bubbled non stop! (I make custom tanks, and spray the sides black)

5. Avoid shooting too close to the edges of that tank, as the clear silicone can scatter the light in ways you do not want. 

6. Shoot somewhere near here: 1/200 f18 ISO 100. Flash in manual, say 1/4 power and adjust the height as necessary. Don't shoot TTL as your camera doesn't know how far your flash is from the fish.

7. Always shoot raw so that you can post process. 

8. You can manage with one flash, if you are shooting smaller fishes and don't mind shadows. I think shadows add depth to the shot, but some people prefer to completely illuminate their fish. With anything larger than say hand size, you need two flashes in the method Dustin described. 

9. Be prepared to edit out a lot of cyans in post. The green/blue glass on that tank will add a lot of them to the fins of the fish. 

10. Use a macro lens. A short focal length one is ideal. 

11. Clean water (bubble free!) 

12. Don't use a small piece of plexi glass to compress the fish, use a large one! I use one that takes up a majority of the tank. Again, that black rim may interfere with this. Take it off if you can. 

13. Lastly, use a kabob skewer or something similar to move the fish once you have it in place. 

 

If you have any other questions, just ask! 

 

Here is a shot I took using this method this weekend. 

Exoglossum-maxillingua.png



#5 fritz

fritz
  • Board of Directors

Posted 11 July 2017 - 02:45 PM

19146161_10155298367118257_1360031659725

Scott at work  aka Zooxanthellae



#6 coreyhkh

coreyhkh
  • NANFA Guest
  • London Ontario

Posted 11 July 2017 - 03:01 PM

Thanks guys for the help, some really good points that will be very useful.

 

any tips on getting rid of bubbles?

 

also here is my site, I do have a few fish pictures but I am looking forward to improving on them.

 

http://www.coreyhayes.net


Edited by coreyhkh, 11 July 2017 - 03:02 PM.


#7 zooxanthellae

zooxanthellae
  • NANFA Member
  • North Carolina

Posted 11 July 2017 - 04:33 PM

Thanks guys for the help, some really good points that will be very useful.

 

any tips on getting rid of bubbles?

 

also here is my site, I do have a few fish pictures but I am looking forward to improving on them.

 

http://www.coreyhayes.net

 

Nice site, I think you have the fundamentals down! Please don't take any of this in any way other than constructive criticism, but here is what I would do differently:

 

1. Your light is too soft (for my liking anyway, to each his own). Try bringing the flash closer to the fish. 

2. Spot healing brush is your friend, use it! Those bubbles are easily fixed. I prefer not to have to use this, as it does technically alter the image, however I'd rather have a slightly altered image than have to recollect and reshoot. Especially if you drove any distance to collect that fish. 

3. Contrast. I'd adjust the contrast on all of your shots. 

4. Adjust the cyans. Often the glass on your tank can impart cyans on to your fins. There is glass our there (starfire I think?) that prevents this, but it is expensive. 

5. Join NANFA, there are a few people here that shoot fantastic shots, both on black and other colors. Many of them have written articles in American Currents and given talks at conventions, that detail their processes. 

 

With all that said, your photos really do look great, and I look forward to seeing some more! 



#8 zooxanthellae

zooxanthellae
  • NANFA Member
  • North Carolina

Posted 11 July 2017 - 04:34 PM

19146161_10155298367118257_1360031659725

Scott at work  aka Zooxanthellae

Is that a bald spot?!? What's going on back there? :) 



#9 Matt DeLaVega

Matt DeLaVega
  • Board of Directors
  • Ohio

Posted 11 July 2017 - 04:55 PM

Thanks guys for the help, some really good points that will be very useful.

 

any tips on getting rid of bubbles?

 

also here is my site, I do have a few fish pictures but I am looking forward to improving on them.

 

http://www.coreyhayes.net

 Not sure if this will help or not, but old school RainX was cutting a potato in half and rubbing it on your windshield. Non toxic and worth a shot maybe. Glad you are doing this. The absolute best native fish photographers, both underwater and photo tank, have come from right here. I am kind of proud of that for some reason. 


The member formerly known as Skipjack


#10 coreyhkh

coreyhkh
  • NANFA Guest
  • London Ontario

Posted 11 July 2017 - 11:06 PM

 

Nice site, I think you have the fundamentals down! Please don't take any of this in any way other than constructive criticism, but here is what I would do differently:

 

1. Your light is too soft (for my liking anyway, to each his own). Try bringing the flash closer to the fish. 

2. Spot healing brush is your friend, use it! Those bubbles are easily fixed. I prefer not to have to use this, as it does technically alter the image, however I'd rather have a slightly altered image than have to recollect and reshoot. Especially if you drove any distance to collect that fish. 

3. Contrast. I'd adjust the contrast on all of your shots. 

4. Adjust the cyans. Often the glass on your tank can impart cyans on to your fins. There is glass our there (starfire I think?) that prevents this, but it is expensive. 

5. Join NANFA, there are a few people here that shoot fantastic shots, both on black and other colors. Many of them have written articles in American Currents and given talks at conventions, that detail their processes. 

 

With all that said, your photos really do look great, and I look forward to seeing some more! 

 

Thanks for the Help, when you say adjust contrast would you increase or lower it?



#11 zooxanthellae

zooxanthellae
  • NANFA Member
  • North Carolina

Posted 12 July 2017 - 08:52 AM

 

 

Nice site, I think you have the fundamentals down! Please don't take any of this in any way other than constructive criticism, but here is what I would do differently:

 

1. Your light is too soft (for my liking anyway, to each his own). Try bringing the flash closer to the fish. 

2. Spot healing brush is your friend, use it! Those bubbles are easily fixed. I prefer not to have to use this, as it does technically alter the image, however I'd rather have a slightly altered image than have to recollect and reshoot. Especially if you drove any distance to collect that fish. 

3. Contrast. I'd adjust the contrast on all of your shots. 

4. Adjust the cyans. Often the glass on your tank can impart cyans on to your fins. There is glass our there (starfire I think?) that prevents this, but it is expensive. 

5. Join NANFA, there are a few people here that shoot fantastic shots, both on black and other colors. Many of them have written articles in American Currents and given talks at conventions, that detail their processes. 

 

With all that said, your photos really do look great, and I look forward to seeing some more! 

 

Thanks for the Help, when you say adjust contrast would you increase or lower it?

 

 

Increase the contrast, the fish appear to be "soft" for lack of a better word. What software do you use to process? 



#12 coreyhkh

coreyhkh
  • NANFA Guest
  • London Ontario

Posted 12 July 2017 - 09:58 AM

 

Increase the contrast, the fish appear to be "soft" for lack of a better word. What software do you use to process? 

 

Photoshop, should be easy



#13 Yeahson421

Yeahson421
  • NANFA Member
  • Driftless Region - SE MN

Posted 12 July 2017 - 10:35 AM

Hey Corey, awesome work. Although I'm not nearly as experienced with photo tank photography as the rest of these guys, I have done a lot of research on web design for photos. If you don't mind, I have a few suggestions:

1. People are lazy. More often than not, they will spend 30 seconds looking at the first page that comes up before moving on. Make a homepage with your favorite ~10 or so photos across all genres. If I wouldn't have dug for it, I never would have come across that beautiful portrait of the two wolves right at the top of your "large mammal" section.

 

2. Scale back the number of photos. Only post your very favorites, unless for archival purposes (like fish). For example, again on the large mammals page, you have some gorgeous photos of caribou, but the very first one that I see isn't particularly striking. You are really excellent at taking environmental portraits, where the background is either interesting in form, light, or as a blank slate thanks to snow. Emphasize these! If the background couldn't be a photo on its own or if it doesn't accentuate the animal, I would leave it out.

3. I noticed that your page footer still says "copyright information" instead of your actual copyright. Make sure to update that to help defend against potential thieves. Even though it won't stop the common copy-and-paster, it does ensure legal recourse. Also, imbed your name in the exif data and down-rez the image slightly for export. This way, you always have a higher quality original to prove that you took the photo.

Again, great work Corey, keep it up!


3,000-4,000 Gallon Pond Full of all sorts of spawning fishes! http://forum.nanfa.org/index.php/topic/13811-3560-gallon-native-fish-pond/page-3 

 


#14 zooxanthellae

zooxanthellae
  • NANFA Member
  • North Carolina

Posted 12 July 2017 - 11:44 AM

 

Photoshop, should be easy

 

My final move to any fish photo is the unsharp mask. Filter > Sharpen > unsharpmask. I'm currently at the office, and don't have my settings memorized, but play with that mask, it works wonders. Even though it's called an "unsharpen" mask, it is in fact sharpening the image. 



#15 mattknepley

mattknepley
  • NANFA Member
  • Smack-dab between the Savannah and the Saluda.

Posted 12 July 2017 - 05:48 PM

Those are some gorgeous photos, Corey!

Ya know, American Currents (NANFA's quarterly magazine)doesn't pay, but we would increase exposure to your work if we saw a photo that'd fit something we're doing and you were to allow us to include it. Of course you'd get credit. Anything you'd be interested in? Nothing particularly in mind now, but maybe down the road an issue or two. There is a sample issue of AC for guests of the forum to check out on the NANFA homepage. Otherwise, it's a members-only perk. :)
Matt Knepley
"No thanks, a third of a gopher would merely arouse my appetite..."

#16 coreyhkh

coreyhkh
  • NANFA Guest
  • London Ontario

Posted 16 July 2017 - 10:18 PM

Those are some gorgeous photos, Corey!

Ya know, American Currents (NANFA's quarterly magazine)doesn't pay, but we would increase exposure to your work if we saw a photo that'd fit something we're doing and you were to allow us to include it. Of course you'd get credit. Anything you'd be interested in? Nothing particularly in mind now, but maybe down the road an issue or two. There is a sample issue of AC for guests of the forum to check out on the NANFA homepage. Otherwise, it's a members-only perk. :)

I am happy to offer shots if you see any you like, increase exposure is good.



#17 mattknepley

mattknepley
  • NANFA Member
  • Smack-dab between the Savannah and the Saluda.

Posted 18 July 2017 - 03:13 PM

Will definitely keep that in mind, thanks!
Matt Knepley
"No thanks, a third of a gopher would merely arouse my appetite..."




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