Your Guide to Aquarium Photography #2 - Preparing for a Photoshoot

maroun.c

Moderator
View Badges
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Messages
2,596
Reaction score
2,518
Location
Lebanon
In our previous article in this Your Guide to Aquarium Photography series, we examined some photography basics. In this article, we'll look specifically at how you should prepare for a photoshoot of your reef.

Preparing for a photo shoot a couple of days in advance can make a difference in the quality of the pictures and the amount of post-processing needed.

I would start by cleaning the glass a day before, so that the algae film doesn’t add blur to pictures or affect auto focusing. Doing so a day in advance allows time for the released algae particles to be consumed by fish, settle, or get handled by mechanical filtration.

1.png

Alga film shot on front glass shot through side glass showing the blur it will cause on pics shot through it.

Changing carbon a couple of days before a photo shoot can also add clarity to the water which allows for more light and less color tint.

Dosing any additives that cloud the water should be stopped at least 24 hours prior.

A water change a couple days before can also help as it takes out some of the particles and color tint and also some corals will puff a bit more after a water change.

Clean the glass with a scrubber or razor blade to ensure no algae buildup is there that might show up on pictures. Cleaning glass from the outside is equally important. I usually clean with a wet tissue and then dry it with some newspaper which works great to avoid streaks. I would advise against the use of glass cleaner solutions because they contain ammonia.

2.png

Algae buildup on glass messing up the picture and cyano on the sand taking away from the beauty of the zoas.

It helps to allow time between feeding and the photo shoot to allow for food to be totally consumed and for the stirred sand particles from fish nipping food from sand bed to settle.

3.png

Food particles at feeding time

4.png

Remaining food particles and stirred sand particles 30 min after a feeding

5.png

Melanurus wrasse stirring up sand

It’s best to schedule your photo shoot at a time where the lights are at their strongest, this way it’s easier to make use of the most light available. Changing the light intensity during the photo shoot shouldn’t be an issue, but make sure to bring it back to program setting after. Shooting at that time ensures that fish are out in the open and corals are naturally opened.

Extending the light period to shoot pictures beyond your regular light schedule might be inconvenient as some corals would still close and also because some fish rely more on their biological clock than on ambient light in their behavior. For example, some tangs will go to their holes, and some wrasses will hit the sand for the night regardless of whether the lights are on or not. This results in not being able to take pictures of them and also in struggling with the sand particles stirred as the fish go into the sand. An hour before lights out, I notice a change in the behavior of fish where they start fighting for their hiding holes for the night. This takes away from the natural fish position throughout the tank and might also stir some particles as fish will fight close to rocks and sand…The extent of this might depend on fish selection and tank layout.

6.png

Picture before lights out with many sand dwelling wrasses already in the sand and many fish in their hiding holes.

Dimming the ambient room or closing shades if possible in the room around the tank helps avoid ambient light reflection on the glass.

7.png

Room light reflection on tank glass

Minimizing flow before photo shoot helps slow down any remaining floating particles so that they don’t have a streak appearance on shots. It’s best to avoid no flow at all from some shots where corals (mainly some LPS) might not look their best with no flow

8.png

Pics with strong flow LT and lower flow RT notice how the particles are reduced to barely visible small dots. Shutter speed can also play a role as explained as well.

9.png

Duncan pictures in lower flow on Lt VS good flow on right

Cleaning braces helps avoid shadows as well as cleaning T5 bulbs, Reflectors, MH pendant glass can increase light levels which helps freeze fish movement. Any objects on the tank should be removed to avoid their shadows appearing in pictures.

10.png

Braces shadow

11.png

Shadow of tongs forgotten on braces

I hope this has been helpful for you as you prepare for your next photoshoot. Be sure to check out our next article, Your Guide to Aquarium Photography #3 - Settings for Fish, Coral, and FTS Photos, where we look at some specific camera settings for photographing fish, corals, and FTS photos.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Get Fish & Corals directly for the suppliers

Brew12

Electrical Gru
View Badges
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
19,416
Reaction score
46,159
Location
Decatur, AL
It seems like this should be obvious, but I haven't really thought of it before.

Seriously, these are some of the best articles I have ever seen. I really appreciate the effort you have put into them!
 
OP
maroun.c

maroun.c

Moderator
View Badges
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Messages
2,596
Reaction score
2,518
Location
Lebanon
Thank you.
 

revhtree

Owner Administrator
View Badges
Joined
May 8, 2006
Messages
38,665
Reaction score
39,031
Another great addition to your photography series!
 
OP
maroun.c

maroun.c

Moderator
View Badges
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Messages
2,596
Reaction score
2,518
Location
Lebanon
Thanks Rev.
Some more to come :)
 

Fugs

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Apr 19, 2017
Messages
174
Reaction score
365
Location
Australia
Another super informative piece. Keep up the good work!
 
OP
maroun.c

maroun.c

Moderator
View Badges
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Messages
2,596
Reaction score
2,518
Location
Lebanon
Thanks.
 

fabutahoun

Angels and Acros
View Badges
Joined
Sep 18, 2015
Messages
2,302
Reaction score
11,028
Location
Riyadh Saudi Arabia
Thanks Maroun For the Great tips and help. I feel that my photography skill is getting a lot better after reading both articles.
 

[email protected]

The R2R Admin formerly known as mdbannister
View Badges
Joined
Nov 18, 2012
Messages
25,442
Reaction score
24,757
Location
Ontario, California
OP
maroun.c

maroun.c

Moderator
View Badges
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Messages
2,596
Reaction score
2,518
Location
Lebanon
Thanks Guys.
 

MaryC

Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 13, 2017
Messages
24
Reaction score
6
Location
San Francisco
I often received blurry photos when I first started. This annoyed me and I kept changing the settings, thinking that this was the case. Thanks for this article, it will be useful to everyone!
 

Brew12

Electrical Gru
View Badges
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
19,416
Reaction score
46,159
Location
Decatur, AL
OP
maroun.c

maroun.c

Moderator
View Badges
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Messages
2,596
Reaction score
2,518
Location
Lebanon
I often received blurry photos when I first started. This annoyed me and I kept changing the settings, thinking that this was the case. Thanks for this article, it will be useful to everyone!
lets see a thread with the improved pics :)
 

H2Ocorals

Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 17, 2018
Messages
35
Reaction score
8
I know i had a problem with tanking photos because of the blue lights. I fixed it by getting camera filters that blocked out the blue light from my camera and i get great photos now.
 

Do you use Instagram for reefing stuff? What’s your handle?

  • Yes I follow people

    Votes: 116 22.1%
  • Yes and I post reefing content

    Votes: 108 20.6%
  • No IG isn’t for me

    Votes: 267 50.9%
  • What is IG?

    Votes: 34 6.5%

Online statistics

Members online
684
Guests online
2,185
Total visitors
2,869
Lotus Reef
Top