Shooting Macro Shots In an Aquarium

Aquariums are interesting places to shoot macro photography. As with all macro photography, this will take a little extra care and attention in order to get interesting shots.

Step 1: Check the Rules

In order to get these shots, you are going to need to use a flash. Fish do not stay still for very long, so long exposure times will leave you with nothing but a blur. Many aquariums do not allow flash photography either in certain areas, or all together. You can try to sneak a few shots anyway, but flashes are not exactly discreet when they go off. Also, some species of fish may be unable to handle the light, so remember that the rules may be there for a good reason.

Step 2: Competing with the Glass

When you are shooting through glass, you are inevitably going to get reflections. You can invest in a rubber lens hood which will allow you to seal your lens element against the glass and eliminate reflections.  Remember to wipe down the spot you are going to shoot through so you do not get smudges in your frame. The one problem with this is you may not be able to adjust your angle as much as you would like.  So alternately, come dressed in black and bring a friend with a big black cloth. Have your friend hold the cloth behind you in order to block out any illumination. This will draw even more attention to you, but will help get some good shots.

Step 3: Lighting

Many displays will be well lit, but you may still want to use a flash in order to reduce your exposure time. In darker displays, the flash becomes even more critical. When using a rubber lens hood, you can detach your flash and shoot it into the tank at pretty much any angle with similar effects. The fish water will never be completely clean, which is to your advantage because the particles will diffuse your light source. If you are not using a rubber hood, then reflections can become even more of an issue. You will have to find a way to shoot the light through the tank without it hazing the glass. Your best bet is to hold it flush against the glass somewhere decently far from your frame.

Step 4: Accept Inevitable Drawbacks

Because you have very little control over the conditions in an aquarium, be prepared for your images to be less than perfect. Though the particles in the water diffuse the light, they can also murk up your image. The closer the fish is to the glass, the more this can be avoided.  There also may be white balance issues. The available lights in the aquarium are likely to be many different colors. Since this cannot be helped, keep your white balance set for your flash and hope for the best.

Aquariums provide photographers with great subject matter for macro photography. Though the situation can be difficult, you will leave with some unique photos.

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