Nature Aquarium Photography Lesson

Recording your planted aquarium on the film is the first step of applying the International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest. Taking pictures of the aquascape is nothing special, but anybody is able to shoot a nice picture by understanding the basics of photography shooting.

Three broad principles of the aquascape photography

"International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest" is not a contest of the photography technique, but the jurors cannot make a grading of your application if the picture image is not clear enough. Please follow three principles.

[1]Shoot the whole aquarium tank in the teeth
Make sure to point the camera to the center of the aquarium tank.

[2]Do not use built-in strobe light of the camera
The light makes a reflection on the aquarium glass.

[3]Set the exposure and focus properly
The image of your aquascape must be clear enough for grading.

PLAN 1. Compact type Digital Camera*

Even with a compact digital camera, you are able to take a nice aquarium picture by keeping the following points.

Use Tripod

By setting the camera on a tripod, you can avoid blurring of the images due to the hand shake.

Do not use built-in strobe light of the camera (Use Flash Off function of the camera) 

The light makes a reflection on the aquarium glass.

Set ISO not too high 

The image quality deteriorates as ISO number is getting higher. Please select the right level of ISO according to the aquarium brightness.

Set the image color tone (white balance compensation) 

Normally you do not need to change the white balance, but if the camera is having difficulty determining the white balance, you can change the setting of white balance and get the bright color image.

Exposure compensation 

Usually the camera automatically makes a correct exposure, but depending upon the background colors, you can only get a correct exposure by making exposure compensation manually.

With the digital camera, you can check the result right after shooting. Change the camera function setting, and find the best setting for the aquascape shooting.

* Some types of compact digital camera do not have such a function.

PLAN 2. SLR (Single Lens Reflex) Camera

Use tripod and cable release

Use tripod and set the SLR camera in leveled condition
The image blurring can be avoided by using tripod and cable release.

Select high-speed film*1

The aquarium light is not so strong. By choosing a high-speed ISO400 film, you can take pictures with a faster shutter speed.

In a brightly lighted room, the light on the ceiling may make a reflection on the glass surface. We recommend taking pictures of aquarium tank in the dark.

Do not use too high aperture value (F-stop)

Selecting a higher aperture value (closing the aperture) allows you to capture an image with everything from the foreground to the background in focus, but using too high aperture value may lower the image quality (diffraction phenomenon), and the fish image does not stay still in a slower shutter speed.

Shooting consecutively with different exposures

When controlling the exposure manually, shoot several times by shifting the aperture value back and forth. In case of using automatic exposure function, you can avoid the failure by using “Auto Bracketing” function of the camera.

*1 ... In case of a digital SRL, please set ISO number.