Whether you’re sightseeing or taking pictures of your fish at home, photographing aquariums comes with its own rewards and challenges. Snapping that perfect close-up of a clownfish is an Instagram-worthy achievement, but it requires patience and control of reflective glares. Here are a few things you’ll need to know before exploring what’s beyond the glass.
How to Take Great Aquarium Photos
1. Be wary of purple ghosts
If your pictures are marred by a purple haze, you’re probably catching light from another source and causing a glare. Aquarium glass also reflects, so be careful not to get your own face in the shot, too. A circular polarized lens filter may also help control reflections.
2. Use a rubber lens hood so that you block the light (and protect the glass)
Controlling the light helps prevent reflections. Be sure to choose a lens hood with a rubber coating so that you don’t scratch the aquarium glass.
3. Position your subject away from the edges of the photograph
Some lens hoods may be visible along the edges of your picture. Try to keep your subject towards the center in case you have to crop.
4. Don’t shy away from close-ups
You might try focusing on key features of the fish, such as their face, and blurring the background for a cinematic effect. A lens with a longer focal length or a macro lens works best if you’re shooting near the fish because they can remain in focus even at close distances.
5. Don’t use flash
Not only is it discourteous to the fish (and other aquarium guests), but flash doesn’t really work well for fish tanks because it causes a harsh glare. The light might even reflect off the fishes’ scales, which probably won’t give you the look you desire.
6. Become part of their world
Beyond close-ups, you can also experience the fishes’ habitat from a different perspective. Maybe include their habitat towards the bottom of the tank or include some of their scaly buddies swimming nearby. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get a point-of-view shot since you can’t get in the tank. However, you can try it in your fish tank at home if you have a waterproof camera.
7. Set up a background if you’re taking pictures of your tank at home
Chances are, your home is more brightly lit than an aquarium, which makes your challenge of avoiding glares and reflections a little more difficult. However, you also have more control of your surroundings in your own house. To control the glare, as well as unpleasant background objects such as your coffee pot, you might try putting up a piece of dark poster board behind the fish tank to absorb light and give you a plain background.
Feel free to get creative with your background! With some specialty paper, you can even create Christmas card photos with your fish (how cute is that?!) While you have ample creative freedom, you should avoid shiny backdrops that might cause a glare.
Photographing aquariums and fish can be such a fun and rewarding hobby. The best part is, if you have a fish tank you can practice anytime at your own home, and you’re freer to try creative options like different colored backdrops. If you’re wanting to take pictures of specimens at an aquarium, remember to pack a rubber lens hood so that you don’t scratch the glass. This way you’ll also be more likely to take some stellar shots without reflections.
Featured Image Credit: Kieran White, Unsplash