View Full Version : A basic guide to Fish Photography...

11-29-2008, 03:38 PM
A basic guide to fish photography.

This is a basic guide to fish photography. I have kept it as simple as I possibly could. I hope some of you get a little help from it.

Step 1 ... Preparing for the session ...

a) First things first. Clean the tank inside and outside as nothing will mess with your pics more than water streaks or algae spots. Your camera will focus on these instead of your subject and your pictures will be distorted.

b) After cleaning the aquarium, let things settle for a few hours until your filter clears any debris that you have disturbed. Floating particles don't look good in your fish pictures.

c) Before taking any pics, turn off any other light sources in the room like lights, tv's etc. Draw the drapes or pull the blinds to exclude any outside light as well. Turn of your filter, this will let things settle in the tank and insure there are little or no unwanted particles floating in the tank.

Step 2 ... Setting the camera ...

Photographing fish is not easy, especially photographing small, fast moving fish. So, it's best to start with basic settings and then get more adventurous once you have mastered those.

The basic settings for fish photography ...

* Flash on
* ISO set to 100/200
* Macro on
* Set on auto
* Image size large

a) If your camera has a flash setting you can reduce it to half power or so. Alternatively, you can diffuse the flash if it is too bright by taping some tissue paper over it loosely as you don't want it over heating. Using the flash enables you to obtain that faster shutter speed to freeze the movement of a fast swimming fish.

b) Using a low ISO will help you get more light on the subject, a higher ISO will make the pictures sharper, but the higher you go the more noise you will get in your pics (your pictures will be grainy). I find the ISO of 100 to be good for fish pics.

c) Switch your macro on, this is usually a small flower symbol on the shooting menu, it will enable you to get close up pics of your fish.

d) Set the camera to auto and let it do the work. When incorporated with the macro feature, your camera will automatically focus on the subject. It's a good idea to set your image size to large, this way you can take a picture from further back, crop the image to get the bit you want and not lose any of the image quality.

Step 3 ... Taking the picture ...

a) Study your fish and get to know their movements and anticipate when they are going to make that turn for the action shot you are after.

b) Focus on a spot in the tank, a rock, plant or a bit of driftwood, half depress the shutter button to auto focus, wait on a fish to swim by and click, you have the shot.

c) Using a tripod ... I don't as a rule use a tripod, except for full tank pics. I find it makes it difficult to track a fish's swimming pattern. Instead find your self a steady base like a table or the back of a chair to rest your arms on and help keep your camera steady.

d) Eliminate flash bounce back ... Never aim you camera straight at the tank as the flash will bounce straight back at you. Instead, hold your camera at a slight angle away from you, this will eliminate the problem.

e) Using the zoom ... Instead of using the zoom on your camera (using the zoom loses some image quality) stand back a little, take the pic, then crop to size required.

f) Remember those settings ... Most fish you'll find will appear better at different settings, so if you hit on a good setting for your favourite fish, write it down for future reference. It's also not a good idea to try to many different settings in one session. Try different settings one at a time and see what works best for you.

g) Finally ... Don't be afraid to take lots of pics--Remember the more you take, the better chance you have of getting those one or two great pics.

h) Using a dark background, blue/black works well, will help your fish stand out more resulting in better pics.

I hope you have got a tip or two from this basic guide to fish photography. Happy snapping and we'll look forward to your fish pics.

11-29-2008, 05:32 PM
Hey thanks for the tips! Ive been trying to get better at fish pictures, and this will help me get there.

11-29-2008, 05:57 PM
thanks i needed that

11-30-2008, 05:57 AM
A thank you from me also. I've just been messing with my settings and havn't found one I really like for my fish. This should make things easier! :19:

Poofaye C.
12-02-2008, 09:41 AM
Great sticky!!! When I get something other than my camera phone and disposables,(lol) this will come in handy.

12-03-2008, 07:49 PM
excellent tips on shooting the fish. I find though with a tripod you can get better light though I know hard to get a moving fish with the tripod. Sports setting is good. Incandescent is good as well it makes things bluish. Did mike say the ISO was 100/200 why was that? I will remember that tip about the flash. Covering it... well that might be good. So turn off all lights. IT is hard to get clowns in the morning. Pics are coming out better in the nightime.

oh how do i get into a sticky to read it?

Wild Turkey
12-03-2008, 08:10 PM
Good write-up for a picture noob like my self. Explained some things that were unclear before. :19:

12-10-2008, 12:19 AM
oh how do i get into a sticky to read it?
lol You just read this one and to read another just click on it!:22:

01-15-2009, 02:11 AM
Hi Brook,
Great sticky. Thanks. I really need this info, to help get better fish pics. Cheers,

Deleted User
01-15-2009, 10:55 AM
That is a very informative write up.
I havn't used my macro settings yet.
I may have a go soon and see what happens.
Thanks Brookfish. thumbs2:

06-09-2009, 07:52 PM
thanks for the tips brook

08-18-2009, 08:49 PM
Nice.... as easy as shooting fish in a barrel ;)

09-12-2009, 04:12 AM
Hello.I thing that one of the most important thing is CIRCULAR POLARIZER FILTER .You will skip glass light reflection.Here is one pics made for 10 sec.

01-21-2010, 04:04 PM
I think this is an excellent sticky. Really gave me a lot of useful info. Now hopefully I can put it in practice and get some better shots.

02-09-2010, 07:10 PM
Good information!
I ll try and take some decent pic, lol

08-20-2011, 01:41 AM
great tips I will start using them right away! thumbs2:

10-19-2011, 11:36 PM
Just wanted to point out a few things of note as this sticky and some of the information in it seems a bit outdated relative to the common photo equipment available today. Keep in mind, I am mainly addressing common point and shoot type cameras. Advanced-handheld and SLR type cameras obviously have a whole different set of things to consider.

First off, ISO 100/200 is not the only viable option anymore, and the statement that a lower ISO 'lets more light into the picture' is incorrect. The ISO setting can be thought of as the 'volume' knob on a stereo. It turns up the gain of the digital sensor, making it more sensitive to incoming light. A higher ISO setting (higher meaning a bigger number) lets more light into the picture in than a lower ISO at the same exposure time (shutter speed). A side effect of this, is producing more noise (grain, splotchiness, etc) in the photograph. With the sensors being produced today, even most every day point-and-shoot type cameras produce fine image quality up to about ISO 800. Using a higher ISO setting will allow a faster shutter speed for the same exposure level, which is helpful in pictures in low-light situations, or fast moving fish common in aquariums. A higher ISO will only make pictures sharper in the sense that the higher shutter speed produces less noticable overall blur. Key factors in sharpness will not be ISO, but shutter speed, proper exposure, and aperture choice. A larger aperture (a smaller number, f/2.8 is a larger opening than f/8.0

Very few, if any, modern digital cameras use digital zoom functions for the primary zoom range. In fact, if the lens has a listed focal zoom range (i.e 18-55mm, etc.) it does not use digital zoom for any of that range. In this case, zooming in does not degrade image quality as long as you are using flash/aperture settings to yield a proper shutter speed (anything over roughly 1/50th of a second with flash is fine). Cropping an image however, greatly reduces image quality as it is limited by the resolution of the senor and removes many useable pixels. It will yield better results to use optical zoom along with appropriate exposure settings than attempting to crop an image down. Most cameras these days also incorporate some sort of image stabilization unit which lets you obtain sharp images using a slow shutter speed than days past. In most point and shoots, these functions are limited to about 1/2 stop of useful effectiveness. While they do work, they don't work to a great extent so you shouldn't rely on them to make up for an improperly low shutter speed.

As another user stated, using a polarizing filter can greatly help eliminate glare off the glass surface of the tank. While a good idea if your camera is capable, one must keep in mind that a polarizing filter will generally cut your useable light down a stop or so (cut your shutter speed roughly in half when all other settings are kept the same). To accommodate this, you usually will have to increase the ISO setting, or if possible, use a larger aperture to increase sensitivity to light in order to offset the effects of the filter.

Just a few things to keep in mind. Other than that, great write up.


Lady Hobbs
10-20-2011, 02:28 AM
Probably outdated because the thread is 3 years old?

10-20-2011, 03:25 AM
Is it inappropriate to keep a sticky up to date? I wasn't aware it was.

10-20-2011, 10:31 AM
Nothing inappropriate about it at all mrpillow, thanks for posting, great info to add.

Lady Hobbs
03-12-2012, 07:28 AM
Not inapproperiate but if the current stickie is out of date and equipment has changed, then perhaps a whole new article should be written to stay with the changing times so the next reader is not scrolling past outdated info to get to the new?