If you want to take great aquarium pictures, there are several factors to keep mind. The aquarium glass must be clean, some backgrounds are more suitable than others, and in most cases, clear water will yield better pictures than dirty or algae filled water. Your camera, your camera lens and lighting are three other imperative factors. The combination of a good camera, a good lens and good lighting can actually be used to counteract many problems related to dirty aquarium glass and algae filled water.
Most aquariums have incandescent light or fluorescent light, and using this as the only light source makes it hard to take great photos, especially for a novice photographer. Getting a good flash is therefore certainly recommended. Some people use bright household lights, such as floodlights, when photographing their aquarium, but this is not a good idea because fish do not like to suddenly be exposed to lights much stronger than anything they have ever encountered before. In this situation, most fish will actually mute down their colouration and look drabber. They can also seek shelter in protected parts of the aquarium. None of the alternatives is a good thing if you want to take great aquarium pictures. A flash on the other hand will only expose the fish to a strong light during a fraction of a second. The fish will not have time to feel stressed, mute down their colours or head for shelter.
As a hobby aquarist, you probably have a limited budget when it comes to camera purchases. The good thing is that you do not have to get an expensive flash to take great aquarium pictures, since you can position yourself close to the object. Powerful flashes that can shed light on an object located 15 meters away can be really expensive, but why would you want stand 15 meters away from an aquarium? Before spending several hundred dollars on a flash, ask yourself which type of pictures you are interested in taking and if the money will be well spent. If you only want to photograph objects that you can get close to, a good $50-$100 flash will be enough in most cases.
When photographing your aquarium, ideally spend some time setting up the scene before you start taking pictures. Using several different light sources is a great way of improving your chances of taking excellent pictures. Visit your nearest camera shop or do an online search for “AC slave strobes”. AC slave strobes are light bulbs that you plug in to your wall. When you use your flash, the light will trigger them to go of instantly. This means that the photograph will be illuminated from several different sources. Within a few seconds, the AC slave strobes will have recharged and be ready for more action. You can get an AC slave strobe for less than $25 if you are willing to look around a bit. Check a few camera shops in your area and compare prices from several different online stores before you make up your mind.
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