Aperture Settings for Coral Shots

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Zibba, Jun 25, 2008.

  1. Zibba

    Zibba I contributed!
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    Thought I would share a few pics with ranging aperture settings so people out there taking pictures could get a feel for what people are talking about when they say "shoot in aperture priority" or shoot with a higher/lower aperture (or f/#). I highly recommend reading this article if you're having trouble getting coral shots to turn out well: Aperture. If others have more advise or can recommend settings, please chime in. I by no means am an expert, but I'll share some settings that I've found to work well for most shots. Before that though, I'm again going to plug this website which has some great info for beginner to intermediate photographers shooting corals or fish: Aquarium Photography Explained.

    Starting out, clean your glass and turning off your pumps will get you a long way. Tripods are fantastic, but you can always just prop up your camera on something. If you have a remote or a shutter delay setting (timer) on your camera, turn that on for just a few second delay to get your hands off the camera while it takes the picture. This reduces vibration.

    Here are some different examples of Aperture Settings ranging from low depth of field to high:

    [​IMG]
    Aperture Priority set to f/5.6
    This caused the shutter to be faster than in the other shot: shutter 1/60.
    ISO 200 (results in less noise, but less light is allowed in so you end up with slower shutter speeds - read more about this if your interested in the article linked above)

    The remaining settings are listed as followed: Aperture (f/#), Shutter Speed (in seconds), ISO. If you have more questions I can try to answer or will likely defer to another more experienced photographer or a website.

    [​IMG]
    Settings: f/13, 1/15, 200

    [​IMG]
    Settings: f/22, 1/5, 200

    Out of the above three, I personally liked the last photo with more depth of field, but that isn't always the case. For that reason, I typically take 3-4 shots of the same coral with different settings to find one that I like. Also, all of the above shots were edited using photoshop after shooting in RAW format. If there are questions about this, I'll do my best to help out.

    [​IMG]
    Settings: f/3.8, 1/250, 200

    [​IMG]
    Settings: f/11. 1/30, 200

    [​IMG]
    Same settings as the previous photo with the camera focused on a different part of the coral. Very different look, wouldn't ya say?

    For more detailed photos, I usually increase the aperture. Here is an example:
    [​IMG]
    Settings: f/18, 1/5, 200

    This same photo was then further cropped and turned into this:
    [​IMG]

    If I were to take this one over, I'd turn off even the return pump and try to quicken up the shutter speed to stop the polyps from swaying. That way there'd be zero blur in the photo. I'm still learning both how to shoot these super close shots to (1) stop the polyps and (2) make it look natural. They always come out fake looking or "over edited".

    Please ask questions and keep taking pictures of your reef!


    - Z
     
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  2. Redwinger

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    Great thread!:biggthumpup:
     
  3. thepollock

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    i really like the last 2 pics. what camra are you using?
     
  4. OP
    Zibba

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    Thanks hopefully it will help others get involved. Perhaps we'll get more advise/recommendations from the real photographers in the group. I believe there are a few advanced-hobbyists/professionals/students roaming the boards.

    I'm using a Nikon d40x (entry level Digital SLR body), but have two good lenses for it which makes a difference. Nikkor 105 macro and Nikkor 18-200. Makes a big difference, but good pictures can be taken without spending a lot of money.
     
  5. benihana

    benihana I contributed!
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    well done Zibba! :beerchug:
     
  6. thepollock

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    i cant get good ones like that with my sonydsc-w80:mad:
     
  7. OP
    Zibba

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    Just took a brief look at the manual for that camera and it looks like there are a few settings that might help. Try shooting in "ISO Mode" or "High Sensitivity" mode, which ever it is called, with the macro mode "on". That camera also has the self-timer which can be set to 2 seconds. If you turn on all of these settings and prop up the camera so your target is in focus and shoot directly through the glass (not at an angle), you should end up with a few good pictures (even if it is 1:20 ratio of good:bad, you're making progress).

    Do you have any photo editing software on your computer? If so, which one? If not, try downloading the trial version of adobe lightroom. Fairly user friendly and you should be able to play around with the "white balance" on your computer vs. setting it manually on your camera.

    I use to have that same camera only much older. The small size was great for traveling with but it makes it difficult to hold the camera steady. I also don't recall that camera having an actual aperture priority on it. Try the things mentioned above and see how it goes.
     
  8. NandKBlock

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    Cool thread, since you asked for questions I'll fire away. :)

    I've got a Panasonic DMC-TZ1 which has a macro mode, a simple mode, and a regular mode. I've been playing around with different settings in macro and regular and have improved my pictures A LOT since I started, but I don't have an aperature setting, but I do have a 'Slow Shutter' setting with options of 1, 1/2, 1/4 and 1/8. How does that relate to aperature settings?

    There's also a metering mode that I don't understand with options of:
    .
    ( )
    (.)
    What do those mean?

    Thanks, and awesome pics!
     
  9. OP
    Zibba

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    Looking just at the specs of that camera, you should have some options to play around with. Looks like the aperture on that camera ranges from 2.8-7.1 at its max, but if you don't have a way to adjust this manually - there should be a mode that allows you to change it somehow.

    What will really come in handy on this camera is the white balance (WB) tweaking that is on the camera. Looks like it give you the option of going +/- 1500k. You'll likely want this as high as possible if you aren't adjusting your WB using a computer program.

    This camera also has a self timer which can be set to help with blurry pictures caused from pressing the shutter release. 2-seconds is plenty.

    Set the camera to shoot in the largest picture format - I believe this camera allows 2560 x 1920. That will give you some play when cropping pictures and getting better "close ups".

    The metering is basically your autofocus (AF) points that your camera will recognize. I'm assuming, but you'll have to check you manual, that "." = single point or spot metering, "( )" = broad/quick more of a family portrait mode, and "(.)" = multipoint so many things are in focus example landscape with trees in front and mountains in back. That'd be my guess and I'm thinking that you'll have to play around with which one works for corals. I'd start using the point "." mode if your trying to take a shot of a single polyp and the "(.)" will probably be good for full tank shots and such.

    HTH

    - Z
     
  10. NandKBlock

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    Thanks Zibba, I found a .pdf manual online that I downloaded too. You can also set ISO but I have no idea what practical effect that has. I've always kinda thought that taking a photograpy class would be fun and interesting, maybe I should finally act on that. :)

    I've never thought about using the timer but that's a great idea, I usually just place the camera up against the glass and try my best to hit the button without moving it. It's also got a burst mode where it takes three pics in quick succession and I've gotten good results using that but I'd bet you're losing some quality or something.

    I originally bought it for the 10x optical zoom for taking pics of the kids in sports and stuff but now I hope it works well for aquarium photos as well. Fingers crossed!

    Your photos are truly awesome!
     
  11. OP
    Zibba

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    In a nutshell higher ISO allows more light in and allows you to take pictures with a faster shutter speed in low light conditions. The negative effect is you get "noise" or a blurry picture if the camera isn't that great. On my camera, I notice the noise when the ISO gets over 800 or if I crop a picture on a small object to "blow it up". There is software that allows you to reduce the noise in the image, but that's getting more complicated than you probably care about right now.

    For me, I find that ISO settings of 200-400 work well enough. Now when playing with some of the more advanced camera bodies, you can literally stop cars at night and have everything in focus without much blur at ISO 3200! The technology is incredible, but so is the cost :)
     
  12. NandKBlock

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    What would you suggest I use for an ISO setting for aquarium pics? My options are 80, 100, 200, 400, 800 and AUTO.
     
  13. OP
    Zibba

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    ISO 200 would probably work out pretty well. If the shots are turning out really blurry because the shutter speed is too low, then you can increase the ISO to 400 or 800. This will also allow you to take pictures without using the flash. ISO 80/100 is often going to be used when you have a flash and the amount light isn't a problem.
     
  14. NandKBlock

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    I haven't been using a flash for any pictures cause when I did all the pics looked really brown fro the yellowish color of the flash. But I suppose that's a white balance issue...
     
  15. OP
    Zibba

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    I don't use a flash either. IMO it doesn't look very good. Some people use a flash to bring out the colors if fish, but corals...not so much.
     
  16. thepollock

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    thanks zibba for the info here are some i just took.
    [​IMG]green slimer i just picked up
    [​IMG]my toad stool
    [​IMG]my red cap

    i have not tuched up any of them yet.
     
  17. thepollock

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  18. cwk132

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    thepollock, if the coral placement permits, shooting perpendicular through the front glass or perpendicular to the water really helps the camera focus. Still great photos, I love the millis you have :ac11:
     
  19. thepollock

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    the pics i took where from the top of the water not through the glass.
     
  20. wolmutt

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    :biggrin:is this acropora millepora or cannabis sativa? :biggrin:
     

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