How To Photograph Fish In An Aquarium
Photograph fish in an aquarium, that’s the objective of this project.
All this involves is getting access to a home, or other aquarium, and photographing the fish therein.
They’re a lively and colourful subject matter, and should be an enjoyable experience.
The speed they swim at makes this a slightly challenging project.
I had a cold water aquarium for many years and had several sessions photographing the fish.
The fish I kept were goldfish which are a cold water variety.
It doesn’t matter what type of fish you photograph, as long as they live in an aquarium.
There’s a big choice of aquarium fish
There is a bigger choice of tropical fish than cold water fish available for home aquariums.
They come in a greater variety of shapes and colours also.
The cold fish scene is dominated by the humble goldfish.
Tropical fish are quite colourful, and there’s plenty of varieties also.
Some animals like dogs and horses in particular will love to pose for you.
I doubt if they know they’re being photographed, they just like human attention.
However the result is the same, lovely photos.
Fish are not like that, they don’t pose, and they’re fast.
I shot all these photos with a 55 – 250mm lens.
I zoomed in close so that the fish filled the entire frame.
There’s a distance at which it is possible for a lens to achieve focus.
This is different from lens to lens.
This lens is not a particularly close focusing lens.
Photographing fish in an aquarium
In order to get such a close shot with a wide angle lens, or even a standard zoom, I had to get in very close.
A wide angle lens simply wouldn’t focus that close.
At the closest point it would focus, you would get a shot of the entire aquarium, and a lot extra.
You wouldn’t get a very close shot with a standard zoom either.
A zoom lens like the 55 – 250mm lens, which I used, is well suited to the job.
It’s possible to move back far enough to focus easily, and zoom in close enough from there to fill the frame with the image.
These photos were all taken at f5.6 which gets a sharp shot of the fish, with the background out of focus.
The fish keep swimming
The fish keep swimming while you keep shooting.
When I started trying to photograph fish in an aquarium at first, I was getting few sharp shots.
I did what you have to do though, I kept at it.
Before long I was getting better shots, but there are more poor shots than good ones.
The fish move fast and you can’t frame a shot and take your time to take it.
You have to shoot fast and hope they don’t dart off.
In the first of these shots I have is one of a yellow fish.
They’re somewhat lighter in colour than the more common gold fish.
This I took at 225mm with an ISO of 400.
The shutter speed was 1/160th of a second.
This is a reasonably fast time to shoot at, but not a spectacular one.
I shot them all in shutter-priority mode so it’s no wonder that setting remained constant.
Using shutter-priority mode
When shooting in shutter-priority mode, you set the shutter speed that the photos will be taken at.
The camera then sets both the ISO and aperture.
Those three settings always work together.
You can set all three, or, you can set the shutter speed or the aperture.
When you set one, the camera will set the other two.
All of these images were shot handheld.
A tripod just wouldn’t work when you photograph fish in an aquarium.
If I had used a tripod then I would have had to take a wider shot to include a large portion of the tank and get several fish in each shot.
Otherwise with a tripod I would have had to keep one little section of the tank in view, keep firing, and hoping that there would be some useable shots.
The settings were exactly the same for the next shot.
This time I shot a silver fish with some yellow/orange marking.
Once again I get the whole fish in the shot, and it pretty much fills the frame.
The final four photographs
The third is of a shubunkin, which is a multi coloured goldfish.
This is a slightly bigger fish than the other two, so I zoomed out slightly to 171mm.
The ISO is still 400.
I zoomed back in to 208mm for the next shot of another shubunkin.
This one had a spectacular looking tail, some of which is not in this photo.
I have a few photographs of this fish but everyone of them has part of its tail missing.
These photos were taken in 2011 and all the fish are gone now, so there is no opportunity of getting a better shot of this fish.
The next photo is the only one of this lot where the fish is photographed head on as opposed to from the side.
This is another silver fish with a red head.
The lens if zoomed in fully here, right into 250mm.
The final shot is the first and only of a standard orange coloured goldfish.
I zoomed out some again for this one, to 194mm.
Again it’s a close up of the fish which fills the entire photo.
Shooting fast moving objects
Photographing fast moving objects, including fish, is so much more challenging than slow moving or static objects.
Go outside and there’s a multitude of very fast subjects to be found.
There’s birds, wild animals and vehicles, on the road, on rails and competing with the birds.
Inside, whether it’s at home, or in other places, there isn’t that many.
One exception is in aquariums, where fish can dart about at some speed also.
A home aquarium being small gives an opportunity of focusing on a small area and shooting at will.
Photographing fish in an aquarium is fun as well as a great opportunity to practice photography.
What’s even better is that with persistence, you’ll get some great photos.