How To Photograph Sea Creatures In Your Tank At Home

One of my teachers, John, has posted a photo he took of his crabs in his tank at home. Now, not knowing much about the art of digital photography, he has given me an opportunity to share with you how to improve your sea creature photos.

I can see he has just held the camera up to the side of the tank and pressed the shutter. As a consequence the darker temperature of the light is quite cool,  this results in an image with predominately blue tones. There is a slight blur because it took the camera a longer time for shutter to release because of the lower light.

What John didn’t realise is that relying on light from behind your main subject dulls the clarity of the creatures he wants us to see. The darker something is, the more blue it seems and the less “up front” it will seem. The warmer colours are more energising and can offer an opportunity to create a better focal point by bringing things into the foreground a lot more.

As you can see John has not given the crabs more light and has relied on the light from the top of the tank to provide light on the crabs. it doesn’t work because the details gets lost, the temperature changes (becomes more blue) and the foreground is underexposed.

I thought I’d edit this to show him how he can improve. I can’t do much with it, but you can see that increasing the warmer colours and “turning the light up” in the Histogram in Photoshop has given a little bit of improvement. The only thing about working with a digital photography image like this is that you can overexpose the background which my editing has done. But in this situation it doesn’t really matter. At least you get a better view point of what John wants us to see, which is his sea creatures. And they are lovely crabs and deserve to be shown off. 🙂

You can see how the warmer colours adds a lift to his sea creatures when there is an absence of a more white light.

So when you are in the situation when you do not have adequate lighting you can always edit your digital photograph to make it lighter and warmer which will have the main subject more defined. Because I have reduced the blue and increase the magenta the crab on the right is clearer. You get a better image of him and he’s now the main subject, where as before you looked at both of them and weren’t sure which one was the main subject.

Next time, John can hold a lamp light onto the crabs to give a warmer light- not to close, perhaps a meter or so away, depending on how strong the light is. You don’t need strong light on the crabs to shoot them well, you just need a soft light coming from the front because they are small and you are photographing a small area. If you do this, you’ll see a dramatic difference.

When you have small subjects, stick to soft light. Bright light will just give you a washed out effect by overexposure.

John Reese maintains the copyright on these images.

By Amy Renfrey

PS. No, I’m not changing my spelling, there are other countries on Earth than America.


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