Readers Questions

A tougher pic.  Using the f100d.  Reflections!  How to avoid them so as to improve the pic?  Example provided.”

Red fish and its reflections

I raised tropical fish as a kid, and as an adult I remember standing in a huge aquarium in Oregon trying to photograph Keiko the whale and still asking myself the same question!  Since, I’ve helped a few hobbyists photograph their salt water reef tanks and we’ve worked out some adequate techniques.  First, reflections are a killer and are ALL caused by unwanted light.  Completely darken the room containing the aquarium, and then light the aquarium with only the hood fluorescent lights.  Don’t forget to set your white balance for the light source used.  If you’re using a bright enough hood light, and a high enough ISO setting on your camera, and your photograph at a 90 degree angle to the specimen, you should be able to avoid reflections and achieve decent results.  Make sure you clean the glass very well, and get as close to the glass as possible.  If you want to shoot at a lower ISO for higher quality, you can try what we did.  We used strobes normally used for underwater photography INSIDE the tank, with the camera on the outside.  If you do this, please make sure you use a professionally made waterproof cable, or better yet an infrared sync, strobes carry more current and “shock” than stun guns.  You might be “stunned’ with the results.

Tips for sunset, low light pics  Example provided.

Sunset and its reflections

This topic really deserves to be a feature article so I’ll add it to my list to cover in the future and I’ll summarize here.  Use a solid tripod mount, manual exposure, either an external shutter release or the “self-timer”, and frame the scene as desired.  Experiment with your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture to achieve the best image quality while obtaining the ideal exposure.  The answer to this question in a nutshell is to obtain the ideal exposure and this takes some experience.  It might help to know that even after the sun sets, after you can no longer see the sun and it’s dark, for about the next 30-90 minutes enough “color” will remain in the sky to make a spectacular sunset.  “What colors if everything is dark?”  The naked eye sees darkness, but if you lengthen the exposure you’ll find exiting color in the skies.  Depending on conditions and timing the colors and intensity will vary.  In that 30-90 minute window, there will be a 2-4 minute period I like to call the “magic minutes” where results will be vastly superior.  I’ll talk about this more and show examples during a future column.

Please submit your questions to  All questions will be answered and most will show up in the weekly column.