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Today In The Fishroom~5/29/11 P. zonatus photo set up

Discussion in 'Photo & Tank Gallery' started by Aquamojo, May 29, 2011.

  1. Aquamojo

    Aquamojo Members

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    I wanted to try something different with the lighting set up. Here are the pictures that I shot yesterday. The goal, of course is to evenly light the fish without overly illuminating things around the fish.

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    Here's how I lit the tank. There are a total of four flash units on these shots. Not counting the one on the camera (set to manual 1/128th power)...here is the set up of the other three. Two Nikon SB-900's on top...one SB-800 on the bottom.

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    I moved the gravel away from the bottom of the tank to light the bottom of the fish. In the past I would have to use a diffuser (Gary Fong to be exact) to cut the amount of light that was illuminating the bottom of the fish. This posed a few problems.

    First it was difficult at times not to get a "hot spot" on the fish. It really was very dependent on how close the fish was to the bottom of the tank...and close to the flash. Ideally the fish should be equal distance (more or less) from all of the flash units. If not it was a matter of adjusting output through the camera's control center.

    Second....because the diffuser would effectively "scatter" the light, I would invariably get some bleed over into the background of the tank. This was a tough one. I found a very nice and very inexpensive ($39) diffuser that does a great job. It is essentially a reflective sheet that attaches to the flash and allows you to "bend/fold/roll" the edges to fit your need. What I did was simply curve the back end so that it would cut the amount of light reflecting on the bottom.

    [​IMG]

    I generally would put two flash units on top of the tank with diffusers. For this I switched out the normal diffuser that was more or less an inverted bell shape and replaced it with a Grsslon flash diffuser. If you take a look at this photo you can see how wide it is. The flash is pointed straight down through the diffuser. Inside the diffuser there are reflective light bellows that disperse and soften the light over a much wider area.

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    And finally I wanted to fill in the side of the fish with a soft light to cut the hard shadows. A big part of what I am doing relies on the set up....AND the participation of the fish. Basically I leave it up to the model to pick the pose. The reflective soft box flash unit did an exceptional job. The flash on the inside is on a rail and can be moved forward or back to give more or less light.

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    I am constantly tinkering with the light set up. All of my tanks are painted on the back with a "frosted glass" spray paint. It give them an opaque pebbled texture. Some of the tanks then get a flat black second coat. This combination does a great job preventing that reflective flair that sometimes comes from over spilling light.

    I wanted to see what a little back light would look like and started by moving the umbrella toward the back of the tank and compensating for the front light by bumping up the output of the camera flash...and got this shot.

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    Full disclosure I got more "oops" ...pictures I will never post....here than most shoots. The key of course is to continue to experiment with your set up and don't settle for average. Through trial and error I got ONE shot that I thought was different...at least from what I normally post.

    [​IMG]

    With the exception of the algae at the back bottom of the tank...something I never have to worry about showing up under normal circumstances...I liked the effect. It sort of resembled sunlight coming down.

    The biggest challenge I had here....all of the light that I used forced the camera to almost "squint" through the lens. I had to shoot at the lowest ISO, the highest aperture and the fastest shutter speed (1/320th) in order to cut the light. In addition, most of the flash units were set to at least half to quarter power.

    In the end...

    [​IMG]

    ...it's all about light, luck and practice. :D
     
  2. mdlnewman

    mdlnewman Members

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    Great info. Nice plumbers crack on that fish hehe.
     
  3. Pat Kelly

    Pat Kelly Administrator - CCA Member
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    Great Info Mo.


    Thanks.

    Hmm, now where is that camera.....
     
  4. mscichlid

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    Thanks Mo! Quite a lot of good info!
     
  5. Frank Cowherd

    Frank Cowherd Global Moderators
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    Good post. I may have to get a better camera and some flashes and do some experimenting.
     
  6. Tony

    Tony Alligator Snapping Turtle/Past Pres
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    Awesome post, Mo. You are surely dedicated to your craft.

    With all the time spent experimenting, adjusting and readjusting, your zonatus must be a real photo ham. I can't believe the patience it takes to get that whole rig setup, diffusers and flashes adjusted, etc. The payoff certainly shows itself in quality of the finished pictures. :happy0144:

    Every time I see your threads, it makes me want to go out and get a remote flash for my Nikon. Right now, I'm tethering an old Quantaray off of our D80. It's a PITA, holding the flash above the tank with your left hand, trying to shoot with the right, lol.

    As always, big thanks for sharing not only your great pics, but also your methodology. It really is huge for us aspiring novice photogs.
     
  7. Aquamojo

    Aquamojo Members

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    Tony....you can get a remote trigger for just about any flash for less than (I believe) fifty bucks. No more tether. The D80 is a Nikon, right? DOes it have a Commander Mode in the flash menu?
     
  8. Tony

    Tony Alligator Snapping Turtle/Past Pres
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    Yeah, it has commander mode. Probably will pick up a SB600 or SB800 used when I can find a good deal.

    I like the idea of the remote trigger though.... any brand recommendations?
     
  9. Aquamojo

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    Nikon. Hands down. The ability to be able to dial in the exposure values...switch master flash units....is invaluable. I just bought a second SB900 and signed up for an on line photo course (Kelby training if you are serious about learning. $25 for unlimited access to hundreds of photo courses...post editing, lighting, cameras) I felt like I was just "boiling water" with a microwave if you know what I mean. There is SO much more the flash head can do that I had no idea. One little thing like the gel filter kit that came with the flash actually interfacing with the flash output. The flash "recognizes" when the contacts of the gel filter comes into contact with the gel holder and send a signal to the brain of the flash. Awesome feature.

    Thanks Tony.
     
  10. mscichlid

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    #10 mscichlid, Jun 1, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2011
  11. Aquamojo

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