Hippocampus (Seahorse)


I’m not one to shoot animals in captivity, thinking it is somehow cheating going to a zoo to capture a “Nature Photo.” But then, the pros spend thousands of dollars and hire private guides to take them to exotic places to get speculator nature shots. Not that I don’t admire their work; in fact I love most of their work, but I don’t have the time or the financial where-with-all to go after nature shots the way the pros do.

I shot this image at the Dallas Aquarium where this little guy was swimming furiously around his tank. There were not too many people around so I was able to spend some uninterrupted time photographing this seahorse. I was also lucky enough that the room was dark enough that any reflections from light or reflections in the room were minimal.

The biggest issue with photographing fish in an aquarium is dealing with reflections. Any object that can be seen is a candidate for a reflection on the aquarium glass, that includes you and your camera. One solution is to use a rubber lens-hood that you can hold against the glass, and since it is rubber it moves easily as you try to compose your shot, and it will not damage the aquarium glass. For this shot getting close to the glass was not going to work, the subject was too big and was swimming close to the front of the tank; fortunately the room was dark and I could position myself to minimize reflections.

Another issue is that modern aquarium glass is often made of acrylic which may cause chromatic aberration; that is the colors that make up a subject not focusing at the same spot on in the camera. Images photographed at acute angles will have ghosting or what looks like a double image. To minimize this, shoot strait on at 90 degrees from the glass.

For the most part you will be relying on room light so you may need to push your ISO to minimize motion blur from the swimming fish.

Camera: Nikon D3s
Lens: Nikon 28-300 @ 58mm
Exposure: ISO 6400; 1/125 sec @ f/4.5

Post processing involved minor exposure adjustments in Lightroom, with a 1:1 crop. I then pumped up the shadows to though out the muddiness in the blacks. I then used Photoshop to further clean-up the blacks, and clone out any matter floating in the water. Finally I added an Orton effect to the background to further diminish any evidence of a fish-tank.

About Richard Cox