Why My Photos from the Aquaurium and Zoo Look Great and Yours Suck!
Have you ever gone to an aquarium or zoo and see creatures you just wanted to photograph? If you want to take an amazing photograph, then you have to do it the right way. When I go to an aquarium, I see most people standing back from the display; they usually use a point and shoot camera with flash, or sometimes they have a nice setup… but still don’t get in close. Your not going to get great results using this technique.
The best way, and the way I shoot exhibits behind glass, is to put my lens right on the glass of the display. I always have a lens hood installed so as not to make glass to glass contact–no flash. I hand hold the camera and shoot in manual mode with auto focus off. If your shooting a stationary subject or something that moves slow, it will be easy to get a good shot. If however, your photographing fast-moving fish, it will be difficult to get a quality shot in focus. Adjust your shutter speed and aperture for given light conditions as well as ISO. Give it a try! Your friends and family will be saying “wow!” instead of “oh that’s nice…”
This is a photo of some frogs, three to be exact, from the Virginia Beach Aquarium.
1/80sec, f3.5 ISO1600, 28mm.
From the same day, a Lion Fish–1/20sec, f4.5 ISO1600, 28mm.
The next picture is from the National Zoo in Washington D.C. This little guy was definitely a camera ham! When I first approached the glass, he was resting on a branch towards the back of the display. After I set up and took the first shot, he came off his perch and came real close to the glass…giving me the “eye” I think he really liked being photographed (unlike my wife!) The lizard is a Green Crested Basilisk.
1/8sec, f6.3, ISO800, 16mm.
The glass on this display had a few smudges. One suggestion might be to bring a soft cloth to clean them up a bit. I’m not sure if the curators would allow this though!