Monday, November 1, 2010

Lighting Zoo and Aquarium Exhibits

This Electric eel, Electrophorus electricus, was photographed with a 10-22mm. Canon lens at 22mm. More photos can be viewed here.

Many people have asked me over the years how I shoot indoor zoo and aquarium exhibits.

Lately I've seen photo submissions from aspiring photographers who have simply tried to take advantage of improved noise reduction in the current crop of Digital SLR cameras while pushing their camera's ISO into unacceptable realms. I'm afraid 3200 ISO is not going to be acceptable to any photo editor, art director or photo agency unless you've captured something that no one else can duplicate. In short, I am a firm believer of keeping your ISO at your camera's lowest possible setting.

To light indoor zoo and aquarium exhibits use a strobe. Yes, you can use the pop-up strobe built into your camera. In this case I used the Canon 430EX Speedlight, set to TTL, mounted on the camera's hot shoe with a diffuser. In either case I shoot in Manual mode, usually with the shutter speed set at it's maximum synch speed (1/250 sec in this case) to eliminate the unwanted color temperatures of the exhibit's artifical lighting sources. The lens aperture will usually be the smallest f stop (in this case f 13) in can get for the light output with the diffuser on. Your camera's LCD will give you exposure feedback in each situation. If your image is too dark at f16 (underexposed), open up the aperture. If your image is too light (overexposed), close down the aperture. Pretty soon, you'll be getting the repeat experience you need so you can dial in the f stop quickly.

The other trick to avoid reflections is to make sure your lens is touching the exhibit glass. If you have a subject really close to the glass, you still can shoot it if you get your strobe off the camera on a TTL cord to the hot shoe or by using a wireless TTL strobe trigger.

No comments:

Post a Comment