Aquarium photography light source placement is one of the first things to consider when setting up for a shoot. Lighting is hugely important in aquarium photography.
Of all of our aquarium photography tips, this is the one that will make or break a fish picture.
Your subject needs to be the main focus of your shot, meaning that it needs to stand out more than the background. That is why I recommend using a spotlight over the tank. This will work the same way as a flash but without the glare or reflections. You can adjust the spotlight to make sure your subject is receiving more light than the background.
Another benefit of using a spotlight over the tank is your fish will look natural. I sometimes use side-lighting to diffuse shadows, but my main lighting source is usually from above the tank. After all, in nature, the sunlight always comes from above the fish.
Direct your light sources into the tank from the top, or in from the sides. Try adding a spotlight over the tank and experiment with your camera settings.
If your shot is underexposed you can try adding more lights over the tank or go to a longer exposure time of 1/200s or 1/160s.
Keep shooting and try different combinations.
While aquarium photography light source placement is crucial, there are other things you can do to make the picture better:
If you can, increase the ISO of your camera. This will take a brighter photo, but when you increase ISO you can get a grainy look on your photos, often referred to as “ISO noise.”
This effect is unnoticeable on most cameras until you get to really high levels – usually around 1500 ISO. How high you can go depends on the sensor. Each brand of a camera could be different. So, experiment. The ISO should be as high as possible without getting grainy.
Aquarium Advice is an awesome website devoted to all aspects of fish keeping. They have a very active forum divided into categories so you can instantly focus on the information you need.
Also, check out this article I wrote awhile back: