Better Fish Pics

Better Fish Pics

  • Author Bwood22
  • Creation date
I'm going to go ahead and assume that the best camera currently in your possession is built into your cellphone.

Am I right?
I thought so. That's perfect.

Before we dive into the subject matter lets talk a bit about your cellphone camera.

All cellphone cameras are preset to take decent pictures in a wide variety of environments in various lighting conditions. Most of them can zoom in and out. And they usually have some sort of flash to brighten the environment when things are a bit dark.

But does your phone camera have a "Pro" mode that let's you adjust your camera manually? If so you might have access to some incredibly useful advanced camera settings such as Manual Focus, White Balance, and various exposure settings like Shutter Speed and ISO.
Don't get overwhelmed yet....this will be easy.
I promise.

If you don't see any of these options you might want to consider downloading an alternative camera app that will give you a bit more control over your camera.

Check out Adobe Lightroom. It's free in the App store.

The primary settings you are going to want to manually control in order to stop taking blurry pictures of your fish is ISO and Shutter Speed (SS).

But first, lets talk a bit about light.

The key to taking amazing photos is knowing how to deal with the light in your environment.
How much of that light can you control?
Is it daytime and the sun is beaming in through a window?
Is a lamp on and it's reflecting in the glass of your tank?
How about the light on your much control over it do you have? On & Off? Or is it a full spectrum LED that allows you to adjust every color of the rainbow?

All of these things are important to be aware of.
Let's start by eliminating any light that you can control that you don't need.
So turn off that lamp. Close those curtains. We definitely don't want any reflections.

Start out with regular white light on your tank and no other lights on in the house at all (if that's possible).

Ok, are you ready? I encourage you to follow along and adjust your settings and practice taking pictures as we go through this.

Taking good pictures of your fish that are constantly moving is really a game of balancing the amount of light entering the camera lens and your shutter speed.

Shutter speed is cool because the higher you set it, the crisper your pictures become. Bye bye blurry fish pics!
But wait there is a you have probably noticed...the higher (faster) you set your shutter speed, the darker your pictures become.

You see, your camera lens needs to be exposed to light in order to capture the picture. Imagine the shutter on a camera opening and closing so fast that it was only able to catch just a little bit of light....but it was also so fast that the picture you took wasn't blurry at all but the image was really dark.

So we need to compensate for that darkness by cranking up the light gain.....we call this ISO.

ISO, simply put, allows you to adjust the amount of light that your lens is able to receive.
Think of it like an adjustable valve on your air line tubing. You can adjust the amount of air traveling into the sponge filter or airstone thus effecting the output of that filter or airstone.

That's basically how ISO works. We can adjust the input amount of light to compensate for the lack of light being captured due the the fast shutter speed.

There's a downside here too. Too much ISO leads to washed out pictures. A general rule in photography is "The lower the ISO, the better".

So now the question is: Where does my shutter speed need to be to catch a clear image?
Now, how much do I need to bring up my ISO to be able to see the image clearly?

Each tank is going to be different. I have a black painted background so my pictures are usually on the darker side meaning I need more light hitting my lens.
My shutter speed is usually set on 1/180 and my ISO ranges from 500 to 800 depending on the brightness and color of the fish.

You can use that as a starting point and play around with the settings to find what works best in your environment.

Here's a few pointers to keep in mind:

1. Dont adjust more than one setting at a time. Turn your ISO down low, yes your image will be dark but we need to get your shutter speed in the right place first to make sure that your pictures aren't blurry. Now raise the ISO until your pictures are nice and bright but not washed out.

2. Auto focus (AF) is going to be best for fish pics. (They don't usually stop to pose for the camera)

3. You can play with the White Balance (WB) but Auto White Balance (AWB) is recommended.

4. F-Stop/Focal Length/Aperture - Leave this on Auto. Trying to adjust your focal length on a moving target is a recipe for insanity.

5. Don't be afraid to SNAP SNAP SNAP SNAP SNAP pics of your fish. Delete the ones that aren't any good and post the great ones.

I really hope this helps you take some fantastic fish pics. I can't wait to see them!

All of my pictures are taken with a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 cellphone. Here's a few of my favorites.


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Really good! I feel like the writing is clear, helpful, and easy to follow. My one constructive criticism is that I feel like having more images would be helpful! For example, when you say "adobe light room" you could show a picture of it from the app store so we can make sure we are getting the right version. Also showing images of examples in your step by step and other things could be helpful! :)
Great article overall!
Funny that you mention that....I'm putting together an update for the article to include photo examples etc.

Thanks for the feedback!
Brilliantly explained in an easy to follow way. I've always wondered how to use the pro settings on my phone's camera, now I can easily do it and actually understand what I'm doing instead of just changing random settings and hoping for the best. This is one of the best guides that was written in such a good way that all the information stuck. It wasn't a load of information thrown together into a boring guide that is so mind deadening to read that it goes in one ear and out the other. It was written in a way that grabbed your attention and kept it throughout the entire article with easy to follow and understand information. Not only can I snap some professional look pciture of my fish and tank, but I can also use these skills throughout my day to day life whenever I want to snap a shot of something. Massive props and thanks to the OP!
Wow! Thank you!
That just made my day. Im so glad this helped you.
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