How to Shoot at Aquariums


I was wandering around the The Florida Aquarium in Tampa last night for the Kodak-sponsored Closing Night Party at Imaging USA. Since it was a photography show, it's safe to assume that most of the attendees were shooters.

I was amazed at how many people did not know how to shoot exhibits at an aquarium. So I thought it might be time for a refresher. This technique applies to shooting through hotel windows and portholes on airplanes too.

  1. Turn off the flash. (all it's going to do is cause reflection in the glass).
  2. Increase your ISO (for aquarium and museum shooting) to 400 or above.
  3. Look for a subject that isn't moving too fast. You're not going to engage in action photography here unless you switch to movie mode (which is also fun!).
  4. Find a clean place in the glass, and put the nose of your camera right against it. This eliminates reflections from your surroundings.
  5. Shoot in Raw if you have it. You'll most likely have to do a little image cleanup when you get back to the computer.
  6. Don't worry about bad shots. You'll have some loss for this type of assignment. But the keepers will be outstanding!

All types of water shots are fun. I was lucky enough to see Howard Schatz this week and learn how he did those amazing dancer images underwater. Aquariums also provide great opportunity. Apply this technique, and you'll come home with a prized shot.

Photo of Lionfish by Derrick Story, captured with a Canon G9, ISO 400, f-2.8 at 1/6 of a second. Processed in Adobe Lightroom.

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This photo was processed in Lightroom. Can you show us what steps you took there? What did the original look like, what did you change, and why is this "better"?


Hi Maarten, Thanks for commenting :) I hate to disappoint you, but nothing fancy happened in Lightroom. I just list it because I like to let folks know what tools I'm using for shots I publish. All I basically did in processing was bring up the blacks a bit, a little highlight recovery, and some white balancing adjustment. But I pretty much nailed this shot at capture.

"Turn off the flash". Boy, that applies in *so* many situations it's amazing it's not the default on consumer cams. The number of times I've seen flashes go off at ball games and... yes... *out the window of an airplane* (like your puny flash will light up the new york skyline) just makes me chuckle in a sad way.