This past weekend, I had an enjoyable and relaxing time in Atlanta,Georgia. One of the top attractions in the city is the Georgia Aquarium. It's a great place for the entire family and features over 8 exhibits. My favorite was the the dolphin show! I was amazed at the displays and couldn't stop taking pictures; however, being in a dark and low light environment with lots of glass proved to be very challenging.
Please Turn Off The Flash
As I'm walking past a tank with massive size crabs, I saw a sign that read, "No Flash Please! These animals are sensitive to light".
Let's think about this for a minute. It's very dim and you have light constantly flashing in your eyes. For any fish or person, this can be irritating and shocking at the same time! So the question remains, "how do you take pictures without any flash when the surrounding area is practically dark?"
I have a few tips that can help you if you own a digital slr or advanced point and shoot camera. Now go look for that long lost user manual :).
Stop Shooting In Auto Or Program Mode
Your digital camera may have a program mode for indoors or it may be preset to 'auto' based on the brand you own. The auto or program modes will get you the correct exposure in most situations; however, this is the ideal time to take some control of the camera's settings so YOU can monitor the exposure.
Increase The ISO (Sensitivity)
The higher the ISO the better you can shoot when it's dark. On sunny days, I have my camera's ISO on 100 but it can increase past 1600 when it gets very dark. Check to see if your camera has a noise reduction feature because an increase in the sensitivity will cause graininess and small dots in the photos.
Reduce The Shutter Speed
If the shutter speed is too fast, then you can expect to see a dark picture. A fast shutter doesn't allow enough light to get inside the camera. I like to set my camera to (S) shutter priority mode and let camera decide the aperture. I found that a shutter speed of 1/15 - 1/80 seconds worked best for me at the aquarium.
Use A Tripod Or Image Stabilization Lens To Reduce Blurriness
A downside of reducing the shutter speed is increased blurriness in the photo. To fix this problem use a tripod or monopod to keep the camera stable.
Another option for dslr owners is buying a lens with image stabilization (IS) technology. Based on the manufacturer, this is also known as vibration reduction or anti shake. Many new compact point and shoot models have this feature.
An IS lens or camera will allow you to slow the shutter speed for various effects while keeping the image sharp. In many cases, the tripod then becomes an optional tool.
Georgia Aquarium Photo Gallery
I used my Nikon Vibration reduction lens, turned the flash off, and kept the tripod at home. I shot in (S) shutter priority mode. These were my camera settings for most of the images but I experimented with different shutter speeds and higher ISO:
- ISO: 800
- Shutter Speed: 1/30
- Aperture: F/4.5