Wednesday, August 15, 2007


 tangkuray DSCN6011
This fish a favorite with "reefers" (We`ll get back to that), because of it`s powder blue color is a docile fish, but prone to ICH a parasitic disease, & lateral line erosion. This fish is a rescued fish . It was absolutely in bad shape when I picked it up, from a vets office no less, & soon it was covered in ICH. Ich is a parasite the leaves the fish covered in little cysts that eat away at thefish & must be horrific for the poor dear. Luckily I had cleaner Gobies that ate these parasites & by chance & care, it survived. I rarely saw it for a long time except during feeding. It would venture out to eat then rush back in behind the rockwork. With gentle persuasion & a regimen of my repeated presence, this fish finally came to trust me. I then put her in a much larger tank. It is advisable & even though I do not take my own advice, any new additions should be placed in a quarantine tank for a set period of maybe three weeks & at least ten days after there is no sign of disease. The ten day period is important because that is the egg, to egg laying, time period for the ich parasite.
It is now the designated fish that comes up to where I`m sure to be attracted & does her little game to attract me. I can touch her when I feed the fish. I don`t pet the fish or anything but we can accidently touch & it does not freak out. She comfortable around me. Now to photograph this fish, I get to know how it moves & where her saftey zone is. I try & never frighten the fish in the area where it feels safe so if it does get frightened it will still go to it`s secure spot. This spot for this fish is behind the rocks, but it has different entries. Now that I`ve figured out where the fish will almost always be coming out I set up my photo plan. One must remember a few things about moving objects. First it is very difficult to focus on them. Secondly, once you do have the fish in focus, it`s invariably not there when you click the shutter. After many pictures of rocks, one must do something different. Since I know where the fish will eventually be, I focus on that spot. With this fish, you`ll notice that it is entering the open water of the reef through a cleft in the rockwork. That is it`s usual place coming from it`s safe zone. There area few vantage points from which to focus from. One is from the side & one is from the front.
In this image I`m on the side of it`s tank looking down the length of it. The next consideration is flash reflection. You cannot shoot with a flash from anywhere but with the lens against the side of the tank, IOW`s directly against the glass. Shooting images through a layer of glass, then a thick layer of water precludes one from shooting at anything more than a very shallow angle, because of the defraction , so I rarely shoot at an angle. Now the fish is getting used to the camera action & is more & more at ease. Now I can start shooting the fish from head on. Previously from the side she could not see me until she came out,& by that time I already had the shot. Now she would see me & could choose not to come out through the opening.
By clicking on the image you can browse the series of images or just watch a little slide show. You will see that there are a number of shots of this fish exiting the rocks. Now she is used to having a camera in her face & is getting used to my being in close proximity to her & peering in moving about & flashing lights in the tank. Bythis time I know where to prefocus. All the shots are taken by prefocusing. After a while you can shoot from anywhere in the tank. From the end of the tank I always prefocus on a piece of coral or a similar reference point & wait till the fish passes through that point. If I clean the inside surface of the tank, I can now take many shots with the fish reflected off the inside glass in the tank, & a double reflection from the inside of the outside of the glass thickness.
I ever mess around with buttons or knobs on the camera. I set it all for manual everything. This does include auto focus in manual mode but is not progressive or sequential focus. I pick a point, focus, keep the shutter half depressed & wait. It`s very similar to fishing.
I pretty much use my intuitive experience to change aperture & speed & will sometimes bracket some shots but not very often. There is so much movement going on that it`s counterproductive to do so. There are times that I will quit fishing & go hunting. This is when I have a special mission to shoot one fish in one tank at a specific time relative to its habits. Then I will do a few tests & adjust accordingly. If anyone thinks it`s easy, consider that there are some fish I have that I have only one acceptable shot of, & a few, none.
Last night while I was trying to show you how easy it is to confuse plants & animals in a tank, I had a nocturnal visitor. Since my door to the outside is always open, I shut the porch light off, to not attract too many night bugs. At one point something landed on my head. I knew it was fairly large but could not find it by the light from the monitor. After a while, hearing scrapings & whatever, I finally peeked in under the tray that holds the keyboard & it seems like I disturbed the BEAST .
You can see it at planet earth, & I did not add any more than that one pic of it, but have added pix of some lovely bees, one series inside a succulent flower. Tonights sunset was spectacular so I decided to take KIWI, sa small parrot & go up on the hill to shoot some panoramas. The one in the header, Y color corrected to an illogical tone so you can see that it is made up of 16 panels. These shots are taken with no tripod, just shooting & rotating my body. I overlap the shots by at least 1/3.
I download them, then create a new canvas a little less than the sum of 16 image widths & a few inches taller than one image. This one is about 50 inches long. I then copy & paste the images onto the new canvas. You can click & go see the true color one, which will change slightly before it`s done. Tomorrow I will blend the 16 panels together & show you a finished panorama. I shot 6 of them tonight & did this one in portrait format to show better what it looks like rather than 5 or 6 landscape shots.
Last night`s post was an experiment that I`ve felt horrible about all day. To show how easy it is for people to confuse what is plant or animal in our tanks, & please believe we "reefers" understand & don`t mind although we`re very quick to point it out. Most of the time any plant in a tank is a reference to unwanted algea, & we would never brag about having any. So the anemone last night was a bud from a real plant & not an animal. The fish I planted there to try & see what some one who wouldn`t know, might see the tank in his/ her eyes. I tried to see what someone else sees. I hope you`ll permit me to be sorry for it. Lest you think it malicious, please reread the post. I suggested it was sticky, & that "Reefers" spoke of it`s medicinal properties, which were discounted by scientists (hah). NDD, might have something to say, but we`ll see.
I wish you all a great day, & please remain in the shade. It was almost 100 degrees here today, so I can only imagine how dangerous it might be for the very young, the elderly & the weak in health. Keep an eye on those people.
Any mistakes in this post if any, are due to heat confusion.


AndiF said...

Hey Head, thanks for taking the time to write this post. It was completely fascinating. Knowing those details makes me appreciate and enjoy the images all that more.

NDD said...

The tank photoshooting info regarding technics and hunting/fishing strategy I found very illuminating.

Particularly, as there are numerous times I have had to shoot through windows at wildlife, in which case I'm the one inside the tank.

At least now I know how to eliminate the reflection from the glass.

With regards to yesterday's Dangerous Approach, it took me at least three visits, of several minutes each, before the fish "appeared". Go figure! I just couldn't get past being locked in on those vertical stripes, and at one point thought the eye of the fish was KH's camera lens, ha ha. So fooled there.

As to the sticky "anenome"... well looked like an anenome to me. I think the "trick" was a great educational device... not likely I'll forget the discussion on the confusion of animal vs. plant any time soon, ha!

Family Man said...

Hi Head.

Thanks for the explanation on how you get these pictures. Sounds way to unslackerly for me. :)

I really like your night time visitor. It has a look like, "What you got a problem."

The panel panorama is cool too. I like the way you did that.

You stay out of the heat and stay cool too.

olivia said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

What Andi said -- fascinating -- you trickster, you.

W/ my own attempts at trying to photograph little Peaches, I learned how hard it is to capture fish -- the movement, the glass and water ... Thanks so much for explaining your techniques.

I love how you've done the panorama up above ... or is it really a panorama ... hmmmmmm ;) (j/k) ... love it!

Off to explore Planet Earth ---->

Nancy P said...

I love all the many varieties of pictures today, head. Thanks so much.

What a lovely fish. She has a good friend in you.

Knucklehead said...

Thank you Andif,
I have a sore pecking finger. As I said, most of the tips I bring up are aquarium specific, but there is some crossover into above water use of them also, so I`m happy to post them.

Knucklehead said...

Whats strange about putting the fish in the image is how I figured out how to insert it.
I went & looked for any fish image taken with a completely black background. The black & white of this Damselfish was perfect.
When selecting the fish in PS(photoshop), you could just circle your cursor around it & copy & paste it into the "bud" image. The problem is that you then have to remove any of the surrounding black that is obliterating the "tentacles" in that image. What I did was select the color 'black' & cut it out. That leaves only the white parts of the fish.
When I then copy & paste, the white blotches( the fish) , now on the black of the "bud" image , reappears as a black & white fish. IOW`S the black of the fish, is really the black background of the original image. I did have a good laugh though. I was wondering why can`t you see the fish. I thought you were putting me on for a bit.

Knucklehead said...

Like I said, I don`t conciously turn knobs & buttons. It`s pretty much intuitive. Otherwise, it becomes work, & I try & stay away from that word.
Thats the title I used for that image, "WHAAT!!".
I`ll hopefully finish that one today, & complete one more for show & tell in the header.
I`m pretty well insulated, as far as my head goes, & I`m always cool. Ask the Fonze.

Knucklehead said...

Olivia, exactly,
You know from your experiences with Peaches it`s not like taking a sunset. All the knowledge one uses to shoot a sunset is used in a tank shot, then, add the limiting factors for a tank shot & you get the degree of difficulty. The strange lights in an aquarium add another dimension also.
Yes Olivia, It`s real. I hope you`re not gonna bring that up again. Hah, (OR IS IT?)
The way I showed the panorama, I`m starting to like as is, though.

Knucklehead said...

Nancy p,
I`m glad you like the variety. I figure it`s so easy to upload pix now, (thanks Olivia) that I can just upload a batch of 30 images, organise them into "sets", post one, respectively, in the three places I normally do, (header, new post & Planet Earth) & everything is automatically linked into slide shows or image browsing.
She is definitely a beautiful fish. I`m the one, blessed with her.

NDD said...

Sunset panel turned out great. That's a lot of photos to get matched up into one panorama!

Knucklehead said...

Because it`s a vertical format panel it`s a little more difficult to get the shading between the different panels correct. As you can see there`s still a subtle defining line left. I stopped at that point.
I`m beggining to like the unmerged panel, more & more. I mostly do these to exercise my hand eye coordination & tool feathering abilities in PS.
This one would have taken about 30 panels if I had shot the complete section of the horizon with sunset colors.