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DaveFason

NanoBox Photo Tutorial : How To Take Better Photos

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The number one thing you hear about with LED's is how "impossible" they are to shoot photos or videos. This is true compared to other lighting options but is very possible with the correct tools. The royal blue, violet and any other "blueish" spectrum will toss your cameras sensor into LED hell. This guide is how I shoot. This will not be an overnight thing. You will need to practice and play with your camera.

 

This is my current gear.

31860326643_8340b77309_z.jpgCameraGear by Dave Fason, on Flickr

 

 

  • Sony A6300
  • Sigma 30 1.4
  • Voiglander 75mm 1.8
  • Hoya Close Up Kit 1x - 4x ( 10x is INCREDIBLE )
  • Amazon Orange filter
  • Rocket air blaster - Blows debris off lens and filters - Game changer

I also own a zoom lens but prefer the fast ( aperture ) with prime lens ( no zoom ) when shooting tanks. After years of ordering dedicated macro lens I was never happy. Everything looked flat. My friend said use a 50-85mm prime and attach a close up kit. I feel my macro photography for reefs/planted tanks is far superior to using a dedicated macro lens.

 

First off. You will find other tutorials on forums that suck. They are misleading and create photos that look NOTHING like the real coral. Adjusting your white balance to 9900K and pulling all blue out is incorrect. DO NOT DO THIS!

 

Set your camera in RAW+JPEG or RAW only.

 

No that that is over. First step. Adjust your cameras white balance to ~ 4500-5500K. Each camera is different so I will not get into this. You can "cheat" and change your white channels setting ( on the actual light ) higher. This will counter the heavy blue and make your sensor see pretty normal. If you do this in the Bluefish APP, save this setting in the " Photo Mode ".

 

Auto Color Temp will get you this. Washed out.

32632060246_afc94736bb_z.jpgCameraColorTempBad by Dave Fason, on Flickr

 

Color Temp :

32519832722_702a42c2cf_z.jpgCameraColorTemp by Dave Fason, on Flickr

31860327423_0b567af238_z.jpgCameraColorTempGood by Dave Fason, on Flickr

Not sure how adjust your cameras color temp? Try adjusting the white channel.

31860327043_158a125e5a_z.jpgCameraColorTempRaiseWhite by Dave Fason, on Flickr

 

Camera settings. When I shoot tank stills I only use manual mode. This will lock in what YOU want. Not what the camera thinks you want. While this may seem taboo to some, just try it.

 

Aperture - This is how OPEN your camera will be. Meaning more light. However the trade off is depth of field. The more open/more light the less that will be in focus. This can however create cool effects. Just play with it. I like to shoot ~ 2.8 for macro and fish and then 5.6 + for FTS.

 

Shutter - This keeps the shutter open longer or shorter. The shorter the quicker you will have things in focus and less "blur". This also will darker the photo as less light will be allowed. The slower will have more blur but allow more light. Again play with this. I normally will shoot ~ 100-250.

 

ISO - This is the sensitivity to light. The higher the setting the more sensitive it is. Shooting lower ISO will have less noise ( grain ) and the higher the more noise. I like ~ 400-600 for FTS and 1000-2500 for macro.

 

Macro - Higher ISO is good.

31860325553_c7af9e98e8_z.jpgCameraMacroSettingISO by Dave Fason, on Flickr

Higher Shutter - Darker

31860324723_be06b955e8_z.jpgCameraShutterHigh by Dave Fason, on Flickr

Lower Shutter - More light

31860324323_97c96e1860_z.jpgCameraShutterLow by Dave Fason, on Flickr

 

Now to the fun. Adding an orange filter. This will take your LED skills to next level. This will block some of the blue light from the camera. Bring out realistic colors. I suggest buying a set and finding which works for you. Some will take to much out and others not enough.

This is fancy, right?

31860324573_971e04e1a7_z.jpgCameraColorTempGoodGel by Dave Fason, on Flickr

Filter off :

31860327423_0b567af238_z.jpgCameraColorTempGood by Dave Fason, on Flickr

Filter on :

31860327173_cc6954b821_z.jpgCameraColorTempGoodGelFTS by Dave Fason, on Flickr

 

See there difference? Richer colors, more accurate, etc.

 

Now to the close up kit. This allows your minimum focus to be decreased by the adapter. 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x, 10x, etc. This allows your current lens to turn into a quasi macro lens. I believe it gives more character to photos. I recommend turning your pumps off as well. The photos below, I did not.

This lens normally needs 3'+ to focus. Now look.

31860326123_61a2d34d5a_z.jpgCameraMacroDistance1 by Dave Fason, on Flickr

31860326463_c5d1d604eb_z.jpgCameraMacroDistance by Dave Fason, on Flickr

Photos :

31860325353_4ebb812d55_z.jpgCameraMacroTorch by Dave Fason, on Flickr

31860325953_e2e8ca3089_z.jpgCameraMacroRBTA by Dave Fason, on Flickr

31860325113_d7e67626d9_z.jpgCameraMacroUnknown by Dave Fason, on Flickr

 

While doing macro I like to manual adjust my focusing, aperture, shutter and ISO. This will create the exact photo that you want. If your camera will allow zooming in while shooting, even better. This will allow you to get all up in the coral to see what is in focus.

31860324863_5d7b76c549_z.jpgCameraMacroZoom by Dave Fason, on Flickr

 

So remember, practice, practice and practice. Starting out with a fast 50mm ( Nifty-Fifty ) ~ 1.8 will only cost you $150. Add a Hoya Close Up 4x for $34.95 and you have a universal kit.

 

Key points :

  • Practice :D
  • Orange Filter - Game changer
  • White Balance 4500-5500K OR manually adjust your white channel to allow the cameras sensor to correct itself
  • Manual settings
  • Shutter, ISO and aperture all work together. Like your MG, CA, ALK.

I hope this helps people out. Getting stills of your tank is not only fun to do but allows you to see your corals growth over time. Plus adding another skill to your arsenal.

 

Happy reefing!

-Dave

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Have you shot in RAW before Dave? Seems much preferred to the orange filter for me. I can adjust white balance to be nearly perfect in post, rather fast once you get the hang of the tools (I prefer RAWTherapee over Photoshop/Lightroom).

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Nice write up Dave. Something I would add is to use a tripod when taking macro shots. Attempting to shoot while holding the camera while result in blurrier images.

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I will add this. I ONLY shoot in RAW. Not sure how I forgot this.

 

Have you shot in RAW before Dave? Seems much preferred to the orange filter for me. I can adjust white balance to be nearly perfect in post, rather fast once you get the hang of the tools (I prefer RAWTherapee over Photoshop/Lightroom).

100% agree. However most people won't buy a tripod. I will add this for sure.

 

Nice write up Dave. Something I would add is to use a tripod when taking macro shots. Attempting to shoot while holding the camera while result in blurrier images.

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For sure. You will really enjoy it.

i need to get some close up since i wont be getting a macro lens for the A6000...

 

No problem!

This is great, Dave. Thanks for doing this!

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Good tips. I just got the Sony a6500, some of the presets white balance are pretty good. Now, I just need a decent macro lens. Something comparable to the canon 60mm I used to have, loved that lens.

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THANK YOU! This type of instructions that I have been looking for in the past weeks. I could not find it even on Google!

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Good tips. I just got the Sony a6500, some of the presets white balance are pretty good. Now, I just need a decent macro lens. Something comparable to the canon 60mm I used to have, loved that lens.

 

Wont lie, I am a little jealous. With me wanting to do more videos the IBIS and touch focus is pretty nice.

 

Really check out the close up kit. You will be amazed.

 

THANK YOU! This type of instructions that I have been looking for in the past weeks. I could not find it even on Google!

Glad I could help. Again practice and you will get it.

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I <3 extension tubes too

 

Yes sir. Another great way. I still prefer the close up kits. I feel the create less depth of field.

 

I put two tubes and a 10x kit one time. Up close and personal!

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Wont lie, I am a little jealous. With me wanting to do more videos the IBIS and touch focus is pretty nice.

 

Really check out the close up kit. You will be amazed.

 

Glad I could help. Again practice and you will get it.

 

 

Yeah, the filter kit is pretty cheap, worth a try.

Video is new to me, as my old DSLR didn't do video. :mellow:

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I will add this. I ONLY shoot in RAW. Not sure how I forgot this.

 

Good thing there wasn't a reflection in the glass. :o Someone had to do it.

 

I own a tripod but refuse to use it, too lazy.

 

Seriously though, thanks for the great tips, these always help me out.

 

Here's one of my latest under a quad, no tripod! :D

s3fn0tE.jpg

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Nice write up Dave! There is good information here. I unfortunately do not own a nice camera, I only have the one that is attached to my camera and it takes shitty pictures with the default camera app :P. Your post makes me tempted to write an Android application that allows the user to fine tune all of the settings you mentioned in order to take better photos of our reefs (an app probably already exists, but I am cheap and don't want to pay for one). Good stuff!

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hey Dave, need your expertise =).  Should I get the close up kit for Sony 18-105mm f4, Sony 16-50mm kit lens, or Sony 35mm f1.8???  My gut tells me 35mm for the 1.8 but 35mm is a little short for a macro...

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8 hours ago, ninjamyst said:

hey Dave, need your expertise =).  Should I get the close up kit for Sony 18-105mm f4, Sony 16-50mm kit lens, or Sony 35mm f1.8???  My gut tells me 35mm for the 1.8 but 35mm is a little short for a macro...

I would do the 35 because the glass is just better. Sigma sells a 60mm 2.8 for ~ $150. That would be really good match for very cheap. 

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15 hours ago, DaveFason said:

I would do the 35 because the glass is just better. Sigma sells a 60mm 2.8 for ~ $150. That would be really good match for very cheap. 

totally getting the Sigma 60mm f2.8 on craigslist or ebay.  thanks!

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8 hours ago, ninjamyst said:

totally getting the Sigma 60mm f2.8 on craigslist or ebay.  thanks!

The Sigma 19 2.8 is a fun everyday too. Super cheap and incredible images. Plus it is tiny. 

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On 2/22/2017 at 6:34 AM, DaveFason said:

The Sigma 19 2.8 is a fun everyday too. Super cheap and incredible images. Plus it is tiny. 

dave do you think the sony 6000 would be a good buy? the price point for local used are around $400ish used. 

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10 hours ago, d_adler said:

 

dave do you think the sony 6000 would be a good buy? the price point for local used are around $400ish used. 

They are great. I would still try and find a 6300 used on ebay or CL. 

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