Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Long Beach Aquarium

A few years ago I saw a coworker post some pictures he took at Monterey Aquarium of these beautiful jellyfishes set against a a nice blue background. I was really blown away by how beautiful it was (I think the photo was this one: http://picasaweb.google.com/andrewmitchell1975/MontereyTripJune2006#4940152518086295570). Since then, I've been dreaming of capturing similar images myself but never had a chance... that is until last weekend when I finally stopped by Long Beach Aquarium for a quick afternoon photo shoot. While I never quite got that shot I wanted, I got a few other shots that I liked. Full album available here: http://picasaweb.google.com/pingc315/LongBeachAquarium?feat=directlink).

The day started off on a pretty good beat as I got this shot:

I'm really a sucker for kid silhouette against the glass staring at fish type shots. This particular shot was done in manual mode as metering became difficult but I really love how mesmerized kids are by fishes. I think I first fell in love with this type shots when I visited Sea World last June... it would have been better if the water was deeper blue but I thought this shot worked fairly well either way.

As for Jellyfish, my favorite shot might have been

I just like how it is zig-zagging through the water and how it looks like it is glowing. But perhaps the other lines are a bit distracting... It seems as if everyone's favorite jellyfish shot ended up this one:

As Joe puts it "white and clear jellys owns yellow ones". Well, I guess I can't quite argue with that logic there. But overall I found photographing these things a bit of a challenge. The jellyfish themselves were rather small and really cramped together in a small tank which made composition more difficult. On top of that the water wasn't very clean in a few of the tanks so it didn't make for attractive background... I ended up zooming in all the way to focus in on smallest clean area and pressed the lens up against the glass to reduce reflection and what not... Lucky for me, these things move slow which made it easier to track and photograph :).

This might be my favorite from the day... I was surprised at how colorful the world is under water. Unfortunately here I used my 10mm lens shooting through a curved glass so the distortions in the corners are really terrible.

I also got a few lucky shots of sea horses and sea dragons:

For the sea horses it was a bit trickier as these things moves quite fast. I had to sacrifice noise and use ISO 1600 (basically the entire day) to have a chance of keeping up with them. Shooting through glass and water also plays havoc on auto focus... just kept snapping away until I got lucky with a sharp photo here ;).

On a side note, I also updated photos from San Diego Wild Animal Park from Christmas vacation. Here the main thing I kept in mind the whole day was a lesson I learned from John Shaw's Nature Photography Field Guide, and that is to keep your shots eye level with the animals as much as possible. It makes the image feel more intimate and more dramatic effect compared to photographing them standing up (so you will be looking down at them).

Keeping that in mind (and also wanting to practice isolating details), here are a few photos from that day:
From San Diego Wild Animal Park