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Old 08-07-2016, 06:49 AM
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Default Shooting on curved glass guide

As many here know I have a tank that is tough to take pictures of either from the outside due to my glass being both Convex and Concave and it being very difficult to take pictures inside the tank which requires long arms, contortionists body and a step ladder all to get a decent shot. In my pursuit to find out how best to take pictures on curved glass I spent many countless hours of perusing various photography forums and leaving posts on many of them and going to talk to proffessional photographers and even sending queries to some of the biggest photography magazines in North America on how to best shoot through curved glass I got 3 standard questions and answers.

Why do I want to shoot through curved glass? Why don't I buy a standard tank? Nobody shoots through curved glass for a reason.

I was told by just about everybody I have talked to those 3 questions and statements virtually across the board. It would seem that everybody is of the opinion you can't get good shots through curved glass and if I do its fluke more than anything else. It was rare to find anybody who gave any sort of decent advice mostly it was like I was a crazy person trying to buck the trend.

So with all that negativity buzzing around me I decided to prove everybody wrong about taking pictures through curved glass and to prove its not as hard as everyone makes it out to be.

I have made this guide to help others with taking pictures on curved glass.

Some things to be aware of though curved glass does limit your ability to take pictures as there are only so many ways to shoot on curved glass.

I am by no means an expert and I am not experienced at photograghy by any stretch of the imagination so I may get some things wrong.

Regardless of the camera you use a tripod is required to minimize shaking.

Camera Used

I am using a Canon Rebel Ti3 DSLR Camera with both the standard Kit Lens and 50mm Macro Lens

Camera Settings

I am by no means an expert at using camera settings however if your camera allows it shoot pictures in Raw form this is best to use if your camera doesn't have Raw pictures use largest image format available it allows you to capture large amounts of detail with minimal image degradation

I generally have set my aperature so images in front are clear with the background blurred but more often I find myself going for depth of field shots so I use a wider aperature

Unless your camera is basic donot use any of the preset settings available it is best that you have control of as much of the shot as possible

I donot use the flash at all it is horrible on curved glass.

Shooting through Curved glass

Some things to note curved glass is not as hard to shoot through as many people believe however due to the distortion you are limited in angles you can shoot from.

Every forum and magazine that shows close up pictures through glass is taken flush with the glass with curved glass that is next to impossible to do so you generally have to be at least half an inch off the glass for focussing reasons

When shooting on the curve you can shoot straight on as if you were shooting on flat glass with the exception of glare issues if your in a brightly lit room as my tank is. The tricky part is shooting at an angle whether the camera is tilted left or right or up and down you can only angle the camera so far before you get picture distortion. This will vary with the thickness of the glass and how much the glass is curved on slightly curved glass distortion is minimized but on a steep curve that distortion will quickly become noticable.

Unfortunately if you have scratches on curved glass when taking pictures they are very noticable due to the magnification curved glass causes and can be a major annoyance.

Shooting coral and fish

Every magazine and forum recommends you shut off your powerheads when taking pictures I don't do that as I don't find it nessecary it works well on flat glass with crisper images but generally on curved glass you won't notice the difference per se unless your a proffesional or perfectionist.

With this in mind be prepared to take multiple images of the same coral and shoot from various angles straight on might give you distortion but at an angle to the glass you may get a crisper image with no distortion at all. Experiment with your glass yes you will be limited with what you can shoot but it may give you some awesome shots that are not possible to do on flat glass.

Fish on the other hand I find are impossible photography subjects never do what you want them to do, never stay still and will always move at the most inopportune times however with that being said just like corals you can get awesome shots of fish through curved glass that you just can't get with flat glass shots

Final Thought

I hope this has helped somewhat as I said I am not an expert so I may have gotten some things wrong and I appologize for that but in the end experiment with curved glass shooting you just may surprise yourself at what may happen. I've shot under all lighting conditions, different settings and used many different cameras experiment because quite often I found I will get an awesome shot that I never expected.
My aquarium is nothing but a smorgasbord for my cats.....
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Old 03-05-2018, 03:23 AM
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Since first posting this guide which really didn't tell anybody anything they didn't already know I have learned a few more tips and tricks about shooting on curved glass as always use a stabilizer like a tripod or ledge to prevent camera shake

First off lets deal with the curved glass

-As I previously stated very few people will offer any constructive comments when it comes to shooting on curved glass as it can and will distort images
-Depending on your tank style of curved glass and where you shoot on the glass your shots could be magnified or conversely be distant, If you hit the glass at just the wrong angle it could be severely distorted or your image could be quite blurry
-Clean your glass before shooting an image as curved glass loves to show every imperfection or piece of algae/dirt on it

Setting up for the shot

This is the trickiest part and the hardest to do
-If you are in a well lit room or in a room with indirect light hang curtains or a blanket that will either diffuse or stop the light from hitting your tank as in a well lit area curved glass loves to cast reflected light or put unsightly bright spots in your shot
-In a dimly lit room your biggest enemy will be lights from your room as they will reflect off the tank glass (Lamps, ceiling lights, pod lights and so forth) either find a way to diffuse the light or shoot with only the tank lights as your light source
-Use the tank lights to your advantage as in curved glass tanks the light can create interesting backdrops as it bounces off the glass and it can create some very interesting shots that are just not possible with flat glass
-Many people bring in another light source to create backdrop or mood lighting on a curved glass tank I have found that adjustable cheap LED lights are very effective for this put the light or lamp near where you want to shoot and as close to the glass as possible and adjust the light intensity as needed to light up your subject ...the only concern is because the light does not lay flat on curved glass you have to use a deflector or towel to diffuse or stop the light from glaring into your camera lens or you can just use the flash function on your phone or camera it will work but limits your options on mood lighting

Shooting the image

-All the tough stuff is done now everybody has a different preference on settings and what to use so my only advice is to experiment find a setting that works best for you
-When shooting on curved glass use it to your advantage everyone will tell you to shoot 90 degrees to the glass well on curved glass that is a tall order and can lead to distortion and ruined shots. I have found that shooting a few degrees off on curved glass produces a better image with less distortion
-I have found shooting from a top down angle produces distortion that interferes with the shot but shooting from a bottom up angle gives me a better shot. That being said shooting at the same level straight on gives you the best shot and the distortion of the glass can actually improve the image
-Shoot with the lens as close as you can get to the glass to prevent any background lighting causing glare off the glass or get a light diffusor on the end of the lens
-Take lots of shots from several angles and use the tank lights, background lights or your own lighting method to your advantage

Post shoot

This here is strictly for when you download your pictures find an editing program that will help clean up your image it helps a lot

Hope this was somewhat informative and happy shooting
My aquarium is nothing but a smorgasbord for my cats.....
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