Shooting Jellyfish: Photographing fish in an aquarium

Jellies

Canon T4i, Tamron 17-50, 33mm, f/2.8, 1/320, ISO 1600

We went to Charlotte, NC a couple weekends ago and visited the incredible Discover Place. What a fun day! Heaps of stuff for the kids, an IMAX, aquarium, terrariums  with frogs from all over the world, and more science experiments than you could shake a stick at.

This guy was really tough to capture. First, it was really dark in the aquarium but I didn’t want to set my ISO too terribly high. I had my Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 lens on which opens wide enough to keep my shutter pretty fast (Opens wide=aperture can go to 2.8, letting in more light…This in turn lets the shutter open and close more quickly…I’ll cover this in another post too).

My main problem was maintaining focus. The wide-open aperture of f/2.8 provided a small depth of field to maintain focus, so if the jellyfish moved away from me, I had to re-set focus. One helpful way to accomplish this is using Canon’s Al-Servo focus system which does a pretty good job of tracking the motion of your subject. Check your camera’s manual if you’re not sure how to set this. Also, if your camera’s lens doesn’t open to 2.8, set it for the widest you can. (The lower the number the wider it is!) Go to f/3.5 or 4 if you can. If you’re not quite comfortable with manual shots, switch to sports mode for these shots. Sports mode will set your auto focus to Al-Servo (or whatever Nikon calls it), open the aperture, and increase the shutter speed to freeze the frame as quickly as it can. It will also increase the ISO to accomplish this and will set your shutter to auto. That means if you hold down your shutter button it will “rapid-fire” photos.

I kept my autofocus button down, tried my best to follow the jelly, took about 10 different shots, and got this one. I like it too!