View Full Version : Blasto, Frogspawn, Candy Cane

Reef Bass
03/06/2016, 08:14 AM
I'll probably reshoot these. I would prefer more depth of field using a smaller aperture but my fish were creating water motion that caused longer exposures to loose sharpness and I wanted to keep iso 100.

Constructive criticism always welcome.

Blastomussa wellsi

Euphyllia paradivisa

Caulastrea furcata

03/07/2016, 01:25 PM
Wow, nice macro shots! What gears are you using? Thanks!!! ;)

Reef Bass
03/07/2016, 07:07 PM
You're welcome, and thank you.

I took these with a Canon 6D and 100mm Canon macro lens.

03/09/2016, 08:23 AM
Nice gears. Many thanks for your answering. :p

Reef Bass
03/10/2016, 06:31 AM
Another shot of the Frogspawn. This is a section of the top more than the lower middle.


Reef Bass
03/13/2016, 12:05 PM
Reshot the blasto. More depth of field.



03/15/2016, 11:34 AM
Great photos, sharp as a tack :)

Reef Bass
03/15/2016, 07:38 PM
Thanks Jordan. F13 this time instead of 6.3. Fish were way more cooperative and less interested in what I was doing, allowing longer and less debris filled exposures. I like seeing the wee bumps on the wee tentacles.

The relatively flat front of the polyp face yields itself to orienting parallel with the camera back, so much of the subject can be in the focal plane, especially with a fat depth of field.

As I typed this though I realized this would really lend itself well to stacking too. About time I got off my duff and did that.

IMHO, LPS and macros go super well together. Colors and textures and a mouth to boot! While there's plenty to look at in the last shot, the shot above it reveals the peripheral fringe of tentacles that add another layer to the visuals. What a cool looking creature!

I tried placing the focal plane elsewhere besides on the mouth, and the photo never looked right to me. Seems the mouth of a polyp is similar to the eyes of other animals, in that it demands the focal plane.

03/21/2016, 11:03 AM
When you are doing macro like this, are you beefing up any of the specific light ranges in the tank? I feel everything I have tried thus far my blues are killing my WB even when I try to play with custom, just doesn't look good unless I really pop up the white LED's.

Reef Bass
03/21/2016, 07:05 PM
My reef lights are 20,000K metal halides, which were considered very blue until LEDs came along. By shooting in RAW and setting my white balance during post processing, I am able to properly white balance the image. I don't do any manipulation of the tank lights when I take pictures.

I believe your experience with LEDs is common.

04/04/2016, 03:33 PM
Reef Bass : great shots. Few recommendations :

- use focus stacking
- if you have a 6D, up to ISO 200 is pretty much noise free - even in the blue channel. ISO 400 is another story though - specially in the blue channel, starts to get nasty ( depends however how you expose and how you post process )
- I would have played a bit more with the levels, contrast and luma settings in the RAW file : if you dont get offended, this is what I did with two of your pictures ( and bear in mind I had a tiny web picture to "play" with ), 100mm Canon Macro lens is sharp but low on microcontrast and therefore things do not "pop" :



Reef Bass
04/04/2016, 06:32 PM
Hello proenca.

Thank you for giving your take on my shots. You did well, especially as you pointed out, working from small web files. Your edits definitely produced more dramatic and impactful images.

I am not offended and appreciate the critical feedback. I always welcome constructive criticism.

What I struggle with as a coral keeper, photographer and occasional purchaser of corals online based on photos, is wanting the pic of the coral to accurately represent what the coral looks like. While your pictures are beautiful and I would enjoy hearing more about the edits you made, if I were buying this blasto online, I think I would be disappointed with what was delivered compared to the online photo. I strive to make a visually accurate image of the coral versus the most visually luscious image that could be made. As I said, it's something I struggle with, especially with the apparent mainstream preference for today's hypersaturated and overfiltered images.

That issue aside, clearly your pics have more pop and edge. Would you mind sharing the changes you made please?

Yes I shoot a 6D. Yes I should try focus stacking.

Member No. 1
04/05/2016, 04:03 AM
Fantastic pictures! I am just getting into tank photography. Still a lot to learn. I will be following your thread for pointers.
Keep them coming!

04/05/2016, 03:39 PM
Hi Ken,

My edits represent my view on tank shots .) I do them as my view pleasure - while I agree 100% with you, if you were to buy the corals based on those pictures, you most likely to get really pis%%ed ; however, I take pictures to represent my corals - and to indulge my photographic pleasure :)

Also, our tanks and corals are not something fixed and static - actinics come one, sunrise, full lights blast, etc etc - and corals react to that and we see them during those moments as well. So while my pictures are a bit on the more dramatic side, I'm sure they are lifeless compared to that blastomussa under actinics - it must be glorious to look at .)

I worked for a while as a photographer - and if in weedings I had to do a faithfull reproduction of the guest, bride and groom - I pretty much got loved and booked all the time because apart from those, I also did a whole new set of pictures with funky angles, dramatic post processing and black and white contrasty pictures - and that is what people loved.

So these days - my personal take on Photography is something to entertain me - not exactly about faithfull reproductions. Unless I'm selling corals that is eheheh

All this to say - we are both absolutly right - just on different camps :D

Regarding to the post processing, bear in mind again, that I had razor thin "playroom" so based on your lens choice ( again, Canon 100mm macro is a sharp lens but one with quite low microcontrast ) , I did the following :

- bumped contrast a bit
- adjust levels ( more on this later ) top and bottom
- small USM mask ( more on this later :D )

** about levels

levels are all the white, black and midtone zones of an image, in a graph.

here is a levels graph of an image :


see the first black triangle ( top ) ? thats where you can set the new level. now , look at the graph - on the left is the black areas of the imagem, mid graph is the mid tones and on the right is the bright parts of the image.

if you take a almost black pictures, the graph will skew almost everytinhg to the left - meaning it as a lot of black areas and somewhere along the middle with abruptly end - meaning no white/bright areas

on the contrary, if an image is taken with a lot of light, the graph will be the inverse.

now your image is more or less like this graph - specially about the blacks. you see where the black top triangle starts ? then there is a gap and then the graph starts. this means that you do not have deep contrast and the image is a bit "washed out". if you slide the triangle next to the graph, you will deep the blacks - more drama.

again on the other side - white triangle - you have the same thing. meaning again the image is washed out and lacks "brilliance". sliding the white triangle a bit to the right, will correct that ( and that is what I did )

** clarity & structure

I also did a touch of clarity and structure - to improve micro contrast, ie, the "3D" or "pop" effect of the image. Some lens - and your is known for that - are low on microcontrast. Ie, doesnt separate things with a defined edge. Can be a good or a bad thing - people usually want a lot of microcontrast, giving a 3D or "pop effect" on the image - although too much and will be to "plasticky". Some lens manufacturers are known for this, for having high microcontrast lens - and charge hefty sums for that : Leica , Zeiss for example. However, low microcontrast is not necessarily a bad thing - means you have more playroom in post processing - you can , to an extent, adjust the clarity, structure and sharpness of a low micro image. Its much harder to soften a high contrast image, without loosing detail.

++ sharpness

just a small bit, so the polyps and such are more visible. carefull with this one - a bit too much and things can go from "ooohhh" to "yeeewwww".

++ pitfalls & advices

few pitfalls to avoid : tone yourself down when it comes down to contrast and sharpness ; its easy to overdo them and images will look awfull. I have loads of fun, revisiting older images and see how much I exxagerated on contrast and sharpness

shoot raw and focus stack - but do not forget also to buy a couple of extension tubes - they are cheap and shorten a lot your macro distance and make your DOF razor thin - great when you focus stack - a usual mistake with focus stack is to keep EVERYTHING focused - be creative. let backgrounds be blurry, let distractions be out of focus - with extension tubes, everything is blurry ( lool since dof is so thin ) so use focus stacking creativly to extend sharpness where you want it and create a very pleasing image

oh and practice practice practice .) I'm a good photographer ( I say thing humbly ) but after all these years, still perfecting my macro technique(s)

Reef Bass
04/06/2016, 06:12 AM
Thank you Gonšalo for your detailed response. I appreciate your taking the time to be so thorough. You make a number of good points. I will endeavor to keep your suggestions in mind while I next post process images. I am glad you seem to have taken my comments in the spirit they were intended.

I have also shot some weddings as an assistant to a photographer, but that was long ago before the modern aesthetic for crooked perspectives and zany filters. My focus was to "capture the moment" when people were emoting - laughing, hugging, crying - versus say just sitting at a table (though I did standard table shots too).

I've been thinking for a while about a series of images that are not faithful reproductions but "based on reality". Taking a shot and just having fun until something interesting and weird develops. May be a way to free the repressed side at least temporarily.

04/18/2016, 06:39 PM
dope photo..

04/21/2016, 10:36 AM
beautiful photos. I'm saving up for a real macro lens but playing around with macro rings right now. Do you use a tripod on your shots or is it easy enough to hand hold?

Reef Bass
04/21/2016, 04:07 PM
Thanks. I find a tripod to be an essential piece of equipment. No way I could hand hold and get a sharp image. The shutterspeed on the blasto was 1.6 seconds.