Saturday, February 3, 2018

How to Take Macro Photography of Fish Using a Smartphone

Macro photography for aquariums using phone camera clip-on lens
(Skip to the end to view the video tutorial)
Ever try to take close-up pictures or video of your aquarium, only to end up with a blurry mess? Here's a short tutorial on an easy way to take macro shots of your aquarium fish using a smartphone. The only thing you'll have to buy is a cell phone lens kit. For $20 or less on Amazon or eBay, you'll get several different lenses to play with, but I mainly use the macro one. Simply clip it over your phone's camera lens (like a clothespin) and you're ready to go!

Clip-on macro lens for smartphones

#1 Set Up the Shot

A macro lens like this one has a fixed focal length, which means objects are only clear at a certain distance from your phone. So bribe your fish to come right up to the front by dropping some food or sticking some Sera O-Nip tablets on the glass.

albino cory catfish having a romantic dinner, Lady and the Tramp style

#2 Keep Very Still

Stabilize the phone as much as possible by bracing both of your hands against the aquarium (kind of like a tripod). Keep at least one finger free for tapping on the screen to focus the shot and take the picture. Unless you're trying to pick up a specific detail (like the fish's scales), I like to focus on the closest eye of the fish or a high contrast area that's easy for the cell phone to lock on.

#3 Adjust the Exposure

Once the focus is set, feel free to adjust the exposure and any other settings you need. My albino cory catfish looked way too shiny under those bright aquarium lights, so I lowered the exposure till some more details popped. Also, if the focus is still a bit off, all you have to do is slightly move the smartphone forward or backward till you get the sharpest image.

#4 Make Slow, Smooth Movements

When taking macro video, even the slightest shift of your phone can be amplified into shaky-cam madness. So if your subject swims away while filming, don't panic! Just slowly pan over to its new position as smoothly as you can and then re-focus. Worse to worse, you can always edit out any big fumbles. :)

As with all fish photography, it'll take lots of time and patience to get the perfect shot. So take as many pictures or video as you need, and then delete, delete, delete! I hope you took away a few useful tips that will help you take amazing aquarium macro photography. Good luck and keep on swimming!

How do you like to take macro photography? Do you find yourself using your phone or an actual camera more often?

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