Tuesday, October 25, 2011


On Saturday morning, the 22nd, we took the Boston subway (the MTA) to the New England Aquarium, situated in the wharf area east of the commercial district.  We were pretty impressed with the overall quality of the facility and the exhibits.  The aquarium essentially consists of a four-story tank surrounded by a spiral walkway and numerous smaller exhibits.

There are a number of difficulties in photographing aquatic animals.  First, the interior lighting is always going to be subdued, and the color of the lighting may change from exhibit to exhibit.  Additionally, the animals, particularly the fish, are constantly moving.  This poses problems, not just in terms of "freezing" the action but also in maintaining an interesting composition: the fish can swim out of the shot or turn away or other fish can swim in--all this in a low light situation.  Moreover, the animals are generally behind glass, which can cause reflections, and in water, which can create distortions and other "defects."  Fortunately, with digital I could take as many shots as I wanted in the hopes that a few of them would turn out.

The aquarium did house a large number of penguins.  The following shot (unfortunately) illustrates the problems with color balance.  I wasn't sure where the green shadows were coming from, but I couldn't find a way to get rid of them.

I liked the following shot better.  I was able to position the penguin's topknot(?) against a dark background to show it off better.

This looked like a mean dude (or dudette).

We were there during meal time and the aquarium feeder person seemed to know each of the penguins by name and was making sure that they all got fed properly.

The following shot illustrates some of the problems I had.  This was a stunning "dragon" seahorse that I must have taken 10-12 shots of.  They looked remarkably like leaf-covered branches, but they were constantly on the move and this was the best shot I could get.

Pretty disappointing.

And here is another example of a shot that didn't quite work.  I really liked the stripes on this fish but could not get the timing right to get the whole animal in the shot.

Not terrible, but it would have been nicer to get the complete tail in the image also.  I probably should have backed off and not tried to have the fish fill the frame.

I got luckier the the following shot.

And that raises another tactical error that I made.  Rather than getting shots of single specimens, it might have been better to have included a number of different specimens in the same shot.  However, that carries risks too, as the following shot may illustrate.

Is there some confusion about where one fish leaves off and another starts?  It is true that the center fish is in focus and the others are somewhat blurred out, but it would have been better if the other fish had been different species (and colors).  I do feel the following shot worked better.

This was taken at a shutter speed of 1/125 second, but it is still not quite sharp.  I did like the composition, though.

I really liked the following guy.  I only wish that I had been able to catch it in a bit more of a side view.

One wonders how something like this could evolve.  A real cutie.

One would think that shellfish would be easier, but these never seemed to stay still either.

And, yes, there are bright blue shellfish.

Anemones proved to be easier subjects, since they stay pretty much in one spot.  There was an amazing variety at the aquarium.


And the following starfish was stuck to the side of the tank and wasn't about to move.

I took this at an aperture of f/4 to limit the depth of field to the animal.  Actually, one of the aquarium workers informed me that they were no longer referred to as starfish because they are not actually fish.  Instead, they are called "sea stars."

The following frog had great coloration.  Unfortunately, the background was very distracting, and there was some sort of stick lying on top of part of it.

Keep in mind that these were probably the best of the shots I took.  For each of these, there were probably five or six shots that were unacceptable for one reason or another.

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