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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When preparing a photo to submit to a contest is it proper to remove the bubbles floating towards the surface?

I only use this photo as an example. I know I should remove any hardware and take it after the sun goes down to minimize reflections.

Note on the left side and to left of center the streaming bubbles.



Also, how can I lessen the brightness on the patch of HM in the left front and the patch or Rotala in the right center rear?

Any other hints or tricks?

Thanks
 

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Gnatster,

Personally bubbles don't bother me, but a patchy backfround is a definite candidate for correcting. It would take only a few minutes work in Photoshop to remove the 2 white areas in your picture. I could do that for you if you want.

Try this link. It's Mike Cameron's article about taking tank pictures and it does talk about darkening overexposed areas (like the tops of the plants).

But are corrections like those something accepted by AGA or ADA?

--Nikolay
 

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gnatster said:
When preparing a photo to submit to a contest is it proper to remove the bubbles floating towards the surface?
I would strongly recommend "removing" bubbles from surface and those which are "in action". This is something that its done but those who care about the quality. Turn off your CO2 for couple hours and do photo session.

Also, how can I lessen the brightness on the patch of HM in the left front and the patch or Rotala in the right center rear?
I would strongly recommend Contrast Masking which could be done in PhotoShop. Link provided by Niko is not working at the moment but I have Mike Cameron's presentation in pdf file saved.

http://www.greenstouch.com/various/aquarium_photography.pdf

Please read this article as well

Understanding Contrast Masking
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/understanding-series/u-contrast-masking.shtml
 

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It's possible to help things out a couple of other ways...

1. Reduce the exposure and brighten in PS or PSP.
2. Check your histogram. It's possible that things are seriously skewed and clean-up is as easy as dragging a mark (Usually the high end brought down a little lower).
3. Get a gray card. Sometimes they are plastic. If not, laminate it. Turn off auto white balance and take a picture with it in the middle of your tank in a well lit place. Use the gray to figure out the right white balance for your lighting for future full tank pictures.

I'm not a serious photographer yet, and I'm going from memory for a bit of this, but it shouldn't be too far off.

also...I'm usually quite lazy unless the pics are for something vital and will do a PSP One Step Fix to get things evened out.

--Mike
 

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Hard to do much with an overexposed area, it's much easier to do the opposite, that is take a faster frame and bring out the darker areas using histogram functions. A faster frame will also reduce the bubble effectes, but your life would be made much easier if the photos were taken early morning, at this time the water is at it's clearest, the plants are completely opened up ready for the light cycle, and no pearling is occuring because the water has yet to reach saturation.

Hope that helps
Giancarlo Podio
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Are those full grown discus? if so, that's a pretty big tank...
Nah, they are young, about 4". I picked them up at 2" size, they sure do grow fast.

I'd like to thank everyone for their comments on how to take the picture and then prepare it for submission.

However, one question still lays unanswered.

How much digital manipulation is allowed?

I'd certainly not add plants or change the coloration of the plants, but I'd like them to reflect their true beauty. I realize this is a morals type question as there is the capability to prepare a fictional image with ever having getting ones hands wet. Besides not having the skills to pull that off, I would not do so on moral grounds.
 

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gnatster said:
How much digital manipulation is allowed?
Pictures taken from any digital camera are already modified by the internal processing unit. There is a small "Photoshop" on board.
We are modifying already modified product.
 

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How much digital manipulation is allowed?
This is a "touchy" subject because you will get many different suggestions and I can guarantee that some will share 50% of what they do and other 50% will keep as a "secret". Photoshop is very powerful software and it doesn't take long to become a typical "Photoshop Sucker". There are soo many filter, tweaks, actions and improvements that one could take it to the extreme without even knowing. I tell people all the time: "If you picture is not sharp well enough, DO NOT SHARPEN IT because it will never look they way it should be". Take 5 different shots of the same composition and you should get at least one sharp enough.

Look at your tank and then your picture and make it as close as possible. If you are getting light pictures then go ahead and make it darker, if you are not getting correct White Balance - fix it. If you have permanent equipment inside the tank which will get in a way of your picture - fix it.

Simple as that. Not every judge knows Photoshop tricks so its easy to "cheat". At the end of the day you are the one who is cheating yourself so use your own judgment.
 

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I will at times go to the extent of blocking out in-tank equipment and/or the background, but as far as photographic touchup, I don't take it any further than histogram functions to compensate for correct exposure. I usually underexpose all my shots as this allows more flexibility than an overexposed shot. That's about it though, a few exceptions may apply on rare occasions, such as having used incorrect white balance but the picture came out so good you want to correct the white balance rather than shooting it again... as long as you are making it resemble your tank as close as possible and not adding any false colors or effects, I'd think it's legitimate. Like Edward said, digital cameras do their own "photo shop" editing so to speak, as long as you are making the image more true to life it will be hard to draw the line. After all, a lot can be done on the camera itself when shooting to make a photo be un-natural.

Giancarlo Podio
 
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