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[DISCUSS] Aquascaping and Photography

As in other debates on here i think photography is an essential expression of the aquascaper, like painting a scene on canvas. However i think it is largely the prohibitive cost that stops most of us - and that possibly creates some resentment for some people. For example, to properly project my tanks to the online community i am looking at buying a DLSR. A CHEAP second hand DSLR is £150, and that is without tripod, flash, diffusers, filters ....
and that kind of money is simply unaffordable for a lot of people. I think there may also be (and i am treading very carefully here) a certain EDIT :D :D :D point of view :D :D :D :lol: amongst some people that if a tank is not "properly" photographed it is somehow less worthwhile or valid, rather than looking beyond the picture to what ahs been achieved in the tank.
In summary - the picture is a (very beautiful) projection of the tank and aquascaper/photographer into the online community, but less high quality pictures do not make the TANK any less technically adept, beautiful or successful , and we should appreciate that not everyone has the means or ability to take fantastic pictures with high-end kit.
I think that's what i mean... :D
Errr...here's a snob's point of view:
If the photographic technique is central to having an ability to reveal the beauty of the tank then it follows that one has to think as seriously about the hobby of photography as one does about the hobby of planted tanks. If you are a lousy photographer with a lousy camera then you are in effect forcing the viewer to imagine the beauty of the tank, so what's the point of that?

The purpose of a photograph is to convey an idea. The idea in this case is the scape. So a lousy photo can either be caused by a lousy idea (bad scaping) or a lousy method of conveyance (bad photography. The best of all worlds therefore is to be good at both.

The second point is that it does NOT follow that having a less than fantastic camera automatically make the photos lousy. A good photographer can take wonderful pictures using cheesy gear in a way that conveys to the viewer the intrinsic beauty of the tank.

The basic problem is that non-photographers always assume, totally incorrectly, that it's the camera that's taking the picture. This is about as accurate as thinking that it's the paint, brush and canvas that are responsible for a painting. In both cases it's the artist who makes the art. The role of the equipment is to get out of the way of the artist's expression. Better equipment simply get's out of the way more easily than lousy equipment can, that's all.

Bad photographers always make this mistake, thinking that they need to get better equipment in order to take better pictures. But that seldom happens because the image occurs first in the photographers head, and the gear allows him/her to express the idea. With nothing more than a mobile phone camera you can take excellent pictures. Add a good image software and you can de-emphasize many flaws and enhance the attributes of the photo. I can take a decent photo without use of a tripod, flash, diffuser or filter - and I often do, because I study photography and therefore have some basic understanding of how to get the best out of my gear or how to compensate for weaknesses in the gear. So in general, there are very few excuses for lousy photography, and when a snob like myself criticizes a photo, it's to help the hobbyist get better and to avoid the typical errors bad photographers make every day.

Having said all that, the other side of the coin is that a clever photographer can make a weak aquascape look better than it is in real life.

At the end of the day both aquascaping and photography are forms of art and therefore have absolutely nothing to do with reality. It's important for people to fully grasp that. The two hobbies therefore make a perfect pair. There is therefore every reason to try and become a better photographer if your goal is also to become a better aquascaper.

i agree with bigmatt about the photo equipment cost, but not about the snoob thing ;)

unfortunatelly a good equipment is expensive and only just a small percentage of the users can afford it. the studio lights and high-end bodys or lenses are even less.

but about a result..... is't like eating in McDonald's or in a nice restaurant.
both works if you're hungry, but the feeling will be different. with a nice serving you're feeding multiple senses.

photography is very important especially if you would like to create something special in aquascaping.

at the end going up with better and better equipment will capture better the real life expression which is the hardest to capture anyway. so i do not see a great equipment as a good pimping stuff, but a tool which gives back the real impression the best with the maximum detail.

if you spend a little time learning about photography you will focus more on smaller details too which makes your aquascapes stronger.

sometimes i see that if someone did not have good camera they point the scape fault more to the photo/camera quality. if your scape stand out from the crowd i am sure you will receive many support from the community to capture it with the right equipment. so do not worry if you can't afford a good camera til you're good and there's a good community like UKAPS. :thumbup:
Photography plays a huge part of aquascaping.
I have followed over the last 6 years the changing ways in which photography plays hand-in-hand with aquascaping.

The Scape is an expression of your conviction to it. The Photographic elememt helps to covey this message to the masses.

Now me, I have access to great equipment being that Dad has been a Prof.Photographer since his 20's. He was taught by W.H Dennings and Clarke of Coventry. I use some of it and try to get the pic across, but most fo the time i just want to point and shoot and not setup all the equipment to take the shot.
If I took the time and set everything up i would take much better quality and level of pix.

Alot of my wanting to take better pix has come from George, Ceg, Mark, Aquasaur(Big Inspiration) etc, pictures and how much dedication they show to how it should look post processing. That is a stumbling block for me as i do not get all the options and treatments you can do on photoshop. I try some out and play about with pix on PS when i can be bothered.

I agree that there is a level of snobbery amongst taking the best pix, but that comes from having learnt the intrecessies and knowing what can be accomplished. from knowing thte Camera and how to best use it. the equipment and how to best screen the tank/scape.

I am going to take some better shots OF WWWWWW, but need to take the time to sort through the equipment i have to hand and see what i can come up with.
GF asked:

If it's not important, why not?

Personally, I can think of a million and one things I would rather photograph. This probably comes as a result of the genre of photography that I prefer above all else, which is hard hitting B + W photojournalism, such as that carried out by Don McCullin in Biafra or Philip Jones Griffiths in Vietnam Inc. I don`t really look upon photography as art per se, which is why I take no joy from photographing aquascapes, although I do agree that some genres of photography could be called art.

Regards, Dave.
Art is everything and everything is art. Check all thous photos on your flickr link. Guess what, every one of them is art, especially the B & W ones (LOVE that Liverpool shot by the way!)

So...i've edited my original so that people will hoepfully focus on the message rather than the language :lol:
I take the point that the camera maketh not the photographer - but the quality of the kit does make a difference to the end product. If it didn't i'm sure i wouldn't have received such excellent advice from UKAPS members about which camera to buy based on quality of sensors/lenses etc. I fully accept the role of photography in aquascaping, hence my investment in the kit and i'm sure the next few years will see an exponential learning curve for my photography skills much as the last few years have seen a massive learning curve for my aquascaping skills. My original post was trying to bridge the gap between those without the means to express their tanks as they would wish - a group i definitely fell into both through not having the kit and, bluntly, not having the technical grasp of photography (who perhaps can be quite entrenched and occasionally quite envious of those who can) and those who do have the means (who occasionally get upset when it is suggested that photography is not as important as the tank.... i feel another argument coming on.... :lol: ) . I think i'm in the middle ground at the minute (getting shot at by both sides :lol: ) - i've kind of had a bit of an epiphany in the last few months. Come back to my tanks after a hiatus for other reasons, and found myself reinvigorated and wanting to progress, and along with that (stimulated by some excellent and very philosophical discussions on here) has come the realisation of the role photgraphy has to play. But that doesn't change the fact both that the kit is very expensive (i'm lucky enough to be able to do overtime to pay for it, and i'm buying now because i've previoulsy prioritised my tanks, and they're pretty much how i want them) and the technicalities of photography are quite challenging to master, and that has certainly been very daunting for me and, i suspect, others.
I'll PM some comments to you all about my original post as i'd like to shift this excellent and thought-provoking thread back onto topic. In a way i'm glad to have been a little contentious but i don't want to distract from what i'm sure will be a very useful thread for newcomers to look at.
Incidentally - any chance of one of the photography bods writing an article/sticky on tank photography. I've looked at the IAPLC guidance but not found it "idiots guide" enough! A bit of info about post-processing and the options available (again, PS is very expensive- are there any free options that work in a similar way, how to get the best out of the package etc) would be really handy. When i finally get my camera i'm going to attempt a photo (rather than a tank) journal to hopefully show a progression and tap all your lovely minds for hints and tips!
Thanks folks,
bigmatt said:
...(again, PS is very expensive- are there any free options that work in a similar way, how to get the best out of the package etc)..
Hi Matt,
Yeah The Gimp originally developed as a Linux clone of Photoshop has been ported to Windows, is free, and does probably 95% of what Photoshop does.

As mentioned before better gear allows you to get better expression, but it can't make you a better photographer. One of the most recognize and legendary photographer was Ansel Adams who use nothing more than a virtually 19th century wooden box camera with a hole in it for the lens and a pack mule to carry the gear around. His photos of Yosemite and other landscapes are unmatched and even with super fantastic gear we have almost 100 years later, no one has been able to match his work. What low tech gear he had, he understood at a transcendental level. But even Ansel started at the beginning as must we all. :thumbup:

I am not convinced that photography always presents a true picture of what many of the tanks you see in magazines are actually like to the human eye. Professionally these tanks are set up with various photogarphy enhancing props such as flashes, additional lighting, white reflecting boards etc. It enhances and sometimes even exaggerates the scape, but is it really what one would see in person.

I think it is useful in aquascaping especially when capturing evolution of a scape, but each individual has their own motivations and photogaphy can play a small part or even be the reason one takes up aquascaping.
Photography shouldn't represent a true picture of the image, it should enhance it and turn it into a piece of art. Obviously it's important to take photos to a high enough standard so as not to take away from your scape but over and above this level and you're not just showing off your scape but your skills in creating an extra dimension in aesthetic quality. If we were merely trying to show off our scapes we'd keep the lights the same, no fancy backgrounds, no hairdryers on the water's surface and so on.
Morgan Freeman said:
Photography shouldn't represent a true picture of the image, it should enhance it and turn it into a piece of art.
I don't think all photography should be turned into art, and there many cases for some photographs to accurately represent the subject as closely as possible.

However, if you put the word, "Aquascape" before "Photography" in your statement...