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Photographing Coral Flourescence

Richard L

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My daughter, Sydney, and her lab partner, Bonnie, were looking for ideas for their 2nd grade science fair project. Of course I immediately thought there must be something they can do with the largest, never ending science project of my life - my reef tank! There were many topics to choose from: fragging zoas, what eats what, responses to touch, etc. but they opted on studying all the cool flourescent stuff in the tank.

They needed a way to demonstrate flourescence on their project board but as most of you know, capturing it with a camera using normal settings just doesn't work that well. I mentioned it to George from my office who is a great photographer and quickly he figured out a decent process to capture flourescence with a camera. He put a blue gel in front of a high-powered strobe light to excite the flourescent pigments in the corals and also put an orange filter in front of the camera to take out some of the blue, leaving the flourescense. We found this website that explains it a little better http://johnrander.ch...escence_en.html

The girls started taking their photos on Friday with some cool results. I'll post them when they are done.

post-2030-0-88871100-1327953489_thumb.jp post-2030-0-43780700-1327953501_thumb.jp


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You can get the same effect without all the lights and filters, but you do need a professional quality lens and good camera body.

shoot the tank with actinics on but don't use a flash. If you shoot in RAW format you can apply filters in post processing to get the same effect.

It seems most people think that you have to use a flash to take good photography. The real reason is that most cameras are simply not fast enough to get a good low light photo without a flash, so the flash kicks on. The problem with that is you end up with a result that is undesirable because that isn't the way you see the object. The flash neutralizes (or tries) the white balance, and produces more light so the slow camera can take a faster shot.

This is a really cool setup though and I like the photos.

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