One of the most beautiful fish in the world is Betta, known as Betta Fish. It was originally from South East Asia region, but currently having some new kind after crossbreeding by many breeders around the world. In my country, Indonesia, betta fish is easy to find. The challenge is to photograph the betta fish. I don’t know what genre of photography is this but I guess this is a kind of macro photography. The fish is not that big, the maximum length is about 4 cm long. The fish has various color, that what make them look beautiful. Some say betta fish is a sexy fish.
What kind of Betta Fish to photograph?
Not all kind of Betta Fish are good in photo. In my opinion Halfmoon, Rosetail, Dumbo Ear are very good. They have long blooming tail, big ear and beautiful color. The other kind like Fighting Betta or Plakat is not that beautiful. The price of that 3 kind of Betta Fish more expensive. When selecting Betta Fish, I try to avoid dark or black color on their head.
The Equipment and Tools
I use my small camera, Fujifilm X100F, TCL X100, Macro Filter, Speedlight, Remote Trigger, Color Filter, Small Aquarium (10x10x20cm). Fujifilm X100F can focus in near distance, about 10 cm from the object. I use it along with TCL to have 35mm equivalent focal length and added Phottix Macro Filter to magnify the object. For the speedlight I use Godox AD200 with its remote trigger. In some cases I also use color filter. I have 3 kind of small aquarium, single, triple and one with pure white background. What did I mean with triple? I ordered special 30x10x20 with glass separator inside. When I photograph “fighting look” of Betta Fish, I put 3 fhishes together in that aquarium but they can’t really fight each other because of the separator. Betta Fishes tend to fight if you put them together in 1 small aquarium, they also know as “Fighting Fish”.
I set ISO 200, F8 and shutter speed 1/1250, WB 5600K (there is a slightly different result if I use Auto WB). ISO 200 is the lowest ISO I can get with Fujifilm X100F if I want to shoot in RAW. F8 is the best aperture that give me sharper image because F8 is only about 1 stop from the sweet spot of the lens (F5,6 is the best sweet spot for Fujifilm X100F). Why not using F16 for better DOF? After trying over and over, there is no much different of DOF between F16 and F8, but I can get the sharper image on F8. I think it’s because I shoot from close distance. I activate inbuilt 3 stops ND filter. I set my speedlight in manual mode and adjust the power, sometimes 1/64 power is enough. It depends on the color of the Betta Fish I shoot. Dark color need more power, about 1 stop more power. When I want to have dark ambient I use 1/1250 SS (shutter speed control the ambient light). This is an advantage of Fujfilm X100F that can sync at any speed with speedlight. I make sure having clean water in clean aquarium. This is important, because will make me easier on post processing without too much work on cleaning the images. I rarely use manual focus, auto focus with 1 focus point is very good (I think this would be different if you use other camera).
After shooting hundreds of photo, I need to process them in ADOBE LIGHTROOM and in some cases also with ADOBE PHOTOSHOP. What to process? First, to darken ambient surrounding the fish (make it pure black), then clean up the blemishes. I simply use brush to make them pure black. I set exposure -4, shadow -100 and black -100 and brush the area I want to be pure black. If you want pure white background/ambient set exposure +4, highlight +100 and white +100 then brush the area. I did this step after adjusting overall exposure. When I want to have a creative look for the images, I send the files to Photoshop and use gradient map.