Having the right tools makes any job easier. Taking pictures of your Betta is no excep tion. You need a Camera, a photo booth and willing subjects.
You could use your old SLR 35mm camera and get good results, but for the cost of developing the film, you can buy a new digital camera. Your camera needs to have a “macro” (close up) lens that will allow you to focus on little things 6” in front of your camera. If the camera has a flash feature, you need to be able to disable it for non-iridescent fish and enable it for metalic fish.
The light from the flash will be reflected from the front of the glass, so make sure your camera is at a slight angle to the glass. A polarized lens filter is useful because it cuts down on the glare which makes a better picture. A non reflective (flat black) camera case is also good. I cover the chrome on my camera with tape to keep it from showing up as a reflection on the glass.
If there is a delay between the time you press the button and the time that the picture is recorded, that is a problem (the Betta has moved). On my camera, if I hold the button half way down, it records all the settings (cause of the time delay) and will save the picture without delay when I push it button all the way down.
The Photo Booth
You need 2 or 3 containers. They should be clear glass or plastic, with a flat surface. At one time I used square 5”x5” glass candle jars after removing all the wax. I now use 4”x4” beanie baby boxes (available at Craft stores or on the net for about a dolar). The booth has to be big enough for a large male betta to flair his fins and not touch any side. If you use a container with curved surfaces, it will distort the picture just like the funny mirrors in the amusement park. Be sure to clean the water spots off the surface before you start.
For a background, you need a flat, non reflective surface. A color that contrasts with the subject will give you better pictures. I use a pack of multi colored construction paper from the school supply isle. They are cheap and disposable and they don’t create glare or reflect unwanted light into the photo. I find that changing the color in the middle of a shoot will affect the mood of my fish also.
To get good pictures, you are going to need plenty of light. I use a room with a skylight but at night or on a rainy day I need extra light. Set one light fixture above the photo booth and one in front but to the side, as if it were looking over your shoulder. You need the fish to be well illuminated but you do not want light reflecting off of the photo booth into the camera. Try adjusting the angle of the front of the photo booth until your can not see the light source or any reflections of yourself or the camera. Once I used an aquarium with a mirrored back and I got a great picture of me taking a picture of the fish….. not what I wanted!
You need clean water. A few days before you start, make up some new water just like you would for a water change (add a dash of salt and a drop of water conditioner). Let the water age for a few days because water in the pipes is pressurized and when it first comes out of the faucet, it releases little bubbles of gas. Bubbles can hang on the wall of your photo booth and mess up your picture. Also, if you can, run a canister or diatom filter on the water. By “polishing” the water, you can remove the haze which will give you a clearer photograph. Warming the water up, adjusting the pH and hardness can make your Betta more comfortable (it can’t hurt). Change the water in your photo booth every time you change fish or any time you see debris floating in your picture. It takes the best water to get the best pictures.
This is why I prepare 3 photo booths. Two males and a female are in the 3 photo booths. Of course you need beautiful, healthy fish, but you also want to catch them with their fins spread to the max. I start by placing the two males side by side and give them 5 minutes to regroup. It that doesn’t work, I swap out one of the males for the female. When that doesn’t work, I go get an old male that I know will flare. Once he starts, the others join in. As a last resort, I have used a mirror. But if everything fails, then I go to the next fish, put the first one in isolation for a few days and try again next time.
The Camera, 3 photo booths and willing subjects, after that, it’s just a walk in the park. Line up the camera, say “CHANCE” and push the button.
A Girl Scout Leader walks up to the Indian Chief.
Indian Chief says “Chance?”.
The Girl Scout Leader asks “Why didn’t you say ”HOW”?”
The Indian Chief says “ Me know how, just want chance!”
Then there’s cropping and color adjustment and all the fun things you can do with the right software. So send me a picture of your Betta why don’t y’all.