Hidden Colors - UPDATED with Video
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Old 01-08-2014, 10:28 PM   #1
King of Hyrule
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Hidden Colors - UPDATED with Video


Recently I used a little LED to peek in on my sleeping fishes (Filigree tetras) and noticed a wonderful blue shimmer to their lower bodies. They looked so cool. The blue shimmer doesn't appear under the tanks lights (Finnex FugeRay 2). I'm guessing the blue-ish white-ish LED flash light is what highlighted the shimmer.

Question: How would I be able to capature the shimmer both on still images and possible video?

Bonus question: how would I change the lighting of the tank to highlight the shimmer?

UPDATE: I've been able to film the blue shimmer on the Glass Bloodfins with my iPhone. There video really doesn't do the shine justice. Maybe After tax season I'll be able to get a better camera. It uploaded at 720i, to get a better look at the fish.


Last edited by King of Hyrule; 04-13-2014 at 05:58 AM.. Reason: Attached video
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Old 01-08-2014, 11:42 PM   #2
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I have noticed a similar effect with my fish. I think the reason is that overhead lighting does not reflect off the fish's scales into the camera lens. When you have a light from the side of the tank it bounces off the scales back to your eyes allowing you to see the shimmering scales.

If you want to capture the true color of the scales you'll either have to wait until the fish positions itself at a 45 degree angle to the surface. This allows the lights to reflect off the scales and travel horizontally into your eyes/camera lens. Or you'll have to move the lighting fixture to the side of the tank so it can reflect off the scales.

If you have a removable flash you can position it along the outside of the tank and bounce the flash off the scales.

I drew a diagram of what I mean. You want to place your camera lens right where the scale reflection will be.

Last edited by Zapins; 01-09-2014 at 03:46 AM.. Reason: more accurate picture ;)
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Old 01-09-2014, 12:09 AM   #3
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Love the diagram. I noticed the same. Fish look really fantastic when sunlight is shining in the front of a tank from a window.

And they look worst when using a cheap cover/light combo, which is usually configured so that the light is in the back, and the hinged maintenance door is in the front. I put lights in the front as much as possible, especially for photos.
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Old 01-09-2014, 01:00 AM   #4
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I love looking in my tanks at night with a spot led. I get to see growth on plants and colors on my fish that I normally miss during the daytime. They may not like it as much but I think they are getting used to it happening once a week or so, hah!
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Old 01-09-2014, 01:20 AM   #5
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I definitely saw this effect on my cyprochromis, but I can't find any of those pics atm.
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Old 01-09-2014, 03:49 AM   #6
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Dwarf cichlids like apistos and particularly krib species tend to angle their bodies like the right most fish in the picture above during breeding season. They shimmy back and forth and if you are on the same level as the fish they are displaying to you'll be practically blinded by the pretty reflections from their scales.
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Old 01-09-2014, 06:47 AM   #7
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Yup sun from the window is the 2nd picture above. It hits them from the side and reflects directly back into your eyes. Very pretty when it happens. A lot of fish are spectacularly colored, we just rarely see them from the right angle.
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Old 01-09-2014, 05:05 PM   #8
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I love the diagram! Your fish looks so happy to be photographed!
Getting the angle right while your fish is posing is key to aquatic photography - I certainly haven't mastered it.

I had a tank with rainbows that was hit with early morning sun. Man, those fish sparkled! I called them my children of the morning sun!
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Old 01-09-2014, 05:15 PM   #9
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My thought is the spectrum... more obvious when the spectrum peaks at blue range but low at red and green (like metal halide?) ; otherwise R and G "neutralize" the blue color and make it washed/white . High contrast (dimmed background) further elaborate the color
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Old 01-09-2014, 05:45 PM   #10
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Great diagram!

Looks like I need an offset blue-white light source to highlight the shimmer. Now the gears in my head are starting to turn...

The other day I noticed at the LFS, that they had tanks on a shelf without substrate, where the light from the lower tanks were shinning through the bottom of the tanks. While the fish in the tank where just large goldfish the effect was very neat.
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Old 04-13-2014, 06:01 AM   #11
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I've added a video (from Youtube) of the blue sheen, I took. See the OP
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Old 04-18-2014, 01:31 AM   #12
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I dont know about how to capture it but let some sunshine in your tank with the lights off and be amazed
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