Aquarium Lens

Dear J-

As part of the campaign to find air conditioned spaces in San Diego (the four major malls closest to us — University Towne Center, Fashion Valley, Mission Valley, and Horton Plaza — are all outdoor malls) we spent part of the afternoon going through the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institute of Oceanography.  When I was younger my imagination was sparked by the romance of the sea, specifically treasure-hunting sunken-ship divers like Mel Fisher (who discovered Atocha) and, later, folks with a more scientific bent like Robert Ballard (Titanic and Bismarck).  Dr. Ballard worked for Woods Hole, who always maintained a friendly rivalry with their West Coast counterparts, that same Scripps we visited today.

But onwards to the lens; put simply, bring along the fastest lens you can lay your hands on.  Today, I used a f/1.8 lens wide-open at ISO 800 and still found myself wishing for a bit more speed for some situations.  The angle of view was equivalent to a 100mm lens on 35mm film (10 degrees, horizontally), which turned out pretty much perfect to frame most of my shots without getting in anyone’s way, or getting anyone else’s fingers in my way.  Maybe for 10% of the shots I would have chosen something a little wider — the octopus in full fury, cruising along the glass was a sight to behold, and some of the larger sharks would have been nice to get a full-body shot of up close — but the humble little Nikkor did the trick today.  In fact, the only thing that would have been better would have been a macro lens — thus the Digital Zuiko 50 f/2 I keep telling myself I need to save for.

It’s a nice aquarium to visit; not so huge that figgy got bored halfway through; this time she delighted in pointing at the numerous fish all capering seemingly for her entertainment.  The crowds were thin enough that we never had to wait an interminable amount of time for our turn at the window.  Funny how all at once it strikes you, sometimes; I asked theVet several times today when it was that we had this daughter.  For some reason it feels both like forever and forever new, all at once.

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2 Responses to “Aquarium Lens”

  1. Junior Says:

    Lion fish?

    I used to keep a saltwater aquarium, in my teenage years. Notice I didn’t say that I kept “saltwater fish” – just the aquarium. That’s because the fish had a very annoying habit of dying quite suddenly and frequently. I think my little tank was the icthyological equivalent of Jonestown.

    I need to think about getting me one of those prime lens thingies too. Nice shot!

  2. dearJ Says:

    I also meant to mention that no flash is the way to go — you’ll have to tweak some of the colors, but it’s better than having a giant hotspot/glare from the front of the tank, not to mention blinding all the poor fish (and your fellow aquarium-goers).

    The saltwater aquaria look quite difficult to keep up: dogs seem pretty content with a walk now and then and some kibble in a bowl; really, now that figgy’s mostly feeding herself a kid doesn’t seem like a huge step up — but fish, cleaning tanks, regular-but-not-too-much feedings … well, an aquarium membership is likely to be cheaper than a tank.

    Hmm … perhaps you could invest in a Nikon-to-Canon lens adapter and steal one from Doug?

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