The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre, Albury…

I recently had the pleasure of photographing the following images for the Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre in Albury and out in the bush region near Wangaratta, Victoria.

Fish tail taken at the Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre in Albury © Michael Evans Photographer 2014
As I am not a fish expert, I cannot comment on the species, but still find the colour and iridescence quite beautiful… © Michael Evans Photographer 2014

The MDFRC specialises in collecting information and subsequently distributing their findings with regards to the freshwater Eco-system of the Murray-Darling basin; their research is aimed at ensuring the continued health of the rivers, wetlands, water storage and flood plains within the region.

The above image was taken at the MDFRC office in Albury. With my Canon 50mm f2.5 compact macro lens on the 5D Mk III, I placed a single flash off to the side of the tank and began making test exposures. The real key was in ensuring that the flash did not flare back into the lens, and then it simply became a challenge of ‘grabbing’ the fish as they obligingly swam into view. Naturally I had to thoroughly clean the glass prior to taking any shots. I particularly enjoy the out of focus bubbles in the background to this image, and although I have plenty of images of the whole fish, this was my favourite from the session…

Fish research technician Kyle Weatherman and student Cassie taking water samples in bushland near Wangaratta - © Michael Evans Photographer 2014 - www.michaelevansphotographer.com
Fish research technician Kyle Weatherman and student Cassie taking water samples in bushland near Wangaratta – © Michael Evans Photographer 2014

Although hopefully not immediately apparent, if you look closely at this image it is possible to see that I have used a small burst of off camera flash to just lift the shadows and bring a little more colour and separation to the subjects. I have two portable flash / lighting kits that I like to use, the first and more portable option being 3 x Canon 600EX-RT Speedlites, triggered with the ST-E3-RT transmitter on camera. This system works very well when I am working in remote locations as it is nice and lightweight, and offers full ETTL capability, coupled with the obvious advantage of being able to simply slip a flash onto the camera if required.

If I am photographing larger groups I will generally need and utilise the extra power and output from my Elinchrom Ranger Quadra kits. I have four of these lightweight heads, and I love the fact that they come with a decent floorpack and two batteries per kit. Not only do I get 400ws of power if using one flash head, but I can also select from the superb Elinchrom softbox range, enabling me to match the type of light I would like to create to suit each assignment.

Researchers with fishing net  at the MDFRC © Michael Evans Photographer 2014
Tools of the trade! This was lit with a single Canon Speedlite…  © Michael Evans Photographer 2014
Evaluating soil samples at the MDFRC © Michael Evans Photographer 2014
Evaluating soil samples at the MDFRC © Michael Evans Photographer 2014
MDFRC microscope with 'bug' at the lab in Albury © Michael Evans Photographer 2014
MDFRC microscope with ‘bug’ at the lab in Albury © Michael Evans Photographer 2014
Fish research technician Kyle Weatherman and student Cassie studying the local fauna - © Michael Evans Photographer 2014
Studying the local fauna – © Michael Evans Photographer 2014

It is interesting that the 50mm f2.5 compact macro is one of the oldest lenses that I own, and yet is still produces very crisp images. It renders objects at 1:2 as opposed to 1:1, and it has a very slow (and noisy!) focusing mechanism, but it’s small size and the sharp contrasty images it can produce still make it worth working with in my opinion.

Thank you to the MDFRC for their time and a fun shoot!

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