WC and Mrs. WC had a chance to visit the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institute in La Jolla recently. It’s very nice, laid out for the various biomes along the Pacific coast, from the Straits of Juan de Fuca near Seattle down to the southern Mexican tropical waters. WC took the chance to play around with the higher ISO settings for his Olympus E-5 digital single lens reflex camera, shooting in the very low light. It’s a delicate business, keeping the shutter open long enough to get a decent exposure without blurring the subject. And jellyfish, in particular never hold still.
So, as an illustration of the Olympus E-5 performance in low light, here’s some photos of Pacific Sea Nettles, from one of several jellyfish tanks at Birch.
This was taken at ISO1600, an unthinkably high “film” speed for a photographer who grew up with slide film. Many Nikon and Canon DSLR cameras perform as well at even higher speeds.
Birch Aquarium uses colored lights to bring out the detail and intensify the colors. Sometimes, parts of the jelly fish fluoresce oddly as in the next photo:
WC has been stung by Sea Nettles in the southern Gulf of Alaska. On salt-toughened hands it’s hardly noticeable but on softer skin it will get your attention. Wiping the affected area with vinegar helps very much. Someday, WC will tell that whole story in an Epic Fail blog post. And WC hopes that his readers will forgive him for wishing the entire board of directors and senior management of Olympus the company might spend a long, intimate time swimming nude in a colony of Sea Nettles.
But I think you’ll agree that the E-5 does pretty well in these very low light conditions, allowing a shutter speed which mostly freezes the motion while allowing an aperture that gets most of the subtle detail throughout the animal. Yet another reason why WC likes the camera, even while he is furious with Olympus itself.