We've all had the frustration of getting bad photo's of our fish, when I first got bettas it took a while to figure everything out and my first photo's aren't very good. Hopefully these tips can help everyone get fantastic photo's of they're wonderful fish :)
Lighting is the most important thing to a good photo. Either use a bright light, preferably a full spectrum light bulb in a flood light because it photographs the best, or natural window light.
My first photo's looked like this
Then I learned how to use flash better, and I got photo's like this
Then something amazing happened, I discovered how amazing my fish looked in sunlight
You'll want to choose containers to place your bettas in for the photo shoot, preferably something with flat sides that won't warp the fish. I use acrylic containers, they work pretty good but the downside is they scratch easily. Glass is very clear, but light doesn't travel through glass as well as it does with acrylic.
If using glass try to use the thinnest glass you can find.
You now need to make a decision, either use 2 fish in separate containers so they can flare, or use a mirror. I prefer two containers so I can photograph two fish in one session, and if one doesn't feel like showing off I take out the mirror.
Here's my set up with a mirror
Make sure to let your fish adjust to sunlight. I let my fish sit near the sunlight in the shade for several minutes so they aren't stressed out. Always remember that fish don't have eyelids to protect they're eyes from the light.
Focusing on your fish
I know so many people who take picture after picture, and become frustrated because they aren't in focus. I've found some things that really help with this.
Make sure to use either a lens that can focus con small things, I use a 18-55mm lens, and point and shoot camera's usually have a macro setting.
This is the easiest to use, since you are in complete control of the focus. If when using sunlight the photo's are over exposed, check to make sure your ISO isn't too high, if it's already at 100 or 200 either close the aperture or raise your shutter speed. I like using aperture priority, this way I choose the aperture and my camera chooses the shutter speed.
Point and shoot with half press
Half press is when you focus the camera by holding the button halfway down, after doing this instead of pressing the button the rest of the way keep it at half pressed. This should lock the focus. I find that focusing on my hand to choose the distance to the subject works the best compared to a moving fish. Once your camera is half pressed your essentially have a Manuel focus, and you can move to your fish for the photo.
Point and shoot without half press This kinda sucks, your camera is focusing on everything but your fish and no matter how many times you try to capture his image it's only in focus when his head is out of the picture. The best way to deal with this type of camera, is to make it so your fish is the only thing it has to focus on. Try to make the background very plain like a white or black paper, velvet(the fluffy super soft kind, not crushed) works amazingly once you use a lent roller to remove any specs of dust.
Examples and seasonal light
These are photo's I've taken of my fish using natural sunlight.
I should mention that summer and winter light are different. Summer light is bright and overhead, it can be perfect or very contrasty. Winter light is softer and at times will be too dark, or too contrasty, but can also have a wonderful diffused look to it. Fall/spring is perfect in my opinion, right in between the other too.
If you choose to use a flood light, place the light directly over your fish, or at a slight angle. This will create a natural looking light. The only downside is it's hard to find a light that is bright enough to use a fast shutter speed so you'll need to pick a moment when your fish is holding still. You might get lucky and find a bright light though.
If you have any questions I'll do my best to answer them :)