Revisited: The Florida Aquarium – Tampa Bay, Florida

When it gets hot in Florida, it can be a challenge to shoot. It’s hard to concentrate when it’s 100° and you have sweat pouring down your face to the point you can’t even see through the viewfinder. Most venues in Florida have an outdoor component or theme so trying to get indoors where the beautiful A/C is humming away are few and far between. I put out an SOS to my fellow photographers as I was getting cabin fever from being inside most of the summer. However, where to shoot so we don’t melt in the sweltering heat? There is one place that I know of that has many subjects to shoot and is totally incased in cool breezes in the middle of August, the Florida Aquarium. We’ve photographed there before and is a wonderful change of scenery. Nothing like going to the big city of Tampa. After the email went out, about 20 folks confirmed that they would be there. Now all I had to do was to make sure I brought enough bail money as I know how some of these folks are.

We arrived at the aquarium in orderly fashion and headed into the turquoise abyss to see what subjects we could capture on our sensors. Since I had been there before, I had the advantage of knowing that this place is, ugh, really dark. Therefore, I left all my traditional midrange zooms at home. The f-stop was going to be a limiting factor at a maximum aperture of f/5.6. I decided to arm myself with my 50mm f/1.4 and my 24mm f/2.8. These lenses are prime lenses and don’t zoom. However, they are some of the most sharpest lenses that I have in my arsenal. No need for flash as it would just light up the glass or put a flare on the surface. Now that all the particulars were worked out, it was time to go get lips to lips with a few fish. (Hey, that rhymes!)

Spencer Pullen photographed this angel fish at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay, Florida.Angel Fish – Spencer Pullen © 2014 All Rights Reserved

The first tank we came to had some beautiful Angel Fish floating along. I had to figure out exactly what it was that I wanted, did I want sharp photos with the possibility of noise or lower the ISO and open the aperture and hope there would be enough depth of field for the subject. I ended up splitting both variables down the middle. I chose ISO 800, f/4. The shutter speed varied scene to scene. Since I was shooting my 50mm. I just had to make sure that I was over 1/60 of a second to keep from getting a blurry photo.

Spencer Pullen photographed this blue tang at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay, Florida.Blue Tang – Spencer Pullen © 2014 All Rights Reserved

Once the settings were inline, all I had to do was vary the shutter speed from tank to tank as the lights differed in each.

Spencer Pullen photographed this chameleon at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay, Florida.Chameleon – Spencer Pullen © 2014 All Rights Reserved

This chameleon was an amazing specimen. All I could think of was that paint commercial where they are walking along and changing colors. This little guy did the same thing as he moved across the tree that was in his enclosure. I didn’t realize that they moved so slow and had forked feet. He was so careful where to step and then wrapped his feet around the branches.

Spencer Pullen photographed these divers at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay, Florida.Friendly Human Fish – Spencer Pullen © 2014 All Rights Reserved

Part of the visit to the aquarium is that they have education sessions. Divers get into the water and talk about the different fish and marine life. I happen to get a photo off when one of the divers was waving to the crowd.

Spencer Pullen photographed this flowing coral at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay, Florida.Glowing Coral – Spencer Pullen © 2014 All Rights Reserved

One of the attractions was this glowing coral. It was one color under a black light and when you moved the filter over the coral it changed into another. They were trying to show what some animals see in the wild.

Spencer Pullen photographed these lemurs at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay, Florida.Lemurs – Spencer Pullen © 2014 All Rights Reserved

On the second floor of the aquarium they have a vast display of alligators, ducks, birds and lemurs. These guys were huddled together and were grooming each other. The tag line should have been called the three stooges!

Spencer Pullen photographed this seahorse at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay, Florida.Seahorse – Spencer Pullen © 2014 All Rights Reserved

Seahorses are amazing creatures. I wanted to capture this one with his tail wrapped around a piece of seaweed. When photographing seahorses, they don’t like flash, so shooing these with the aquarium light was a must.

Spencer Pullen photographed this snake at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay, Florida.Eyes Of A Snake – Spencer Pullen © 2014 All Rights Reserved

This is an up close and personal look at a python. I was glad that there was a piece of glass between us! I think I looked tasty to him.


Video Slideshow – Angie Pullen © 2014 All Rights Reserved

My wife was able to accompany us on the trip. All she had was her iPhone. When you watch the above video, all the photos and video were shot with it. I put it together in Adobe Premiere Elements, it’s a nice little piece of software.

There you have it, it was a great time had by all. Lots of laughs by everyone and some new friends were made. If it’s really hot out and you’re getting cabin fever, check out the Florida Aquarium. It’s a very affordable venue to take family when they visit or just to get out of town for the day.

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean


  1. Great shots and video. Fun day with everyone. Looking forward to the next outing.

  2. Sorry to have missed. Will make the next outing for sure. The photowalk was fun….too bad Myyaka was flooded though.

  3. Great photos, thanks for sharing!

  4. Great video / still photo combo. I LOVE the leafy seadragon – had never seen that before – great shot!

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