Fishing Photography Tips

 Fishing and photographs go hand in hand, fishermen have been taking pictures of where they have been, what they have seen and more importantly what they have caught since cameras were invented. Taking great pictures though, the kind that instantly takes you back in your mind to that exact moment, takes a bit of practise and a bit of knowledge.  We have put together a small selection of tips that can help you capture that moment when that fish of a lifetime comes along.

 

 

Fishing Photography Tips

 Fishing and photographs go hand in hand, fishermen have been taking pictures of where they have been, what they have seen and more importantly what they have caught since cameras were invented. Taking great pictures though, the kind that instantly takes you back in your mind to that exact moment, takes a bit of practise and a bit of knowledge.  We have put together a small selection of tips that can help you capture that moment when that fish of a lifetime comes along.


Learn what the buttons do:

Sit down with your camera manual and read. You don't have to learn everything, but knowing the basics is important. Modern point-and-shoot cameras are powerful machines that combine a ton of features that are easy to use and can vastly improve your photos. Most people never take their camera off "auto," which never allows the full ability of the camera to be used.


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Check to make sure your camera's working before you head out

Are the batteries charged? Is everything working properly? Are your memory cards erased? Check to make sure the camera is switched to the right settings.

 
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Have your camera accessible:
How many times have you caught a great fish and realised that your camera was buried under mounds of fishing gear, lunch etc. Have the camera at the top of your pack, a pocket of your vest or slung around your neck. If you're worried about it getting wet, buy a small dry bag that can easily be slipped into a vest pocket. Dry bags have gotten slimmer, and less expensive. Easily worth the money for protecting your camera, better still invest in a waterproof one this also allows for some underwater shots.  I have mine out at the start of every trip so it is easily accessible.

 
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Fill Flash
The light you work in affects your available depth of field, motion blur, the ability to make slow-water shots, saturation, contrast, sharpness — basically everything you can ask a camera to do.
Need to light a mate under his cap? Use fill flash. Want to add some colour back to that silvery fish? Angle it carefully so the light isn’t broad-sided back, and use fill flash.   Even on a bright day, use the flash. This will fill in shadows cast by hats, etc. The flash on a compact camera usually has a range of about 7 ft.

 
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 Use your macro setting
Most point-and-shoots have amazing macro capabilities that are never utilized. On most cameras, the icon for this setting is a little flower. This will allow you to fill the frame of your picture with a fish's eye, unique markings, or the lure sticking out of the fish's mouth. Also check to see if your camera has a super macro as this will allow for some great photos with a soft background, putting more emphasis on the fish instead of the background as well

 


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Centered images are typically boring

While this is not always the case try and use the rule of thirds. Divide your frame into thirds both horizontally and vertically. Place the centre of attention on one of those "third lines." Check your manual for the option that allows these ‘imaginary’ lines to be on the LCD screen.

 
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Make the fish "pop"
Use your longest zoom setting (without using digital zoom). Without going into the technical details, this "stacks" the image compressing space. Typically this will throw your background into a soft focus, drawing the viewer's eyes to the subject. This can be also achieved if your camera has a super macro setting.

 
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Always, always, always look for distractions in the photo

This is harder to do than one might think. It’s a practiced skill, but will vastly improve your images. For example, don’t let wazza`s backpack into the side of the frame or your buddy’s fishing rod hover into your shot from out of nowhere. Isolating your subject matter without all the distractions will improve the overall composition of the shot.

 
Also wash the fish and your hands so that there is no blood present and ensure your fish is still alive to maximise the natural colouring of the subject.

 
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Take more than one shot

Take three times as many photos as you normally would. Many cameras have a setting to take more than one shot at a time. This is especially important when shooting fish as they like to flop around when out of the water - making the hero shot challenging at times. The more shots you can rip off in a couple of seconds the better. Take more than you need and if you're short on card space just erase the ones you don't like after you've released the fish.

 
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Look at what is behind the subject.
You don't want anything too distracting, but sometimes a landmark or other item can help tell the story. Sometimes, however you don’t want to give a location away, so get creative and try and fill the frame with the subject (take a vertical shot) and reduce the amount of background shown. Keep the waterline horizontal so those who see it don’t have to move the image around to get orientated.

 
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 Learn how to hold a fish for a better grip-and-grin
Remember that heroic fight, the sound of the drag going nuts, the last ditch effort by your mate to net the fish of a lifetime?  After all that, don't waste the shot by holding the fish awkwardly or covering its body with your hands in a bear claw like grip.
Here's a method for getting the best shot of your fish.
•    Drop your arms to your sides, face your palms out. 
•    Now think about the fish resting on just the very tips of your fingers and letting your thumbs slide behind the fish, partially obscuring them from view.
•    Be very cognizant of damaging or covering up the gill cover and pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins. Position your hands behind the head and in front of the tail.
•    If the fish is larger and you need a little bit of elbow grease to hold it, simply switch the position of your tail hand to the front of the fish grasping with your entire hand around the front of the tail.
•    This covers a bit more of the fish but still shows the tail and makes it a bit more manageable to control large fish.

 -Take a picture of the fish as soon as possible after capture. A kept fish soon starts to lose its shine and colour.
-If the fish has put its dorsal fin down, an easy way to get it stand back up is to rub your finger along the body, just below the dorsal fin. 99 times out of a 100, the fin will stand back up.
-Keep the shot clean. Wipe blood from the fish. Carry a clean shirt.

 
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 Try something different
Instead of the same old awkward holding big fish picture try something different. Take a picture of the smallest fish you caught that day. Hold the fish as far away from your body as possible with the fish safely over and low to the water. Focus just on the fish. This tends to make them look quite a bit larger. Try taking a photo of the fish resting in the net, in just a couple inches of water. Take your first shot just as the fish is slowly being raised out of the water. Sometimes this freezes the water dripping off the fish making for a nice effect. Rest your fish in some slack water and take a couple of shots as he makes his dash for the current kicking up a wave in the process. The options are endless so get creative...under water shots at the end of the fight or when releasing the fish can be sensational but only if your camera is waterproof!!

 


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 Get closer to your subject
Look at most of your photos of fish or fishing friends or the boat. I’ll bet most of them are taken from about 10 feet back. Don’t be scared, that fish isn’t going to bite... too hard. Get on up in its grill and take some interesting shots. Fill the frame with angler and fish. Here’s a good rule of thumb. Whenever you take your next image of friend, fish, camp, whatever, get twice as close as you normally would and take a couple of shots. In fact take a bunch. You can always erase them.

 


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 Stop and look around
Anglers get to see some amazing sights when out in nature.  Colourful sunsets, sunrises, action shots, strange animal behaviour, incredible landscapes, friends doing silly things...shoot this stuff. In fact, shoot this more than just your standard trophy or grip-and-grin. It can be far more interesting when looking back at your tip as a whole. Tell a story, not just a piece of one.

 

The shot below was taken using an iphone whilst leaning off the boat


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Track the sun

 “Keep the sun at your back” is still true with digital photography. Colours are typically much better if the fish is in sunlight rather than in shadow. Shooting into the sun will render anything other than the background as silhouette. This can work in your favour if the landscape is your main focus.

 Always try to position the boat or yourself (if land based) in such a way that the sun is at your back and that you stand far enough away from the subject not to cast any shadows across them or the fish.


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 Mind the light
Keep in mind the “magic hour," which is just after sunrise and just before sunset when the sun is low on the horizon. The sunlight is travelling through more atmospheres and this provides a warmer, richer light.

 
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Tripods
Besides the ability to take pics with the longest exposure (Long exposures improve colour saturation and show the natural world in a way you may not be able to mimic in a short snap), Tripods are handy for taking self-shots when you are fishing alone.

 
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 Learn from others
A good way to learn to take better shots is to go fishing with someone who takes great pics. Learning from someone on the water in different conditions is a sure-fire way to get the right info and experience. If you see a great pic in a magazine, try and copy the style of the shot the next time you are out.

 
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 Post processing
If you have a DSLR or a camera that has the capability to take photos and save them as a RAW file, it is highly recommend you do so. Editing a RAW image gives you much greater flexibility and opportunity to make corrections and adjustments after a photo has been taken. When you are first starting out, if you do not feel very confident in post processing, most cameras will shoot in RAW + JPEG. However once you get the hang of processing .RAW images, you will not look back!
Post processing recommendations:
-Ensure the White balance is correct
-Make adjustments to exposure, brightness and contrast
-Add saturation, vibrancy and clarity where required
-Add sharpness as required
Post processing software recommendations:
-Adobe Photoshop
-Adobe Light room