Fishy Photos - Part 1

After catching a great fish, most of us want to get a pic of it. This two-part special will help you take the best possible fishy photos

WE’VE covered fishing photography in Fisho plenty of times over the years and always seem to get a good response to it from you guys. For the most part, however, we’ve focused, if you’ll excuse the pun, our advice and assistance towards the upper end of the scale, often with a view towards helping anglers take photos they may potentially want to publish in a magazine like this one. The reality is, however, that most fishermen wanting to take a decent photo are unlikely to ever want to have it published. They just want a great record of a great fish.

My reason for this column was inspired from talking to people who find out I like fishing. They’re often quick to show me photos of fish they’ve caught. While the fish may be impressive, that fact is often lost in quality of the shot. I also get to see lots of photos sent in by readers. Many shots are really good and testament to the advances in modern cameras, which we’ll talk about later. However, I also receive photographs that are really bad. For example, I get lots of photos of people holding fish that they want identified. Often the shot has been so poorly framed, focused and composed I have no chance of telling what the fish is.

This column isn’t necessarily going to talk about high-end digital SLR cameras like the ones most of the fishing writers and professional photographers use. Instead, what we’ll cover here is getting the basics right. This will lead to better photography whether you have a top-of-the-line SLR, basic point and shoot or even a phone camera. These basics include focusing, composition and framing.

We’ll cover the actual photographic basics next issue. Before we can go there, we need to discuss cameras. Without an understanding of what a camera is and what it does, it’s hard to make it do what you want. A great way to better understand your camera is to read the user manual. These manuals are gold mines of info but are very rarely utilised. Take the time to read your camera’s user manual and you will learn a huge amount, I guarantee you!

Flash it
Let’s start with flash. Most modern cameras, even phone cameras, have an inbuilt flash. Flash can be your best friend or worst enemy. The less control you have over it, the worse it can be. Generally speaking, most point and shoot type cameras have limited flash control. Many people leave their camera flash setting on auto. This will generally mean flash will activate for indoor, lowlight or night shots. This is fine for basic photography but the more you understand how to set yourself up for a good shot, the more you’ll appreciate how much flash can help … or not, as the case may be. We’ll cover a lot more on flash and how and when to use it in the June issue.

The technological development with compact cameras or even “in phone” cameras, for that matter, has been astounding. These days, you can literally point and shoot to get quality results. Even more amazing is the fact that these cameras are relatively affordable. They’re also simple to understand and use. However, with this simplicity comes limitation.

When understanding your specific camera, your research needs to cover an understanding of the different settings on your camera and how this will help or hinder different situations. Some of the basic functions on most cameras these days include “Portrait”, “Landscape”, “Sport” and so on. These are often quick set functions to allow for easy switching between modes. If taking a photo of someone holding a fish then the ideal setting would be “Portrait”. The camera will then maximise fine detail of the subject. If you really like the beach or river you’re fishing, then select “Landscape”. The camera will then keep the whole shot in focus. If you want to shoot a jumping barra, then use the “Sport” mode. The camera will take the shot as quickly as possible to freeze the image. Your manual will go into much more detail in terms of what each function can do.

These settings mean the camera will automatically make adjustment in terms of how much light it will let in and increase or decrease the speed at which the shot is taken to try and get the best balance between light, colour and detail. This automated process means you generally get “good” shots but rarely take “great” shots. That is because a point and shoot or in phone camera doesn’t have the functionality and flexibility that a good quality digital SLR does. A good photographer will use the functions of an SLR camera to manually make various adjustments to manipulate the result of the photo. I describe this difference as “making” a photo as opposed to “taking” a photo.

This is not to say that you can’t get really creative with point and shoot cameras. It just may mean that you need to do more than just snap away. Having an understanding of what you want and what your camera is capable of delivering will determine the end result.

If you’re interested in improving your photographic skills, take some time over the next few weeks to read up on your camera and what it can do. Next issue we’ll take that knowledge out onto the water and start firing off some great memories.

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