Monday, September 30, 2013

Angling Photography–How to take better pictures

In the good old days of hunting and fishing bringing back trophies were the norm and done thing. This Golden era of hunting and fishing has long gone and people these days are a lot more aware of the often precarious position wildlife is in around the world. Angling has for long led the way in sustainably managing fish stocks by becoming a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide. Catch and Release fishing is practiced by a vast majority of anglers around the world who go out on fishing trips looking for that trophy fish or catch of a lifetime. In today’s world where communication has become so easy and everyone has the need to stay in touch. A new breed of anglers are travelling the world where now sharing their trophies has become so much easier and all thanks to the digital camera.

Over a decade ago one had to rely on some ‘skill’ to take good photographs that captured the moment and kept it as realistic to the actual event. The film then had to be kept often for weeks before it could be processed and then the final print developed before an angler was able to share his images with friends and family. Now with the advent of digital cameras taking a good photograph of one’s catch has never been easier. Most compact point and shoot digital cameras will deliver excellent results even with the camera on auto mode. For most people, messing about with manual settings, aperture, shutter speeds, ISO, etc. has become a thing of the past. With one’s camera set on ‘auto’ all an angler has to do is concentrate on framing that special picture that may go up as the centre piece of his living room wall.

For charter operators like us catching or knowing where to catch trophy fish are just the beginning in a long list of services we need to provide to the tech savvy visiting angler. It does help greatly if one can take decent photographs!

A few pointers to taking good photographs are listed below to help future clients ‘capture’ their fish of a lifetime before they release it to swim back in to the ocean where it belongs.

1. Fill the frame with the angler and fish, avoid standing too far back which loses focus on the main subject.


2. Get in the habit of using a flash while shooting in broad daylight. You may have to manually switch the flash on to activate it. What the flash does is eliminate harsh shadows from the sun that usually is quite high up in the sky. Also many anglers wear caps in the hot sun so the lash will also help light up their faces.



The difference can be clearly seen with the images above.

3. Avoid objects growing out of the subject’s head or body ie; trees, rods, structure, or railings.


4. Hold the fish right! Make sure you’re holding the fish upright and well supported so one can actually see the shape and size of the fish.


5. Do not let the fish slant so one can see mainly belly of the fish rather than its side. Pictures like this often make the fish look smaller or quite strange and lead to an angler sitting in an awkward position. Worse still a fish can be dropped, so make sure the crew is close by to help if needed.


6. Try and keep the eye of the fish in focus. Pictures of fish often take on life if the eye of the fish is in focus.


7. Keep the fish in focus! Everyone wants to see the fish. Take a second to see your camera’s auto focus hasn't locked on to the railing of the boat or some distant object.


8. Keep an eye on the colouration of the fish. Fish are spectacular creatures and come in varied textures and colours. Make sure your photograph translates that in the truest sense.


9. Make the angler smile. Often you can get the mood on the boat across to someone sitting miles away from the event that is looking at the photograph. Try and capture the emotions, joy and fulfilment on the boat through your photographs.


10. Boats have limited space. Often there’s a lot of excitement and activity on a boat while a fish is caught. There also is a sense of urgency as the fish has to be returned to the water as soon as possible. With all these things in mind please don’t cut the poor anglers head in half!



11. Similarly with fish. Try and compose your picture with all fins and tail intact. Composing pictures with all fins etc. intact make the fish look a lot more spectacular.


12. Keep the background in mind. Choose a scenic background that conveys the feeling of being out there in the wild. Often anglers travel to way off destinations that are visually spectacular. Try and capture a feeling of being out there. This however is debatable. Many anglers are careful to choose their backgrounds as they don’t want to give away a productive location to other fishermen who might be scanning their photographs for an indicator of where the fish was caught. It really doesn’t matter but, a lot more goes in to catching trophy fish. We know that!


13. Remember a boat is a variable space and constantly moving. Once an angler has the fish in his hand ask the Captain to spin the boat around so the angler is facing the sun. Try and compose pictures with the subject lit up by the sun.


14. Avoid shadows from rods in holders, the T top, other anglers or even oneself while taking pictures of an angler with his prized catch.


15. Try and keep the horizon flat. Boats are moving most of the time and life gets a lot harder when there’s wind. Make sure you concentrate to get the horizon as flat as possible. Also keep in note that its natural for us to take photographs with the top right hand corner of the frame lower than the top left hand corner, this makes the horizon slant again. This is true for most righthanders who take photographs. The opposite is true for lefthanders.


16. Most pictures are shot horizontally. See when you can shoot a photograph vertically. This often changes the monotony of shooting horizontally all the time. Also with long fish like mackerel, wahoo and barracuda one can get some interesting angles and perspectives.


17. Avoid taking pictures of dead fish or fish covered in blood. Apart from portraying this great sport in bad light it also just makes photographs of the angler and fish an ugly sight.


18. Matching the hatch is fine while you’re out fly-fishing, but matching the catch is something else. Try not to wear the same colours as the fish you catch. They tend to look better!


19. Taking a fish back for dinner is fine, but try and finish off your photography session on the boat or by the water. Pictures in kitchens, in studios and other locations on land just look strange and for all one knows you could have just bought the fish from the market!


20. While out fishing there’s so much happening on the boat. Take more pictures of the action around you like an angler fighting a fish with his rod bent over or a multiple hookup with 2 anglers fighting their fish at the same time. Try and get creative and capture all the action up to the point where the crew lands the fish for the angler.


21. Capture photographs of people casting. It’s often a challenge to get an angler’s lure in the air as he casts.



22. Look for interesting angles to shoot from. Try shooting from deck level or from an angle that will make a person look twice at your photograph.




23. Look for interesting skies. Being on a boat gives you a sense of space and wide open expanses. Often early in the morning or late afternoons have spectacular clouds. Try and frame your photograph capturing an interesting sky as well.


24. It is all not about catching fish it’s about releasing them as well. Try and lean over the side and photograph the crew or the angler releasing fish back to the sea.


25. Angling for us all is a lot more than just catching fish. It’s the whole deal of being at an exotic place, often with friends, sharing good times and having a great time. Try and capture all that as well.




We hope this article has been helpful to you and we look forward to seeing some great photographs taken on our boats either in the Andaman Islands or in Sri Lanka the next time you are out fishing with us. We’ll get you to catch the fish and you can take the photograph of a lifetime!!


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