Click here to view parts 1-3 in this series on handling of catch & release fish.
Simple “point & shoot” digital cameras today are so good it’s amazing. From picture quality and incredibly versatile and capable auto lenses, to vast creative pre-settings, functions and features. The performance and capabilities of todays mid-priced ($500 and less) cameras is flat impressive. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your opportunities to photograph your catch.
First off, take time in advance to play around with your camera and it’s various settings and creative functions. Take a series of test photos of any given subject, and make changes to your settings for each image. Take note of the conditions, such as direct light or back-lit, natural or indoor light, flash and no flash, manual or auto focus, etc. Don’t be afraid to take a bunch of lousy photos in the process, this is going to happen, and the important thing is to try to gain understanding of what settings you are using and producing various results.
Building blocks for the exposure (brightness) of an image come down to only a few simple settings. The size of the opening, measured in numbers beginning with “f”, the amount of time of the exposure usually shown as a fraction “1/32” for example, and ISO which is the sensitivity of the camera sensor (usually a number bwtween 80-3200). Now various “auto” settings (A, Av, TV, etc) of most cameras will give you flexibility of one of those elements, while making the needed adjustments to the other components depending on what you are asking the camera to do and what the camera sees as necessary to compose the shot. This conversation can go on for pages, but point being, just try and get a grip on how those three things work together for your net results. Take notes along with your test photos, and write down the settings and results you see in each resulting image.
Here are a few things I like to do for creative and interesting shots of fish.
First, keep the fish in the water. Not only is this important for catch & release fish to survive, it also makes colors glossy and bright. Next get very close to the fish. Note how close the camera is to the fish in the top photo, and see the results in the photo above. Most cameras have a Macro setting, usually indicated by a flower icon. This is a terrific setting for fish, as it allows a maxium wide angle field of view, and adjusts the focus to work inside very close quarters. Try it out, you will be amazed!
Settings are key and vary greatly, but here are some that work well for me:
Go for the largest lens opening possible. This will actually be the lowest “f” number, likely 2. something. This will allow for max light and a tight focus range. Adjust your ISO to the lowest number you have. This will create a low-noise darker image, somewhat off-setting the brightness of the large lens (f) opening. Now with two of the three settings covered, adjust the time of exposure to get the brightness dialed-in with the amount of light in the scene you are shooting. As exposure gets longer, you’ll need to be ultra careful to keep the camera still. Some shots that appear out of focus, may actually be in focus, but movement during the exposure caused a blurred image.
Beyond the “proper” settings of photography, don’t be afraid to get creative! Play around with under exposing a shot, then add in flash to get a whole new look and feel. Play with white balance to get ultra accurate colors, and try long exposures for motion blur or low light capture on a tripod. Affordable cameras are out there waiting, and you may be the next person to pick one up and discover a whole new passion you never knew you had. Thats exactly what happened to me!
Bryan Huskey heads media and marketing here at Silver Creek Outfitters. If you’d like to see more of his photography, visit his site here.