Monday, May 19, 2008

Fishing photography

You have just finished an epic battle with the fish of a lifetime. Your mate takes out the camera and click, click a couple of pictures later, you release/bleed your trophy thinking it has been captured for future bragging rights.

By the time you get home and have a look at your photographic trophy you start to cry. The picture is dark, the detail is lost in shadow but the sky looks great.

This has to be one of the most common photographic mistakes made. The camera is fooled into thinking that everything is as bright as the sky and it does not compensate for the fact that your subject is in shadow.

Most people today use sophisticated point and shoot digital cameras with automatic metering. Some are using DSLR and some are shooting film. Whatever you are using unless you are schooled in photography you are probably taking picture in auto mode or some kind of program mode.

For the most part you will get decent pictures using these modes. The camera uses an averaging meter and auto focus, sounds a beep, you push the button, and you get a decent picture. Really quite impressive considering 20 years ago you had to take a class in photography just to get a picture that looked half way decent.

Taking pictures on the water presents a few hurdles for the auto mode cameras. The first problem being backlight and the second being reflected light. Both of these issues cause the camera to read the amount of available light on your subject as more than there really is. Your camera is seeing all the sky and water around your subject and averages that light with the light of your subject. The out come is your subject is dark but the sky looks great.

The easiest way to avoid this pitfall is to turn on the flash on your camera. Do not use the auto flash mode. Use the regular flash mode on you camera. Your flash acts as a fill for the shadow areas on your subject. This allows the sky and water to be exposed correctly and with the fill flash your subject looks good too.

The next problem that seems to plague a lot of point and shooters on the water is the horizon line. That bold line that separates the sea from the sky. For some reason when we get on a boat our sense of level seems to rock with the boat and many pictures have a skewed horizon line. That line usually cuts right through our pictures and becomes rather prominent. Like it or not the horizon is there to stay and the only way to remove it is get above or below your subject.

The best way to fix it without using Photoshop is to take one extra minute and look at the horizon before you take the picture. Once you have your subject framed and ready in the view finder then look past your subject and see the horizon, make sure it is fairly level then take your picture.

The last issue I will address will be your subject. One common mistake made is to include too much in you picture. The subject can get lost in all of the superfluous distractions that surround your subject. The best rule of thumb is “get close.” If you cannot get close then zoom in. Get rid of all the background distractions. Ask yourself what you are taking a picture of, the person with the fish or the back of the boat and the water and the fishing poles and the sky. If it is the person with the fish you are taking a picture then get rid of the rest of the background, as it is not needed.

With these few pointers you should see an improvement in your fishing photographs.

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