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O'Brien Outdoors: Point-and-Shoot
By Mike O Brien
April 28, 2010
In fishing, making memories is what it’s all about. These recollections fuel the enduring stories told from one generation to the next. Photographs and fishing have a strong link; proof of the catch, reminders of the scenery. A photograph is like a time machine, allowing us to relive special moments. The digital point-and-shoot camera era has certainly turned people into photographers. At times, it is hard to take a bad shot with these technological wonders, which means most are good photos. The following tips will hopefully make good photos into great ones.
Point-and-Shoot: Give ‘Em Your Best Shot
The advantages of point-and-shoot cameras are many: size (compact, many fit into a shirt pocket), lightweight, large photo capacity memory cards, quality of photographs, and others. Of course, the finished product can also be improved at the computer.
Before heading out make certain the camera is fully functional. Check all the settings. The battery should be charged (a spare is a good idea) and the memory card have ample capacity; again, a spare is advised. The camera should be easily accessible. Some of the best photo opportunities are fleeting. Be ready to capture these magical moments.
Fish do best when in water. After a hard-fought battle, keep the fish in the water, allowing it to recover. This is often more easily accomplished by using a landing net. Give thought to the desired picture prior to landing a fish. Get everything ready, and then have the angler lift the fish for a photograph. Even fish you plan on harvesting will look much better when alive. If the fish comes straight from the water it is more likely to be clean. Nothing detracts from a photo more than a dirty or bloody fish.
Don’t grip the fish too tightly, and have the angler kneel down and hold it over water so if it flops free it does not fall far. Dropping them on rocks can’t be good. If more time is needed the fish can be lowered back in the water until ready for another shot. I use to have my kids hold their breath for as long as they kept a fish out of water. You’d be surprised at how soon the fish would get put back in the water.
Learn all the camera settings and how they can help create better photos. Most point-and-shoot digitals have multiple features that are easy to master and add greatly to the end product. Don’t get locked into the auto-program mode. A waterproof Olympus I carry has a macro setting and a super macro setting, allowing for extremely close-up photos, as well as underwater shots. Although typically limited in range with these type cameras, setting the exposure manually is an option.
The flash can turn that good photo into a great one. Using fill-flash during the daytime will help soften harsh shadows that can obscure an angler’s face. Controlling the amount of flash is not possible with the point-and-shoots I’ve used, so it doesn’t always get the desired results.
Break away from grab-and-grin fish photos. For a much more natural photograph have the angler look at the fish, and get them to smile. They just caught a fish, perhaps a lunker, they should be happy. I’m not fond of long-arming the fish. Extending the fish towards the camera makes for a poor photo, as the angler’s hands and fingers are largely distorted. Experiment with angles to learn how to make the fish look the best.
Eliminate any clutter or distraction in the background. If the subject matter is the fish and the fisherman, then fill the frame with just that. If you desire more in the photo’s composition, then place the main subject matter off center. Push the shutter button down gently, and hold the camera very still for a second or two. This will help eliminate photo blurriness.
Discipline yourself to shoot lots of photos. Once the moment has passed, it will be gone forever. This includes fishing shots. An appreciated photograph doesn’t always have to be an angler and a fish. Try to capture the entire experience. Sunrises, sunsets, wildlife, the landscape, the water, tying on a lure, eating lunch, an angler casting, all help tell a story.
Change the angle from which you are shooting; kneel down and shoot up, get high and shoot down. Even try a few water level shots, they are usually very interesting. Photos of fish being landed or released depict action. Try shooting just the head or front quarter or third of the fish. Maybe show the fish’s eye and jaw with the lucky lure in its mouth.
Sunrise and sunset are magical fishing times; the short periods around each are magic hours for photography, too.