Taking Better Pictures
10 tips for taking better pictures of your fish
You had an amazing day out on the water fishing. Pictures are definitely in order. So you quickly snap a bunch of photos with your friends and your fish (and maybe an individual picture or two), put the fish back in the hold and eagerly await the moment when you can email your friends and family back home to show them your trophies. When you get back to the fishing lodge, you review your snapshots and realize your fish don’t look quite as amazing as you had expected. But now it’s too late. Your catch has already been processed and you’re going home tomorrow. If only you had taken a few extra minutes and a little extra care to make sure your pictures turned out better. The following “10 tips for taking better pictures of your fish” are based on the most common problems we have seen at our fishing lodge. These are suggestions to keep in mind so the people you left behind believe you when you say you “caught one THIS big!” You’ll have great pictures to prove it!
(Click on the tips to learn more.)
Give your fish at least five minutes after catching it to let it bleed out, and spray any excess blood off before photographing. Do not take pictures with blood dripping everywhere. Your fish will look nicer, and you won’t get so messy.
Sometimes the easiest way to hold up your fish is with a gaff. This can pose a serious safety hazard if held incorrectly. Turn the gaff point away from you or cover it up. If the fish slips off, there is a great chance of gaffing yourself with the unexpected release. Also, do not cover your face with the gaff handle. Otherwise it could be just anybody in the picture behind that handle.
Some fish naturally look nicer than others. For example, the best looking salmon are covered in nice silvery scales. For a great picture, hold the nicest side of the fish facing out. Look at both sides of the fish to determine the nicest side. If possible, pose with fish that are not missing many scales. Even if you didn’t specifically catch that one, chances are that your fish is of a similar huge size, it just got too scaled to be beautiful anymore.
The tail is an important part of the fish, too! Try not to cut fish tails out of the picture. (Cutting off the tails in photographs is a very common theme among excited fishermen.) Zoom out or back up to get a picture of the whole fish. It’s easier to crop a photo than to Photoshop a tail back in.
A fish never looks as big if it is turned the wrong way toward the camera. Turn the fish so the broad side is facing the camera. This will show people exactly how big the fish is that you caught. It may feel awkward to hold the fish that way, but it will be completely worth the five or so uncomfortable minutes when you see how much bigger the fish looks.
Halibut are big flat fish that are dark on one side and light on the other side. Take advantage of this! Photograph the side of the halibut that contrasts better with the surroundings. For example, if there is a dark deck and you are wearing dark rain gear, turn the halibut white side out. This will really make it pop in your picture. Or, if a group of you are holding halibut, turn some light side out and some dark side out for a great visual.
When the sun shines in Sitka, it shines bright, especially out on the water! Make sure your face isn’t lost in shadow when you take your pictures. If necessary, ask your captain to turn the boat around so you get the best background and the best lighting. Your camera has a “forced flash” option. Use your flash, even on a bright day, to prevent your pictures from looking like black sillouhettes.
The boat never stays still out on the water; it is rocking and rolling with the waves all day long. Nevertheless, try to keep your camera exactly vertical or exactly horizontal so you take pictures with nice straight horizons. This is one of the easiest things you can do to make your pictures turn out better.
When taking group pictures, be aware of the other people and their fish. As much as possible, try not to cover up people’s faces or their fish. Spread out, hold fish at varying levels, even have some people kneel so you can see every face and as much of each fish as possible. Obviously the bigger the group, the harder this is to do, but the outcome is a thousand times more rewarding when done right. Then nobody will be disappointed that their face or their fish is covered up.
Be creative! The above are guidelines to keep in mind, but there are legitimate reasons to disregard any one of them. For example, you might purposely have a crooked horizon, to show how rough it was on the water, or you might have a great sillouhette shot in bright sunlight where you don’t want to use a fill-in flash. Just make sure you have a good reason for what you’re doing. Experiment! Take action shots, try new things, push the limits, and HAVE FUN! We want you go home with great memories and great pictures.