Thirteen tips for great fish photos
TOPIC: Watersports & Recreation
By: Cathy Church
May 2, 2012
- Learn fish behaviour. For example, the beautiful Queen Angelfish will swim away from you no matter how patient you are. However, if you see one feeding on a sponge that has recently been opened up by a feasting turtle, your chances of a wonderful photo are very good.
- Here is the trick. Angelfish prefer to eat rather than swim away from their food. You have a great advantage, so don’t mess it up with bad behaviour.
- Get set before you start your approach. Float in the water and/or use one hand to brace yourself quietly. Take a photo from far away and look at it. If it is too light, you must make some adjustments. If it is too dark, it may be OK as you move closer with your camera and strobe. Keep moving in slowly, taking photos, looking at them, making minor adjustments as you float.
- Be patient and move slowly. As soon as the fish starts to leave, stop and even move back a little. If they have left, move back some more and hold still. They will often return, and when they do, your opportunities will be worth the wait.
- Get low on the reef to be at their eye level, rather than shooting down on them.
- Choose a camera that can focus quickly, with a narrow lens that you can zoom. By zooming, you can fill the frame better. Do not zoom if you can use a wider setting and get closer, but feel free to zoom when you cannot approach without scaring your subject away.
- Use a strobe for colour.
- If you must use program mode, set your EV control to –2 if your photos look pale blue.
- Aim your external strobe a little past where you see the fish to be. Don’t forget that things underwater, including fish, appear to be 25 per cent closer than they really are.
- On manual mode, open the aperture for the longer strobe-to-subject distance when you are shooting from further away. Raise the shutter speed to control excess ambient light and to reduce blur from camera and subject movement.
- Shoot colourful fish rather than grey or black ones.
- Don’t chase them and shoot their tails. Watch to see which way they want to face. They like to face into the current. Approach from the front, and shoot from far enough away that you do not scatter them.
- Shoot fish that don’t move much, like groupers being cleaned. Look for large red squirrel fish that are more out in the open, and where you can lie down on the hard bottom without hurting anything. Use just one strobe, held way to the side the fish is facing. Don’t light from the tail side. You want the face to be lit more than the tail. One strobe will create shadows and textures in the fish’s scales.
- Come back with several choices for each subject. After you get a wonderful side view of your squirrel fish, try shooting the fish straight on from the front so that you can see both eyes. Play it back and enlarge it to check for sharpness. Make improvements or creative changes and shoot again. Bring back lots of photos to choose from.
For more information on tips and camera rentals, visit Cathy Church’s Photo Centre or call 949-7415.