We’ve run posts in the past with some tips on taking pictures of fish – but given what we see out there on the water, we’re considering this a ‘continuing education’ topic. We hate seeing fish handled poorly and then released.
Scott Baker-McGarva, our head guide at BC West, put together some instructions on how to take fish pictures – with the proper emphasis on treating the fish right. Please have a read, and please take it to heart.
Let’s Photograph That Fish – The Right Way
Let’s be honest, much has been said of this topic, so why does it still seem to confound so many?
You’ve come so far and looked so forward to the trip, and there, laying at your feet, is what makes it all worth it. Now, a quick picture and back it goes.
Let’s place the emphasis on ‘quick’ – since if I held your head under water as long as some hold fish out of water, you would understand why.
- Keep the fish in the water…this deserves a ‘duh’! But seriously, this is particularly helpful with a net or cradle so the fish doesn’t have other ideas before you get your moment.
- If you are the shooter…be ready! This means camera out of the case, turned on, set accordingly (ISO, function, etc), lens clean… The shooter, while yelling 20 instructions to the already nervous and generally uptight angler, should figure out where the best angle will be to shoot from. Generally a darker back ground is best, so I get out in the water and shoot back towards shore, avoiding the bright sky or water glare from ‘blowing out’ the image. Also…shoot LOTS…if the camera has a rapid frames per second setting…use it. Digital is great for this. There isn’t a limit – delete bad shots after.
- Once ready for the shot, (sunglasses off, hair nice) firmly hold the wrist of the tail and cradle the belly. Hold the fish up and point its nose slightly towards the shooter (but not in fully outstretched arms, that’s kinda over-done and silly). Make sure the fish is over the water try to avoid a direct reflection from the sun on the fish’s sides. Also smile, look at the fish, look at the shooter, be happy!
- Do not stand up with the fish! Please, please, please…bended knee is it. You wouldn’t like it I dropped you off a roof, so don’t do it to the fish.
- A nifty trick I’ll do is cover the fishes eye’s if the shooter didn’t read #2 and isn’t ready yet…it seems to calm them, most of the time anyway.
- Remember a fish resting in a net will be recovering fairly quickly and won’t like it when you start picking it up, so be firm and supporting in case it starts to wriggle all over.
- If the fish goes nuts and escapes your grasp, swimming madly about the beach…try to direct it the right direction and pass on more handling. You had your chance!
Thanks Scott, explaining to people these fish are tired after a fight can be tough. You hit the nail on the head, like one of us running sprints till we are exhausted then holding ou head under water. Also pleas keep the fingers out of the gills, that one kills me.
john avery says
great post! one thing I do; is have a dry run first to set up the shot so the camera guy has some idea of where the fish will be when you hold it for the picture and thus speed up the process.
Giving the fish some time to recover in the net before attempting to get your shot is key. As mentioned, it often results in a more uncooperative fish, but handling and keeping a fish that you’ve just fought in out of the water can have unpleasant consequences.
Good post Scott, I tried holding my head under water like you said and yeah, not nice. But seriously, whats more important the well being 0f a threatened species? or that some dude get a good shot to post on his facebook page?. Should be a no brainer you’d think……..
Andrew Williams says
Thanks to Scott and Deneki for doing this. Mark Beere at MoE (or whatever it’s called now) sent around some research showing that steelhead held out of the water for as little as 30 secs. have a substantially reduced survival rate. We’ve all been guilty of “grin and grip” photos, but I get really upset when I see bone dry fish in a half a dozen shots because that fish is probably a dead fish. (Like the 47″ fish on the Kispiox a couple of years ago.) The best idea is to leave your steelhead in the water so it can breathe. As Mark said, holding a steelhead out of the water after exhausting it is like you or I running a 100 metre dash and somebody holding our head in the water.
Scott Baker-McGarva says
Yeah John, the pre-shot is great…how often does it show you something you missed? Particularly with DSLR camera’s and manual settings…things like white balance and using fill in flash can make a big difference as well…I should have added ‘fill the frame too’…oh well
As for over-handling, we all know its the case far too often, its everybody’s pet peeve, but also so over-looked when you think just ‘one more angle’
shay lee says
a simple solution is to skip the picture altogether.i know what trout look like.i don’t need a new picture.
nick p says
this is a well written piece that covers all the points. the only problem is it’s surrounded by ads showing people doing the exact opposite.
maybe some of these rules should be suggested to the folks who advertise here. the reason you see so many of those (bad for the fish) shots from regular anglers is because they see them in ads from the “professionals”all day. lead by example and don’t allow ads showing that stuff.
Scott Baker-McGarva says
Well actually Nick, These pictures are fine, the fish are held fore and aft, properly supporting their weight, and held up quickly for a pictures and then released…
You are right on the Bone’s…those guys are standing!..But they are also wading in arguably a foot of water…with much easier fish to control than 20lb Steelhead.