FISHING PHOTOGRAPHY COMPOSITION AND PERSPECTIVE TIPS
Composition and perspective can influence the feel of an image and draw the viewer’s attention to particular subjects or features. A point and shoot approach is fine if you just want images for personal records. However, to take your photography to the next level and have images worth printing or putting on the wall, good photos require carefully considered and deliberate choices.
The beauty of the digital age is that high resolution images are forgiving and permit cropping and composition changes in post production. Nevertheless, it is usually best to nail your composition as best as possible in the original photo.
Here are some tips on how to frame fish, anglers and epic battles.
FRAMING THE IMAGE
Think about the primary subject matter. Is it the fish, the angler, a detail or the scenery you are interested in? In most fishing scenarios, the photo is about the fish and the angler is a background ornament. Make the fish prominent and fill the majority of the frame with the fish.
Try to avoid clutter or distracting elements in an image. Shoot the fish and angler against a relatively uniform background (i.e. scenery, water or sky).
Consider the rule of thirds. Photographs are usually more aesthetically pleasing if the main subjects are positioned approximately 1/3 or 2/3 across in a horizontal or vertical plane. If your camera features a grid display, switch it on to easily see each third on your frame.
On wider shots, try to have your subject tilting into the frame. The aim is to lead the viewer into the frame. If the subject’s positioning is directed out of the frame, it often appears awkward and leaves an uncomfortable space on the opposing side of the image.
BIG FISH, LITTLE FISH
We all know the timeless trick of holding a fish forward to make it look bigger – you ain’t fooling anyone. Use this in moderation, or you’ll soon be called out for the exaggeration and lose credibility.
Holding a fish up and slightly forward to fill a frame does make for a better photo. That being said, don’t stretch out arms and hide hands to miraculously turn a 30cm Barramundi into a metre-plus mega fish.
While front-on portrait shots have their place in fishing photography, it’s always great to mix it up and explore different perspectives. Try to take shots from creative angles. Shoot from down low, up high, behind trees or explore the use of underwater camera equipment.
Play with depth of field to put various objects of an image in or out of focus. Out of focus foreground or background features frame a photo nicely and put added emphasis on the subject.
FOCUS AND FASCINATING FEATURES
Focus on the subject! I cringe every time I see a fishing portrait and the angler is sharp and in focus but the feature fish is nothing but a blur. Prioritise the focus on the fish over the angler. If you want both fish and angler to be sharp, you’ll need plenty of light and a greater depth of field through closing up the aperture.
Think about the interesting features in any given subject and try to use intriguing attributes to your advantage. Barramundi, Estuary Perch and Yellowbelly possess unique scooped foreheads, Spanish Mackerel have razor sharp teeth and the girth of a Murray Cod is ridiculously impressive. Focus in on these features and use them to make your photos stand out.
BREAK THE RULES
Once you have the skills for good, solid photographs down pat, you can start to explore. Use your knowledge and photographic common sense to push the boundaries on what is and isn’t possible.
Deconstruct convention and attempt the unusual or unexpected. You might be surprised by the results.
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