Ever caught a decent fish and thereís been no one around to
take the photos? Or given your camera to a complete stranger and been
more than disappointed with the results? If the answer is yes then Iím
not too surprised and you can rest assured youíre not on your own.
Most of us have been there and worn the tee shirt but if you want
reasonable results most of the time read on.
First of all you need some reasonable equipment. I know this sounds expensive and it is to a certain degree but if you want some good photographs of a fish that you have worked hard for, spent time and money chasing, then the expense isnít too bad. Itís also worth remembering that once youíve bought your equipment, so long as you look after it, it will last you for a long time. Donít forget that you donít have to buy new, there is plenty of good second hand equipment on the market but if you buy from a shop try and get a guarantee, even if it costs a little extra.
The equipment you will
need is roughly as followsÖ
camera, what I would suggest you look at, to start with, is a SLR with
auto wind, auto focus, built in flash, built in light meter and has the
ability to take an air release or has a remote control for your self
take photos. A lightweight tripod with adjustable legs and a swivel head
to allow you to decide which way up you like your photographs. An air
release around 10feet in length. A decent camera bag with some silica
gel sachets in the bottom to help stop the damp affecting your camera. A
separate light meter is not essential but I would personally advise you
to buy one. I prefer and use an air release but I know others who use a
remote but Iíd rather have a good hold on the fish with both hands
than try to hold both the remote and the fish with one of my hands. I
would suggest that if you want to use a remote that you make some sort
of a device that you kneel on to activate the remote, as this will leave
you one less potential problem.
Something else to think about is your choice of film. Personally
I take slides or transparencies and prefer to use Fuji chrome 100. The
100 is the speed of the film and the smaller the number the better the
quality of you pictures but the more light you will need to get them.
So, I would recommend 100 or 200 but would not go above 200 as I find
the pictures start to go grainy especially if you enlarge them. Even if
Iím taking ordinary photographs I still use Fuji film 100 as I think
that their colours are better than the other makes that Iíve tried.
Whichever make of film you use just make sure that the film is in date
and that there is a tag end on any new film you take with you before you
go fishing. Itís very rare for the film to have no tag but it does
happen. One other thing to bear in mind is that you donít want to
leave your film in your camera too long and for this reason I only put
my film into my camera once I have something I wish to photograph. Once
the film is in the camera I try to use it within 6 months as apparently
it deteriorates over time.
Now youíve got the equipment, youíve just caught the fish of
your dreams, now YOU are going to photograph it. First of all, if
allowed sack the fish safely in the margins, if not leave the fish in
your landing net, propped up with bank sticks if necessary but make sure
it is safe and secure. The reason for this is simply that you donít
want to rush setting the camera up, taking a little time will help get
the best results and calm you down from the high of the capture.
So with the fish safe and sound, take a look around for the best
place to take the pictures. Take into consideration the bank, you want a
nice flat bit preferably grass covered but not too soft that the air
release pushes into the ground when you kneel on it. Also take into
consideration the background, you want a nice green background, much
more carpy than a main road. Last but most importantly you need to look
at the light source. You want the best light source shining on the
subject of your picture. This is pretty straight forward if the sun is
out, just face the sun but if it isnít you need to work out where the
brightest light source is coming from and face it. One way of doing this
is to buy a light meter and use it. Often on a dull, overcast day you
will often find that the best light source is the lake, which is a real
shame as the lake can make a very good background. On the dull days if
you do use the lake for the background, you will tend to get a picture
with a nice bright background with a dull angler and fish, so beware.
that obviously has a bearing on the light source is the weather but it
can also determine where your camera goes. If it is raining and your
camera has a lot of electrical circuit boards inside it, you will need
to keep it as dry as possible as a little water can turn out expensive.
So, in the rain the camera stays under your umbrella and you pose out in
the wet. Also, in strong winds your camera needs to be sheltered, first
to stop it blowing over and second to avoid camera shake.
Once you have decided where to take your picture you need to
attach your camera to the tripod and adjust the legs to the required
height. I find that the best height is around eye level for a
photographer in the kneeling position, as the camera will be pointing
straight at you. Now you need to frame your picture as in working out
what will be in the shot and what wonít. I prefer to take my pictures
so that the short part of the picture is at the top, I think itís
called portrait and prefer this to landscape because you can get closer
to the fish and reduce the amount of background to a minimum. To frame
my pictures I use an adjustable bank stick that will extend to the
height of me in a kneeling position. Keep placing the bank stick in the
ground until you can see the top and bottom of it through the viewfinder
but with a small gap above and below it and make sure it is in the
centre of the viewfinder. Once you have this bank stick in place put
your unhooking mat in front of the bank stick and take another look
through the viewfinder. I prefer to be able to see all of the mat as
well as the bank stick. Now run your air release from the mat to the
camera and screw it in. At this stage I then use two small bank sticks
to judge where the sides of the picture are going to be. I try to get
them just out of the picture so that I can leave them in the ground but
they wonít show in the photograph. I now remove the tall bank stick
but mark the ground where it was so that I know where the centre of the
photograph is going to be. The reason for removing the bank stick is so
that it can not show in the end photograph, you donít want to look
like a unicorn. Now that everything is in position I set my camera to
auto and then position myself over the spot where the bank stick has
been removed from and place the air release bulb where my knee will be
positioned during the actual shot. Finally I try a test to make sure
that everything is working right, itís better to find out now and not
when the fish is on the bank.
Before you take the fish out of the water get a container full of
water and wet the mat. Refill the container and place it out of camera
view but only just so that you can wet the fish during the photo shoot.
Have a final check to make sure everything is ready and then get your
fish and place it on the unhooking mat. Take up your position over the
centre mark from the removed bank stick and then pick your fish up,
taking care to hold it upright and not tilt it towards you. You can now
use the two small bank sticks to quickly judge if your fish is in the
centre of the shot and not going to have itís tail or head cut off.
Now simply smile and kneel on the air release bulb and you should get a
decent photo. After the first shot, remove your knee from the air
release and the camera will wind itself on ready for the next shot. The
procedure is exactly the same at night although you donít need to
worry about the light source as that will be coming from the cameraís
flash. Always keep in mind though that the fish is ultimately more
important than any photographs so if you do encounter any difficulties
during the photo shoot either retain your fish again while you sort out
your problem or better still forget the photos and return it.
The end result - a quality self take of a 20 plus English carp!