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Point and Shoot Fly Fishing Photography

Point and Shoot Fly Fishing Photography
Many people think that a large expensive camera is need to take great fly fishing photos.  This assumption is not necessarily true.  Today’s camera technology has allowed for small cameras, especially point and shoot cameras, to take incredible photos.  You just have to know how to use them and understand the functions and settings on the camera.  I find myself leaving the large camera at home more often, which is sacrilegious to most photographers.  I do this because I am a fly fisherman first and a fly fishing photographer second.  I always carry a point and shoot camera with me to the river, so naturally that is the camera that sees the most use.  Over the past two years, I have been blown away with the quality of images I am getting from my little cameras.  So here we will discuss some basic camera setting for fly fishing photography and how to get these great images with little cameras!

Fly Fishing PhotographyShooting Mode
The most common shooting mode I use on my point and shoot is “P”.  This programmable mode allows me to control some functions, but not all of them.  This mode automatically chooses the Shutter Speed and Aperture for me, but I can still control the ISO, White Balance and Flash Settings.  This is the best mode to use on the river.  Point and Shoot Cameras do not have view finders and easy dials to change Shutter Speed and Aperture, so “P” is the best choice on the water.

If you use the “AUTO”mode on the camera (default setting out of the box), you will lose control of the ISO and Flash settings.  These settings are very important and you do not want the camera choosing them for you.

ISO
Shoot at the lowest ISO possible.  If the ISO is too high, your images will be grainy and you will loose quality.   One the “P” mode you can choose your ISO and the camera will never raise it, unlike shooting in “AUTO” mode.  I pretty much keep the camera on 100-250 ISO and leave it there.  Even though your camera can shoot at 3200 ISO, does not mean you should use it.  Every time I have cranked up the ISO, it showed in the image and I regretted it!

Metering
With today’s point and shoot cameras, you usually have 3 choice with metering systems: Spot, Dynamic or Full.  I primary use Dynamic and use exposure compensation to fine tune the exposure.  This allows for the camera to determine what the exposure should be by looking at important objects in the photo and balancing the light in the frame.

FlyFishing PhotograhyExposure Compensation
Exposure Compensation is my best friend on the river.  I use this function constantly and is most often over looked on most point and shoot cameras.  On my Nikon P7000 and Sony DSC-RX100, the exposure compensation dial is easy to use and handy.  This is how I primary adjust exposures on “P” mode.  This is the best feature on today’s point and shoot cameras.

Focus Mode
Many of the point and shoot cameras have a manual focus mode, I never use it!  I use two main modes: Macro (on Spot Focus) and Standard (Full Focus).  The macro is used for close up shot and I normal use spot focus in combination with this mode. This way the camera focuses on the spot I and pointing it at and not a hand or someones face in the background.  My standard focusing mode is standard (landscape mode) and Full Focus area.  This uses the whole sensor and lets the camera determine what to focus on.

Carp Fly Fishing PhotographyThere are many other tricks to getting a good image with a point and shoot camera.  These are the main settings and tips you need to calibrate your camera on the river.  One last rule…NEVER use your flash.  If you need a flash, then there is not enough light.  Point and Shoot flashes are horrible and harsh.  They always make an image look worse.  Use a mono pod, a rock or steady device instead.  Your image will look much better!

The photo below was taken at the end of the night.  The camera wanted to turn on the flash and crank up the ISO, but I switched settings and turned the flash off.  The result was wonderful!

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6 Responses to Point and Shoot Fly Fishing Photography

  1. I enjoyed this article .I never get tired brushing up on photography and fly fishing technics .Standing in water holding a fly rod and trying to get a shot in focus isn’t easy at times .
    No one wants to get a camera wet . So a cheap way I find useful . A clear zip-loc bag .Try to find one that doesn’t wrinkle .You don’t want it to look like a fancy filter . There are better ways of doing this but it’s better than replacing a wet camera .

  2. I am a pewee when it comes to taking pictures. But thanks to people like you I can take some decent shots on the river. I appreciate the article very much, keep em coming!

  3. Excellent tips to help capture some of those moments out on the water. Like you, I’ve found hauling around the big camera tends to start taking away from the enjoyment of fishing, which is never a good thing. Thanks for the article.

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