All of us have seen the classic picture of someone holding a fish. There is nothing wrong with the classic “grip and grin”. In fact, they are great and I still love shooting them. If the grip and grin is all you shoot, then you are missing some huge opportunities. Some of the best photos I have ever taken come either before or after the grip and grin shot. Most of us are just caught up in landing and releasing the fish, that we totally over look the rest of the photo chances. I try to release the fish as soon as possible, so that means the photo opportunities are short during the release. So you must be ready and have a plan after the grip and grin. I try to no do too much after the grip and grin. I have a plan for one or two photos and I get them as the fish is being released. There is no way you can get it all without harming the fish, so get it in small bits.
So here we go! Just a few examples of what you can do! Just remember to shoot and do not hold back. I am guilty of never taking enough pictures. Fishing always seems to get in the way. Some days you just have to put the rod down and point the camera at your buddy.
I love the release shot! It is something you have to be ready for and positioned correctly during the release. When done right, it can be a great addition to the grip and grin photo that proceeds it!
During the fight, sometimes there is a period of boredom, at lease for the photographer. But do not quit shooting! Get the light right, find a different angle and be creative. My cousin was battling a monster trevally in this pic and the fight started to get boring. But I stuck with it and tried to work on some different angles and this was the result after many photos. Turns out that the last few photos are often my favorite!
The action shot is so fun to shoot! This is when adrenaline is at it’s peak and your skills are at their worse! I have screwed up so many action shots over the years, and I am finally getting the hang of them. The two things that are the most difficult is framing the shot and then, of course, getting the exposure right. In the beginning, just use your point and shoot or put the DSLR on auto and work on your framing. Once you have that down, work on your exposure. You will get it, you just have to screw a few up first. It is not uncommon to be running and taking pictures at the same time, so practice up!
On thing to remember is to zoom in once in a while! There are some great photos to be had during the fight, and I am not talking about using your wide angle lens. Pull in tight and focus on some details. These can be very difficult to get. They take patience and lots of shooting. A steady hand and and a quick shutter speed are required. These are some of the photos I struggle with, but I love to work on them!
Sometimes I just tell my buddy to lift the fish up before he does anything. Real quick, enough for 2-3 frames. Shoot with a large aperture and focus manually. This will yield to some great effects and gives the image a “tack sharp” appearance. I love doing this with large or unique flies.
Now get in really tight. Whip out the macro lens, granted this commits you to shooting in tight, but you gotta do it! Focus on colors, specific parts of the fish and dynamic elements on the fish. Water drops are some of the most dynamic elements you can shoot on a fish. Tough, but fun!
Start out slow. Take some photos of your buddy fighting and releasing a fish (and the grip of grin of course). See what you come up with. You may like it!
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