Hints & Tips - Photography

The advice contained on this page is mainly aimed at self-take photography, however alot of the advice regarding where to position yourself for the photo, correct focusing, how to use the flash etc still applies when you have got somebody to take the photo for you. It is also based around using a digital camera, but the same advice applies to using a film camera.

If you follow this easy guide to self-take photography there is no reason why your self-takes can't be as good as a photo taken by somebody else. Alternatively, if you have been taking self-takes, but they tend to result in 'mat' shots, comedy timer pictures or pictures of you and your catch in the distance, then this will be of use to you as well!

The Kit

To be able to take a self-take photos you will need to following items:

Digital camera
Remote or bulb release

Now, your camera may not support the use of a remote or bulb release so you may think "well what about the self-timer facility?". Now, don't get the wrong idea, self-timer shots can be successful, but they tend to be a bit hit and miss. The time is usually restricted to 10secs which is insufficient time to press the shutter release button, get back round to the fish, pick it up, and pose for the camera hoping that you are both in focus!

There are also some digital cameras that support the use of an infra-red remote device. On occasions it is sometimes possible to see anglers holding there catch as well as the remote in their hands. To some, this maybe seen as unsafe for the fish as you don not have proper control over the fish. Fish can be quite 'active' on the bank, even more so when it comes to having their picture taken; therefore it is wise to doing everything possible to ensure that the fish remains safe whilst on the bank.

So, what is the answer? Well, you will need to buy a 'camera bracket' and an 'air release system'. It all sounds technical but it isn't. The bracket attaches to the side of your camera and allows an air release device to be connected which will push the shutter button down and take the picture.

I was asked recenly (August 2012) where the 'camera bracket' and 'air release system' could be puchased the shop I found online was FIRSTCALL click on the logo for the Home page. Click on the Camera Bracket photo or Air Release System photo to go direct, another shop that may have it locally is Sussex Camera Centre.


Camera Bracket Air Release System

The air release system comes with sufficient tubing to extend from the camera to the back of the unhooking mat where the device can be safely operated.

To operate the air release, place the air bulb so that it can be operated by depressing it either with your foot or your knee.

How to Take the Photo

As with most things in life, practice and preparation is vital to getting the best results. Photography is no different.
The most important part of this preparation, especially for self-take photography, is to make sure your camera gear is set up and ready for action before the fish is even on the bank. It is worth spending ten minutes or so going through a 'dress rehearsal' making sure everything is ready and in the correct position so that you can take the photo without any unnecessary delays once you have landed your fish.

Step 1
The first thing to do is decide where you would like to have the pictures taken. When considering this, its worth remembering that a picture will look ten times better if you have a nice, uncluttered background which will do you and your fish justice. Backgrounds with bivvies, rubbish, items of tackle etc all make for an unpleasant background! Also, try and find a background that is fairly light such as reeds, rather than dark wooded areas or bushes.

Step 2
Once you have chosen your preferred location for the photo, position your unhooking mat where it will be taken. Crouch in the position you normally adopt and hold your arms out as though you are holding your capture.

Step 3
Using a long bankstick, position it between your knees and push it into the ground. Return to your 'pose' and extend the bank stick so that it is three to four inches above your head when looking at the camera. Using a bit of electrical tape, place one piece approximately half way between your knees and the ground; this acts as the lower marker for framing your photo. Place the second piece at the top of the bank stick; this acts as upper marker for framing your photo. Your unhooking mat will act as the left and right markers.

Step 4
Time to set your camera up! Attach the camera bracket to your camera, then connect your camera to the tripod and bulb release system if your are using one. Open the tripod legs so that the height is set slightly lower than half way between the two pieces of tape. Position the bulb/remote by the bank stick and uncoil the cable as you return to position your camera. If your camera has a zoom facility, set it to it's widest setting (so that it's not zoomed in) and make sure your camera is set to the 'multi-point focus' setting so that it doesn't just focus on one particular area. The distance between the camera and bank stick will vary from camera to camera, so to start with, position your camera approximately 6ft away from the bank stick.

Step 5
Now you need to use the LCD screen to line up the top bank stick marker with the top of the screen, and the lower marker with the bottom of the screen. It is particularly important to make sure the top marker is positioned correctly and you may need to move your camera closer and tilting it upwards a little to achieve this. If you have both markers within the frame this isn't a problem, you just need to make sure that they are equal distances from the top and bottom of the LCD screen. Check that your camera is level, then return to your 'pose' position and with the bulb release/remote under your foot, squeeze it gently to take a test photo. Review the photo and you should find that you have taken a decent picture with your correctly positioned in the middle and that the fish you are 'holding' fits in nicely as well.

If this isn't the case, then adjust the position of the camera accordingly and take another test shot. Repeat this process until you are happy with the end result.

Step 7
With the ideal position of the camera confirmed, you need to mark the position of where the tripod legs and unhooking mat need to be positioned so that you can easily replicate this once you have caught a fish. To accurately position your tripod you can either 'score' a line in the ground, use some large stones or stick some bivivy pegs in the ground (please take care not to trip over them though) where the two front most tripod legs are located. To position the mat, pace out the number of steps between the tripod and mat and remember the number so that you can place it in the right position. The middle of the mat ideally should be in line with the centre of the tripod.

Step 8
You have now finished setting up your camera so that it will ready to go when the time comes to take that all important photo! You can now return your unhooking mat so thats its close by for unhooking your fish, and put your camera and tripod back in your bivvy or somewhere secure, but remember do NOT to adjust the height of the tripod or angle of the camera.

To save some time, it is possible to omit Step 3, and simply move on to Step 5 whereby you can position yourself in the LCD by taking several test shots until you find the correct settings.

Using Flash

All cameras have a built-in flash that will be more than sufficient for taking photos of your catch. The most obvious time to make use of the flash is when you are taking photos during the hours of darkness. However, it can be beneficial during daylight when you may be positioned in an area of shade. Using a flash in this scenario will prevent the shadows and give you a brighter and more interesting looking photo. Take a few test shots with and without the flash to see what works best.

At night, the light generated by the flash will often be the only light source. To reduce the 'harsh' type of light that flash creates, try to make sure you have positioned yourself in front of a light background, as mentioned earlier. This will mean that the flash light has something to 'bounce-off' to help create a more subtle lighting effect. another tip is to try and hold your fish closer to your body as a night photo has a limited depth of field; you don't want to end up with your fish in focus and you out of focus or vice versa.

Once You Have Caught a Fish

With your tripod and mat positions readily identifiable, and your camera set-up correctly, you can sit back and relax and wait for that all important bite! When that time arrives simply follow the method/routine described in the 'Fish Care' page.

Perfect Photos, No Excuses!

If you have followed the advice given on this page, you should never have another excuse for taking a bad photo or your capture ever again! The help and advice given above may seem completed at first, especially if you are not too familiar with digital cameras or photography. To overcome this, try and practice it in your back garden until you get it right and are confident that you can set-up your camera and the other gear correctly; the results will be worth it in the end.

One final note for those who may still be using film camera...the same procedures as described above can be used. It is advisable however to increase the upper and lower boundary markers a little just to be on the safe side.

Happy snapping, and remember to submit your pictures and catch reports to the
CDAS Website Administrator for uploading on to the web site.

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