Ever grow tired of taking the same old grip-and-grin fish pics? I know I did. I wanted to find a new way to take quality shots of my catches, one that didn't require expensive equipment, or anything more than the phone in my pocket. After experimenting with various techniques, I found that I was able to capture some really unique shots using macro — or close-up — photography techniques. One of the great things about taking extreme close-up shots of fish is that you don't have to land a trophy to capture an awesome image, which means you'll have even more excuses to pull out the camera and snap away! It took me a little while to produce the style of shots I was looking for, but it added a whole new level of fun to my time on the water. Here are a few tips I picked up along the way:
Get a Little Personal
First and foremost, you're gonna have to put the lens of your camera close — yeah, really close to the fish. It often seems that the closer you can get, the more abstract and fun the images can be. No two fish are the same, so try to draw the viewer's eye to a certain aspect of your catch that you find unique. If you land a fish with a gnarly scar or a crazy pattern, try and document it. Those fish have character, and so should your images. Push yourself to take some shots from what you consider to be "too close." When you see the results, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Lighting is Key
Always position yourself so that your catch is in good lighting to be photographed. A lot of species will show hidden coloration when placed in the right lighting. This will take some experimentation to figure out, but you'll feel great when a photo does the true colors justice. Good lighting doesn't necessarily mean full sunlight, and different species definitely photograph better in different lighting conditions. Again, you should play around with this. Keep shooting and until you find an aesthetic that you like.
It's All About the Angle
Don't be afraid to experiment with all sorts of angles. The more you mess around, the more you'll realize just how many possibilities there are for unique yet simple images to be captured.
Eyes on the Prize
You've got to focus; I cannot stress this enough. Macro shots have a way of magnifying even the slightest focal error in an image. It's critical that you shoot with a steady hand, and utilize your camera's focus options. If you are shooting with a DSLR, make sure to focus your lens on the area you want to be tack sharp. If you are shooting on an iPhone, utilize the tap-to-focus feature on the camera. By tapping on an area of the screen, the iPhone's camera will focus on that particular region. One thing I learned is that for shots of a fish's head, having a tack sharp eyeball is a must if you want your image to really come to life.
Keep 'em Wet
Y'all know the rules. Don't do anything that will harm your catch. The photo just isn't worth it. Don't lift fish out of the water for more than a couple of seconds at a time, and always release every fish as soon as possible. A landing net dipped in the water can be a great tool for keeping your catch healthy while shooting. Not only will keeping 'em wet ensure the fish swims off safely, but it will also maintain the natural coloration of the fish; it's unbelievable how fast some species' colors start to fade when kept out of the water for too long. So give 'em a drink, and take the opportunity to grab some cool low-angle water shots while you're at it.