Wad­ing in

Not only does a well-taken catch photo en­hance your an­gling en­joy­ment, it can also help fish­ing mag­a­zines fill in the blanks…

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents - Jef­frey Prest: The TF Fea­tures Edi­tor on what’s caught his at­ten­tion this month.

Jeff Prest ex­am­ines the some­what lost art of pho­tograph­ing fish

CON­TRARY to pop­u­lar mythol­ogy, fish­ing mag­a­zines don’t get ev­ery­thing teed up for them when they ven­ture into the field. While Trout-Fish­er­man con­trib­u­tors fre­quently con­found the odds and win­kle pho­to­genic fish out of un­promis­ing wa­ters, “We should be okay,” is as far as I ever dare call it in ad­vance, and I’m not the su­per­sti­tious type. In­evitably, there are oc­ca­sional blanks, par­tic­u­larly where wild trout wa­ters are con­cerned. If it’s the kind of day where fate is hold­ing a royal straight flush against our pair of twos – where rain is ac­com­pa­nied by gales, the boat en­gine co-op­er­ates only in­ter­mit­tently and some­one gets a hook through his ear – we can write those days off as just not meant to be. On other days, though, the oc­ca­sion is not so eas­ily re­lin­quished. Imag­ine a West End show where the set and chorus-line are mag­nif­i­cent but the star fails to ap­pear. There are fish­ing days like that. Just one fish away from per­fect, and if you know that there’s a great ar­ti­cle beg­ging to be writ­ten about the place, you don’t rule a line un­der such days with­out a fight. I had one such day in Scot­land last year. A pho­to­genic loch, an in­ter­est­ing man­ager, deer skulls piled high in his gar­den, and an an­gler who couldn’t have tried any harder. Just a nice fish pho­to­graph or two from your reg­u­lars later on this sea­son and we’d be in busi­ness, I told the man­ager, when we re­turned empty-handed, a point I re­it­er­ated in two sub­se­quent mes­sages left on his voice­mail. Ei­ther he didn’t like me, or he has come to shun voice­mail as a fount of ex­clu­sively bad news. In fair­ness, if it’s the lat­ter, he’s not alone. Or maybe his reg­u­lars have sim­ply ducked the chal­lenge of pro­duc­ing mag­a­zine-stan­dard photographs as a cre­ative bridge too far. Which made me think that an ar­ti­cle high­light­ing what type of pho­to­graph we’re look­ing for in these sit­u­a­tions might be use­ful, es­pe­cially it helps you im­prove your photographs gen­er­ally.

Lit­tle shots of hor­ror

First the good news, you’re al­ready a lot more clued-up in this re­spect than some of your sea an­gling brethren. It was a source of con­tin­u­ous baf­fle­ment in my time with Sea-An­gler mag­a­zine; the num­ber of fish­er­men who thought that noth­ing fin­ished off a catch pic­ture to per­fec­tion quite like tak­ing it in the com­fort of their own home. We lost count of the num­ber of peo­ple pho­tographed show­ing off tro­phy cod and pol­lock against a back­drop of fridge-mag­nets or flock wall­pa­per. ‘Read­ers’ Kitchens’, we col­lec­tively called such con­tri­bu­tions, but their en­ter­tain­ment value heav­ily out­weighed their use­ful­ness. When it comes to size, you can’t dic­tate what ends up on your hook but you can de­ter­mine what’s catered for by your cam­era. Mag­a­zines need at least three or four megabytes of im­age size to work with; more if the im­age is to be used large on the page. Even though I’ve been pro­vid­ing pic­tures as well as words for al­most a decade now, I’m still slightly thrown by all the things I’m sup­posed to think of when I raise the cam­era to my eye, so I’d in­vite you to nar­row it down to the two es­sen­tials – is ev­ery­thing in shot that needs to be, and, above all, is it in fo­cus? Pro­cess­ing soft­ware can heal many ills of light and colour, but blur­ring re­mains pho­tog­ra­phy’s ter­mi­nal con­di­tion.

Hold it – if you re­ally must

As for com­po­si­tion, only the tro­phy fish need share the frame with the per­son who caught them. A 17-stone hu­man grin­ning man­i­cally be­hind a 1lb fish is not a good look for ei­ther species, but even smaller fish can pho­to­graph well if you close in tightly on them as they are about to be re­leased, even half-in and half-out of the wa­ter. An­gling pho­tog­ra­phy is mov­ing away from the hero-shot these days, show­ing fish and an­gler to­gether, and more to­wards just the fish or even frag­ments of them: a sharp tail or the beau­ti­fully-speck­led flank of a brownie can make in­ter­est­ing im­ages just in them­selves. As long as the fo­cus is pin-sharp. It’s when a fish has to be held by its cap­tor for the pho­tog­ra­pher that the fun starts, par­tic­u­larly if it’s a fish that is im­pa­tiently await­ing re­lease. The bal­anc­ing act is far from easy, I know, but we need to see as much fish and as lit­tle hand as pos­si­ble. The tail end should be held in a cir­cle formed by thumb and fore­fin­ger, with the rest of the hand be­hind the tail rather than in front of it. The head end should be sup­ported on the palm of the other hand, with the fin­gers curled into the palm, rather than spread all over the flank of the fish. Try to avoid the com­pro­mise whereby an ex­tended mid­dle fin­ger re­strains the fish: it looks like the an­gler is try­ing to send our read­ers a sub­lim­i­nal mes­sage they can do with­out. If the fish won’t play ball, try ly­ing it on the mesh of your net on a wet patch of grass and pray it stays still for a few sec­onds. If it’s a big fish, have the reel of your rod ly­ing nearby in-shot, to pro­vide per­spec­tive. Make sure the fish­ery owner knows you’re try­ing to help pub­li­cise the fish­ery and is okay with it, and if the fish just won’t have it, let it go. Much as we’re try­ing to pro­mote fish­ing, the idea of a trout dy­ing for a photo is some­thing I’ll never get used to. Hope­fully, it will never ap­ply, but should you ever find your­self working with us on a fea­ture that has ev­ery­thing but a fish, these point­ers may make it slightly less in­tim­i­dat­ing if we ask you to pho­to­graph some­thing af­ter the event. And if you’re re­ally, re­ally proud of your kitchen, feel free to send us a sep­a­rate photo. It won’t be pub­lished, but we’re not obliv­i­ous to a nice black-sparkle work­top.

“Imag­ine a West End show where the set and chorus-line are mag­nif­i­cent but the star fails to ap­pear. There are fish­ing days like that.”

More fish than fin­gers vis­i­ble, you’ll no­tice. Some­one’s done this be­fore...

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.