Walleye Central

How to Take PHantastic Phish Photos!
By Bernie Barringer, editor, MUSKIE Magazine 

Have you ever looked through the fishing photo album of your angling friends? Some albums are full of photos that just leap off the page at you. Bright, clear images of sparkling water and nice fish. Other albums have you pushing your nose against the page, “so that’s a 25-pound pike, huh?” you say. “You sure that ain’t a hunk of driftwood you’re holding. And what’s that big black blob behind you? Oh, that’s your guide.” Chances are you have a photo album that fits one of these categories, or more likely, something in between. Allow me to give you a few pointers that will improve the look of your album, help you better cherish the memories, and make my life as magazine editor a little easier, should you decide to send some of your photos in to this publication.  

Surprisingly, the quality of photos taken by anglers really doesn’t have that much to do with how much they spend on camera equipment. It has a lot more to do with how much they understand about what makes a good photo, and how much time they are willing to take to get it right.  

Muskie anglers, more than anyone, are in a hurry. We want to get that fish back in the water and on its way in good shape. Taking the time to get a few good photos does not mean you have to decrease the fish’s chance of survival. It just means you must plan ahead a little.  

Choose the Right Film 
If I had my way, you would all go take your 400 speed film and toss it in the nearest dumpster. Seriously, the higher the number of ISO speed, the less light it takes to create a picture. With 400 ISO film you can take a picture on a heavy overcast day or indoors without a flash. But that photo will not look bright and it will certainly never appear on the cover of any magazine. The higher the ISO number, the less light you need, but the more grainy the photo will appear. Take a look at a 400 ISO photo side by side with a 100 ISO photo through a magnifying glass sometime. You’ll see the difference immediately. When a 400 ISO photo is enlarged to the size of a magazine cover or an 8X10, you lose almost all sharpness quality.  

A dark day and a dark background could have made a photo of Tony Krizek’s Lake Kinkaid 42-incher become very blah. But a fill flash makes the angler and the fish leap forward in the photo

Film of 100 ISO, especially Fuji film, makes for great pictures. On overcast days, you’ll need to use a flash with this film. But I use a flash in virtually all my outdoor photos anyway for reasons I’ll explain later. Fuji film has a reputation for producing excellent greens and blues. Kodak and other films seem to “pop” other colors well. Most magazine editors would prefer you use Fuji for color prints, and I’m sure you’ll agree after trying it that for outdoor pictures, especially those with trees, sky and water, Fuji is tops.  

We cannot use slide film for the interior of this magazine, but if you like to take slides, consider Kodachrome 64, Fuji Velvia or Fuji Sensia. Any of these will take fantastic photos for magazine covers or enlargement as long as the other factors (composition and lighting) are taken into consideration. I have in the past shot a lot of support photos for my articles in color magazines, and I have gone almost exclusively to Velvia, which has an ISO of 25. Sharp, clear, brilliant slide photos are the result. It takes a little work to make sure you get enough light, but it’s worth the effort. I would love to see slides taken with these films for MUSKIE magazine covers.  

In the past, black and white magazines like this one preferred only B&W photos. But that’s no longer the case since we’re not shooting halftones of these photos anymore. Today’s scanners can take a color photo and make it look great in B&W. Take your photos in color, they’ll look great in your album, and they’ll be fine for publication, too.  

Choose the Right Camera 
While a good single lens reflex (SLR) 35mm camera can hardly be beat when in the hands of someone who knows how to use it, the quality of photos coming from good “point and shoot” 35mm models is remarkable. If you choose to go with the point and shoot, I would suggest that you get a camera with a fill flash, zoom lens and auto focus. If you pay around $150 to $200 and the camera has these features, you’re going to take good pictures if you use it right.  

Auto focus allows you to take pictures quickly. When you have that big fish in the boat, you are in a hurry to get it back in the water, plus your buddy is saying, “Hurry up this thing’s HEAVY!”  

With a zoom lens, you can zoom in on your subject, eliminating background clutter. You’re basically cropping the photo as you take it. A photo with the subject in focus and everything else out of focus is a nice touch. This can be done with the zoom lens.  

A fill flash allows you to brighten the subject on dark days and fills in the heavy shadows on bright, clear days. The fill flash feature brightens up that dark shadow caused by the bill of your subject’s cap. Additionally, the flash saves you time. Don’t worry about turning the boat all the way around to get the sun on the subjects face. If your subject is backlit, no problem, (see this month’s cover) the flash will give you the light you need to take the photo without wasting valuable time getting in position.  

Choose the Right Composition 
The best photos are composed well. This takes a little time and thought, a mental checklist if you will. Quickly check several things before snapping the picture. Is there junk in the picture like beverage cans and general boat clutter? Is there a telephone pole growing out of your subject’s head? Is the horizon or waterline level? Does your buddy have a booger in his nose? Have you wiped off any blood around the gills of the fish? Is the time/date feature turned off? These things will make the difference between a regular fish picture and a great shot. (Take one photo with the booger in before telling him about it.)  

Here's another example of how a flash fill can light up even a backlit subject.
Take several photos. Move around at different angles, have the subject turn a little and rotate the fish a little for various effects. It’s not uncommon for me to take a dozen or more photos of a truly remarkable fish. If this is the fish of a lifetime––get it right! You might not get another chance. If you feel like you’re taking too long and stressing the fish, put it back in the water, a livewell, a net or a cradle for a few moments so it can recuperate before shooting more. You can take a lot of good photos in 60 seconds if you plan ahead.  

An angler in the boat can be getting ready to set up the photo while the fish is being played. Get the clutter out of the way, get the camera ready, choose where you will have the subject stand and where you will stand. You may want to squat or sit down and get the boat entirely out of the photo. This can make for a nice photo angle.  

Take a moment to get the best shot possible. Remember that this moment will never be relived so make the most of it by taking excellent photos. Hope to see you on the cover! SIDEBARS: Holding Your Fish for a Photo We publish photos only of fish that are well supported along the length of their body. If you feel like the backbone of the fish is stretching or the jaw membrane is tearing, then support the fish better. Generally, this means holding the fish in a horizontal position with two hands or cradling it in your arms. We do not publish photos that depict people holding fish only by the gill plate or fish hung on a hook. You could be in pictures! 

Cover Photo Guidelines 
At MUSKIE Magazine, we make every effort to publish the photos of our members. We publish photos with articles, plus a dozen or more each month in the Lunge Log. If a photo is at all usable we will try to use it. Cover photos, however are held to much higher standards than inside photos. If you follow these simple guidelines, your photos will be much nicer for your own pleasure, and they will be much more likely to appear on the pages of MUSKIE magazine.  

Subject should be wearing fairly clean clothes and a shirt. Avoid shirts with vulgar slogans (coed naked, etc.). Turn off the time/date feature in the camera. We accept color prints 3.5”x5” or larger, or slides for cover use. Film should be 100 speed or faster, Kodachrome 64, Velvia 25, or Sensia 100 are good choices for color slides. Fujicolor 100 is the best choice for prints. Follow all the guidelines in the accompanying article, plus leave room above the subject’s head for the magazine masthead. Cover photos must be well lit and in sharp focus. We have a contest for cover photos, you can win a free fishing trip to Ludlow's Island Resort if you are a Muskies, Inc Member See the magazine for more details.  

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