It’s that time of year when you could really see or catch something very memorable.
While I’m no expert or fancy camera buff, I do the basics quite well and achieve reasonable footage and pictures of the adventures I go on.
I keep it simple by concentrating more on getting close to a fish or whatever the subject is, and letting auto-technology do the rest. For my underwater still camera I have gone to the Canon series. I now have the G16. I am not out to win awards, instead endeavouring to take nice, clean pictures that look okay to the average eye. The G16 with the Canon WP-DC52 housing has served me well, and it also works well out of the water when taking shots of the catch.
One mistake many photographers make is to take the picture from too far away. Remember, the fish and person holding it are the heroes, not the surrounding sky or landscape. Fill the frame as much as possible with the fish or the people. Make sure the sun is on the subject, not behind them, and always use the flash. Holding your catch is so important as well. Present it to the camera and smile – a photo is so much nicer with a happy person. Let’s face it, that is why you are getting the photo done – you are happy with your catch!
When posing for a picture, try to avoid having things such as fishing rods sticking up behind you, or, if you’re the photographer, including half of someone or something in the photo beside the subject. This type of thing detracts from the subject.
Filming takes a bit more thought. For years I have used one camera in an underwater housing, and it is the same camera I use out of the housing. In fact, I have three of them, so if I have a camera failure, it’s not a problem.
Now, of course, we are in the era of the GoPro-style, small, cheap easy-to-use cameras – compared to what I once used – but I still use my bigger setup. Consequently, I have a two GoPro system that fits on my gun and records what I shoot, while another films what what I am doing with the big camera, making for better viewing when it’s all cut together. I can’t watch a clip that’s all just footage of fish dying; you have to tell a short story using as many different versions of what’s going on as possible. The two GoPro system allows me to do this.
The other thing is to make sure you get a few close-ups of your finger pulling the trigger, your face, and – where possible – of the thing you are hunting, preferably alive, with no holes in it!
From a filming perspective, keep the camera as still as possible and don’t move from subject to subject too fast. You are better to focus on four crayfish for a long period than scan across twenty – it’s hard to watch and doesn’t really do the scenario justice.
One downside with the smaller setups is that they are harder to hold still; the bigger, heavier ones are less affected by wave movement and sit steadier in the water.
Always try and film with the sun behind you and watch out for the white flare that comes off, say, the white belly of a kingfish. Make sure you cut away and film your mates watching, doing something or reacting – it’s nice to have that sort of thing to cut into your video clips.
Using a clip-on style GoPro on your gun is risky, as I found out when filming myself shooting a marlin. I ended up losing the gun and the GoPros when a line-release on the break-away system failed!
Another point to consider is battery life. Exhausted batteries can catch you out right at the day’s key moment, so make sure you turn off in dead spots, and try and read when the action is about to happen or escalate (something that’s easier said than done). I take backup batteries with me, but often I’ve swum away from the boat, and it’s not that easy to clamber back out, change a battery, then get back in and switch the action on again.
Check your lenses constantly, especially above water. In a wet environment it’s easy to have a small splash on the lens while filming or taking a photo that can ruin a good shot or film sequence.
Most of all, unless filming for top-end television, don’t overcomplicate what you use – simple is best and results are often just as good.
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