If fabulous fish photos were easy to take, everyone would be doing it. Wait a minute, just about everyone is doing it. But some pictures are distinctly better than others.
So how do you get fab fish photos? Follow these four basic tips and you should -- with a little luck - take better-than-average underwater photos.
1. Know Your Subject.
Whether you are photographing a fish, a land animal or a human being, knowing your subject improves your chances of getting good pictures. I recommend
investing in Paul Humann's fish identification books and Dee Scarr's fish behavior books.
Also, dive with a guide who knows the area and the resident sea life. Then, move in slowly - ever so slowly - and shoot.
2. Frame Your Shot.
If you have an amphibious camera that accepts a macro or close-up lens with a wire framer, you'll need a very cooperative fish or you'll have to be lucky to get a great shot. But there are several ways to increase your success rate.
Saw off the top and one side of a rectangular framer. Doing so makes a fish feel less trapped. Or, don't use the framer at all. Instead, use only the distance bar and try to visualize the framer area. You can practice this technique at home.
Another option is to use a device called the Spot-Shot from Underwater Photo Tech (www.uwphoto.com). This device employs two mini-flashlights that establish the focal distance at the point where the two light-beams cross.
If you want to shoot schools of fish, choose a lens sized between 12 and 24mm.
For silhouettes, position the school between your camera and the sun. For flash pictures, shoot with two strobes for even illumination. One strobe usually over-exposes half the frame, especially when the subject is a silvery, reflective fish, such as a jack.
3. See The Light. Remember this tip: Take the flash off the camera! Okay, I've calmed down. I simply wanted to make a point. Hold or position the flash off the camera to improve your lighting. Positioning the flash over the lens puts the shadow behind the subject. In most cases, this is more flattering than next to it.
A dual-strobe setup is the ideal. With two flash units, you can get shadowless and ratio lighting, which adds a sense of depth to a picture.
Aiming the flash toward the fish's face will produce a picture that draws the viewer's eye to the fish's eye. This is a pro's key to good fish photos.
4. Choose The Right Film.
If you're new to underwater photography, I recommend using print film instead of slide film. Print film is more forgiving, so if you screw up your exposure you may still get a good photo.
If you are a more experienced slide shooter, I recommend using one of the new extra color slide films. Designated extra color, saturated, saturated warm, these films offer increased color saturation, so your picture colors will pop.
With these tips - and some luck - you should do fine. After all, every underwater photographer needs luck in their arsenal.
For more information about underwater photo products for better fish photos, click onto the home page below.