Close to the surface
Published Jul 29th 2011
Shooting pictures close to the surface can give an exciting perspective that will enhance the feeling of being near the water... literally!
The go low rule also applies when you are shooting in the water - wading or sailing. Going close to the surface can give an exciting perspective that will enhance the feeling of being near the water... literally!
You can get a perspective, which offers a better view of the angler by moving the camera away from eye or shoulder level and down towards the water. One thing is the exciting and different angles you can obtain, but in other cases your subject might be close to the surface: fly rod and reel and angler's hands while stripping in line or a fish being landed, held up for presentation or released.
In such situations the subject is low down, and a camera angle from above and down won't give nearly as good pictures as a camera held low.
When shooting landscapes or waterscapes over water or from a position standing in the water, you might also consider using a very low angle. Getting waves, rocks or emerging water plants into the frame can offer great foregrounds, which enhances the perspective of most images. Finding foreground subjects in such pictures can be hard, but since the water is always there, it's worth considering using that as an element in the picture.
Lowering your camera towards the water can be a harrowing experience, not least when fishing in rough streams, wind swept lakes or in the ocean, where the surface is everything but calm. Unless your camera is waterproof, you will have to be very careful to keep the camera out of the wet element and avoid splashes. On other types of water like calm lakes and smooth streams, you might not have to be quite as careful.
You can do different things to ease the photography and lower the risks of dipping the camera. Focus and adjust the camera before lowering it. On some cameras this can be done independently of pressing the exposure button, and you can use that method. On cameras where these settings are coupled to the exposure button, you can half-press the button while having the camera safely above the water, keep it pressed while lowering the camera and pressing the button fully to expose once the camera is in position.
Composing the picture can of course be a challenge, because you can't look in the viewfinder or see the LCD-screen on the back of the camera. Some cameras have a flip-out screen, which allows you to see it from above and compose while the camera is lowered, but most cameras don't have this option.
In that case you will have to guesstimate the composition. Using a wideangle setting on the lens can make it easier to get everything in the frame, and the wide angle also gives a greater perspective in the final image.
A small tip is to hold the camera with your thumbs on top, and the rest of the fingers underneath. This is a much more convenient hand position and makes it easier to keep the camera level. At the same time you have your fingers under the camera, and can feel the water if you get too close. Extend a finger and you have a nice distance measure, which will alarm you if you get too close to the water, and you can use a thumb to press the exposure button.
If you have a free view to the horizon, the opposite bank or some other background, you want this to be seen in the picture. Make sure that you tip the camera a bit upwards when shooting from the low position. You want background and sky in the top of the picture rather than uniform water surface in the lower part.
Using a waterproof camera makes it a lot less risky, and also offers the option of half dipping the camera and getting really low and maybe even partially under the water. This can give some stunning images where you see both the fish below and the angler above the water in one and the same picture.
A seriesThese are all the articles in our series about better fly fishing photography. Read this series and you will learn a lot ebout getting better pictures while fishing. General outdoors pohotographers may also pick up a thing or two...
Better fly-fishing pictures
- Go close in Gallery. Published March 16th 2006
- Go low in Gallery. Published March 20th 2006
- Use a fill flash in Gallery. Published March 24th 2006
- Perfect Camera in Gallery. Published April 9th 2006
- Bring it! in Gallery. Published April 26th 2006
- Fishy pictures in Gallery. Published May 4th 2006
- Glorious light in Gallery. Published May 24th 2006
- Use a tripod in Gallery. Published June 1st 2006
- Jump! in Gallery. Published June 21st 2006
- Macro in Gallery. Published August 30th 2006
- Underexpose in Gallery. Published October 16th 2006
- Casting pictures in Gallery. Published January 29th 2007
- Clear Water in Gallery. Published February 15th 2009
- Bent Rods in Gallery. Published May 2nd 2009
- Gear pictures in Gallery. Published June 16th 2009
- Shoot the weather in Gallery. Published March 15th 2010
- Pictures of nature in Gallery. Published March 24th 2010
- Waterscapes in Gallery. Published January 9th 2011
- Fly pictures in Gallery. Published March 25th 2012
- Compose in Gallery. Published November 30th 2012
- Shadows in Gallery. Published December 21st 2012
- Reflections in Gallery. Published March 3rd 2013
- Better pictures: shooting the sun in Gallery. Published August 10th 2013
- Histograms in Gallery not scheduled for publishing yet.