Better fishing pictures: Go close

Published Mar 16th 2006

Ways to improve your fishing photos. This time about going closer to the subject.


Being there - Just impose your subject! The closer you are the better - almost...
Being there
You can never get close enough! Believe me, you can't.
Unless you already usually go very close to the subject, you can always get better results by going closer. If you think you are already close enough, take a step or two more to get even closer.

What you get from going close is:

  • Attention-grabbing images, where the subject really fills the screen
  • A natural cropping of the image with no need to crop later on and loose quality
  • Focus on details, which are often more interesting than the whole
  • The attention of the subject, images that communicate

The two pictures below clearly illustrate what you can obtain by moving in on your subject: going from the ordinary to the extraordinary.
Ordinary - This has been seen before
Extraordinary - By moving slightly closer this spectacurlar image was possible

Going closer
This series of pictures is just a small selection of about 30 I took in this situation. Notice how I started shooting from the distance and moved closer while taking even more pictures.

When taking pictures of people who fish, you need to be there with them. You want to be in the water, in the same boat, by their side. When something happens, like a hookup, you immediately start shooting, and subsequently move closer while constantly taking more pictures.
Once you get to a suitable distance you shoot full shots and also details: reel, hands, face, the fish. With a zoom you can vary your field-of-view, but if you use a camera or lens with a fixed focal length, you just move back and forth to vary the distance.

Distant light - A distant image can sometimes be the only way to grab the situation, but even though you shoot a few frames on the distance, you should immediately move closer while still shooting.
Distant light
Move! - Notice how two fellow anglers approach the lucky one who has a hookup with the cameras out

Too distant - Even with the nice backdrop in this image, the distance to the angler is just too big. Not far enough to give the impression of a grand landscape, but not near enough to show the angler in detail.
Too distant
Framing - By going close you get the option of focusing on details like Jens\' hands while he is tying on a fly rather than his whole body.

The best lens for close photography is a medium wide angle, what corresponds to a 28mm on a 35mm film camera. This lens will grab the whole scene, give a very good perspective and not disturb the perspective. Wider lenses can work well, but often gives some strange and hrad-to-handle perspective distortions. Longer lenses will not give the same sense of being there, but rather convey distance - for the simple reason that there is distance.

And just to straighten one thing out: by going close I don't mean switch to macro. Close is like in a few feet or a meter. Not down to inches.

Close but not macro - When I talk about going close, I\'m not referring to macro shots like this one
Close but not macro

This article was about going close in normal camera mode. I will cover macro photography in a coming article.

I also have a small photography site called you can visit.

A series
These 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

User comments
GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted November 22nd 2010

Jarivs...(Jarvis, maybe?),

Come down to Alberta? Well, I'd have to be pretty far north to come down to you... Looking on a map, I actually am further north than you! But any particular reason you want me to come? And does it have anything to do with the article?

Confused in Denmark.


From: jarivs · jd_-hockey·at·  Link
Submitted November 21st 2010

can you come down to hardisty alberta

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