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Vol 5 No. 16 - January 5, 2005

Photo catch & release, digitally


By Rusty Chinnis
sun staff writer

Photos of a special fish, the beauty of the natural world or an outing with a special friend can provide years of enjoyment. Today’s digital cameras make the process easy and fun and provide you with tools to create your own digital darkroom. The best part is that you can enjoy this amazing technology no matter what your level of expertise. Most digital cameras come with software that let you enhance the image, crop the size and share the final product in a number of ways. You can send the images via e-mail, or print them out to frame and display. There are a few basic rules that will help you capture the best possible digital image:

Before you leave the dock, make sure you have fresh batteries, memory cards (digital film) and a clean lens.


There is almost always a certain amount of chaos associated with a great catch, so get an idea in advance of where you might take your shot. Check the background through the view finder carefully for distractions like a rod appearing to stick out of the subject’s head. If you’re ready in advance, you’ll get photographs that aren’t posed and that feature the vibrant colors of a fish fresh out of the water. First and foremost, fill the frame with the subject, eliminating anything that doesn’t add to the composition. Since you’re filming on the water, check that the horizon is straight.

Many photographs taken on the water are exposed in bright light. A camera’s light meter averages light over the scene, so an angler’s face (especially if shaded by a cap) will often be dark and lack detail. Make sure you expose your shots with fill flash. Modern digital cameras (even the less expensive ones) can automatically determine the correct amount of light to fill in the shadows. Take a number of shots from different positions and get the angler excited and talking to you. One of the really great advantages of digital is that you can take lots of pictures and edit them as you go to make sure you have the shot you want.

More advanced digital cameras and flashes allow you more control over the final image. Since the lighting is almost always challenging, shoot and then review important shots. If you have a more advanced camera, always bracket important shots in difficult lighting situations.

Expose at least three images: one slightly underexposed, one slightly overexposed, and one at the setting suggested by the light meter. If the light is bright and the subject dark, try spot metering on the fish and then the angler’s face. If spot metering isn’t available, come in close to establish the proper exposure. Photographers shooting with a digital SLR camera and independent flash units must remember to bracket with the flash.

There are a lot of excellent digital cameras on the market. Most come with a trial version of an image editing software like Adobe Elements. I would suggest buying at least a 3 Megapixal camera that has a zoom lens and accepts a polarizing filter. There are many models on the market from $160.00 to $300.00 dollars. Professional level cameras like the Nikon D-70 sell for approximately $1,500.00 with an 18-70 mm lens. Fishing is a lot more than catching, so make sure you take shots of those moments with friends and family that make the experience so special.

For more information on the right camera for you, check with a professional at your local shop or go to Software demos can be downloaded at

Taking the time to capture the "fishing moments of life" pays dividends when you can continue to relive, and share them through your images. The new digital technology takes pictures to a whole new level.

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