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Capture The Moment
By Rick Adair

It's early morning. You've made it out on the water before sunrise. The bite seems to be good. Then it happens. The biggest largemouth you've ever caught is almost in the boat. You hold your breath until it is in the boat. It's in. You did it. This is your lucky day. Your buddy gets the camera. You let the lunker go. Then you look at the back of the digital camera to see the images. They don't really show the impressive size of the biggest fish of your life. What happened? Well, here are some very simple tips that will help you and your friend to get the photos that will show the non-believers back at work how big the fish really was.

First, get a good camera. Today that is very possible with 5-10 megapixel cameras becoming common and inexpensive. Once you get that camera, apply these rules in order of importance.

1. Get close. Either move that camera right up to the fish or zoom in and fill the frame. Especially with a camera with a small pixel count and definitely a camera phone. Enlarging a photo that's small to begin with will be "noisy" and unclear. Use as many of the pixels on your camera's sensor (where film use to be) as possible. If the angler and fish are little, have them hold the fry close to their face and fill the frame with both.

2. Use the flash every time. It's very hard to go wrong using a flash, even if the sun is shining. This will reduce the harsh shadows and bring out the color and detail of the fish.

3. Put the sun at a good angle to your subject. Usually not behind your subject or directly in front. Also not directly to the right or left either. Put it 45 degrees off either of your shoulders. Then have the fish's back (if held vertically) on the same side as the sun. If the sun is to the left of your friend, then have the back facing that direction. This will reduce the "fish belly white" that can be detracting to the shot. No sun? No problem. Use the flash.

4. Composition. Use the rule of thirds. Imagine a tic-tac-toe sketch in your viewfinder or on the back display of your camera. You have 2 lines horizontal and 2 vertical. You start your game of tic-tac-toe by putting an "X" in the middle square. That "X" means DON'T put your friends head in there. Try to keep the primary part (face) of your subject outside that box. Put your friends smile even with the top horizontal line. Put the fish along the bottom horizontal line if held horizontally. If the fish is held up and down. Put him even with one of the vertical lines and your buddy on the other matching line. Your photos will always be more interesting.

5. Emphasis. Have the angler (or you if someone is photographing you) hold the fish away from their body and closer to the camera. It will always be a more interesting photo. (Yes it embellishes the size of the fish, but you would do that anyway with your hands spread apart to show the length of your fish, if you didn't have a photo, right?)

6. Lastly, have fun. Fishing is a fun sport, so there's no reason to capture the moment as anything but enjoyable, particularly with younger anglers. This is not too hard to do since most folks won't be able to hold back a smile after a successful catch!

Well that's my 6 tip limit. Use these simple techniques and you will have more keepers and less to throw back.

Rick Adair is a professional photographer based in Springfield, Missouri. His work focuses on the outdoor industry including the people, the game, the fish, and the products that are utilized. His client list includes Remington, Realtree, Hevi-Shot, Bass Pro Shops, Cabelas and of course, Zebco Brands. You can see his work in issues of Field and Stream, Ducks Unlimited, Outdoor Life, In-Fisherman, Bassmasters, and Shooting Sportsman. See more of his work at RickAdair.com.
All images copyright ©2008 Adair Photography, Inc.

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