Over the years, many of you have asked for more posts on taking better fishing photos, and today we delivered!
Our buddy Wray Sinclair has put together a great post on how to get away from ‘Auto Mode,’ and use the three most important camera modes to help you take better photos on the water. If you don’t know Wray, odds are you’ve probably still seen his work. His images have been featured in The Fly Fish Journal, The Drake Magazine, American Angler, and Southwest Fly Fishing just to name a few. Let’s just say he knows how to capture a moment, and if you’re looking to up your photography game, you’re going to want to keep on reading.
To see some of his work, do yourself a favor and check out his website, here, or follow him on Instagram at @wraysinclairphoto.
Basic Camera Settings for Better Fly Fishing Photos
For those of you looking to push your fly fishing photography to the next level with the camera you have, you’ll soon find (if you haven’t yet already) that the auto mode only works so well. To elaborate on this, think of the auto mode as a ‘crutch.’ It does the job, gets the work done, but provides an average result. It is a quick fix for a problem, but doesn’t give you the best solution, which is taking the best possible photograph.
There are 3 basic settings that you will want to use when shooting fly fishing photography and I’ll cover each one and when they are best used below. Keep in mind, this article requires a basic understanding of exposure on your camera. To freshen up, take a look at this article by clicking right here.
Aperture Priority Mode.
When to use: Landscape shots, close up fish shots, grip and grin shots.
This mode is what I frequently leave my camera on when out fishing. It is generally the best mode to be in for 75% of the photo opportunities that come up. In this mode you select the aperture (f-stop) that you want to use along with the ISO, and the camera decides the shutter speed that will provide for the correct exposure. This is most common when you want to maintain creative control over your depth of field (depth of your focal plane – what is in focus or out). The advantages of this is that you can compensate for low light or decide to have shallow depth of field when using a wide aperture. Or on the flip side, you could use a small aperture, which would have a long focal plane with lots in focus. You could find this most useful when shooting a landscape image in which you want the entire scene to be in focus.
Shutter Priority Mode.
When to use: Fish jumping, fly casting, fast action.
In a sense, shutter priority is the opposite of aperture priority, in that you choose the shutter speed, rather than the aperture. This will allow for total creative control on how you freeze the action (or choose not to). Generally speaking, as a rule of thumb for jumping fish shots, to maintain sharpness you should aim for around 1/1600th of a second, however sometimes you can get away with less.
When to use: Backlit scenes.
Think of manual mode as the combination of both aperture and shutter priority. When shooting in manual you have to decide all of the different exposure variables: Aperture, Shutter speed, and ISO. This can be most advantageous to use while shooting backlit scenarios. DSLR’s metering modes that determine the correct exposure can often struggle in high contrast or backlit situations. In this case it can be best to shoot in manual mode, and adjust your settings accordingly. For me personally when I do this, I choose a rough exposure that would be correct for the scene, take a photo, and then adjust my settings based on what is displayed on my LCD to compensate as needed.