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Blame Smartphones For Awful Fish Photos
Ryan Gilligan, Managing Editor, North American Fisherman Magazine
NAFC Staff Blogs
I oversee the NAFC’s monthly
Outstanding Catch Contest
and put together the Member Photos pages for every issue of
North American Fisherman
magazine. On one hand, it’s a sweet gig because it means I get to drool over photos of huge fish for about a half-hour each day and call it “work.”
On the other hand, I also have to witness the tragedy of seeing more and more members holding what’s likely their fish of a lifetime…in pixilated, blurry, poorly-lit excuses for photos captured and sent via smartphone.
This smartphone-taken image is exactly why you need to keep a quality digital camera in your tackle box—then learn how to use it.
Makes me want to cry in my coffee.
Let’s get something straight: Smartphones are excellent tools for a lot of things, from finding your way to a remote boat launch you’ve never used to fishing-friendly apps like the NAFC’s
. I hear you can actually use them talk to other people on other phones in other places—amazing, I know.
But for all they are, they are not cameras.
They. Are. Not. Cameras.
Oh, they might create and store images that look generally like whatever you point them at. But they simply lack the internal hardware to take clear, well-lit, in-focus photos that are high enough resolution to print on a magazine page or stamp onto a glossy 8-by-10 that you can hang on the wall and show your grandkids.
(Blog continues below the photo!)
This photo of NAFC Life Member Ron Ely (taken with a real camera, not a phone), is the ultimate example of what we should all shoot for when taking our own big-fish photos.
The fish of a lifetime might bite on your very next cast. Whether it’s a bass or walleye or cat or pike, you’re going to want to remember and honor that fish until your last days. Do you really want the only record of the moment to be captured and stored on a fragile, fickle, palm-sized gizmo you’re going to eventually drop into the lake or onto the sidewalk?
If you’re actually struggling to answer that, consider this: In my grandfather’s garage, tacked unassumingly on the pegboard over his workbench, is a 60-some-year-old black-and-white photo of him in an ice shanty, holding a giant pike. In it, the grey, ailing man I’ve known all my life is about as young as I am now.
If iPhones and Droids had existed in the 1950s, would I have ever seen this photo?
I doubt it. And even if I had, the image likely wouldn’t have been sharp enough to see all the cool detail that makes Grandpa’s photo a time capsule—the oil lamp on the wall, the pack of Chesterfield cigarettes peeking out the pocket of his army coat, the checkered wool cap, and the subtle details of his face that let me see myself in the photo.
There are two lessons here. First, you and the fish you catch deserve better than the lousy, grainy snapshots smartphones currently offer (or perhaps ever will). If you don’t have a real, quality, digital camera, buy one—and put it in your tackle box alongside all your other essential fishing tools. There are plenty on the market, and they’re generally priced less than the latest crop of smartphones we’re being told are necessary to function in modern society.
Mark Hicks, one of North American Fisherman’s top writers and photographers, recently covered some great point-and-shoot cameras in the December/January 2011-’12 issue’s
Shop Smart column
. The cameras he highlights—like the
Kodak EasyShare Sport
Sony Cyber-Shot TX5
Pentax OPTIO WG-1
will not only take great photos—they’re waterproof!
Second lesson? Regardless of what you use to take your big-fish photos, put in that extra bit of effort to ensure the image is something to be proud of. Fill the frame with the angler and fish—without cutting off the top of the guy’s head or any part of the fish. Have the person face into the sun and/or use a flash to throw some light under shadowed hat brims (the flash is not just for low-light situations).
And speaking of which, take the photos outside, on the water, without a bunch of distracting, ugly junk in the background. Take off your sunglasses, put your shirt on, pull the cigarette butt out of your mouth, and for Pete’s sake, smile!
Then, take a lot of photos—you can always delete them after the fact, but you can’t go back and take more once you’ve let the fish go, or put a knife through it.
Immediately afterward, take a critical look at what you’ve shot. Are the images in tack-sharp focus? Is the fish’s tail cut off? Is some snot-nose kid giving you the finger in the background?
If so, reshoot until you get it right. You’ll be happy you did. -- Ryan
NAFC Social Media Editor
Monday, January 30, 2012 9:32 AM
Amen! -- Web Guy Greg
Wednesday, July 11, 2012 8:48 AM
I couldn't agree more. The serious/bad ass look, cigarette butt, beer can reference pictures are the worst. If the last sentence describes your photos, Angler to Angler...you look stupid. Stop doing it. I always have my digital camera and I CPR just about everything I catch.
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