Taking decent pictures of fish is not rocket science if you follow a few simple rules. I spend a lot of time out on the bank taking photos with anglers for magazine features and often the talk turns to photography and before long I am setting up their cameras to try and get them some improvement. The most common change that I have to make is to simply switch their camera to recording their images as high quality jpegs. You’ll find this hidden away in the cameras menu somewhere, normally under a heading like ‘image quality’ or just ‘quality’.
These might be OK for using on the web, or looking at on a screen, but you will need a large size image if you want to print your pictures or send them to magazines. Remember, you can always make an image smaller, but you can’t make them larger.
Whatever you do, DO NOT be tempted to store your images as smaller files.
If you habitually leave your pictures on your cameras memory card and rarely download them to a computer or tablet then you are asking for trouble. I can’t say that I have ever had a memory card let me down, but it can happen. I always download any pictures that I need as soon as I can and back them up onto the Cloud so that I have multiple copies, just in case the worst happens. Branded memory cards have come down massively in price, and it is easy to get lazy and leave your pictures on that tiny piece of plastic, the only time this will matter though is when it lets you down, so get into the habit of backing stuff up regularly.FORMATS
There are two industry standard ways of recording images on your camera. The most user-friendly is a jpeg. This is a file that the camera’s internal wizardry has processed using some inbuilt settings to give what it thinks is the best image reproduction. You can use jpegs straight from the camera as it is a standard format for just about anything you want to do with an image. If you have access to a couple of different brands of camera then you can see just how much difference the internal processing to create a jpeg really makes. I use Canon cameras, which tend to have a warm feel to them, but are not particularly sharp, whereas friends who use Nikons find their pictures have a cooler colour but are much sharper straight out of the camera.
The other format is called Raw. As the name suggests, this is the unadulterated image with no processing applied. These images can appear a little flat and maybe even slightly unsharp if you magnify them right up, but the beauty with a Raw file is that after processing using software like Photoshop, Camera Bridge or Lightroom you can create the image exactly how you want it with no loss of quality.
Purists will insist that Raw is the only way to go. For a jobbing photographer, or someone who just wants some great pictures without spending hours tinkering on a computer, then jpegs are by far the best option and a lot less hassle. As long as they are big enough, they are plenty good enough for reproduction in magazines.
Which format you choose is up to you. Many cameras will even let you save two copies, a high quality jpeg and a Raw, although this takes up twice as much memory, so if you are going down this route you better stock up on memory cards!