The Angle of View

In our hobby the body shape of a fish tells us much. The concerned hobbyists try to gauge the sex, the age, future potential and quality from what they see.  When looking at photos however, it is easy to form the wrong impression. Be careful to judge too quickly.

When viewing photos of fish, one must be aware how serious the angle of view can effect the photo.


Firstly, there is the rotational angle of the fish itself. Swimming from or away from the camera or across the plane of view. Or to put it differently, viewing it head first, tail first or from the side.

Then there is the elevation angle at which you view the subject. You can take the photo directly from above, at 90 degrees with the water level or you can choose a lower angle to avoid the flash bouncing back into the picture. 





To illustrate how the body shape changes when viewed from different elevation angles I took some pictures of paper fish. First, we view two identical fish at 90 degrees with the viewing plane. Right from above




Then fish B is turned by 90 degrees. We are dealing with the same fish, right?




At 45 degrees viewing vertical angle the distortion is a little noticeable. Fish A appears a bit more bulkier and fish B a bit leaner. This apparent distortion is because A’s head is further away from the camera than its tail. The zoom factor will tend to enhance this effect. 




Above: Looking at a low angle of about 25 degrees the distortion becomes so pronounced that it will not favour some fish in a side-on position.

Normally you do not want to take the photo at lower that 45 degrees for representing koi. Lower angles tend to distort the image noticeably. It is only used when the photographer has reason to do so in the picture below.



But we can use this distortion to take more dramatic photos.

The photo above of a mountain pond in Miyajima was taken at a low angle, the camera almost touching the water.


In general, each of these effects has its pro’s and con’s and the photographer uses it to best effect of the photo he wants to take. Besides the F-stop and speed of the camera, he must also factor in the focal length of the lens he uses, the level of zoom, and the distance to the object. 

Unfortunately, we not always have the benefit of choosing our point of view. The light and reflection in some locations forces us to sometimes take pictures at angles that compromises the fish. 

If you are the photographer however, be aware you can “destroy” fish by pressing the button at the wrong time.


Servaas de Kock