Swimming to Heaven

It is not standard to depict fish with their head facing upwards in the frame. Like someone once said “The fish is swimming to heaven”.

I took a conscious decision to print the photo in the orientation it was taken. Turning it would create an illusion that would appeal even less to the discerning eye – something all koi keepers are born with. So I decided to use it as an example of how not to take your pictured of your prized fish.

Swimming to heaven Swimming up side down

Notice how your brain picks up the difference in view angle as you switch between the two pictures.

A few hints when taking your photos:

  • Always wait for the fish to swim towards you.

  • Wait for the water to be calm to reduce the distortion of the body confirmation, ease of auto focus and reduction of reflections.

  • While you wait for the correct orientation turn you polarizing filter for the least amount of reflection from the water surface.

  • Adjust your shooting (viewing) angle to about 45o while looking at the start of the dorsal fin or slightly higher towards the shoulder.

  • A lower angle for a more dramatic effect but not necessary a true reflection of the body.

  • A higher angle if the fish is bigger to keep proportions stable, lower to get full fish in view. Don't be afraid to bend your knees. 

  • Never from the top, perpendicular to the water surface, so that the reflection of the flash bounces back at you.

  • Always force the flash ON to standardize you exposure.

  • There are times when the AF have difficulty finding focus due to various factors. Find focus on a clear line or pattern near the dorsal fin region, then reposition the frame before you click. Use manual focus if having trouble finding focus. (remembering to switch it back on when done)

  • Use a blue back ground/bowl for the best colour balance and setting a standard. Not too dark or light plastic.

  • When taking a photo of a bowl of fish take several and select the best.

  • Accept that evaluating a fish from only one picture is difficult. For that purpose take several photos from several orientations to best judge it.

  • …and if you like photography explore more with close-ups of the fish from differing angles. It will enhance your experience of the hobby by studying these features.

Happy clicking and keep the battery charged...

Servaas de Kock