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Fish are so frustrating! How to get close?


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#1 MitHere

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 01:38 PM

Hi all, flurry of questions from me!
Ha, fish are skittish. Any tips on how to get closer?
They seem to bloody well hate having the housing pointed at them!
And I'm trying not to blow bubbles in their face.
But they still skive off! I guess that's UW photography for ya.
Still, stoked to be back in the water.
YEE HA!
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#2 sdingeldein

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 04:16 PM

Hi all, flurry of questions from me!
Ha, fish are skittish. Any tips on how to get closer?
They seem to bloody well hate having the housing pointed at them!
And I'm trying not to blow bubbles in their face.
But they still skive off! I guess that's UW photography for ya.
Still, stoked to be back in the water.
YEE HA!


Slow easy movements, hang around a bit. Let the fish get used to you.

But your question reminds me once of when Ned Deloach looked at me and said, "Steve, we photographers thrive on dumb fish."

Every once in a while you come on a fish that, for its species, is just different. It'll hang around, ergo = dumb.

Oh yes, cleaning stations! I describe cleaning stations as being analogous to if you were having a great massage on a railroad track and a train is coming. No massage that feels great and you get off the track lickety split. Great massage and you might linger a bit longer on the track. That is how I see cleaning stations. Fish will tolerate you a bit better if they are getting cleaned.

Rebreather if you REALLY get serious (I am not there yet).
Born to dive, forced to work

#3 Stoo

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 07:35 PM

I've always maintained that the first step in becoming a good underwater photographer, is to become a great diver. As mentioned, slow, measured movements, perfect buoyancy control, careful breathing... And a patient buddy if you must have one.

My brother, who is a semi-professional wildlife photographer, sponsored by Canon and published widely in calendars etc., decided to take up diving eons ago. He asked to borrow one of my Nikonos cameras before heading to the Galapagos.

When he came back, he had a bag full of gorgeous images... all on land. The few he took in the water... well, you couldn't even tell what the subject was. He handed back the camera, mumbled something about taking pictures in the water being "impossible", and to the best of my knowledge, never went diving again. Gospel truth...

And a rebreather wouldn't hurt either, I agree. But as I point out to my rebreather buddies, I don't fart in bed and pull the covers over my head, so why would I want to recycle my breath either! :)

Edited by Stoo, 09 August 2011 - 07:37 PM.


#4 DerekB

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 08:43 PM

I wrote about this a month or two ago. Was told it was cheating by some ( IDK).

What we can learn from the hunters

Recap is: Freediving helps more then you can imagine, and that studying fish behavior and learning to mimic can call them in.

#5 tdpriest

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 08:20 AM

Practice, practice, practice and lots and lots of diving. One well-known Moderator claims that not eating fish helps, too...

Tim

:)

#6 sideways

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 06:26 AM

Practice, practice, practice and lots and lots of diving. One well-known Moderator claims that not eating fish helps, too...

Tim

;)


But wait......Don't fish...eat fish??? I'm confused.... :)

I'd echo some of what the others have said. I find when I dive locally, I have time to stay in one spot for a looooong time. That helps acclimate the critters to your presence. On the flip side, when resort diving and ESPECIALLY drift diving, it's tough!!!
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#7 derway

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 08:10 PM

Don't chase them. Pretend you are interested in something else, the other side of this coral head, and then shoot them from an angle, or meet them from the other side.

Hanging still, without moving anything but a tiny fin movement, at the subject's distance tolerance, is fun and rewarding.

Watch their movements, and see if they have a home territory that they travel back to, every once in awhile.

The resort guides are working for you, tell them what you want!
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#8 tdpriest

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 11:12 AM

But wait......Don't fish...eat fish??? I'm confused.... :)


Ahh - but fish chase fish, too...

Tim

;)

#9 errbrr

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 06:14 PM

I've found huge differences between sites that get dived all the time and sites that never see divers. Same set of species, same bit of reef, just a bit further along (and in the shipping channel so rarely dived) and suddenly you can't get close to anything! Surgey conditions seem to help me, but you definitely only get one shot before they shoot off. Except for the species that love their own reflection, I have a lot of pictures of fish behinds.

#10 ATJ

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 03:20 PM

Understanding the behaviour of the fish also helps a lot. Different families behave quite differently and knowing that is an advantage. For example, scorpionfish tend to stay put most of the time so you can get in close, however, a lionfish on the move generally keeps moving but will aim its dorsal spines towards you/camera if you get in too close.

Hawkfish like to perch and if you are careful you can get quite close and fire off a few shots before they move.

Burrowing gobies will disappear down their burrow pretty quickly if you get too close but if you wait outside the burrow at a reasonable distance you can get them on the way out - which makes for a better shot anyway.

And so on across the families...

#11 Kai2810

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 06:31 PM

Will attaching pieces of food to your BCD help? :)

#12 Stoo

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 03:12 PM

Will attaching pieces of food to your BCD help? :)


Many years, an Instructor friend of mine stuffed the pocket (on a horsecollar vest) of a smart-a$$ AOW student in Cozumel with food. Back then, there was tons of huge grouper that expected to be fed. The smell caused them to ram his BC repeatedly. So I don't know stuffing your own pockets with food would help, but certainly stuffing your buddy's BC pockets would open up some interesting possibilities.

When I was in Turneffe last year, I was bent and determined to to get some croc shots back in the mangroves. I tried to convince a buddy that if I stuffed some raw chicken under his hood, I could probably get some AWESOME shots. Oddly, he wouldn't go for it. :laugh:

#13 RWBrooks

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 04:33 PM

Pretending to be interested in something else seems to work as derway suggested, especially with turtles, who will sometimes come over to see what you are looking at.
Don't look at your subject directly and don't make any sudden movements. You are hundreds if not thousands of times bigger than most of your subjects so be nice and calm and friendly. Your eyes are a major source of deterrent to animals so don't glare at them. The housing itself could be seen as a huge monocular monstrosity itself and fish do not like to be eyeballed.
As ATJ said, understand the behavior of your quarry, know their comfort zones, use the zoom to get decent framing if proximity is an issue and utilise the cleaning station stupor to get that extra couple of feet closer in.
Go somewhere the fish are used to divers. Blue Corner here in Palau is awesome for that. There can be 1000 divers there each day during busy season and the resident fish do tolerate them much more than at other less frequently dived sites, especially the sharks.
Control your buoyancy and control your breathing, if you can't control your buoyancy, you shouldn't have a camera. Simple.
Trickle your exhalations, being calm helps infinitely.
If you want to come to Palau and see the Mantas, don't come in busy season as there are easily 20+ boats at German Channel every day, the frenzied hordes of camera wielding tourons have most likely already chased off anything/everything of interest.
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#14 browng

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Posted 01 October 2011 - 02:56 AM

Slow easy movements, hang around a bit. Let the fish get used to you.

Rebreather if you REALLY get serious (I am not there yet).


I dive with a rebreather most of the time and find that it has benefits especially with critters that don't like bubbles e.g. mantas, sharks, etc. I was diving a couple of weeks ago on Orisima Thila, Noon Atoll, Maldives and as two rebreather divers we were able to lay on the sand with the sharks skimming inches above us. no bubbles = no disturbance.

But as many of the respondents have said it comes back to very slow movements especially when trying to look at the histogram, monitor or adjusting strobes even with a rebreather!

Gordon

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#15 ktmadventurer

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 09:20 PM

I... And a patient buddy if you must have one.


....don't know what I'd do without my very patient buddy also known as my husband! While I wait for the fish to settle down in a particular spot, he is calmly floating around tapping his fingers on his SPG and taking in the scenery! ^_^
He also keeps an eye on where we are, where the boat is, and what interesting critter I may be interested in!
For some reason I lose my bearings after getting up close and personal with something and being upside down while doing it!
Scuba diver with photography problem...
or is it photographer with scuba diving problem?

#16 primus.3a

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 02:14 PM

Don't chase them. Pretend you are interested in something else, the other side of this coral head, and then shoot them from an angle, or meet them from the other side.

Hanging still, without moving anything but a tiny fin movement, at the subject's distance tolerance, is fun and rewarding.

Watch their movements, and see if they have a home territory that they travel back to, every once in awhile.

The resort guides are working for you, tell them what you want!


But what to do if fish (like this Yellow Margin Trigger Fish) is chasing you? ;) :guiness: :guiness:
19min28sec to 20min30sec


Some photos taken with Panasonic DMC-FT3 (TS3) compact UW camera during snorkeling and freediving:

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More UW photos: PHOTOS
More UW movies: MOVIES
I recorded everything with "naked" (no UW housing) compact UW cameras, while snorkeling or freediving up to 17 meters deep

And yes, understanding the behaviour of the fish also helps a lot, also hanging still helps a lot, but most important is practice, a lot of practicing.

#17 baileykenneths

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 07:06 PM

Hi all, flurry of questions from me!
Ha, fish are skittish. Any tips on how to get closer?
They seem to bloody well hate having the housing pointed at them!
And I'm trying not to blow bubbles in their face.
But they still skive off! I guess that's UW photography for ya.
Still, stoked to be back in the water.
YEE HA!


Absolutely hang around a bit! As in the movie "Contact"...small moves! I find it helpful to settle on bottom when possible a bit away from them. Then slowly move forward.

#18 rovanpera

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 04:45 PM

here's some tips as well:

Freedive Photography

#19 gina

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 07:16 AM

Posted Image


Oh my, this looks familiar - a ~1m long titan trigger chasing me out of its territory! Funny how the average person is scared of shark attacks, but most divers know the real danger is an angry triggerfish.

-Gina

#20 Stoo

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 06:52 AM

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the "Remove spear and blood" filter in the new version of Photoshop...

After you have "convinced" the fishy to stay put, you photograph him, then remove the "evidence" with the aforementioned filter! :lol:

Edited by Stoo, 16 February 2012 - 06:54 AM.