How To? Shoot Schooling Fish
There is perhaps nothing more stunning than watching a giant school of fish move through the water column in a display reminiscent of a large, pulsating organism. Schooling fish have an uncanny ability to seemingly “move as one”, which helps them to ward off predators by appearing larger than a single individual. As incredible as it is to watch in person, capturing interesting photographs of schooling fish is not as easy as it would seem. Here are a few tips and tricks to capturing great photographs of schooling fish.
- Try to capture “eye contact” with leading members of the school in order to create a sense of interaction.
- The most inspiring images of schooling fish tend to have the fish swimming in the same direction. By swimming in a relaxed manner, photographers can slowly get close to schools. Don’t rush straight at the fish or this will result in them scattering across the reef.
Fish which are situated in a haphazard fashion, this detracts from the effectiveness
Fish all facing in the same direction, a more effective technique
- Many fish don’t feature very bright colouration such as jacks, barracuda, and several species of surgeonfish. In order to capture a stunning photo of bland coloured fish, try to include brightly coloured reef or corals in the foreground.
Bright red seawhips contrast well with bland coloured fish
Blue/grey surgeon fish don’t stand out well against a blue water background
- Use the schooling fish as the “background” of your photo. When it comes to composing wide angle photographs, having “Near and Far” compositional elements in the frame is always a winning combination. With this advice in mind, try to find a complementary foreground subject to illuminate with the fish as background.
Bright pink soft coral creates a great foreground subject
- Try to add a sense of movement by varying shutter speeds, a slow shutter speed can create a touch of motion blur that creates the idea that the fish are moving.
A slow shutter speed allows these jacks to look like they are swimming
That’s it, a quick set of 5 tips to help improve your schooling fish underwater photography. Try these tips on your next holiday and let us know about your results.