1) Like anything else you should check your tackle everyday, drag, line, hooks. Also check your cameras and recording decks everyday. When you get out to the fishing grounds to drop the riggers clean the camera lens. Go inside the salon and check the TV to see if the cameras are leveled and prepared for the shots you want to get. Remember when the riggers get washed and chamois it may bump the cameras out of place, realigned them if you need to. Also make sure to check the recording decks; Press the screen display and look at the counter and see how much recording time you have left on your tape. Replace the tape if you are down to 5 minutes or less, it is not worth it to lose the release shot because you ran out of tape.
2) When the sunglasses get dirty with salt mist the same thing happens to the camera lens. Therefore is wise to clean up the camera. It only takes a couple of minutes to pull both riggers up and clean the camera lens. Use Rain-X to keep the water spots off the lens.
3) When hooked up to a fish go ahead and clean your camera lens if you remember. The boat usually is going backwards so you will have a clean video shot for the release.
4) Use a sharpie marker to make a mark on the line of about 6 arm lengths or 60 feet. This will serve as a guide that will let you know when you can start recording. When the mark reaches the rod tip, simply click the button and start recording the fishing action. This way you won't get caught by surprise when the fish comes jumping close to the boat. This will help you avoid losing those great jump shots.
5) When using the key fab to control the recording decks, press firmly and hold down the recording button for about 3 to 4 seconds. This will send the receiver a good signal from the key fab and will engage the decks on record mode. Repeat the steps for the stand by mode. Note: Make sure you press the button for 3 or 4 seconds.
6) Make sure that there is nothing covering up the IR eye on the recording deck(s) or that nothing has bumped it out of place. This can cause the IR eye to stop sending a signal to the recording deck(s) Note: It is not recommended to place objects or items around the decks since they can block the IR eye.
Video Tips for Beginners
Don't Buy Low End Equipment
Spend the extra money and get into the new age of digital video. Find a camera system that has the 3CCD chips. The CCD chip records each individual color and gives you a sharper image. Accessories are important and are worth the extra expense. A wide angle lens is also a great asset when shooting video in cockpits.
A Larger Size Camera is Better than a Small One
The smaller cameras that fit in your pocket or in the Palm of your hand might look okay and may be cool, but when the camera is that small, the stability and quality of the lens gets lost. Look for something that fits in your hand. Remember to pan slowly and not too fast when you are shooting video, this way the video will flow rather smoothly and it will be easier on the eye.
Keep Your Camera Covered
Buy a rain jacket for your camera; companies like Porta Brace make custom covers called Rain Jackets. These covers will keep salt residue off the camera. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that because it is a calm day the camera will not get salt residue. Be careful when shooting billfish up close to the leader, the tendency is to hold the camera over the covering board to get that close-up head shot; but be prepared to avoid the spatter, for the fish will shake his head and splash water all over the camera. At the end of each day you should always take a chamois and wipe down the camera body to get rid of the salt residue.
Don't Shoot In Automatic Focus
This is one of the most common mistakes that everyone makes while shooting fishing videos. When you look through the viewfinder and see a blue marlin jumping on the leader, the camera automatically focuses on the rod tip making you miss the Marlin jump shot. Sounds familiar? In order to avoid this problem, turn your camera to manual focus, zoom in to where you think the fish could jump and pan out. This little small tip will help you avoid losing those great marlin jump shots.
Try Shooting More Than One Angle
Shooting from the bridge of the boat to keep the camera dry and to get that great high angle perspective is a great idea. Nonetheless I suggest that you move around the boat whenever possible to make the video more interesting. Get some shots of the captain, the mate rigging the bait, or lures, and the rod and reel. My favorite part of the experience of shooting video is to interview the angler in the chair while they are fighting the fish. By adding all these different shots to the video you will only make it more real and less static.
Storing Your Camera in the A/C
Everyone thinks that keeping the camera inside the boat is the best thing to do. The truth of the matter is that the air conditioner will cause the camera to get condensed. If a blue marlin gets hooked, the instinct is to run and get the camera inside the boat, at this point the camera lens will be fogged and you will miss the shots. The best solution to this problem is to place the camera outside in the cockpit or bridge. Make sure to keep it inside a camera bag sitting somewhere safe. This will solve the problem of condensation and it will keep you from missing all the fishing action.
Don't Forget Your Spares
Be ready at all times especially if the boat catches a record fish. In order to avoid running out of battery or tape while you are fishing, always make sure you have a stash of tapes and batteries tucked somewhere near you. You need to have at least two or more batteries charged and ready to go. Tape is inexpensive so keep plenty in your bag.
Be Ready at All Times
I like to shoot video while the birds are diving in the water catching bait. This is right around the time when a fish will pop up on a teaser so be ready to record the action. Make sure you shoot the angler dropping the bait back to the fish, this way you will be ready to record the fish bite. Keep recording because you never know when the fish will come up.
Always try to think about what you can add to your video to make it better. Cut-away shots will help you break up the ongoing fishing fight and will make for a more interesting video to watch. The angles I like to shoot are: a close up of the line coming off the reel, a close up of the angler winding on the reel handle, the mate putting the line in the rigger clip, shots of the rod tip bending, line cutting through the water, the sweat coming off the angler's chin, the captain's hands on the controls and the mate rigging baits or lures. These shots will make a great video but your own creativity is the key for developing your own style.
Going for the Close-Up Shot
Everybody thinks they need to get a close-up shot where the fish fills the viewfinder, this is not so. Zooming in on the fish only makes for an unstable video. Instead try to keep the shot wide until the fish settles down, then slowly tighten up to a medium-range shot. One of the tricks that will help you see through the viewfinder is to keep the other eye open while you watch the fish jump, just make sure to stay on the wide shot.
Don't Watch the Angle of the Line
Most people think the direction of the line is the way the fish is swimming. The fish usually swims off to the left and then swims to the right; the fish will dive down deep and stay on the surface. Each one of the scenarios will change the angle of the line entering into the water. I like to keep my eyes open and observing, holding the video camera to the side and ready. Most of the time the fish will come up jumping when you are not expecting, always keep your eyes on the surface in front of you.
Getting the Fish Bite
Everybody wants to watch the fish bite. In order to get that awesome fish bite, have your camera zoomed in and focused around the short bait, this way you will be ready when the fish comes up. The first thing you must do is to turn on the camera in record mode. Don't put your hand in the hand strap and then turn it on because you will waste time. It takes about 6 to 10 seconds to put the hand in the strap and to turn the camera in record mode. These are seconds you cannot afford to waste. The next most important thing to do is to quickly look for the fish when it strikes the bait. If you follow this advice you will always get the bite every time.
Storing Your Tapes
Tapes only have a shelf life of 10 to 15 years. If you need to leave all your fishing videos on tape you should:
Mold and humidity can damage the tapes in 10 to 15 years. DVDs will last 50 to 100 years.
- Store them upright.
- Keep a copy in another location because tapes are fragile.
- Fast forward and re-rewind them once a year.
- Transfer them from one DV tape to another (or another format) every 5 years.
10 Tips for Better Photos
By Charlie Levine, Managing Editor of Marlin Magazine
- Never leave your camera in an air-conditioned cabin. Your lens will fog up with condensation when it hits the warm air and you won't catch sharp images.
- Use good film. If you want to take magazine-quality images, use slide film such as Kodak Ektachrome or Fuji Velvia. At Marlin, we shoot with Kodak Ektachrom E-100 VS. The VS stands for vivid saturation, and it really brings out the deep blue color of the ocean.
- Use a good digital camera. Everyone is shooting digital these days and the gear keeps getting better. Don't go less than five megapixels when choosing your camera and make sure it can shoot around eight frames a second to capture jumping fish. The new digital SLR (single lens reflective) cameras are very impressive. You can change out the lenses like a 35 mm camera. At Marlin we recently purchases a Canon 20D and it's working well for us. But if you can swing it, I suggest bumping up to the Canon EOS 1 D II. This is my dream camera and the one many of our freelance photographers use.
- Shoot in RAW. If you would like to take magazine-quality digital shots, shoot in the RAW mode, not JPEG. It's amazing what our art directors can do with these images. But keep in mind that the file will be large so you'll need a few flash cards on hand because they fill up quick.
- Wipe down repeatedly. Even when you are fishing on a slick-calm day you will get salt residue on your lens. Use a high-quality lens cleaner (you can buy it at any eyeglass shop) and lens paper that won't scratch.
- Bring extra film, extra batteries, extra flash cards and an extra camera if possible. Having more than one of everything will pay off if your equipment malfunctions or if you drop something in the drink.
- When taking shots of jumping fish, set the camera to shutter priority (labeled TV on the camera dial). Then, set your shutter speed to 1,000. This will be fast enough to capture water droplets and jumping fish. Keeping everything in focus is the tough part.
- Lens filters. I usually use a haze filter, which helps brighten photos and protects the lens from scratches. (It's only $50 to replace a filter, but a high-quality lens can run you $3,000 or more.) Be careful with polarized filters. They darken a lot of shots. I only use them when taking scenic shots on a super bright day.
- Invest in a good camera case. I prefer the hard plastic, waterproof cases made by Pelican. You can drive a car over these cases and your camera will be fine. Or, drop the whole thing in the water and it floats!
- Take lots of photos. Film is cheap. (Digital is even cheaper.) The more shots you take, the better your chances of getting a fantastic image that you will treasure forever.