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whats easier - UW photography or spearfishing?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Randy Quimpo

New Member
Mar 13, 2002
After many failed attempts to sneak up on fish and get clean pictures of them before they swam away, I decided to adapt the strategy of a hunter: I spot the fish from a distance, then approach it slowly, sticking close to the contour of the reef to avoid alarming it. I have given up on trying to come within a foot of the fish - this time I zoom in and take my shot from about five feet. Result? I got some nice broadside pictures of colorful tropical fish.

The question is - is it easier to take a picture of a fish or is it easier to spear it? I am starting to think that spearing is actaully easier, but thats my opinion.

Anyone got an angle on this?

Here is another fish shot I took recently - could have been an easy shot with a gun, no? But I wonder who would like to eat this fish.


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You can stick a gun out towards a fish, offering a very small profile if you're carefull .... but it's still a gun. I've found (to my utter frustration) that everytime I dive without a gun, I find the biggest, fattest, laziest sons-of-fishes I can think of, right up close ... so close, in fact, that I would have had to back - pedal if I had my gun with me :D

Now, photography, on the other hand, should be tackled in the same manner as hunting - but with a lot less 'aggression.' I mean to say that you won't be using power bursts to get closer for a photo, now would you?

And as for the fish, you should see what some of the guys in Northern Zululand (South Africa, East coast) eat - it's disgusting. They'd eat ANYTHING, including the obnoxious little goldies, that comes from the ocean. It's not a question of 'Oh that's nice, but I won't eat it' but a question of 'Mmmm tastes like more - what was it again??'
Strange but true...

If I don't have either a gun or a camera in my paws Randy, I don't know what to do. But either way, the important thing is to remember that closer is better, unless you're talking about Great Whites or the daughter's Father. And getting close is one of the frustrating yet fun things about either way of shooting.
One interesting aside you can try is when using a camera and looking at the subject, ie, fish, switch your mindset over from worrying about the composition and the lighting angle and go to thinking about lining up the spear for the shot. I shit you not that the fish will bail on you in a flash!

I've got a way to do both. I've made a bracket for my gun that I mount my Ikelite Aqua Shot3 (courtesy of the poor scuba diver that lost it) :waterwork to. Right before I pull the trigger I snap a pic. Kind of cool, you can see the last third of the gun off in the left corner of the pic w/ the fish in the middle(hopefully). So I guess I use the hunter mentality to get the shot- both ways. Now I just need to figure out how to make it all happen together.
great question randy. :D

i don't think there's an answer though. it all depends on the person and the type of fish they're targeting. obviously, some fish are easy to spear while others take quite a bit of time to learn how to approach. with photography, the same thing goes. there are some fish that are easier to photo while others won't give you the time of day.

here are some techniques that i suggest:

when i see a certain species that i'd like to get some shots of, i stay on the surface just above it for about 2-3 minutes trying to determine which group of rocks/corals/fans it feels safest. i'll then swim off to the side for a bit and even swim to the bottom a couple of times before heading directly over to it. alot of fish pick up on the behavior of other fish in the area. if it realizes everything else is comfy with you being there, chances are it will too.

when i finally go in for an attempt to take its picture, i try to keep my body as far away from it as possible. i extend my arm with the camera and take the picture that way. i pretty much shoot everything "from the hip", so to speak. if you're concentrating on the fish's movement, you can pretty much anticipate what it's going to do and... voila, snap! if your eye is looking through the view finder, you'll have a much more difficult time framing the dude properly. plus, you can kind of "coral" the fish by extending the camera to the side you don't want him to go. of course, everything is done as subtly as possible.

another technique i use is "panning". this is a basic technique where your camera follows a moving subject and you press the shutter release while the camera's in motion.

here's an example of panning. pretty cool how they turn out. (and i did nothing to it in photoshop. this is how it came out):
if you're patient enough (ie. staying right in front of the place you know it hangs out at) sooner or later, the fish will come back right in front of you. that's the best time to get those REALLY up close shots. again, i reach the camera out to the fish, instead of bringing in my whole body.

here's a shot i got in pretty cruddy water, but it came out clear because i was inches from the fish. and even though it doesn't look like i'm close, i am. i had the camera at it's widest angle possible....
Thanks for the tip

Those were some neat suggestions, mon - definitely my shooting will improve given time. And its starting to make me think that the fish are watching US - they even manufacture a dive mask with mirrored lenses, so you don't make "eye contact". Is there any truth to the statement "don't make eye contact with the fish you're gonna spear"?

In the meantime, here is another shot of some strange species I had chanced upon in the open ocean - care to identify?


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Jay ....

... dude .... where's da pictures of the gun, man? Sounds too cool. How do you trigger the camera? Doesn't it interfere with tracking? Make a noise? etc etc ...
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Considering that you were probably less than a foot away from this fish to get this shot, don't you think that spearing IS easier? You wouldn't have to be this near to spear this fish.

Abriapnea in Thailand seems to think so (see his post in Newbie posts pix).

Again, thanks for the info.

obviously, these fish do not make great table fare. alot of edible reef fish get to size by being smart and staying out of harms way. if spearing were easier, you'd see a lot more dead fish in my pictures. ;)

maybe it's relative. ie. the smaller the fish, the closer you can get to it? :confused:
Hey SASpearo,
The pics I've taken so far were all print, from now on I'm getting everything put on CD also. The drawback to my system is you have to reach up and push the shutter button then pull the trigger w/ the other hand. I'll see if I can get so pics soon though.
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