Photographs taken out on the water run the gamut from simple grip-and-grin trophy shots to a once-in-a-lifetime image capturing nature at its most awe-inspiring. Amassing a collection of fantastic shots requires an investment in equipment, some technical know-how and, most importantly, lots of time on the water. But in the end, the shooterís actions during that moment of truth make the difference between a decent pic and a great shot.

Whether the photographer is an amateur capturing memories of a fishing trip, a charter captain gathering great marketing material or a professional shooter looking for a money shot, he or she must be ready when the action happens. Here are some tips from a few Lowcountry photographers with plenty of experience on the water.

Capt. Tucker Blythe

Capt. Tucker Blythe of Grey Ghost Charters (greyghostcharters.com) has been shooting pics since he was a teenager. Back then his targets were largemouth bass, brim and mountain trout.

These days Blythe ranks as one of the Lowcountryís most knowledgeable charter captains and one of the for-hire sectorís best semi-pro shutterbugs, both stills and video. His work has been regularly featured in Tideline magazine.

A prolific online poster, Blythe wows his fans with great shots on his companyís website, and his personal and charter service Facebook pages.

Blythe also hosts his own YouTube channel.

ďThe short films and pictures I have taken have helped my career on multiple levels, mainly with new clients,Ē he said. ďI donít charge extra for any pics that I take during a charter, and I think people really appreciate having high quality pics to hang in their office or wherever.

ďThe film stuff is really just for fun, one of my hobbies.Ē

Brian Carroll

Freelance photographer Brian Carroll also has been shooting since his teen years, concentrating his efforts in the hunting and fishing world.

ďThere are photo albums in the closet full of my first images, from a pair of gobblers that I took on an oak ridge in the Upstate, to my best friendsí grip-and-grin photo with a huge whitetail buck.

ďIn my 20ís I moved to the coast and got the water bug. I donít think that I have been completely dry ever since.Ē

Carroll owns and runs Marine Marketing Group, which provides services in printing, graphic design, promotional products, signage and ó of course ó photography.

His photographs have been featured in Tideline, South Carolina Sportsman, North Carolina Sportsman, Saltwater Sportsman and many other publications.

Like most photo freelancers, Carrollís always on the hunt for premium material to offer an editor.

ďThere are many little things that all have to come together to make that perfect cover shot,Ē Carroll said, ďand luck is one of them. It helps to have luck on your side.Ē

Jason Stemple

Professional photographer Jason Stemple started shooting on-the-water photos in the í90s, when he was guiding in Crested Butte, Colo.

Stempleís earlier work anchored more than a dozen photography books, including Wild Wings (winner of the 2006 National Outdoor Book Award) and A Mirror To Nature (winner of the 2009 John Burroughís Award).

He got serious about shooting for the fishing industry in the past 5 years or so.

In between shooting for commercial clients, Stemple collaborates on book projects and continues to build a large supply of stock photography.

Stempleís recent work was published in Charleston Magazine and coming up in the November issue of Fly Fishing in Salt Waters.

To see more of Stempleís stunning wildlife photography, go to jasonstemple.com.

Are you shooting stills or video, or both?

Blythe: Iím shooting both stills and video.

Carroll: Typically I shoot both stills and video. I like to shoot clean stills for shots that are for sale to my editors and I shoot video to use in marketing and promotional videos that I produce for my clients. On an average day, I can shoot 400-600 shots and take 10-20 video clips in order to gather enough footage to come up with a great product.

Stemple: I shoot stills only. Iíve shot video here and there during my career, but I always feel like Iím missing an opportunity to get a great shot.

What kind of camera body and lenses do you use out on a boat?

Blythe: Have a Canon EOS 60D (digital single-lens reflex, or DSLR); two GoPros, the Hero 1 and Hero 2; and a Panasonic HDC-HS300 video camera. Lenses for the Canon are EF-S 10-22 mm wide angle and EF 70-200mm zoom.

Carroll: I shoot a Nikon D300S for my base DSLR and I have a backup Canon G11. Each one has its place. The DSLR gets credit for most of my posed shots, and I typically keep a Nikon Speedlight SB800 flash on top for fill-flash while out on the water. The Canon is a higher end point-and-shoot. Itís the one that ends up on the extension tripod, held close to the water for that running water video and up in the air from on top of the tower to give an even higher perspective. I have an underwater housing for it, so many times it gets dunked at the gunwales in an effort to capture live action of a fish coming to the gaff or simply swimming in the blue water.

You canít ever have enough lenses, and I carry a bag full on almost every trip. I have a 10.5 mm fisheye, a 35 mm, 70-200 mm, 18-135 mm and 170-500 mm. My bags are packed full of spare flashes, batteries, and I often set up my PocketWizards (remote flash system) to get just the right amount of flash in just the right spot.

My go-to lens on the water is the 70-200. It lets me capture a jumping fish in the distance or a pelican coming in fast for a crash landing.

I like the fisheye when a fish hits the hands of an angler, for the vivid lighting and close ups that can be taken with that lens. In most every grip-and-grin session, there is the old faithful 18-135 mm that ends up saving the day and getting that perfect shot.

Stemple: I have a Nikon D700 and D300s. They generally sit in the Pelican case loaded and ready to go. The D300s has a 300 mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender attached. The D700 has a 17-35 mm f2.8.

I shoot scenics, and on a boat with the D700 and am always ready for tailing fish or wildlife with the big lens on the D300s.

How do you transport camera equipment, how do you keep them safe?

Blythe: I always keep them in a Pelican case. I prefer the 1500 size.

Carroll: All of my equipment is insured and honestly, Iím fairly abusive. I stuff cameras in and out of a Lowepro case throughout the day. That perfect shot can be at the spur of the moment, and I donít have time to pull everything out of a protected case. Most of the time, you will see me wiping the spray off of the lens with my shirt because I had the camera strap wrapped around my wrist while I was taking a video of a fish coming to the boat.

My camera has become an extension of my right hand when I am on the water. In the past, I have enjoyed the fishing the most. Since I have become a professional photographer, I find myself diving for the camera instead of diving for the rod that is doubled over.

Stemple: Always in the Pelican case, padded and waterproof, and almost always on the deck. If you have to dig around in a compartment or console, youíll miss the shot. Also, Iím heavily insured, so I have no problem hanging one on my neck when Iím on the poling platform or wading.

Ever lose any equipment out there?

Blythe: Been lucky so far in losing equipment, havenít lost anything yet! Knock on wood.

Carroll: I have dropped a few and broken a few over the years. Once I set a camera with flash attached on the dash of a boat. We hit a swell and everything went crashing to the floor. Lens cracked, body cracked in half, flash in 12 pieces. It comes with the territory. For me, itís simply part of the game.

Lucky for me I am an advanced nitrox scuba diver and can always dive for my gear if I drop it. While spearfishing once I set my camera in the sand to film while I went under the reef to get a spiny lobster. At 120 feet deep, you sometimes feel a little fuzzy in the brain. I got the lobster but left the camera. Lucky for me I came back to that spot after the dust cloud settled to look in the cave again,. There was my Canon G11 in the underwater housing, right where I left it!

Stemple: Itís been a while (knocking on wood). I once backed over a Nikon F5 with my Suburban at the Lorelei in Islamorada and lost a polarizer out the open door of a helicopter.

Do you use any special gear?

Blythe: Sometimes I will bring a tripod if I plan to be out of the boat on solid ground. I also like to have a pole mount for the GoPro so you can stick it in the mud if you are wading by yourself and still get footage.

GoPro has tons of special mounts now that are pretty cool, like a helmet cam and roll bar mounts.

Carroll: An extension tripod. You can get the camera out over the water, under the water, or high above for a different perspective.

Most important is a flash. Most of the photos I see from others on the water could be much better if they had used fill flash. It makes all of the difference in the world. In the middle of the day a cap or visor is your worst enemy, and a little fill flash goes a long way.

Stemple: I have a circular polarizer for every lens I take on the water, especially the wider lenses. Of course it cuts glare on the water, like your sunglasses, but also enhances colors, especially blue skies.

Whatís your favorite subject matter?

Blythe: I love taking wide-angle shots of fish with cool landscapes in the background, also really enjoy wildlife, birds in particular. That L glass zooms lens (Canonís professional line) does well for this. Sunrises and sunsets are some of my favorites, as well.

Carroll: I can honestly say that I donít have a favorite. If it flies, I will shoot it. If it walks, I will shoot it. If it crawls, I will shoot it. If it swims, I will shoot it.

Stemple: I love Charlestonís waters and tailing redfish, and always love shooting in the Bahamas and back home in Crested Butte.

What can you tell us about specific techniques?

Blythe: I do coach people while taking pictures. Taking the shot with the sun facing the fish is usually the best. One thing to be careful about is shadows on the fish or person. Not holding the fish out too far is important, too. It makes the person look like they are trying to make the fish look bigger; the wide angle lens does that for you.

I prefer a low number aperture setting (which is actually a large aperture opening) and low ISO setting: 100 if sunny, bump it up in low light. This allows for a shallow depth of field, creating that blurred background effect. I usually keep my camera on AV Priority, which lets you control the aperture and ISO easily. Your shutter will adjust automatically. In bright light the shutter will be fine with low aperture and ISO, in low light I will adjust my ISO up to achieve a faster shutter. Just be careful because the higher the ISO, the grainier the image.

You definitely want the fish to be fresh out of the water for the shot, so I have my stuff ready before we land the fish and work very quickly to get the shot and release the fish unharmed.

I experiment with different angles, focal range, dipping the fish in the water right before pic ó there really are endless possibilities with picture taking. Thatís what I enjoy the most about photography.

Carroll: Every photo I shoot is an opportunity to make an impact. I always coach my anglers or clients on angles and ways to make the shot look better. When we get a live specimen in hand, they are ready to go. Some people simply hold fish better than others.

I will lean over the gunwale, get in the water, or even go under the water to get that perfect shot. Whatever it takes.

Stemple: It really helps to have an angler who knows how to properly handle fish, both for the health of the fish and the quality of the photo. You have to work with your ďmodelĒ to get into the best light and position while ensuring that the fish will be released healthy.

I like to lean out over the water or get in when I can, and usually shoot as many different configurations as Iím comfortable with in the limited time. If you keep the fish in the water, reviving it while you set up then you can briefly remove the fish for the shot then replace it.

What kind of guidelines do you follow rearding conservation and fish handling?

Blythe: As far as conservation, I think its important to take the best care of the fish as possible. We all have made mistakes and handled fish improperly. Keeping tarpon in the water is a good thing, along with not using a boga grip on big reds.

I think common sense and learning from others on how to properly handle certain types of fish is crucial. Reviving fish until they are strong enough to kick away and cutting the line as close the hook on gut-hooked fish will give them the best chance for survival.

Carroll: If we are planning on a release for the fish, I try my best to get that fish back in the water as soon as possible. In the past I have asked an angler to revive the fish while I change lenses so that we can keep them perky and ready to swim off after we make them famous.

I do my best not to endanger the animal if at all possible.

Stemple: Itís best to make a plan while the fish is in the water, so out-of-water time is limited, and I donít think lifting any big fish is very good for it. There are a lot better and more creative ways to shoot a fish then the grip and grin.

How do you transport camera equipment, how do you keep them safe?

Blythe: I always keep them in a Pelican case. I prefer the 1500 size.

Carroll: All of my equipment is insured and honestly, Iím fairly abusive. I stuff cameras in and out of a Lowepro case throughout the day. That perfect shot can be at the spur of the moment, and I donít have time to pull everything out of a protected case. Most of the time, you will see me wiping the spray off of the lens with my shirt because I had the camera strap wrapped around my wrist while I was taking a video of a fish coming to the boat.

My camera has become an extension of my right hand when I am on the water. In the past, I have enjoyed the fishing the most. Since I have become a professional photographer, I find myself diving for the camera instead of diving for the rod that is doubled over.

Stemple: Always in the Pelican case, padded and waterproof, and almost always on the deck. If you have to dig around in a compartment or console, youíll miss the shot. Also, Iím heavily insured, so I have no problem hanging one on my neck when Iím on the poling platform or wading.

Ever lose any equipment out there?

Blythe: Been lucky so far in losing equipment, havenít lost anything yet! Knock on wood.

Carroll: I have dropped a few and broken a few over the years. Once I set a camera with flash attached on the dash of a boat. We hit a swell and everything went crashing to the floor. Lens cracked, body cracked in half, flash in 12 pieces. It comes with the territory. For me, itís simply part of the game.

Lucky for me I am an advanced nitrox scuba diver and can always dive for my gear if I drop it. While spearfishing once, I set my camera in the sand to film while I went under the reef to get a spiny lobster. At 120 feet deep, you sometimes feel a little fuzzy in the brain. I got the lobster but left the camera. Lucky for me I came back to that spot after the dust cloud settled to look in the cave again. There was my Canon G11 in the underwater housing, right where I left it!

Stemple: Itís been a while (knocking on wood). I once backed over a Nikon F5 with my Suburban at the Lorelei in Islamorada and lost a polarizer out the open door of a helicopter.

Do you use any special gear?

Blythe: Sometimes I will bring a tripod if I plan to be out of the boat on solid ground. I also like to have a pole mount for the GoPro so you can stick it in the mud if you are wading by yourself and still get footage.

GoPro has tons of special mounts now that are pretty cool, like a helmet cam and roll bar mounts.

Carroll: An extension tripod. You can get the camera out over the water, under the water, or high above for a different perspective.

Most important is a flash. Most of the photos I see from others on the water could be much better if they had used fill flash. It makes all of the difference in the world. In the middle of the day a cap or visor is your worst enemy, and a little fill flash goes a long way.

Stemple: I have a circular polarizer for every lens I take on the water, especially the wider lenses. Of course it cuts glare on the water, like your sunglasses, but also enhances colors, especially blue skies.

Whatís your favorite subject matter?

Blythe: I love taking wide-angle shots of fish with cool landscapes in the background, also really enjoy wildlife, birds in particular. That L glass zooms lens (Canonís professional line) does well for this. Sunrises and sunsets are some of my favorites, as well.

Carroll: I can honestly say that I donít have a favorite. If it flies, I will shoot it. If it walks, I will shoot it. If it crawls, I will shoot it. If it swims, I will shoot it.

Stemple: I love Charlestonís waters and tailing redfish, and always love shooting in the Bahamas and back home in Crested Butte.

What can you tell us about specific techniques?

Blythe: I do coach people while taking pictures. Taking the shot with the sun facing the fish is usually the best. One thing to be careful about is shadows on the fish or person. Not holding the fish out too far is important, too. It makes the person look like they are trying to make the fish look bigger; the wide angle lens does that for you.

I prefer a low number aperture setting (which is actually a large aperture opening) and low ISO setting: 100 if sunny, bump it up in low light. This allows for a shallow depth of field, creating that blurred background effect. I usually keep my camera on AV Priority, which lets you control the aperture and ISO easily. Your shutter will adjust automatically. In bright light the shutter will be fine with low aperture and ISO, in low light I will adjust my ISO up to achieve a faster shutter. Just be careful because the higher the ISO, the grainier the image.

You definitely want the fish to be fresh out of the water for the shot, so I have my stuff ready before we land the fish and work very quickly to get the shot and release the fish unharmed.

I experiment with different angles, focal range, dipping the fish in the water right before pic ó there really are endless possibilities with picture taking. Thatís what I enjoy the most about photography.

Carroll: Every photo I shoot is an opportunity to make an impact. I always coach my anglers or clients on angles and ways to make the shots look better. When we get a live specimen in hand, they are ready to go. Some people simply hold fish better than others.

I will lean over the gunwale, get in the water, or even go under the water to get that perfect shot. Whatever it takes.

Stemple: It really helps to have an angler who knows how to properly handle fish, both for the health of the fish and the quality of the photo. You have to work with your ďmodelĒ to get into the best light and position while ensuring that the fish will be released healthy.

I like to lean out over the water or get in when I can, and usually shoot as many different configurations as Iím comfortable with in the limited time. If you keep the fish in the water, reviving it while you set up then you can briefly remove the fish for the shot then replace it.

What kind of guidelines do you follow regarding conservation and fish handling?

Blythe: As far as conservation, I think its important to take the best care of the fish as possible. We all have made mistakes and handled fish improperly. Keeping tarpon in the water is a good thing, along with not using a Boga Grip on big reds.

I think common sense and learning from others on how to properly handle certain types of fish is crucial. Reviving fish until they are strong enough to kick away and cutting the line as close the hook on gut-hooked fish will give them the best chance for survival.

Carroll: If we are planning on a release for the fish, I try my best to get that fish back in the water as soon as possible. In the past I have asked an angler to revive the fish while I change lenses so that we can keep them perky and ready to swim off after we make them famous.

I do my best not to endanger the animal if at all possible.

Stemple: Itís best to make a plan while the fish is in the water, so out-of-water time is limited, and I donít think lifting any big fish is very good for it. There are a lot better and more creative ways to shoot a fish then the grip and grin. TL