Which Image is More Important?

I’ve come across this a lot over the years especially when it comes to aviation. Which image is more important? There are many ways to make an image happen. Different angles, lights, backgrounds, foregrounds, etc. There is no one solution but many questions. This question refers to people and capturing the moment that means the most to them while also making the images that can be used for multiple purposes.

I’m going to use by buddy Dan as an example because this was a happy day for him. I don’t really need to say why. In the editorial world the above image is considered the trophy shot or the “fin and grin” shot. It’s very common and while it means a lot to the person in the image, it doesn’t communicate that much outside of Dan being happy.

A close up puts more emphasis on the fish which is important to capture. The fish is just as important to the story as the fisherman is. With aviation the pilot often gets overlooked and it’s just the plane that gets photographed. The plane has the history, it’s really sleek and cool looking, it goes fast, it gets all the glory. The pilot doesn’t. The reverse of this is with biologists. Often times it’s the subject being studied and not the people that are doing all the work that are getting photographed. The point is to really look at all sides of the equation and see what is being photographed and what’s being forgotten.

Images Captured with Nikon D750, AF-S 24-70, SB-5000, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Spring Spawning Grounds

While one of the most recognized fish species in the world, Rainbow Trout are actually non native species to the state of Montana. There is one sub species that is native and that’s the Redband Rainbow. Today’s species was introduced somewhere in the 1800’s from one of the west coast states. Despite that it has become a staple of today’s angler and for good reason.

Rainbow’s are not only pretty, touting their unique color configurations about, but they are also amazing fighters. They jump, spin, run and fight like crazy which make them fun to catch. But like all species they are fragile and right now we are going into the spring spawn which makes certain areas very fragile to human impact. Some spots are point blank closed to fishing but that doesn’t always stop people. Trout lay their eggs in reds which look like nothing more then dimples in the river bed, but underneath the layer of protective dirt are the eggs. They aren’t visible which make them easy to be damaged. The ethics for photographers that want to photograph these areas are just as important as the anglers. If we want these species to persist then we have to be careful how and where we capture these images. Read the rules and regulations first. If you’re going to photograph a spot be sure you don’t enter the water. Stay on the bank. Be careful and respectful.

Image Captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Fishing Photo Ethics

As a photographer we have a responsibility to the subjects we work with to make sure that the subjects are not harmed while making the photos. There are many rules in photography that we think are important and while some are always held true some can be fudged as we become better masters of our craft. This is the one that we can’t break. No photograph is worth the well fare of the subject.

Over the last few years I have branched out into the realm of fishing photography and in this field, speed is key. Aquatic species are very fragile when they are taken out of their home because they don’t have lungs. They can’t breath the same air as we do. Fighting a fish, handling a fish and holding the fish out of the water all can reduce the life span of the subject. This is why if you’re planning on taking that all important keep sake photo that you get the subject in fast, you don’t handle it much and you keep it in the water as much as possible. This is how you do a safe release, which is key.

It Makes Your Eyes Pop!

Nope I was talking about Flash not the fish, although it’s doing a pretty good job of that too. Flash doesn’t just make things brighter, it makes color pop and sometimes that’s more important then how bright the subject is.

When it comes to working with a reflective subject you really have to be careful how close the flash is to the subject and how much power you’re using. It’s really easy to cause a hotspot. Also watch the angle of the flash to the subject because again having it straight on will cause problems. Reflective surfaces are one of the hardest to work with and require practice. Even after all the subjects I worked with this summer, I still need more practice.

Images Captured with Nikon D750, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Flash and Snow

For those of you who are fortunate enough to have snow in your backyard, then I’m guessing at some point you’ve wanted to take pictures in the snow or have already. Living in Montana snow is one of the great perks and getting to work with snow can be a lot of fun and also very challenging if you haven’t spent a lot of time with it.

Upon first glance you might not see much of a challenge. But snow being white reacts to light very strongly and in a photograph the gradients in blue and grey in snow can be dramatic. If you want to test that, just take a picture of snow and then convert it to black and white and you’ll see all those gradients. I brought up flash because while you might not think that adding more light to an already bright element would be helpful but the white light coming from a flash can actually make snow look more like we always think it is, white. Even a little pop of light from a flash can make a big difference, especially if you are trying to focus the viewers eye on that one spot and not the whole thing. Now granted if you’re trying to capture a entire mountain range it probably won’t do you much good but something smaller it might help. Keep in mind flashes aren’t as resilient to water like our cameras and lenses are, so due keep that in mind if you are planning on going out into the snow to shoot.

The Fall Run is Almost Over

There are a number of ways to mark the fall season whether it’s Football, Baseball, Halloween or even Mid terms, but my favorite for the last couple of years has been Brown Trout. Fall is when the bigs boys move back into the streams and big their spawn and for any angler it’s the one time we look forward to seeing them the most because of the change in their color. They turn this amazing brownish, yellowish, red that just screams for attention. In Montana October is one of the best months to chase them as November often brings the spawning to an end. The hunt is still on but will be over shortly, which means more time outdoors is needed!

When it comes to this type of photography I got light and quick. One body, one lens, one flash. Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S and SB-5000. Easy setup for a quick shot.

Personal Projects are Important!

Photography is filled with ups and downs as we are forced to create more content. It never gets easier but every now and then it can be rewarding. No matter what field you work in there is going to be those lows and highs. The question becomes how do you get past those lows when they come?

There are a number of different ways that you can get over those lows but one way that works well is to find a personal project and truly invest yourself in it. Personal projects come in all shapes and sizes and for the most part they make more sense to you then they ever will to anyone else. I spent the last 7 months working on a personal project and having just completed it I can honestly say that the personal projects really do make a difference. It sucks feeling the constant need to commit time in order to complete the project but in the end it’s all worth it. I’ll go into more detail as to what the project was at a later date but it does feel good to get it done.

Is There To Much Flare?

I always wonder about flare because I often include starbursts in my landscape shots when it is appealing to do so. It’s a simple and old technique to use a starburst. Simply close down and you should be able to get a result. Depending on if there is something between the sun and the camera, such as a cloud, a tree, a mountain, will change the starburst outcome. This was real popular for a while and then died off, it came back and is slowly going away again. That could be said about many things in photography.

So, Flare, is it good or bad? Everything comes back to the story. What you saw and felt when you took the photograph of course comes into play so I won’t bother to much with that point. I like to think about it more as does it help the image or does it hurt the image? A starburst by itself grabs the eye. It’s bright and dramatic. So is that extra flare needed under those circumstances? It’s one of those things that is hard to come up with a definite answer for and for myself I’m still trying to come up with one. If the flare acts like a guiding source then I think it can work but it really does depend on the other elements.

Images Captured with Nikon D750, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Crazy Can Be Good

Not everyone fishes during or after a snow storm let alone when it’s below freezing but sometimes it yields rewards. For a photographer the reward is that freshly fallen snow, add in a great mountain range and top it off with a little spot lighting and boom you got something to work with. I talked about this situation last week but I decided to combine two things from last week into this one image.

I talked about the benefits of going out after a storm or evening one out and I also talked about composing the image without the subject being in direct light. You can see both here. What’s the subject? Does that subject have to be lit? Is there a way to show him or here without light? Yes, these things are all possible if you’re watching whats happening around you. Sometimes they are planned but the best images are spontaneous and capture the moment that exists. Those images tell a story.

Images Captured with Nikon 1 V3

Silhouettes in Fall Color

Fall color is so much fun to work with! You can use the power of those changing leaves to create some truly breathtaking images or you can just have fun and experiment. The one thing I’ve noticed when it comes to fall color is it easy to be seduced by the color and instinctively you take a picture regardless if it’s worth it or not. This is something you really have to work at to avoid this time of year because wherever there is fall color the first instinct is photo opp but that’s not true. You still have to think through your compositions and really watch the light.

Now I’ve spent the last few years working with fisherman as an outlet to experiment with and right now it’s great because it’s something to try with the fall color. For instance Mikey here tells the story of fishing in the fall even with the absence of direct light. Trees are often dark and everything else behind those forests are bright so having that reversal is kind of interesting. If you are out this Fall working the color really focus on pushing yourself to create more then just the look at the pretty leaves shot.

Images captured with Nikon D750, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film