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

Fall Color isn’t Just in the Trees

If there isn’t enough reasons to be out everyday you can in the Fall then here’s another one. For those that enjoy the art of fly fishing and the photo opps that come with it, Fall is the epitome of seasons due to the transformation to spawning colors. Browns, Rainbows, Brookies and Cutthroats, while the exact time varies, change color. It’s spectacular show of color that can be matched only by the leaves.

Naturally I go out with both rod and camera or a chance to catch one of these species and for my friend Alex he got that chance. This is a spawning Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout which is listed as S2 in Montana as a species of concern. Between water temps, genetic hybridization and loss of habitat to other species as well as irrigation, both native Cutthroat species continue to face many challenges. It is a constant battle in the Yellowstone River because of the large and vast ecosystem under the water to manage the numerous species. When it comes to an important species for the files to showcase Montana, the Cutthroat definitely fits the bill. The important thing is always time. Be fast and be efficient so no harm comes to the subject. I prefer using something simple, like the D750, 24-70 AF-S and SB-5000. I can go wide and tight and get both a portrait and a detail shot down in mere seconds. A safe release after all is the best part.

Plastic and Water Don’t Mix

This is something I’ve only seen in photos but finally saw firsthand this past weekend. I don’t often talk about pollution or conservation on my blog beyond the importance of telling the stories with our cameras but I kind of had too on this one. This 12″ Brown Trout was caught by my buddy and we were both shocked to see this plastic water/sports drink bottle ring stuck behind the gill plate of the fish. It had slowly taken chunks out of the fish as you can see in the photos. What this comes down to is being responsible. It doesn’t have to be something big, as this photo shows, these little things are important. No matter what the subject or where the area you have to take care of both because there may come a day when these places and these creatures will be gone. Believe it or not but seeing this sort of thing really isn’t enjoyable. It’s just sad. So if you see trash while out with your cameras, pick it up, you never know how much good it could do.

Size and Color

Size is a hard element to communicate in a photograph but it’s very important to the subject to have some idea of the scale of that subject to the rest of the world. Size helps our brains connect with the subject. We are programmed to want to know that size is just like we are programmed to want to know about everything else in the world.

Fish are actually a great example because they come in many different sizes and you can easily make them look bigger or smaller just by changing the angle of the fish to the camera. This little Brook Trout was rather special because it’s not an every day catch. What really makes it special though is that color. Brook Trout are starting to change color as they go into spawning season and they become extremely vibrant. To capture the color while showing the size, I used the D750 and 24-70 AF-S with the SB-5000 for color. Then using my friend Al’s hand and the net as a prop you get that idea of scale. Scale and color are important elements that you need to think about when it comes to any area of photography and any subject because they do impact the overall story.

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