Cutthroat Trout were once found all across the west before other species were introduced to compete for habitat and food supply. Now, while the Cutthroat species and various subspecies still persist, their numbers and sizes are dramatically different then what was once prevalent. What you see above, in most places throughout Montana, is a standard size Cutthroat, in this case a Yellowstone Cutthroat. Why did I take this shot? I was asked this by the guy holding the fish because he thought it was a little boring until he saw the photo, but simply put it was a new species and a great looking subject. Now most of the time I use flash in my fish images but seeing the light, looking at the dark background and bright subject, a simple click with the D5 and 24-70 AF-S did the trick.
There are many tricks in photography to force the viewers eyes to believe what we want them to believe. It takes time, experience and knowledge to know when and how to use these tricks. In this case, I was having a discussion about how to get a photograph right at water level without getting wet. It’s a popular image at the moment. In this instance getting super low by laying on a rock and then shooting downstream so the subject, Dan, was lower then I was, it became rather simple to create the look of being in the water. Now I was also using the D750 and 70-200 VRII, one for a longer focal range and then two because I was able to control more of my background and thus blur out more details.
I love and hate how photography changes. It is constantly evolving and sometimes that can be super fun because you get to learn new things and try out new things which can lead to some really awesome images. On the flip side it can be really frustrating especially when you get behind the curve and then you feel this tremendous pressure to catch up. But that’s how the business goes and there’s no way around it.
Well one way in which photography is always changing is our own eyes. We grow as photographers by incorporating our life experiences into our photography and sometimes that means going back to somewhere you’ve been countless times and just seeing the world around you a little differently. I’ve gone to this place many times to fish, I’ve photographed it several times but I never saw this. I always thought this dam was ugly but not this time. The way the light moved through the canyon and lit up the water was something I had never paid attention to before and it just goes to show how little it takes to come up with something new.
Images Captured with Nikon D750, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
Since it’s not always possible to have the camera in hand all the time, today’s the day to start planning this weekends shooting fun. Two days are never enough but at least it’s time behind the lens. Now whatever your field maybe, be sure to spend some time and do your homework today so that you’re prepared for the next day. Before I head out I always look into the area, the weather and what’s happening so that I stack the deck the best I can to get the best photos possible. Does this always pan out? No. But it doesn’t hurt either.
Images Captured with Nikon D750, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
Once a year the Salmon Flies reproduce along the rivers in the west. Every year the avid fly fishermen goes out day after day to hit the hatch at just the right time to watch the feeding and participate in the fun. The fish go crazy and pig out. Even the little guys become little chubbies as the giant bugs hit the water. The Brown Trout especially enjoy this time of the year. For a photographer it’s a lot of fun with a couple of buddies hitting the water and taking some snaps.
Images taken with Nikon D5, 70-200VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
This is true for every field of photography, the little details are important. No matter what they are, each one impacts everything else that you do. Capturing those details can be hard but that’s why you have to practice. One of those details I keep looking at and thinking about are these flies. I use them every week and they critical in the process of catching a fish and then photographing that fish. No different then a part of an airplane which allows it to fly or the land in which an animal lives in. How do you tell those stories?
This has been one really wet year in Montana and the rain doesn’t seem to want to stop. As a result of all that moisture, a lot of the rivers are still high and dirty. What this means is it is harder to find good fishing spots, which means it’s harder to get good images. That’s when you have to be creative and look elsewhere. The ponds are a good spot for this as the Perch and Largemouth Bass can be fun to work with. The challenge is they are usually small but on the plus side there tends to be lots of them. Since a lot of the best feeding is at night using a flash for that pop of light is important.
With any good photograph, the photographer watches the background and finds the one that makes the image unique. Backgrounds tell as much of the story as does the rest of the elements. Even with a portrait that background sets the story of where everything is happening. Now I think of these more as landscape portraiture since I’m always trying to show more then just water in the background. Each one is a story on it’s own in its own unique place. In this case it goes back to the biology and ecology of the fish and the waterways they inhabit. Right now these Rainbows are towards the end of their spawn so catching them with spawning colors in a high altitude lake is different then anywhere else. You know it’s high altitude because of that background. So the next time you are doing portrait work think about more then just a color behind your subject.
Photography has a lot of different meanings that come with the camera. It’s never just as simple as taking a pretty picture. There are times when that might be the result but that probably wasn’t where that photo started nor where you wanted it to end. For me it started with wanting to explore Montana and over the course of a decade it has expanded. The one thing I wasn’t expecting was the friends that I would make along the journey.
That’s the part of photography that most don’t tell you about. It’s not just about getting clients and getting the job done. Because of the advancements in technology today, it’s easy to keep all those photos that we take and we share with us at all times. So those clients that you work with can look at your photos as often as you do and that’s how they remember you. Then over time they become friends. Photography is like no other business in this regard. The ability to look at those photographs everyday and be reminded of all those good times.
The more I fish the more I use flash. This has become a mainstay with my work now because it adds so much more drama and character to my images. Over the past couple of years I have had the great fortune to be able to go fishing with my friends on the Olympic Peninsula for Steelhead. Not only is it a ton of fun but a totally different experience being in that region. Each time has been different but each time one element remained the same, the need for light. I get a lot of weird looks when I pull the flash out especially when it’s raining but man does it work well. It doesn’t just add light but it also brings out color and as you can see that’s important. Here’s the thing though, like everything else you have to practice.
Lessons can only be learned through practice. With dark skies like these you’re naturally going to have a slower shutter speed. The natural response is to dial in exposure compensation or raise the ISO. However, thanks to E4 in Nikon camera bodies which makes the exposure compensation in the camera body separate from the flash compensation, you don’t have to worry about the affects of the two combined. Whereas if you dial in a higher ISO while using flash you can have shutter speed issues at certain f stops. You see this by looking through the viewfinder and seeing the shutter speed blinking at you. That’s not good.
Experimenting with different lighting scenarios and solving these problems that come up is how you become better. Most importantly it helps you not miss important moments with friends and family. With Easter coming up it might be worthwhile to go out and practice.
Image Captured with the Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, SB-5000, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film