As I have stated many times before, I love this time of the year! The cold dark dreary days of winter can start to eat away at your spirit if you don’t find ways to overcome it. For me that’s taking pictures, fishing and skiing; generally in that order. Each of these areas yield different rewards some due overlap.
One thing I have been pushing more and more in my fishing photography is the use of props and not just doing the smiling portrait with a fish. Sure it’s nice to have that moment but it’s also kind of cool to show the gear you used to catch that beast. This is one of my latest ones that a good friend was happy to hold as I made a few clicks. Really simple with the D5, 24-70 AF-S and SB-5000. You gotta use flash in order to bring out that color. Positioning can be tough and requires a little playing around until you find something that works for you.
I Love this time of the Year! Winter in the Rockies is a very interesting time and the best part is, every winter is different. This year has been quite dramatic compared to last years massive snow dump. Currently we don’t have the same snow levels but we have some cold temps. Everything is being affected by this. The fishing is still pretty good though.
Personally this is my favorite time for working with freshwater trout species because the Rainbows are in spawning color and the Browns are coming out of the Fall spawn so they are turning a really dark brown. How do you bring out these colors? A little pop of flash and some under exposure. Keep in mind that the subject doesn’t have to be a huge specimen. The little guys can have great color to. The trick is really watching the highlights and light spillage because those white spots from the flash are eye sores.
Fall color is great but finding those days where the color pops without a grey sky sure are hard to find here in the Rockies. So what do you do? I struggle with this question a lot of times because the color of the trees is always so seductive but I know that having any sky will just suck. Even so I have to try and get something out of it. When I came upon this scene I actually wanted to pass it over but Alex stepped in and made it a little more interesting. The big thing that I found really helps in these scenarios is your exposure compensation. It was a dark day so pumping up the exposure comp made a huge difference. Beyond that trying to minimize the amount of sky in the composition also helps.
This is one obstacle that I’ve had mixed feelings over for some time when it comes to fishing photography. What do you do with the dang net? For the longest time I hated having a net in my photos. I always felt it was a prison for the subject. A way to take the focus off of a wild species and make it more human impacted. Over time I’ve slowly begun to find ways to incorporate it that look okay to me. The two big pluses for leaving it in the image are one it gives you more time to work with the subject, especially in case you drop the fish and two it’s safer for the subject. Working with aquatic species can be tough because you have to be careful of how long you keep them out of the water. The one little trick I have found in post production when it comes to net usage is really darken the edges so it’s not to distracting.
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.
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.
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.
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?