Yep, spotlighting works with fish as well as just about anything else you can point a camera at. It can be difficult to get the lighting right with a subject that is flopping all over the place but if you take a second and look around you for the right light then odds are your photograph will end up stronger. I wanted the light only on this male Brown Trout’s head, specifically the eye. In this case, the sun was behind me and I used my legs to block out the light in the areas where I wanted the shadow. A simple click with the Z50 to preserve the memory of a really good day.
Just like this fish, I’m still alive! For those of you who have tried to reach my site in the last couple of days, I do apologize for the down condition my site has been in. I had a little with WordPress but all is fixed now. Yay! Just like this guy, everything turned out okay. It’s finally Fall, the temperature is dropping, the colors are changing and the fish are running upstream to spawn. It’s a great time of the year to be out as long as you are being safe. Stay tuned as I’ll be posting more as this fall unfolds.
One of the aspects I love about fishing photography is that the slightest change of angle between the subject and the direction of light can have a dramatic effect on the colors of the fish. When I caught this fish it was actually a very dull silver but in the light, you can clearly see the green colors in its scales. Be ever mindful of those slight changes as they can alter your images quite a bit.
Normally after a good release, the fish swims away and these shots are missed but every now and then the individual stays put right where it was released and you can take a couple of shots. I always thought that these shots are kind of artsy-fartsy shots but when it comes to wildlife in their elements technically that’s what this is. The one thing I found to be helpful is using manual focus because trying to autofocus on the fish under the water often gets lost on the water itself.
Fall is officially here and in Montana, it already feels like Winter. Yes, the big storm that hit Montana did hit Bozeman but unlike Great Falls the Gallatin Valley didn’t receive nearly the same amount of snow. The mountains are coated with that beautiful white stuff which means that the water temps are going to drop and the fish are going to change color as they get ready for the Fall spawn. Brown Trout are especially sought after during this time period but it is important to use proper etiquette when holding the fish as they need the warmth of the water. Taking a fish out of the water for too long while getting a photo can be detrimental to the longevity of the fish.
Image captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S f/2.8, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
One thing I learned a long time ago when working with aquatic species is to get low and shoot wide. Getting low helps to make the subject look bigger and as well as making it easier to hold the subject closer to the water, thus helping to reduce the amount of time the fish is out of the water. Remember the goal is to get the shots quick for a fast release. The wide angle helps to exaggerate proportions while also dramatically changing the focal plane when shooting wide open. The results can be really fun.
Images Captured with Nikon D750, 18-35 f3.5-4.5, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
I’ve really been enjoying fishing photography lately because it allows me to explore the relationship between subjects more thoroughly. You have this contrast between wanting to take a good photo of the person so that they have that memory and then you have the “really cool” fish photo of just that fish. If you were to ask the fisherman, they would say just photograph the fish, it’s more important. Both are key elements of the story, but the story isn’t complete without the other. Combine this with the urgency to take the photo fast for safety purposes and it makes for some interesting photography.
Images Captured with Nikon D750, 24-70 AF-S, SB-5000 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
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
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.