The one thing that’s hard to see when you’re teaching is the results. Often we don’t know how far and when the lessons we teach to others come into practice. It’s certainly something I think about time to time when writing this blog but the one place I didn’t think it was having an affect was with my fishing.
Over the last few years I have been going out fishing with my good friend Alex, who has been fishing the Montana waters for over twenty years. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot from him about how to fish the rivers around Montana. Well at the same time he was learning photography from me as often I would take his picture while holding is catch. For the first time this past weekend, the shoe was on the other foot when I landed this beautiful Missouri River Brown Trout. After putting in a few basic settings in the flash and the D4, the lens being the 24-70 AF-S, I handed the camera over with one simple instruction. “Don’t drop it!” Well he did a great job and all of those little things like composition, placement of me in the frame, angle of the fish and so on were spot on. For the first time handling the D4 I was impressed. It just shows that by having fun and talking through the fundamentals, anyone can be a photographer.
Now he managed to get a lot of really nice shots but after the trophy shots were in the bag we switched and I had my fun photographing this beaut. The best part was the fish was never in danger which is important. When fishing this time of year you have to be careful of temperature, how long you play it and how long it stays out of the water. Well when he was released he had no problem and he just casually swam off.
As photographers we aren’t just storytellers we are teachers and no matter how silly the question might seem to us, the person asking genuinely wants to know and to them the answer means a lot. It may not be obvious at that moment but teaching can make a difference.
They say that the key to success is to surround yourself with good people. I would have to agree with that statement. One of my good friends from college, Mikey, who works out in Seattle makes an annual pilgrimage back to Montana to hunt, fish and drink beer. It has become a tradition to spend four days doing nothing but goofing off and having fun. My good friend Alex found a new spot to go fishing and wanted us to try it out.
Needless to say we were happy that we did. Mikey was ecstatic when he caught this beautiful 19″ female Rainbow Trout and then a 20″ Brown Trout. Naturally I had the camera with me to capture the moments.
I’ve really started to enjoy photographing the sport of fishing, both spinner and fly fishing. I will say there is definitely more of an artistic feel to fly fishing images but at the end of the day it comes down to seeing those great images of big fish. It’s not easy though. First challenge is obvious, you have to catch a fish. After that it’s a matter of holding that fish at the right angle to make the fish look big, important and bring out the color. I use a standard and simple setup: D4, 24-70 AF-S, SB-900 on Lexar UDMA Digital Film.
This setup works great for me because I can fit all of it in a pack on my back. It’s quick and simple and allows me to go wide enough to bring in the background or go tight enough on the head of the fish. There is always the option of high speed crop in the camera if needed. Each fish is different and lighting can be a challenge. With Rainbows it’s real easy to get hot spots as their sides are like mirrors. Brown’s are a little easier as they have more color to them. The real challenge is working quickly to not harm the fish. Just like with any other species I work with I try very hard not to harm the subject. It’s a little bit difficult with fish but at the end of the day with the fish back in the river, the pictures are in the camera and the everyone has the memories, then it’s been a good day.
The one key element to working with any species is to know it’s biology. Knowing those pivotal tidbits of information can make a big difference in whether or not you can get the shot. From big to small everything is important when working with critters. If you’re looking at the image below and reading this then you might be wondering how much of this knowledge comes into play when working with fish? Well, I’m no expert. In fact I can truly say that I have been playing around for a while now with this area and I still have a lot to learn. It’s actually pretty fun trying something new. The one big thing I have already learned is you got to be fast. There isn’t much time after they get pulled from the water. This means that all the settings, equipment and everything else has to be ready the moment they are in hand.