Quick Portrait Tip

I’ve had to learn how to be a better photographer when it comes to portraiture and I know I have much more to learn but the one thing I have already picked up is to remind your subject before you lift the camera to do certain little things. A simple reminder to relax, smile, look at the camera, etc. Those little things make a difference because the model will always be thinking that what they are doing looks great, while what you see in the camera might not be. As the photographer you also have to be the director. You have to explain simply and clearly what you want.

Images captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, SB-5000 Flash, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Winter Has Come and Gone

Another winter has come and gone making way for Spring. The snow will be melting and the short, cold days will be replaced with long warm evenings. What does this mean for photography? Well the frosty mornings will be swapped out for even earlier sunrises, beautiful green landscapes, nesting birds and of course spring fishing.

My friend Dan holds up the last of the spawning Rainbows, soon to be on the reds to make future years of rainbows. This was a quick click with the D5, 24-70 AF-S and SB-5000. The changing of the season affects everything including photography. If you’re thinking subjects to photograph this spring make sure to do your homework now before April gets here.

More Steam!

As I posted about yesterday, steam can be great for any winter image whether it’s black an white or not. It truly depends on the story on you are trying to tell. In this case, showcasing the life in the north. Granted this is a little extreme and most don’t fish in below freezing weather, but hey it makes for a compelling image. Simple click with the D5 and 24-70 f/2.8.

Winter Portraits

Some of the locals in Montana have a tradition of fishing in the winter time. While most go skiing, these crazy few folks are found on the river. While it is certainly a harder time to fish it is also one of the best if you’re patient. There’s often less people and bigger fish which makes for a lot of fun. As one local experienced this past weekend, those bigger fish can be stubborn to land.

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While fishing on the Missouri, Alex here hooked into a carp on his five weight and 6lb tippet. With zero leverage on the fish the battle lasted 90 mins before finally he snapped the line to try and get the fish to move. For those watching it was interesting if not somewhat boring. Thankfully I had my camera. With the snow storm passing through the area, sunset was proving to be interesting in the canyon. The scattered clouds opened up enough to let in some light. I was watching for a while thinking about what I could put in front of the clouds. Alex solved that issue. With the D4, 24-70 AF-S, and SB-5000, I made this quick portrait of him rather exhausted from the battle. For a fisherman this is a all to well known feeling. Hooking into something just too big to fight. For a photographer it is a reminder that not only is patience key but constantly watching your surroundings will yield to the best image.

A Little Flash Goes a Long Way

I’ve received some very nice compliments over the last year when it comes to my fishing photography and I can honestly say that I truly enjoy it. It has been a great learning process between working with aquatic species, portraiture, flash technique and time management. That’s the great thing about photography is there is always something to learn as long as you find a fun way to learn how to apply it and for each person that will be something different.

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I’ve done a lot of fishing this year and I can’t to do some more. The great thing about going out with friends is it’s so much easier to get good photographs. My friend Al hooked these two beauties and naturally I had to spend some time with them. This time around I tried something different and used the 18-35mm instead of my 24-70 AF-S f/2.8. I’ve had the 18-35 since March and it is just a really great lens! It’s wicked sharp and has a great focal range. What really makes the difference in the end is the flash. To truly bring out the color of each fish you need that pop of light. Flash is also important when it comes to the portraiture because it helps to remove the shadow caused by hats. Thanks to camera functions like E4 in the custom shooting menu, flash has gotten much easier and more enjoyable.

It’s all about Perspective

Ever since I started taking my camera with me while on my fishing adventures, I have come to not only really enjoy that type of photography but am also learning a lot. One of the nice things that I am learning about is how to better deal with mid afternoon light which is something that most of the time we avoid. The early morning and late evening light is always so nice that it begs the question why go out in the middle of the afternoon if you don’t have to? Well life still goes on in the middle of the day and you have to learn to work with it.

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I was fishing on the Upper Madison by Quake Lake which is an absolutely beautiful area that I definitely will be going back to in the future to shoot. The possibilities there are just too numerous to count. The one thing that I really wanted to do while I was there capture that beauty while fishing and to do that I had to really watch the background. Now my buddy Dan was wearing a neon green shirt so he virtually stuck out anywhere. On the other hand my friend Taylor was wearing a simple light plad shirt which meant a darker background was ideal. The great thing about this canyon was being able to look down on everyone else which made it easier to isolate those color combinations. The goal being to be able to go wide while still being to see the subject.

Images Captured with Nikon D4, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

A Good Day on The River

Over the last year I have been posting more about my trips out fishing in Montana and how I’ve incorporated it into my photography. Well on Sunday I went out with a couple of friends partly to fish and partly because I wanted to try the 18-35 f/3.5 in some portrait work. It was a great way to kill two birds with one stone as they say. Well we never really had that great fish moment that any of us really wanted to shoot so I ended up shooting a very small amount except for some landscapes.

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Usually I go out pretty light when I’m walking the rivers, mainly because I’m afraid I’m going to fall in but also because those 8lbs, while not much, really gets tiring on the back after four miles of hiking along a rocky river bottom. I kept it minimal, D4, 18-35mm, and my Lexar Cards. Simple shooting. It’s actually a great way to go out shooting because it makes you think about your compositions very carefully. You don’t have multiple lens options so you have to be creative. Well the Shields River is known for it’s simple beauty as well as having lots curves and cut backs. Playing with the light and reflections is a lot of fun and great for the 18-35. What got my attention the most was the light.

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This was a great day to be out because of the clouds. Puffy scattered clouds are great! They are dramatic, they keep changing and everybody likes them. What’s interesting is how much the light changes in mere seconds when you have scattered skies like these. These two images I took within a minute of each other and yes the composition is slightly different, I moved to my left in the bottom image, but the light changed in that moment and the result is a very different feel between the images. That’s why I like and enjoy being out on stormy days or right after storms. The light and drama is still there and can yield some amazing results!

The River, The Portraits, The Fish

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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