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

Color, Black and White, or Both

One of the many reasons I love working outdoors is you never know what will happen. After three miles of walking through snow and freezing water I wasn’t really anxious to go any further. When I came upon this bend I was quite excited because it had a great look to it. Quite simply, the beautiful bald sky sunny day was disappearing fast and the storm was coming in. When that happened the water started reflecting both creating this surreal pocket of time showing both before and after. If you spend a lot of time living in the mountains and a lot of time in the snow, then you know that this happens frequently, a great day turns sour and then it’s back to overcast. Seeing that transformation and capturing it are too different things which is why getting out and shooting is so important.

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

Does the subject need to be front lit?

Winter time is one of my most favorite times to shoot because the light looks so different with all the snow on the ground. Everything naturally looks more contrasted because of the snow and the subjects appear to be in a more inhospitable environment. It can be very challenging dealing with these harsh blacks and whites, but also there can be great joy.


While I was out walking the river I had my friend Alex with me and he was fishing, I started playing around with the contrast in the landscape and of course him as the subject. The great thing about water and snow is there is a lot of hot spots. Since I’m always lighting my subject is some way I figured why not try the reverse. Motion can be seen in multiple types of light and in fly fishing there is a lot of motion. The motion of the wrist and the arm and the fly is crucial when it comes to getting the right cast. Capturing that motion, even silhouetted, is essential but not always easy. Diversifying and capturing mutliple types of shots is how you become better but it all starts with experimenting.

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

How do You Show It’s Cold?

We are visual storytellers and sometimes the realities of what is going on at the time the photograph is taken are hard to translate in an image. Temperature is one of the realities. While temperature does effect color it’s still hard to see the difference in just how cold or how hot it was when the image was captured. Now our minds are really good at filling in these blanks with a little help. It goes back to the psychology of the human mind.


While I was out at the river I had sometime to play around with the great landscape available. It was cold the night before as in the negatives cold. That morning it had warmed up to 16 degrees. The results was great hoarfrost and beautiful sunshine. Now this one spot has a natural spring that is warmer then the river. When the two waters meet it creates the steam. It was still so cold that it was actually warmer to be standing in the river then outside the water. Well I love steam. Steam is a great aspect of winter photography that I exploit as often as possible because it’s dramatic and it gives a true feeling to that temperature. I told my friend to go stand by the steam as I fired off the shutter. I did two basic setups, one close in so that there is no sunburst and then wider so to get the sunburst. I was shooting with the D4 and 24-70 AF-S at F/22 to get the star burst effect from the sun, otherwise it would’ve been a bright white dot. This was actually a great day not to have clouds because it brings out more of the color in the image, rather then the drama that would’ve been there if there was clouds. Understanding these elements and how to use them is essential when it comes to winter landscape photography which can be difficult with the overwhelming amount of contrast between light and the cold.

How’d You Start the New Year?

The Holidays are finally starting to settle down and the rhythm of the New Year has begun. I hope everyone had a great time celebrating with family and friends. How you start the New Year can have an impact on how mentally you view this new year and for myself I spent it outside on a beautiful Montana day. The week before had been nothing but grey skies and cold temps, and although it was 16 degrees out when this was taken it was still great to be out on the river.


The Great Outdoors

I love combining my passions. If you’re truly passionate about something then normally you want to do that one thing all the time. The problem is usually there isn’t enough time to do everything that you’re passionate about. When I was growing up I was always outdoors. Golfing, Fishing, Bicycling were all in a normal Summer; then as soon as Winter hit it was on the slopes Cross Country Skiing. Those were good times. As time moved on life got more complicated and less time was available to do those things. It’s just inevitable. Well one of the greatest things about photography is that it lets you be apart of those activities that you love to do even if all you can do is watch.


Last week I told my friend Alex that I wanted to go out fishing with him just to take pictures. He agreed and brought his friend Taylor along. Since I live in one of the best fly fishing states in the country it just made good business sense to get better at that type of photography. I mean why not, it’s daily routine for most people up here. But like any other field of photography it takes a lot of practice, because it is an art. It also takes a bit of patience because it’s not easy standing there watching as others are doing the fishing, especially if you want to fish.


The great thing about fishing photography is that the concept starts around the point of a big fish. A “Big Fish” being used to exagerate the telling of a story to make it bigger then it is in reality. With that mentality it makes shooting somewhat easier because everything needs to be extravagant. How far did you walk? How many casts? Was it the last cast or the first? Was it almost a shut out day? So many of those little details go into the story just as it does in the photograph.


After several attempts to get onto some special sections of the Gallatin, we eventually ended up at a public access point where we were able to get onto the main river after navigating our way through some side channels. Of course you don’t just walk around the channels, you stop and try every hole, every dark crevices, every sunken log and cut bank to see if there is something lurking underneath. About a half mile later the big river emerges from the bushes and thistles. That’s where the fast water is, the deep water is, and the the promise of a big fish is.


Along the way to the big fish are normally the up and coming fishes. The average fish who work hard to survive and become the big boys that we hope to catch in future years. While usually just thrown back without any hesitance a quick snap with the D4 and 24-70 AF-S, makes this little guy famous. Perhaps it’s just me but it seems like the little guys always have a more vibrant color to them even though they have less differentiation between colors


After a couple of miles of walking and trying every hole that we came across on our 3 mile hike, we never found that one spot that yielded the true lunker that we were after. Three hours of walking and the big guy was alluding us. Finally it was time to start weaving our way back in trying any spot that we missed. The camera was itching for that one big fish. As we headed back we past a channel that led away from the main stream, a spot that we hadn’t tried. Alex was excited. First cast brought a decent fish. The next cast brought what we were looking for that afternoon.


A few minutes in the fighting chair and the fish was on land. Oh the excitement of the catch of the day. A nice 18″ Brown Trout pulled out of the Gallatin River. Was it the biggest fish in the river? Of course not. But when you’re having that much fun, the size doesn’t matter. It’s the thrill of the catch and the joy that comes with telling the story over and over to all your friends that does. The day ends after a long walk back and a feeling of accomplishment.

Always Carry Around a Camera

If there is one lesson that you don’t want to learn the hard way it is to always have a camera with you. It’s a little bit easier these days with the quality of modern cell phones, but it’s pretty nice to have a small camera in your pocket for those moments that come up during the weekend activities. Two of my favorite sports have always been skiing and fishing. This past weekend my buddy Al dragged me out on Saturday and we went fishing for a few hours. We have a real warm spell going through right now and the nice weather made it encouraging for good fishing in January. Not exactly something I usually do this time of the year but fun non the less.


The fishing was rather tough and didn’t amount to much but with the CoolPix P7000 in my pocket I was able to play around with the ice shelfs that were up and down the banks of the Gallatin River. Then again since I was fishing, why not combine them both and have a better image. The hardest part was getting that fly to stay on the ice without it breaking. Oh well the sixth attempt was the charm.

Something Entirely New!

Ever since I was little I have enjoyed fishing. It was just one of those things that I loved doing on the weekends with my Dad. Sadly it’s not something I get to do everyday. Well this past Summer my love of Fly fishing was rekindled and I am greatly looking forward to this Spring. Well some of my friends thought we would get an early start. Although it is perfectly legal to fish on certain rivers this time of the year, to me it seemed a little odd to fish in March. Then again it might have just been because it was snowing with 30 mile an hour winds.


Now this was something I never thought about doing before but I wanted to try watching and only taking photos, not fishing. I haven’t figured out how to do both yet. Yesterday my buddies Alex and Gill, went out on what was supposed to be a nice 50 degree afternoon. It wasn’t. It was snowing and was quite cold. But that passed….after we headed in. What lay before me at the river was a whole new set of challenges which were a lot of fun! With my Glass Limo on my back and nothing else, I watched as my friends fished while thinking about compositions. I got to say it was tough. The snow didn’t help but hey what can you do. My buddy Al brought in a few very nice subjects and although I didn’t have much time with them I did learn real quick three things: shoot fast, use flash, and don’t just go for that trophy shot. I didn’t get that beautiful out of the water shot or the fisherman in mist at sunrise but for a first time I was thought it went quite well. And I even stayed dry.

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 70-200 VRII, SB-900, Think Tank Glass Limo, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

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