Natural Spotlight

Nature does some pretty amazing things when we just stop and look to see whats going on. I always bring my camera with me when I go out fishing because I never know what will pop up. This particular evening nature brought out one of the best things for landscape photography, a spotlight. Spotlights and vignettes are great resources for landscapes because they focus the viewers eyes on what you want them to see and they ignore the rest. While often I use ACR to enhance such light, sometimes in nature it’s just there and you don’t have to do anything more then just point and click.

Images Captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Fishing Photo Ethics

As a photographer we have a responsibility to the subjects we work with to make sure that the subjects are not harmed while making the photos. There are many rules in photography that we think are important and while some are always held true some can be fudged as we become better masters of our craft. This is the one that we can’t break. No photograph is worth the well fare of the subject.

Over the last few years I have branched out into the realm of fishing photography and in this field, speed is key. Aquatic species are very fragile when they are taken out of their home because they don’t have lungs. They can’t breath the same air as we do. Fighting a fish, handling a fish and holding the fish out of the water all can reduce the life span of the subject. This is why if you’re planning on taking that all important keep sake photo that you get the subject in fast, you don’t handle it much and you keep it in the water as much as possible. This is how you do a safe release, which is key.

It Makes Your Eyes Pop!

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

Flash and Snow

For those of you who are fortunate enough to have snow in your backyard, then I’m guessing at some point you’ve wanted to take pictures in the snow or have already. Living in Montana snow is one of the great perks and getting to work with snow can be a lot of fun and also very challenging if you haven’t spent a lot of time with it.

Upon first glance you might not see much of a challenge. But snow being white reacts to light very strongly and in a photograph the gradients in blue and grey in snow can be dramatic. If you want to test that, just take a picture of snow and then convert it to black and white and you’ll see all those gradients. I brought up flash because while you might not think that adding more light to an already bright element would be helpful but the white light coming from a flash can actually make snow look more like we always think it is, white. Even a little pop of light from a flash can make a big difference, especially if you are trying to focus the viewers eye on that one spot and not the whole thing. Now granted if you’re trying to capture a entire mountain range it probably won’t do you much good but something smaller it might help. Keep in mind flashes aren’t as resilient to water like our cameras and lenses are, so due keep that in mind if you are planning on going out into the snow to shoot.

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.

Passing on the Knowledge

I get asked a lot if I ever get my picture taken and my response is usually, “every now and then.” I have always enjoyed being behind the camera opposed to in front of it but there are times when it is fun to be in front. Some of the best times are when I pass the camera over to someone who isn’t a photographer.

My friend Al has been looking at fishing photos for years but it wasn’t until we started fishing together that he started asking how is this done. Over the years he has gotten a lot better, to the point where I know he’ll get a good shot of me. While he might not now what equipment he’s using at the time, in this case the D5, 24-70 AF-S, and SB-5000, he can see what makes up the essence of a good photo. This knowledge that we obtain as photographers is best preserved if we pass it along. In today’s world of rapidly changing technology and the affect it has on photographers, it is important that we not only inspire but help others learn.

Depth of Field

When it comes to depth of field there really isn’t any one good answer. Everyone always asks what’s your favorite f stop and your f stop does change your depth of field. Well there really isn’t any one that’s better then another. Each one has it’s own uses you just have to figure out what each one is used for.

For a couple years now I’ve been working with fly fishing photography and one thing I mess around with a lot is the visual focus plain. In this particular field you can get away with a lot when it comes to sharpness because a lot of the photography is about action, color and emotion. Using a shallower depth field is often considered best because it helps to eliminate a lot of potential problems in the background. For the longest time I’ve used the 24-70 AF-S but recently I’ve been testing the 85 f/1.8. It’s a marvelously tack sharp lens but being that it’s a prime lens takes some getting used to. The real benefit is being able to go down to f/1.8. That shallow depth of field allows me to do a lot that I couldn’t before, including working with the three main points I brought up earlier. So is there a great answer to this area? Yes! Go practice and see what you like.

Having Trouble with Your 2017 Goals?

Every new year people make big goals that they want to accomplish and usually after a couple of weeks people are having trouble. Well today is the last day of the January which means a whole month of goals being met or broken is already up. If you’ve been making your goals happen then this post may not be for you but if you haven’t then keep reading.

The key to making your goals come true is to keep trying. It sounds cliche but sometimes the best logic is the old logic. Keeping your goals simple leads to a greater success of completion and then when one is done you start another small one, then another and you keep going. By the time the end of the year rolls around you’ll have accomplished a lot. In Photography this is especially true. You can’t just say, “I’m going to take the best shot of my life this year.” That’s a goal that is completely out of anybody’s reach but something simple like, “I’m going to shoot for a little bit each day or every other day or I’ll dedicate my Saturday to shooting.” Something simple that is achievable is the best way to success.

Is Black & White the Best Option for Steam?

I absolutely love steam! Steam is a very graphic element in nature and it can be shaped and molded in so many different ways. Light is the best way to mold and if you watch geothermal spot all day you’ll see how different the steam looks throughout the day as the light changes. It’s a great way to learn about light. Well this past weekend it was quite cold with the highs in the teens. That seems to be the trend lately. It was also a good day to be out on the river since it was sunny. When you have below freezing temperatures and blue sky sunny days, the combination results in a drastic change in temperature between the surface of the water and the air temperature. This creates steam, which creates some great photography.

Now I’ve been going to the Missouri River for a few years now but I have never seen this amount of steam before. It was just insanely gorgeous. Since I was shooting landscapes I kept a basic setup, D5 with 24-70 f/2.8. I did close down a bit to bring out more detail and depth in the steam. Then in post I using SilverEfex Pro, I was able to really bring out the detail in the steam using the structure slider.

How Do You Show It’s Cold?

To say my friends and myself are spoiled when we go out fishing is an understatement. But when the weather service says it will be over 20 degrees and the high ends up being 16, well being spoiled becomes a necessity. There are many ways to show it’s cold out but this image seemed so obvious that I had to take it. Of course with the train going by I feel like we were a bunch of hobos trying to catch dinner but we won’t go there.

Every adventure, even small ones, have lots of facets to it that require lots of images. Some are easy to spot and some aren’t. This one was a no brainer. In order to tell the whole story from travel, to environment, to portrait, Monday’s post covers that one, you have to be shooting. This was a simple click with the D5 and 24-70 f/2.8 but at first I did it wrong because I didn’t use my SB-5000 Flash. After the first click I checked and realized that by using flash, the light would bounce off the snow and add in some fill light needed to bring out the two bums by the fire. With the thick overcast overhead flash was essential.

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