Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Behind the Photo - it's all about the light

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Look at the photograph above and what do you see ? A big bass most likely, in fact this fine fish from my recent trip to Ireland went over 10lbs and was caught within the mighty Dungarvan Bay. Massively well done to Nick Roberts of Bass Lures. It's not every day of the week that you get to see a double figure bass taken from the shore and when that beauty slipped into my net it was a pretty special moment. And yes, I said net - not hand, not Boga. Net. More to come on that. Nick had the bumping of those Fiiish Black Minnows around in the tide absolutely wired and I was watching him like a hawk to see what he was doing differently to me. So in essence we have a simple grip and grin here of a big bass. A trophy shot if you like of one seriously happy angler with the fish of a lifetime. The eye of the fish is in proper focus (vital) and the framing for a shot like this is just fine..........

But what do I see, or how do I feel about the photo ? Well to be completely honest it breaks my balls really and this kind of thing haunts from time to time - the capture of a very special fish when the light is just pure pants, and I mean about as rubbish as it gets. The best fish of the trip and it's a bass that I want to try and make look as awesome as possible and instead I'm stuck with flat, low, rubbish light and I haven't even got anything to use as a backdrop and "take the sky out of the equation" - i.e. even up the exposure. Should it break me this much ? In purely financial terms of course not - the photo will I hope be used as part of a feature one day and therefore I will eventually/hopefully get paid for shooting it, but my work if you like goes way, way beyond money. The photography of fishing drives me like you would not believe and I strive to do my best with my limited and self-taught abilities to make fishing look as good as possible - and it therefore haunts me when a grip and grin of a fish like this is required and I just know that whatever I do, the end result is always going to frustrate me. But what can you do when the light seems to be conspiring against you ?

Well I could jump up and down like Basil Fawlty and throw my toys out of my pram, but it still won't get me the light I would really like - and rest assured that inside I am doing it anyway. All kinds of words and phrases that I would never dream of speaking in front of my girls pass through my head like a river of filth and what I really want to do is to rage at the heavens (or hell) to send me lovely soft light, fluffy white clouds and a deep blue sky that I can set that magnificent fish against. But you do what you can do to make this fish look as good as possible and then move on - knowing that the light and conditions in a place like Ireland can change very quickly and wishing here that they would change right about now !! Chucking in fill-flash to try and blow some of the shadows out of the subject and help balance the exposure between a relatively dark subject and a relatively bright background (in exposure terms) can help, but at the end of the day the light is pure pants and you the best you can and then return this magnificent fish.

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Why oh why could I not have had the kind of light you see above for the big bass, or is that me simply being spoilt and wishing for too much ? Sure, it's a nice fish caught by Nick again along the Copper Coast, but from my "artiste" point of view it's just about the perfect light possible for a grip and grin of such a highly reflective fish as a bass. No, I am in no way saying that it's the perfect photo because I am sure that many other photographers would have shot it quite differently and quite possibly considerably better, but from a purely natural light point of view it's about as good as it is going to get in my opinion. Look at the silvery, reflective flanks of the bass and you will see no burn-out from natural light that is too bright. Look at the right side of Nick's face that faces the early evening sunshine and also you don't see any burn-out (clipped highlights in technical terms I believe). By pure luck I also had some lovely dark, moody clouds in the background that were also very evenly and softly lit by the sunshine. Nice fish as I say and I am happy with the shot, but can you imagine that big 10lb plus bass in exactly this situation ? I can, and it haunts me. I can't do anything about the weather, but I can rage inside at getting the light that I want for this particular fish and knowing full well that I can't do a damn thing about it. For all these gimmicks that I see applied to various photos out there shot on infernal things like iPhones, nothing is ever, ever going to replicate gorgeous natural light in the big outdoors, and to me that is just fine. Sort of. Make hay while the sun does shine lovely and softly and then do an internal Basil Fawlty when it doesn't and do what you can with the photos - hoping all the while of course that all the best fish are caught in the best light. As if !!

I have put a brand new photo gallery up on my website from my most recent trip the other day - have a look here and I hope you enjoy them half as much as I love shooting this kind of fishing. I also get asked a lot about where, how and when to go fishing in Ireland and I have put up a kind of basic online resource on my website that I hope proves useful to you if you are thinking about heading over there for a fishing trip. Over time I hope to grow and adapt this resource and there is more to come in due course, but for the moment I just want it to be there to help anglers out who are looking for information. Check here.

Yesterday evening I got to see the brand new range of Graphiteleader Argento Nuovo lure rods that the thoroughly nice people at Lure Heaven have just brought into the UK. Ever since falling for that "budget" 8'6'' Argento RV earlier this year I have been dying to see this brand new Argento range from Graphiteleader. Help !! Why do I do this to myself ? I saw the entire range yesterday - an 8'6'' 5-24g, a 9' 6-28g, a 9'3'' 10-35g, a 9'6'' 10-32g and a 10'3'' 12-40g. I got to have a few chucks with the 8'6'' and the 9' versions and we had a few waggles/wiggles with the others. I need to spend longer with them and I hope that in due course I will be able to cast/fish with some of the others, but crumbs does this seem to be one scarily impressive range of lure rods - and what struck home to me most was that they are not simply longer (or shorter) versions of each other. Every rod is different to the next one and a couple there really surprised me. I can't for the moment really imagine a UK or Irish bass lure fishing situation that these rods aren't going to cover. I believe the prices are going to be up around the £370 - £400 mark. Oh no.................