Photographing fishing is what really drives me in my work, and although the photos I shoot can end up all over the place, by sheer virtue of being out and about a lot, not being able to stop myself shooting stuff when the light goes off, and various outlets wanting certain kinds of photos, the reality is that a certain amount of what I photograph ends up as a personal satisfaction kind of thing that might not leave one of my hard drives. If digital photography is one thing though, it's a license to fire away and not hold back when you "see" stuff coming together. Photography is what I do alongside writing, fishing etc., and I know that many anglers love how spectacular the sport of fishing can sometimes look. I though it would be fun to run you through a few recent photos in the hope that something here might help light a spark in you.......
Nikon D3, 70-200mm f4 lens at 200mm, ISO 200, f5.6, 1/2000th, -1.5 stops exposure compensation
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Walking back from fishing on Monday evening and the light starts going loopy. I never, ever go fishing without at least one SLR camera plus lens, and most likely multiple lenses plus other bits and pieces. Soft side-light and a moody, "it's going to lamp it down pretty soon sort of sky" tend to make me get all jittery with excitement, so I hang back and ask Mark and Andy if they mind carrying on walking while I fire away. The trick here to really bringing out the mood of the sky and highlighting the soft sunlight that is lighting them from the left is to underexpose from the suggested meter reading (I shoot in Aperture Priority) until you are really accentuating the good bits. How could anybody see that sort of light and not want to snap a few pix?
Nikon D3, 70-200mm f4 lens at 125mm, ISO 400, f4, 1/500th, -0.5 stops exposure compensation
The complete opposite to the first photo - flat light with little contrast, so instead of using the (flat, blown out) sky to frame Mark against, I got down level with him, used a large f4 aperture to help blow the foreground and background out of focus and keep the eye on the angler casting - with the foreground rocks used to lead your eye into the photo if that makes sense. I have deliberately included no sky in the photo to keep the exposure pretty even. As with fly fishing, I love how lure fishing revolves around casting so much - this always gives a photographer at least something to work with whatever the light.
Nikon D3, 24-120mm f4 lens at 24mm, ISO 400, f4.8, 1/500th, -0.5 stops exposure compensation, circular polarising filter
Angler fighting fish, or being in the right place at the right time. I was shooting some stuff of Andy fishing soft plastics for wrasse and by chance he suddenly went and hooked a fish. I can't ask him to slow down because as we all know, wrasse kinda like heading for the nearest snag, so I simply backed off a bit, framed up as quickly as I could, focused on his head, and fired away as he brought the fish in. Sure, I would love a few clouds in the sky to give the photo a bit more depth, but I do quite like how the left side of the cliff is in shadow from the sun, and this then moves your eye out across that lovely clear, shallow water. A very simple photo, nothing remotely complicated about it, simply me reacting to the situation and doing what I could do with a very brief wrasse scrap and a load of sunlight.
Nikon D3, 70-200mm f4 lens at 100mm, ISO 400, f4, 1/40000th, -4 stops exposure compensation
My cameras are really good, but they are machines, and to be fair they haven't got a creative bone in their body. Give them a scene like this and they want to even everything out - whereas I want to use all those shadows and that shaft of sunlight to do something a little more creative, hence me dialling in -4 stops of exposure compensation. I know my cameras and how they meter a scene inside out, so I know when to take over and essentially tell them what to do. OK, so at the end of the day it's no more than an angler casting a lure rod, and as regards a magazine feature the "creative" aspect to the photo probably takes away from that fact somewhat - but to me the photographer, this is how I "saw" what was in front of me, and because I am as in love with photography as I am with fishing, I can't not fire away.
Nikon D3, 70-200mm f4 lens at 150mm, ISO 400, f5.6, 1/500th, -0..5 exposure compensation
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A bit of flat, even lighting can be pretty handy for shooting basic close up shots of reels etc. I have been fishing with a new 8-strand braid recently (the Varivas Avani Sea Bass Max Power Tracer, more to come, awesome stuff) and I wanted to try and get some simple shots of the reel right at the end of the cast with some line coming off it. Sounds simple, but I am asking and then relying on Mark stopping the reel dead while I quickly focus on it and fire a few shots. If that reel moves out of position, the shot is out of focus and gets deleted here at my desk. If he holds it for too long the strong side wind grabs his (my) line and wraps it around a rock. Those little specs you see just below the rod blank are bits of water flying off the line as it comes off the reel. Shooting at 150mm/f5.6 blows that background nicely out of focus when you are filling the frame up this much with your subject matter - the rather nice Shimano Sustain 4000FG spinning reel.
Nikon D3, 70-200mm f4 lens at 200mm, ISO 200, f5.6, 1/500th, -1.5 stops exposure compensation
Buy prints etc. here - sheep hanging on your wall!!
It's not a fishing photo and it's most likely going to sit on my hard drive until the day that somebody asks me if I have any photos of sheep - somewhat unlikely, but before the guys walked through the shot as per the top of this post, I couldn't not shoot those side-lit sheep against that sky. A proper nature photographer would I am sure have waited until at least one of the sheep was looking at me, but hell, it's sheep in a field with some good looking light and we are yomping back across the fields to head for home. And yes, the thought of one of those creatures sizzling away on my barbecue did cross my mind..............