Canon 1D MK111, 16-35mm f2.8L lens (at 16mm), ISO 100, f16, 1/10, polarising filter, Gitzo Traveller tripod
Within this vast Yellowstone valley lie several natural spring creeks that come up from the ground, run gin clear for a few miles, and then pour into the mighty Yellowstone river (which is still roaring and unfishable with a mass of snow-melt water). We drove no more than ten miles from Yellowstone Valley Ranch to fish this stunning little creek, and for me it was a dream day's photography. For most of the day we are covered with huge blue skies and framed by these wonderful mountains that line both sides of the valley. For Nick it was also perfect fly fishing - challenging and hugely rewarding. We could see literally hundreds of wild brown and rainbow trout, sometimes rising to flies, and also hugely wary of fishermen. Nick Hart is a seriously accomplished fly fisherman though, and can really think on his feet. With huge effort and thought he caught a fair few stunning trout from various stretches of the creek. What a result - behind the creek roars the Yellowstone river that is going to take a few weeks at least to become fishable, yet here lies this stunning natural chalk stream essentially. but without the stocked fish and managed banks.
Canon 1D MK111, 15-35mm f2.8L lens (at 31mm), ISO 320, f3.5, 1/800, polarising filter
Wow !! What a stunning wild rainbow trout - look at those perfect spots and fins. Nick worked for these fish, but the reward was more than worth it. I woke up yesterday morning thinking about a shot like this, where the head and eye of the fish becomes the focal point of the photo, and a deliberately large aperture has gradually defocused the rest of the fish and the background out. The incredible light and stunning nature of the fish has enabled me to get a photo like this - the kind of thing a magazine could run across two pages and then bleed in text around it, with the heading below the fish. Now you can see why I wake up so early all the time - this head of mine doesn't like to shut down that much !! But I wouldn't change it for the world. Getting the chance to come and work in a place like Montana is so incredibly cool that I am still having trouble coming to grips with how special it is.
Canon 1D MK111, 70-200mm f4L IS lens (at 100mm), ISO 400, f10, 1/125, polarising filter
With the Yellowstone river being blown at the moment (and yes, I am coming back when it is in proper condition), I have been looking for a kind of "look at this fishing surrounded by vastness" kind of photo, and yesterday I got the chance. It was a bit of a weak sky behind the mountains, but you can't get it perfect all the time !! I'll take the snow-capped peaks any day of the week, so I guess we have the best of both worlds here at the moment. Nick is in fly fishing heaven, and I am still drooling like a loon at the views around here. Seriously, if fly fishing for wild fish in outrageous surroundings is anywhere close to your thing, do yourself the best favour you can do and come out here now. Aardvark McLeod can sort it all out for you very easily - I hope to see you here, because I am coming back to the American west as much as I can in the future. All I need is some proper fly casting lessons from Nick and I might even have a bit of a fish next time !!
Canon 1D MK111, 70-200mm f4L IS lens (at 70mm), ISO 400, f8, 1/160
After an early supper yesterday, we headed straight back to the spring creek to do some more - how could you not ? Paul Roberstson (the manager of the lodge here) took Nick out on a classic Montana drift boat for a proper go at the rising trout, and Nick duly smashed plenty on little buzzers. The trick to this photo was to hold the exposure, i.e. the balance between the moody sky, and the last bit of sunlight on the boat. What a perfect end to the day. I am now having another cup of coffee, looking out on the sun beginning to illuminate this wonderful valley - this is as close to paradise as I am ever going to get. We are off fishing the Lower Madison today on a drift boat and I can't wait.