Learning to Fly

Posted on August 2, 2014

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I have a confession to make, I’m a 53 year old American male and I’ve never caught a fish. This may seem trivial to some but it can have an effect on a man’s self esteem. So I’ve decided to overcome these feelings of inadequacy by learning the sport of fishing. Not just any type of fishing; I’m going after one of the hardest ways to catch fish, Mountain Stream Fly Fishing.

In the coming months I will not only be learning the skills of an angler but I’ll be planning a 2,000 mile fishing road trip to the North Cascade National Park. This will be a slow tour of mountain streams through the states of California, Oregon and Washington. I’ll be stopping along the way to practice my new found art form and maybe make a few friends along the way. I will photography and document the entire experience and hopefully fulfill my life long dream of catching my first fish.

But this will be more than just another road-trip report. This will be a coming of age story, or middle age for me, as I begin my new life as an independent, creative person. This will be an account of my learning the most beautiful art form in outdoor sports, fly fishing. I’ll learn its fascinating history and discover what the allure is that makes men, and women, wade into the icy waters of mountain streams in pursuit of a limbless cold-blooded vertebrate. It will be an adventure, a learning experience, and an awaking. “Learning to Fly” will become a modern classic of outdoor sports literature.

But even the best laid plans are not enough to overcome the drought that’s occurring in the Western United States. It has reached epic proportions. As I made my way through Northern California, there was a plume of smoke cresting a ridge to the west of highway that filled the air with heavy, white smoke. The lack of rain and extream heat have raised the wildfire danger in the area to “Extream”. As I crossed into Oregon, the smoke slowly cleared and my thoughts turned back to my fishing adventure. That was until I reached my first designation, Hyatt Lake. What was once a large lake filled with future memories of catching my first fish is now reduced to a muddy pond.

My First Cover Photo!

Posted on July 24, 2014

AA Traveler Cover

 

I shot this in the Puget Sound in the summer of 2012. It was the hardest shoot I have ever done. I was looking to shoot something different, something more than just your usual Stand Up Paddleboard Image. In my research for this photo shoot, I discovered the absence of  low angle photos for this sport. I came up with the idea to shoot from the water’s surface and in order to get these type of shots, I needed to be in the water.. I donned a full wet suit, put my camera in a waterproof bag, and got in the the cold water of the Puget Sound.

Puget Sound water temps are cold even in the middle of the Summer. Even though the air temps in Seattle that day were in the 90s the water-temps were still a chilly 55 degrees. I had to wear a full SCUBA wet suit to stay warm. I also wore my paddling life vest to keep me just above the waterline and help me be more stable.

Having a camera in a waterproof bag makes it almost impossible to make any quick adjustments. My underwater camera bag is made to go down to 100 feet so it’s very well sealed. It has finger pockets to adjust the controls but you have to fumble around in search of the buttons. I settled on having to preset the camera to the best settings for the light conditions and not try to make any adjustments while in the water. As a setting I went with a fast shutter speed to account for the massive amounts of camera movements from the waves. This speed adjustment, in turn, made it possible to freeze the splash in this photo. Yes, it was a happy accident but it was the result of my anticipated camera settings.

I saw this capture just after it was taken on the back of my camera and although it was only a two second review, I knew it was something special. We tried to recreate more splash shots for options in editing the shoot but this one just stood out as “The Shot”. There’s something in capturing that accidental moment that just can’t be reproduced. You just have to be ready to capture it when it occurs.

This is one of my top selling images with the Microstock Agencies. It has been downloaded hundreds of times and used on everything from websites to print materials. I discovered this cover piece from AA Traveler while researching my image usage thru Google’s Reverse Image Search. AA traveller is the official publication of the Automobile Association of South Africa.

California Light

Posted on July 10, 2014

Photography is about a lot of things. It’s about being in the moment, personal freedom and living a creative life. But mostly it’s about light……and California light is just incredible!

For this shoot we had simple a plan that involved a women in a white shirt, the rolling hills of Walnut Creek and the light of a California sunset. Yes, it was a simple but it became so much more. By keeping it simple we invited spontaneous ideas and implied story lines that would add interest to the images we were making. We didn’t go out there to take photos; we went out to make photos! We took three basic ingredients and created art, it’s really just that simple.

So what is a successful photo shoot? As the last rays of sunlight disappeared behind the western hills, I walked back to the truck with a card full of captures that I knew were the definition of what photography meant to me. I guess you could call that a successful shoot.

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SONY, ILCE-7, 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM
1/320, f/5, ISO 100

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