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White Pass skiing

Fishing for photos

I take photos of fishing far more often than I fish

Up front, I want to make it 100 percent clear – I am not a fisherman. I fish one time each year and that’s on a pond in rural west central Alabama (near Gainesville, for all you ‘Bama-savvy readers). And I’m not really fishing to catch fish, I’m fishing because it has always been a good excuse to spend drinking beer, working on my tan and spend time with relatives. I catch very few fish but that’s not really the point.

A lot of folks fish around here in the warmer months but during the winter, when the lakes freeze over, only the hardy few anglers venture out.

Problem is, ice fishing in central Washington is usually not that visual. Because I’m catering to wider audience than just fishermen I need to make a photo that’s interesting enough to capture the attention of  fishermen and non-fishermen alike. There’s not much action and generally no emotion so we’re forced to dip into our bag of photo techniques to make a usually-static photo more compelling.

Driving back to Yakima from White Pass a couple of days ago I saw ice fishermen on Dog Lake. It’s an alpine lake at about 4,000 feet. I’d never shot ice fishermen there before so I figured it deserved a photo. Besides, it was a bluebird day and I wanted to put off going back to Yakima as long as possible.

My first photo, taken after chatting up the fishermen.

Russ Roberts, left, and Jake Dale fish for trout in frozen Dog Lake near White Pass Feb. 4, 2012. Roberts had already caught a half-dozen trout in other holes but decided to try his luck in a different spot in the lake. Robert described the fishing as being "off and on all day." (GORDON KING/Yakima Herald-Republic)

I knew then this wasn’t going to be a “keeper” but I had to start somewhere in my picture-taking. In order to make the scene more interesting I chose to shoot into the sun and to use my flash to add light to the subjects. I wanted the starburst effect on the sun so I used as small an aperture as I could (f22) and set the flash on manual at full power. There is some lens flare but that’s an unfortunate (and common) byproduct of shooting right into the sun.

Soon, Russ Roberts decided to drill another fishing hole in the ice:

Russ Roberts yanks his auger out of the snow and ice as he drills a hole in the ice as he fishes for trout in frozen Dog Lake near White Pass Feb. 4, 2012. Roberts had already caught a half-dozen trout in other holes but decided to try his luck in a different spot in the lake. Roberts described the fishing as being "off and on all day." (GORDON KING/Yakima Herald-Republic)

Again, I’m shooting into the sun using my flash to fill in the subject. I like this photo much better because the photo is very “active,” with Roberts yanking out the auger throwing off bits of snow and ice. The lens flare is, however, much more noticeable in this photo.

A third photo, this one with slightly less noticeable lens flare. But the photo’s not so active as the previous one.

Russ Roberts, left, drills the hole in the ice as Jake Dale waits to scoop out the hole as they fish for trout in frozen Dog Lake near White Pass Feb. 4, 2012. Roberts had already caught a half-dozen trout in other holes but decided to try his luck in a different spot in the lake. Robert described the fishing as being "off and on all day." (GORDON KING/Yakima Herald-Republic)

The main reason I don’t like any of these photos is that I used the same shoot-into-the-sun-using-fill-flash technique for a ice fishing photo last year.

There was one more photo to be done, this one of a fisherman trying his luck from inside his portable ice-fishing shelter.

Ben Sahlgren watches the display screen for his underwater camera as he fishes for trout in frozen Dog Lake near White Pass Feb. 4, 2011. Sahlgren fished from the comfort of a portable shelter outfitted with a folding chair, plywood floor, heater, music player, fish finder and underwater camera. Having moved to Washington from Minnesota several years ago, he already had all the ice fishing gear to set up on Dog Lake. This is the first year he has ice fished since moving to Washington and his second trip to Dog Lake. GORDON KING/Yakima Herald-Republic)

While this photo isn’t very active, it presents a different view of ice fishing. It’s a little more intimate because it conveys information the passerby would not be able to see. Also, the lighting through the shelter windows is interesting and if you look out the left-hand window you get a glimpse of the trees which ring the lake.

So, this last photo is the one we ran in print.

One side note: all of these fishermen were the nicest people willing to chat and share their fishing stories.

 

–Gordon King

 

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