Thursday, August 28, 2008
One of our main goals is to hook, fight, land and release successfully the fish and this can be only done with the right equipment. If you use tackles that are too light you might end up with a line breakage, that leads to a fish running away with the lure in its fangs. If you eventually manage to land it it is very much likely to be worn out by the fight, overstressed and will probably not survive.
One day my daughter will probably ask me for a Barbie rod, I'll be happy to buy it for her, I need somebody in the future to keep this blog and my web going :-)
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
After British Airways had lost both my luggage and rod case, here I am, with my plastic bag full of stuff I had to buy to survive my week offshore, a borrowed popping rod from Bertrand and a borrowed jigging rod from Neil, at Neil's tackle in Brisbane. I had my reels, that was pretty cool, they where in my backpack, and I had my Nikon, in my hand luggage as well.
Well, to make a long story short, in the 4 days we spent at Kenn reef I had the time to make friends with Mogi-san, one of the gurus of Japanese jigging, Kenji Konishi, the creator of the Carpenter brand of rods and lures, and learn a trick or two about GT fishing. But it has been the very last day, just before departure, that I saw the light.The skiff dropped us on a strip of sand surrounded by reefs, once shallow but now at high tide plenty of water for the predators to swim in it. We started casting hoping to see a sign of life and I had a Green Jobfish following the stick bait on the second or third cast. A beautifully painted Coral trout followed and after a short struggle I managed to land it. It was then time for a GT to attack my Big Foot stick bait, not a big guy but who damn cares, it was my first GT ever landed from shore and was worth its weight in gold. One of the Japs soon followed and then Kenji landed his as well, you can see in the vertical image. Is hard to try to explain how exciting is to catch one of the strongest and largest predator (thus none of ours were spectacular, fish up to 30kg have been landed from shore) with your feet solidly attached to mother earth. No vessel pulling, no skipper motoring, no drift dragging. Just you, yourself and the critter. Each and everyone doing his best to survive. I fish too much from boats nowadays but is well sculptured in my mind the memory of each and every fish I have caught from shore. This is where you can see the difference between a man and a kid, I kid you not!
Thanks again Damon and every one in the trip. I had to borrow stuff from many of you and will always be grateful. Hope to see you again soon.
I'm not a bird photographer and I don't even have the right equipment to shoot them. My 18-200 is way too short to dare to take a decent exposure of one of these creatures but here, for one who knows how to use his camera and lenses properly, there are chances of achieving decent results even with a 300mm lens, something that in other places is just out of question. I don't know birds either, ask me about any predator fish and I might also tell you his Latin scientific name but birds are quite unknown to me. Thus, there was some very photogenic animals there, many herons, cranes and the gracious flamingos, that I only had the chance to shoot from quite far when, disturbed by the boat's engine noise they slowly took off for another planet.
This trip has been quite a turning point in my "fishing photographic career", in fact for the first time I think I have dedicated more time, or at least equal time, to fishing and shooting photos, something that in the past was something like 80/20 in favour of fishing. I clearly remember a couple of afternoons and mornings when I left the rod in the boat or in the bungalow, and only carried the D80. Those days we fished from shore, something that gave me way better opportunities to grab some decent images. I didn't have the tripod with me because of the serious weight excess I was already carrying but there was enough light to play with. I'm especially keen in these two images that far from being technically perfect, resume a bit how much life there was around both in the air and the water
One of those afternoon, while my friends were having a good time on a sandbar, working with light surface lures, I wandered around this massive beach in search of something to record in my SD card. All of the sudden a boat arrived, started dropping a net in a half circle until in enough shallow water to allow the fisherman to wade and pull the net closer and closer to the beach. There was not much fish round that area and the harvest was quite poor. I approached the crew and asked them if I could take pictures while they where working and as sometimes happens in such countries, they asked me for money. Well, is pretty unusual that a guy in a swimsuit, in the middle of nowhere carries a wallet with him, and mine was no exception. I told the guys my situation and that the money was at the camp. Somehow they accepted to be photographed and even though the light was between bad and horrible, I shoot some images .
Oh, yes, fishing... I haven't forgot about that but to be honest with you we didn't have a spectacular week, I would say between average and bad maybe. Thus, I enjoyed very much fishing light tackle with my black bass equipment. yes right, I brought my 6'6" 1 1/2oz pole and a small Team Daiwa to match. It was a blast to toss those little plugs or the soft plastics to the aggressive Cuberas, Jacks, or African Pompanos, in fact this is what I have done most of the time and never looked back. Basically this has been everybody strategy, and those who kept throwing big plugs with heavy rods didn't have much luck. Is here that I caught one of my most sought after fish on a soft plastic. The African Pompano is a shy member of the Carangidae family and its distribution is not so wide or abundant. Thus, here at the Bijagos is present in large numbers and not so difficult to catch. He grabbed the plastic right under the boat allowing me to see its take, and started a nice tug-of-war. the rod was so soft that would make severe u turns when the fish was sounding under the boat in order to get himself free, but somehow nothing wrong happened and it posed for a few fish eye shots.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Travelling to the Basque country is quite a long journey from Madrid but is a pleasant trip altogether. You go from the up and down roller coaster of the "Sierra", the mountains nearby Madrid, to the flat lands of Castilla and finally among the green hills of the Spanish Basque country.
Once you cross the border with France and head to San Juan de Luz, the first major town along the coast, you start appreciating the mixed feeling you get from being so close to the sea and yet fully immersed into a green and agricultural landscape. Cows everywhere, surfers with bikes and their boards heading to the beaches, happy campers and all different kind of tourists, mostly relaxed and laid back.
Guethary itself is a nice and tidy little village. Not many houses, not terrible traffic, and a smooth atmosphere, peaceful and enjoyable. What really gathers your attention is the buildings. Is very unlikely to see a house that is "out of tune" with the other ones, the vast majority of them maintained the typical Basque style and are very much well taken care of. Freshly painted, shiny wooden windows, beautiful gardens and nothing around that mess up with the overall beauty.
This is a part of the world where people enjoy being outside, dining outside, drinking outside. Bars are pretty much everywhere, as well as restaurants, with many along the seaside, something, I assume, we all love.
During our stay we "tested" few of them and apart from one, they all rated from good to excellent.
Since the weather was not so great we decided to burn some calories walking with my friend's 4 dogs. I think I have a pretty decent idea of the geographical map of the town itself, as well as the close beaches. Of course both my friend Pepe and myself carried around the Nikons in search of decent images, and the beach was quite a hot spot for some shooting.
Last but not least we had the opportunity to grab an idea of what the "Cesta Punta" is. The typical Basque game also known as the "Pelota Vasca" really caught my attention for being so fast and entertaining. To add thrill to the game we watched, a local "howler" entertained us and blew our ears, yelling like a mad man (as he probably was) for a good 20 minutes. Then, disappointed with the referee he abandoned the court with major relief for those sitting at least in a 50 meters circle around him!
No fishing this time, just hundreds of shots with my aged D80. Some you can find here. Many thanks to our good friends for allowing us to repeat such a nice trip, we truly enjoyed it.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Rome is a tough place to live. Traffic, pollution, very bad logistics, chaos, a lot of bureaucracy, you name it. Is supposed to be a big capital, probably some believe is THE capital and still has not a decent Subway service. Every time they start digging a hole there's a million ruins awaiting for them. For every short section of underground tunnel in Rome, they built a complete new line in Madrid. The pace is different, Rome seem to run fast in the streets, where everybody drives like Valentino Rossi (bikes are a big deal in Rome BTW) or Fernando Alonso, and yet, when it comes to build something, everything goes in slow motion. Is true, I now live in a city that moves fast, has an active and hard working major, and is able to complete very important works in a blink of an eye. I'm spoiled. But Rome is slow. Can't deny it. Is slow by all means, by any comparison.
Yet, I firmly believe that is THE most beautiful city in the world. Having had the chance to see a bit of this old planet, I cannot stop wondering at the Capital's beauties. The mix of very old, old and dramatic modern mess is stunning.
The narrow streets in Trastevere and the gigantic Coliseum, St Peter, and the Tevere river, a huge and unfortunately very polluted vein that flows through the city dressed in a green from another planet. It was called "Il Biondo Tevere" by the Romans. The blond river. I'm still wondering where that golden color has gone, but I know it has gone for good.
Funny enough, it has been thanks to the assignment for a Spanish photo magazine that I HAD to go and see my city. Move my ass. Explore it, grab the light and the sight and put them together in form of digital files. This happened in different occasions. I had the winter and the rain and the summer and the sun. I wandered around the ruins and among the people, walked the high street and hid in the shade of the little "vicoli" near Piazza Navona. The main target was a decent shot but the truth is that I found myself mouth agape looking at what I have been missing for some good 40 years of my dumb life.
For several reasons I didn't go to Rome too often but chances are I will be there again soon. The grandmother wants to see her granddaughter and I need to get back to refresh my Italian, that is now melting in a dangerous mix with the Spanish and it scares the hell out of my progenitor
She's turning what was a boring activity into a pleasure and an interesting and instructive thing to do. Can't wait to be back to walk trastevere in a wet afternoon, with the puddles reflecting the old buildings and the weird people you see around. No matter if my photos come out good or not, I have a good excuse to dive into such a beautiful city. I mean CITY!
Monday, August 11, 2008
Without the off camera flash the best I could get is photos like this one above: light is quite harsh, obviously too direct and yet it worked more or less OK for the mags, is still a decent backlit image. I wonder what 2 speed lights attached left and right of the camera, or in any other different manner could work on portrait like these, an to be honest with you, I can't wait to try it. In less than one week I'll reach my friends for few days of fishing in the Mediterranean sea. I might skip some tackle here and there but you can be sure that all my new toys will be with me. I hope I will be able to post some new pictures all taken with my floating lightning set up, it will take some trial and error, sure, but this will make it even more fun. Just hope my friends (and the fish) are patient enough.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Composition is sure enough one of the main issues. Most of the time you need your subject to fill the frame, what you don't want is to have a lot of sky, land or boat appearing in the shot, and the angler with the fish as a dot in the middle. Even worst is somebody's back or an arm included in the image, rods sticking out of the back of the angler and alike. The following image is an example of what to do not, in fact it includes in one single shot everything you can do wrong (and it was one of my biggest dog tooth tunas....)
Here is another example of what I consider a decent take, with the help of a beautiful stormy sky
A problem that often shows up is the leaning horizon. This is not an extremely big issue because you can easily correct it later in Photoshop , but if you get it right by the time of the exposure you have few advantages. First of all you don't have to crop the image, hence you don't risk to damage the take because you find yourself with the fish jaws in line with the cropping. You don't loose precious pixels either, they could come handy if your image need to go on a double spread. You save editing time too, and this is valuable when you have to work on hundreds of photos after a trip. The photo below is a decent example of wrong horizon, fortunately here there's enough room to correct it as you will see in the second image.
People, when at sea, usually wear sunglasses and hats. Nothing wrong with that, they add protection to your face and head in case a vagabond lure skyrockets against you or a flying treble hook decided to get a grip on you eye. The problem arises when is time to take a picture, in fact, especially in harsh midday sun, when the light is right on top of your subject, you cannot see his/her face or, at the best, is very dark, as you can see here.
We stop here for the moment, but this is not finished yet. In a following part I will try to explain new ways to take the best possible fishing photos. In the meanwhile, if you would like to contribute to this blog please go ahead and write your comments