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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

One of the best fishing painters of this planet

Well, this is at least my humble opinion. I believe that my friend Setsuo Hamanaka is a hell of a good painter and I LOVE his stuff. Not only he draws beautifully, but he also paints fish that are not easy to find elsewhere and that any lover of Popping and Jigging game chase the most.

GTs are one of his favourite subject. One of his original oil on canvas paint is hanging on the wall of my house entrance hall, and it welcomes me every time I step in. Is a priceless treasure I truly care for.

Setsuo, is also a good fisherman and he helped me few times getting in contact with some of the most influential Japanese fishermen, from whom I have learnt a lot. Last time we met was in Panama, with Kitamura-san, for a sort of a jigging symposium.

Please, do yourself a favour and visit his web page and galleries: you will see his great gallery with fish, landscapes, seascapes and animals. He sells his prints worldwide and if you love game fish as I do, you might want one of those hanging from the wall too.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Barbless hooks anyone?

I've been guiding people to the tropics for 10 years now. Hunting large GTs, Dogtooth Tunas, Cuberas, Yellowfin Tunas and alike is not a kids' game: you need tackle, strenght, stamina and a good deal of technique.

There are few rules you have to follow. Fishing must be a pleasure. doesn't have to be dangerous or put anybody at risk. We do it for fun, and we have to play safe. Among the various thing we can do to improve the safety I rule as a very possible number 1 to squeeze the barb of the hooks or fish with barbless ones.
Three or four fishermen casting from one relatively small boat all day long are potentially dangerous for each other. Even though they are the most skilled guys, the best casters and the most careful people, they still are human beings, and eventually make mistakes. In addiction to them, there's other people working on the boat. Usually at least one skipper and one mate, and they take care o us, all day, to make our sport more enjoyable.

This is what happened to one of the mate in our latest trip to the Maldives. One 5/0 treble hook deeply embedded in his hand, because a fish pulled the lure too close to the boat. Hurts bad. The point nailed it into the bone and he had to be surgically attended in the local hospital. Bad stuff.

Next time, if you don't care for your own or your buddies safety do it at least for the people who work in the boat. They do the best to make you catch fish and work hard to make your holiday the best. Do it for whoever you want. Just do it!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Flowers anyone?

A while ago I set up my mini portable studio to do a bit of work on some nice flowers I had bought to my wife. It took me a good deal of the afternoon to find the light I liked the most, and even now I'm not 100% sure that this is THE best light. Thus, maybe there's no BEST light. what could be good for me might not be good for you, and viceversa. Same thing happens with colors and here you have a clear example.

In both images I had one SB600 through translucent umbrella on camera right, an old and uncontrollable Metz to light the background triggered with a slave and a reflector on camera left. It was before my 4 flashes set, and the old Metz spilled a bit too much of light here and there, yet these images are important to me, it was my first experiment with flowers. By the way, I like the blue one better....

Monday, March 9, 2009


Yep, been there, me too. In our way to the Maldives we had to do a stop over in Dubai and together with some friends we decided it could be fun to stop in Dubai for one day, just to see it.

Arrived to Dubai darn late at night and drove to the hotel in a fancy cab. Morning wake up around 9 and after a laaaarge breakfast we decided to hire a driver to show us around. This guy, a young man from Afghanistan, decided he wanted to show us the "old" part of the city, which eventually turned into a big mistake for a couple of reasons. For what we have seen there's not a real old part, and on top of this, since the more interesting part is a market area, being a Friday everything was closed. So much for the historic land.

The things turned out to be a tad better when we headed for the modern, galactic development of the city. The Buri Al Arab hotel, the incredible estates around Palm Island, the Buri Dubai Tower and so on. Everything showed a great deal of futuristic architecture, and everything seemed to be over the top, built to amaze the poor tourist who cannot believe his eyes.

You might like it or you might not. Personally I do like few things and don't like the majority of the others. Is a bit tacky for my taste, and a sort of Disney world for the modern traveller or the real estate buyer looking for the coolest thing around, if cool that is. Said that, I left the city with mixed feelings, not sure whether I like it or hate it, and kind of puzzled as well. We are living in a difficult economical moment and Dubai is investing on its development a huge deal of money. Is there people around able to pay for such luxury and modernism ? There's thousands of apartments, houses and villas to let or for sale, if they don't go away for how long the oil will be able to pay the bills ?

I loved Emirates Airlines though. Great service, lot of room for your legs even in tourist class and great looking flight assistance. None of them was Arab, mostly Asian and Europeans, I also met a girl from La Garrucha, a small village near Almeria where I sometimes go fishing. Not many women around in the city as well, few tourists and few locals with the burka

One of my friends said that Dubai was betting in a different kind of tourism development, for once the oil is gone. Looks like a tough assignment to me, but I ain't no sheik...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How to complicate your life...

I do funny things. Not happy of taking the normal fishing pictures you can get using available daylight or with the help of a small flashgun, I decided to do it the my way, complicated. That is. During my last trip I brought with me 4 flashes. To be exact, 3 x SB600 and one Metz 54 recently bought as a bargain. To fire these lights I had with me 3 Skyport receivers and eventually one slave, that due to the strong light wouldn't work, or better say, would work whenever it wanted.

Now, to put together all these lights and make them work the way I wanted, I had to carry also my Manfrotto 001B light stands. The Manfrotto Justin Clamp. Another smaller clamp. Two small translucent umbrellas. Gaffer tape. You name it... All this stuff found place in my suitcase leaving home many lures I could have used for fishing, but this is what I choose, so much for the lures frenzy.

The idea was to put together two strobes on tne 001B stand, and one on the Justin Clamp as a backlit unit. The latter would not work properly because people holding a fish cannot be also asked to stand still in one very place and anyway, the distance between the rail where I would clamp the flash and the fisherman was always very short so the use of such light was pointless. I ended up lighting the subject from one side, and naturally backlit by the sun itself, using two flashes on the light stand but, at one point, in my mighty effort to overpower the sun I added a third flashgun to the stand ad went for the real thing.

Imagine what kind of chaos I have generated on board. Every time somebody had a decent fish I was removing the stand from the "safe" place, unfolding the plastic bag covering the flashes, turning all the darn receives and the flashes on, positioning the stand and the lights in order to have one pointing at the fisherman and the other at the fish, and start shooting. The light for the fisherman was usually half the power of those used to lit the fish, wouldn't always work flawless but it was pretty much under control. Anyway, big work. Tough, and easy to make mistakes, and mistakes I made, quite few many. Thus, the results in some of the photos were extremely rewarding and unique, hence, for as weird as it seem I will keep using my life-complication-combo trying to figure out how to make things roll easier.

Eventually, Lastolite seem to have heard my screams from the Maldives and put together a great gear : The Triflash. Strobist brought the news last week or so and I figured out is what I really need to buy in the nearest future (read, as soon as it is available). Is a triple flash bracket you can stick into your light stand and use with one, two or three flashes, as you like. As simple as that, great ideas don't need to be complicated anyway. Some more detailed info are available here

This is how my next boat lighting set up will look like, maybe if is very windy I will skip the umbrella but I'm sure this will make my life easier. Can't wait to try that.....

Monday, March 2, 2009

Strange week at the Maldives

This has been a weird week indeed. The GTs were not too happy to snack on a popper on the surface while they seemed to be gathering in large numbers in crowded "balls" right around the drop off. Mating season maybe? It very much looked like, and this complicated the things for us a bit. Funny enough, even the other usual reef dwellers were not there. Snappers, Groupers and many other animals were deserting the usual feeding plains, in favour of deeper waters.

What might have influenced such behaviour is not really clear but there are some hints we can evaluate. First of all there has been an heartquake in Indonesia the week before our arrival. Nothing happened to the Maldives, no Tsunami or alike, but is possible that the fish noticed that. And another clue was the water temperature, pretty much below the average, with changes of current that would change the pattern of an area from one day to another.

Anyway, fish we caught indeed. The Dogtooth Tunas were especially cooperative, with two large specimen landed on jigging gear. Yes, jigging. This seemed to be the technique to use during the "foul" week, and this produced most of the fish and sure enough the biggest.

Great safari anyway, we are used to the high standards of the MV Madivaru crew and is always a pleasure the fishing and the off-fishing moments. Topping the bill the food and the after dinner time spent on the main deck all together.