Photo of the Month: Golden Explosion

Photo of the Month: Golden Explosion

Friday, October 28, 2022

Light and Dark: Thinking About Light On Your Trout Pictures

Recently, I was with a friend/client of mine on a guided trip and we landed a rather respectable Smoky Mountain brown trout. It didn't take much prodding on my part to get him to take a picture, so we got things set up. After snapping a couple of him, we then switched to just pictures of the fish. 

I was facing one way and snapped a few in my hand in the water. Upon glancing at the screen of my phone that I was taking pictures with, I noticed how incredibly dark the fish looked. The light just wasn't what I wanted to show this beauty off. So, instead of considering it a lost cause, I simply turned around. The morning sun was reflecting off of the bank behind us and by turning around, I was able to take advantage of this better quality light. 

Here are the two unedited versions of this same fish. 

Dark brown trout in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Bright brown trout in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

While the angles are slightly different, I can assure you these are the same exact fish, taken just seconds apart. You can see the reflection of the darkly shaded bank behind us in the second picture, while the first picture is strongly backlit by the sunny bank beyond, making the fish appear extremely dark. 

So, to make this short and to the point, consider light sources as you set up your fish pictures. This can be a quick scan of the scene or even glance at the camera or phone screen. Either way, light will make or break your photos, so take advantage of what it offers. 

Furthermore, if you are the one operating the camera for a friend, check the light in the viewfinder or on the screen. I often ask clients to tilt a fishes back or belly towards me, and it is all about getting the light correct. I'll do a separate post sometime on this potential light issue to explain better, but for now, consider what the fish looks like to you and then work to get the camera to interpret it the same way.