flyangler

Photographing rising/sipping trout - any advice?

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I am headed out to the Missouri River in early July, primetime for dry fly fishing with eager trout rising and pods of sipping trout (or so are the expectations). I am with a hosted group which will include five water days sharing a drift boat with someone else. I always take photos with iPhone and possible my DSLR with 35-135 lens, if I bring it. I never bring the 150-600 but rethinking that this trip. 

 

I am going out a day early and will have a guide for a solo float on the river. Without a partner, we can really try to get those highly desirable rising fish photos. They are on my photography bucket list and this might be my best opportunity to tick that box. The Missouri at that time is like a giant spring creek, slow, even meandering, though crowded. As a wide river you can anchor the boat and work a particular fish or body of fish, with a rod or with a lens. Feels like a great opportunity and I have already asked the guide who is cool with giving it a shot. 

 

So my question to this group: Any advice you can offer based on direct or learned experience? 

 

My gear would be a Canon 70D (capable of about 7fps) with a Sigma 150-600 Contemporary. Not "pro gear" by any stretch, but the combo can take some decent photos. As much as I would like to bump up to a 90D with its 10fps, that's $800 I don't really need to spend. 

 

The photo below is what I am shooting for (pun intended) and was one of many such captures by Nick Price who does really great work. 

 

Silver Creek Brown. Spring 2021

Image from Nick Price Photography

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I have not taken trout pics from drift boat.  I have taken plenty of pics from a kayak, though.  The boat is always moving, even when it feels like it isn't... it really shows up when you get into the long focal lengths.  So, we are looking at high ISO, fast shutter speeds, center point focus and crop in post for composition.  Water, so polarizing filter.

 

Maybe consider renting a lens for the trip.  The fastest L series 300mm zoom you could get might make for nice results.  Get the insurance, LOL.

 

Also look to reduce motion where you can... maybe a monopod for that big lens... that's a bit of a beast to hand hold and the boat moving is bad enough.  Probably the best shot at success is to scout for some area where he can put you onshore near rising fish or where you can wade.

 

And just blast through hundreds of frames and hope to catch lightning in a bottle. 

 

But I'm pretty much a hack, so...

Edited by Slacker

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I'd be more inclined to rip the lips off any sipping trout and burn the images into memory. You can't hook 'em if you're holding a camera.

That's me anyway.

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Slacker, see, you are useful at times :sarc:

 

14 hours ago, Slacker said:

I have not taken trout pics from drift boat.  I have taken plenty of pics from a kayak, though.  The boat is always moving, even when it feels like it isn't... it really shows up when you get into the long focal lengths. 

Yes, well familiar with that. Good news is that the Missouri is like a giant spring creek and the flows are quite smooth. Also, the Hyde drift boat design has a sharp V in the bow so when anchored the water flows around with little jostling. 

14 hours ago, Slacker said:

So, we are looking at high ISO, fast shutter speeds, center point focus and crop in post for composition.  Water, so polarizing filter.

Yes to center-point focus, actually I think the 70D has a small ring of sensors that you can chose with a bias toward a center sensor. Good call on that, I might not have remembered to manually override full auto and the 30+ focus point default. 

 

High ISO, yes. Fastest is 7fps, which will be aided by my buying new SD cards with really fast write speeds to keep the on-board buffer clear. 

 

I have a polarizer, almost never comes off. 

14 hours ago, Slacker said:

Maybe consider renting a lens for the trip.  The fastest L series 300mm zoom you could get might make for nice results.  Get the insurance, LOL.

Not sure I need to do that, especially if this is only that one day for a couple of hours. No commercial usage of any images, so....

14 hours ago, Slacker said:

Also look to reduce motion where you can... maybe a monopod for that big lens... that's a bit of a beast to hand hold and the boat moving is bad enough.  Probably the best shot at success is to scout for some area where he can put you onshore near rising fish or where you can wade.

I have handheld it and it works but I would not say this is the ideal application for that. So I have a Bogen mono-pod that I use with that lens all the time, particularly for situations involving low-light, small apertures or moving objects. Bought the lens for photographing my son's crew team and that combo was perfect for that. Setting up along a bank is possible, for the right fish. 

 

FWIW, the Contemporary has built-in optical image stabilization as does my 28-135. On both lenses you can actually see that through the viewfinder by shaking the camera and turning the OS on and off. I don't recall the exact spec but I think Sigma claims 2-3 stops of stabilization which makes getting those faster speeds a bit easier.  . 

 

Imaging Resource test results:

 

The Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary's Optical Stabilizer system is absolutely stunning*. Sigma's specs state that the lens features an accelerometer, which aims to improve panning both vertically and horizontally for better performance when photography birds or motorsports, for example. From our graphs, you can see impressive results at both 150mm and 600mm, with shutter speeds dipping well below the typical "1/focal-length rule." At 150mm, even down to 1/15s, we were able to get an 100% keeper rate, and a nearly perfect keeper rate at 600mm. Even down to slower shutter speeds, we found a decent number of acceptable shots.

 

Read that bit in the bold face, seriously? Works for me of course. 

 

14 hours ago, Slacker said:

And just blast through hundreds of frames and hope to catch lightning in a bottle. 

Yes, I will buy several fast 32 or 64MB cards with high transfer rates. I have to go back to read if the 70D does any sort of focal point bracketing, not sure. Not much to do there after dinner so downloading images to iPad and going through them with a bourbon and cigar sounds cool. 

 

14 hours ago, Slacker said:

But I'm pretty much a hack, so...

Yes, you are pretty much a hack, but the advice was sound and much appreciated ;)
 

 

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15 hours ago, ken r said:

I'd be more inclined to rip the lips off any sipping trout and burn the images into memory. You can't hook 'em if you're holding a camera.

That's me anyway.

Ken, I have six full drift days, pretty sure I will be stinging more than a few trout even if a couple of hours are committed to my trying to compete with Nick Price's work. 

 

As for burning images into memory, are you quoting Flip Pallot from the intro to the Walker's Cay Chronicles? 

 

More seriously, taking photos is the best way to remember events that are special. When one gets older, the burnt images get a little blurry or more difficult to conjure without prompting. Alaska in 1993, well before anything digital, I shot 8 rolls of 36 exposure with a Minolta X700 and Minolta 70-210 2.8. That lens was heavier than my 150-600, or that's the way I remember it, but it was carried inside my neoprene waders and always available. Those photos are in an album that I open once a year or so and I usually have an "Oh yeah" moment. 

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Play with the the camera at high ISO before you go to really find the acceptable upper limit.  I have a D70 and while it can go to 12800 ISO, you will not like the result.  You probably won't like the result at 5000 ISO either.

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5 hours ago, flyangler said:

As for burning images into memory, are you quoting Flip Pallot from the intro to the Walker's Cay Chronicles? 

I fished Walkers back in its heyday.  It was a nice place.

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15 mins ago, Slacker said:

Play with the the camera at high ISO before you go to really find the acceptable upper limit.  I have a D70 and while it can go to 12800 ISO, you will not like the result.  You probably won't like the result at 5000 ISO either.

I don't think more than 3200 would be needed. In reality, these are for my own use and I don't think I would be printing them at anything bigger than three feet in either dimension. 

 

That said, being inspired by these captures does make one want to do the best one can with your kit and conditions. 

 

https://www.nickpricephotography.com/rising-trout-photography

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I believe Flip used to say he would be "burning the images into the memory of film".  He always was a bit more flowery in his use of language.  And then you'd get that shot of him taking pictures of porpoises with the film advance spinning around under the influence of the power-winder.  Ah, good times.

 

 

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19 mins ago, Slacker said:

I fished Walkers back in its heyday.  It was a nice place.

So up in Greenwich, 20+ years ago, one of my sons went to kindergarten with a son of the Abplanalp family that owned Walkers at the time. His name.....Walker. 

 

I don't want to derail my own thread, so I will PM you a link to the Walker's Reborn video. 

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6 mins ago, Slacker said:

I believe Flip used to say he would be "burning the images into the memory of film". 

 

20 hours ago, ken r said:

I'd be more inclined to rip the lips off any sipping trout and burn the images into memory. You can't hook 'em if you're holding a camera.

 

5 hours ago, flyangler said:

As for burning images into memory, are you quoting Flip Pallot from the intro to the Walker's Cay Chronicles? 

:howdy:

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1 min ago, Slacker said:

These aren't derails.  These are color commentary interest grabbers.

 

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Just remember the polarizer is going to darken the image. Might be better off with a faster shutter speed and lower iso. Practice with some pelicans. 

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